For every great guitar, there’s a great story. Yet, even though everyone knows the musician and the music, few people know the pieces of sound equipment that allowed the artists to translate their emotions into music.
Here are a few of the greatest guitars in music history, and the stories that make them great.
Back in 1969, Willie Nelson busted his guitar. Doing what most touring, Southern musicians would do in his position, Nelson sent his prized piece of sound equipment off to a guitar repair shop in Nashville. The mechanic there, though, couldn’t fix it. Instead, he called Nelson up, and offered him a Martin N-20 for $750. Though Nelson bought the guitar sight unseen, it was love at first sight. He named it Trigger, after Roy Rodgers’ trusty horse.
Nelson loved the guitar so much that, over time, he wore a hole in its top. However, it gave the piece of sound equipment a unique tone, and so Nelson refused to have it repaired.
If you ever watch R.E.M.’s video for “What’s the Frequency Kenneth?” you’ll notice Peter Buck playing a blue guitar. That instrument was bequeathed to him upon Kurt Cobain’s passing, and was a Fender hybrid of the Jaguar and the Mustang.
As the story goes, Cobain loved to play both types of guitars. Instead of being forced to pick one or the other, though, Cobain asked Fender to combine the two for him. He even went so far as to design the sound equipment himself via a montage of Polaroid pictures.
One chilly night back in the 1950s, a young blues-man was playing a dance hall in Twist, Arkansas. Back then, it was pretty common to light barrels of kerosene to keep building bright and warm. Naturally, it was a pretty dangerous practice, and sure enough, one of the barrels was knocked over, which caused a huge fire.
The blues-man raced outside, but realized he left without his beloved Gibson. Despite the danger, he ran inside and grabbed his treasured piece of sound equipment. Later on, he learned that the fight had broken out because two men were arguing over a woman named Lucille. He then named the sound equipment after her to remind himself to never fight over a woman.
It must have been a pretty good idea, too, since that very guitar would help everyone learn his name, and established B.B King as one of the tent poles of modern music.
Now, it’s your turn to share in the comments. What’s the story behind your favorite guitar? Were online guitar shops no longer selling it, but then you miraculously found it on the very last online music store you’d thought to look? Did you find the sound equipment buried amongst various other musical instruments for sale at an estate auction? Continue.