The Ten Best Electric Guitars

Who needs air guitar when you can play at being a rock god with one of these beauties? Guitar Buyer's Paul Alcantara plugs in and takes his pick


Fender American Vintage '57 Strat

Fender American Vintage '57 Strat

from £1,260

With three pickups, built-in tremolo, and ergonomic body, the Stratocaster is the very embodiment of the electric guitar (ask someone to sketch an electric, and chances are the result will resemble a Strat). It's been used by musicians as diverse as Ry Cooder, Jimi Hendrix and Hank Marvin.

Fender (01342 331700; www.fender.co.uk)

Gibson Korina Flying V reissue

Secondhand: prices vary

Attempting to rival Fender's sexy new solid-body, the Stratocaster, Gibson president Ted McCarty enlisted the help of a group of artists to design a line of "modernistic" guitars. The result was three radically shaped solids: the Flying V, Explorer and Moderne. Around 120 Vs were shipped, with originals now fetching in excess of $75,000.

Rosetti (01376 550033; www.gibson.com)

Rickenbacker 360-12

£1,620

The sight (and sound) of George Harrison striking the opening chord to "A Hard Day's Night" on his Rickenbacker 12-string in the movie of the same name would inspire a young Jim McGuinn (later Roger McGuinn, of The Byrds) to abandon his acoustic for a Rickenbacker 360. Folk-rock was born and the rest, as they say, is history.

Rosetti (01376 550033; www.rickenbacker.com)

Gibson 175

£2,500

As Gibson's most successful hollow-body, the 175 has enjoyed uninterrupted production since 1949. Most often seen in the hands of jazzers, the guitar is also a favourite of Steve Howe, who, apparently, slept with his when Yes first toured America!

Rosetti (01376 550033; www.gibson.com)

Yamaha Pacifica 112

£200

Now over 10 years old, the Pacifica 112, while not in the same league as its nine illustrious companions, has proven a classic of sorts. Designed by American Rich Lasner, this fresh take on the Strat offers unrivalled value for money at the budget end of the market.

Yamaha Kemble (01908 366700; www.yamaha-europe.com)

Paul Reed Smith Custom 24

from £2,595

Arguably the first guitar to successfully blend the best of the Les Paul and the Strat, this has transcended both to become a classic in its own right.

The brand of choice for Nu-Metal bands.

Headline Music (01223 874301; www.prsguitars.com)

Gibson dot 335

around £2,000

Ted McCarty was president of Gibson from to 1966, and the 335 was his favourite. It combines the sustain of a solid, with the resonance of a hollow, and was used by Chuck Berry.

Rosetti (01376 550033; www.gibson.com)

Fender American Vintage 52 Telecaster

£1,260

Over half a century old, Leo Fender's plank with pickups remains the quintessential electric guitar. Exemplifying the Bauhaus creed that form follows function, the Tele's blue-collar credibility has made it a favourite with rockers, from Keith Richards to Bruce Springsteen. Like "Keef" himself, it has seen off prettier competition and can still be seen rocking on stages around the world. (If the price is too steep, the best budget alternative is the Mexican 50's Telecaster at £499.)

Fender (01342 331700; www.fender.co.uk)

Gibson R9 Les Paul

£N/A

The success of Gibson's first solid-body guitar has all but eclipsed the pop guitarist whose name it bears. Discontinued in 1961 due to poor sales, the guitar was given a fresh lease of life when Eric Clapton plugged it into a Marshall amp. The R9 reissue is the closest mere mortals will get to a 1950s original. (The best budget alternative is the £550 Epiphone Les Paul Standard.)

Gibson ( www.gibson.com)

Gretsch 6120 Nashville

£1,900

Noted for their Rockabilly flash, wild colour schemes, and gimmicky electronics, Gretsch's eye-catching guitars embody the Cadillac-informed zeitgeist of the 1950s. The 6120, the signature model of the country legend Chet Atkins (who loathed the original's kitsch western trim), was embraced by Duane Eddy, Eddie Cochran and, later, Brian Setzer of the Stray Cats.

Fender (01342 331700; www.fender.co.uk)

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