First things first, the guitar you buy does not defines the genre you play, it’s your music. So it’s a no big deal if you don’t own the guitar which is typically played by rest of the musicians of your music. If you go for something contemporary, you will in fact sound like just another band/musician. For example, metal musicians generally use ESP or B.C. Rich for its thickness etc; whereas rock musicians use fender telecaster/Stratocaster or Gibson les Paul/SG. But of course it doesn’t matter if you understand how to overcome the limitations of your guitar. Yes you heard it right, limitations of guitar. For an example, A Stratocaster produces a huge hum on the neck pickup and emits irritating overtones with extreme or heavy distortion and you really cannot do anything about it. Hence that tone is never or rarely used in studio recordings.

 Majority of musicians use certain guitars for certain genres because of certain limitations. However, with some knowledge you can overcome those limitations by using different heads, different pedals and different recording techniques. For example, I use Epiphone Dot studio, a hollow body guitar to record something as heavy as death metal! But that is another topic for another video. What we are focusing here is the most popular brands and models used by iconic bands associated in certain genres
let’s begin from the legends of Rock and Heavy metal; Gibson and Fender.


Gibson Les Paul and Gibson SG; both models are equipped with 2 humbucking pickups and 3 way switch.

  • Les Paul has a brighter tone and overtones and this specialty of Les Paul defined the sound of Bands like Guns n Roses, Black label society, Kiss etc.
  • However, SG has its own specialty. It has mid focused flat sound, where the distortion sound is in total control with no over the top highs or color. It just has a good old punch and for the same reason bands like Black Sabbath, AC/DC, Grateful Dead used Gibson SG model.


Fender Stratocaster and Fender telecaster; both models have 3 single coil pickups with 5 way switch.

  • Stratocaster has mid focused tone and overtones with lot of personality of its own all thanks to single coiled pickups. This power was harnessed by some iconic bands like Iron Maiden, Deep Purple, Red Hot Chili Peppers and Pink Floyd.
  • Telecaster is kind of opposite in sound when compared with Stratocaster. It focuses more on the low mid and upper hi, with flat thin sound. And this awesome sound attracted fans of Bob Dylan, Radiohead and The rolling stones to name a few.

Metal music in general has a few requirements in terms of guitars at least as it is still a new born genre when compared with the others. You just need some extreme distortion which can produce a thick wall of sound, crazy guitar skills, intense speed and of course an epic performing energy and theatric aspects. But again, you cannot just pickup any random guitar and expect that tonal thickness or theatric epicness. For the thick wall of distortion, any guitars that have active pickups are good to go especially EMG or Seymour Duncan Humbuckers and you are done. For theatric aspect pick up an ESP flying V or a sharp colored Jackson and you are good to go. Just stay away from single coiled passive pickups; they are no good for heavy distortion.

 One thing you need to understand is that the guitar alone does not define your sound; the guitar you play is just one part of it. Combination of different heads  or combo amps, your personal selection of pedals or guitar processor and of course the mixing and mastering of your final product; be it live or for studio production. We will cover this topic in another video.

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