Signature series guitars. All major guitar manufacturers make them. Some people love them, and some people hate them. Personally, I fall into the “love them” camp. The ironic thing is that many of the people who claim that they hate them would not hesitate to play a Les Paul, which is perhaps the prototype for signature series guitars.
What I like about signature series guitars is that they either take inspiration or direct feedback from the artists that inspired the guitars, resulting in a guitar that is different from the standard fare. Additionally, most signature guitars have unique features not available on the standard production guitars. For example, taking cues from his famous “Number One” guitar, the Stevie Ray Vaughan Stratocaster has the vibrato arm on the top of the bridge rather than the bottom. The newly released Rosewood Eric Johnson Stratocaster has unique colors and a bound fretboard, which no other current product model Stratocaster has.
One trend I’ve noticed in some signature series guitars is that the identifying marks, such as the artist’s signature, have been moved from obvious spots on the guitar to the back of the guitar or other hidden areas. For example, the Stevie Ray Vaughan model has the signature on the front of the instrument, whereas the recent John Mayer and Kenny Wayne Shepherd Stratocasters have the signature on the back of the headstock. I think this is likely in response to the resistance that some players have to playing an instrument with another player’s name on it.
Even though I’m a fan of signature guitars, some guitar manufacturers have taken the signature guitar concept a little too far. For example, Dean Guitars have over 30 guitars inspired by or attributed to Dimebag Darrell. Fortunately, other manufacturer’s have taken a less is more approach to signature guitars.
That being said, I think signature series guitars provide a great way for fans to pay tribute to their guitar heroes. Additionally, I think signature series guitars provide an opportunity for guitar manufacturers to work directly with artists to create unique and innovative instruments. Gibson’s Les Paul is an example of a manufacturer working directly with an artist to create a unique instrument that has stood the test of time. And, it’s provided a platform for other artists to create their own unique guitar.
What do you think about signature series guitars?