Here are 64 remarkable guitars made since 1912. Each has been dutifully illustrated with the smallest details intact.

There’s something for everyone--everything from your classic Fenders to custom lightning bolt guitars.

But what’s remarkable is how little guitars have changed since the rise of electrics.

The Flying V is a personal favorite.

The air guitar--classic.

And when you opt to play a 5-necked guitar, maybe it’s time to get some more band members.

Infographic: 64 Of The Coolest Guitars From The Past 100 Years

Skulls. Axes. Lightning bolts. Bottles of whiskey. If it’s rock ‘n’ roll, chances are, it’s also an awesome novelty guitar.

Do you like lightning bolts? Then you’ve come to the right place, friend, because so does rock ‘n’ roll. Just strap on Pantera’s 1994 Washburn 333 or Peter Cook’s 1975 Custom Bolt Bass, and you’re all set.

Such is one spec of gloriousness you’ll find inside Pop Chart Lab’s latest creation, A Visual Compendium of Guitars. It’s an archival print of 64 guitars illustrated from a 100-year history of rock ‘n’ roll.

Click to enlarge.

"We created a visual database for each guitar we chose and proceeded to dive into music history, spending a lot of time studying each one to make sure the details were exact," art director Ben Gibson explains. "Some of these things have colorful, unclear provenances (especially the custom jobs) that needed to be verified through old music articles, photos, and the ever-passionate forum discourse of guitar geeks."

Once the database of makes, models, and years was finalized, Pop Chart Lab designers began painstakingly reproducing each guitar from the ground up—that includes not just the shape but pickups, knobs, and inlay designs.

The final collection begins with the relatively humble 1912 Jumbo Stella 12-String, played by folk and blues musician Lead Belly. And through the years, it highlights the freakshow spectacle that ensued. For every iconic edition of Stratocaster or Les Paul, there’s a fur-covered, bone-worshipping, siamese-quintuplet monstrosity of excess—the physical manifestation of the hyperbole of rock. Equally remarkable is how well the vintage designs have stood the test of time. A hundred years after the first telephone or car, neither product is all that recognizable. But the basic forms of acoustic and electric guitars have gone mostly unchanged. The Stratocaster has still got it.

A limited edition of 500 prints is available now. The 18" x 24" posters run $22 (jumping to $27 soon). A T-shirt version is just $16.

Buy one here (poster) or here (tee).

Add New Comment


  • Christa Joe

    I personally like the concept of Jack Daniel Bass as Music makes you High and so Jack Daniel does. THis probably could be the reason that Van Halen was able to make such an intense flavor of music.

  • Michael Baker

    I'm surprised Mark Knopbler's National Style O Dobro isn't listed here.  Initially I thought that a Dobro isn't technically a guitar but one of my kid's pointed out that a Dobro is a resonating guitar ...

  • Kekolohe

    I think the best one of all is Willie Nelson's beat up old guitar.  Too bad they missed that.

  • Myriderbymyside

    OBICAN beat me to it - but yeah the Jimmy Page guitar is a 1959 Les Paul.  He also played a 1958 as well but the '59 was his main guitar.  

  • Timothyrreeves

    It's missing Pat Metheny's guitar. Particularly, the Pikasso, for its uniqueness.

  • Obican

    At least half of them have the wrong colour, wrong shape, wrong model year or they are just wrong altogether. Notable examples:

    1. Billy Gibbons' furry bass: He's the guitar player for ZZ Top, not the bass player
    2. James Hetfield's Explorer: Pictured is the 2011 or 2012 model, which is significantly different than the previous models.
    3. Kirk's Flying V: Although he had it, he was never famous for playing it.
    4. Jimmy Page's #1: If it had been a 1957, it'd be a goldtop, which is a HUGE difference. It's either a '58 or a '59.
    5. Dimebag's Lighting Bolt Guitar: While he also had one made by Washburn, THE lighting bolt guitar was actually a repainted Dean ML.

    I appreciate the effort, but this should've been done properly.

  • Simon Bradley

    Yep. The Hetfield guitar is an ESP Snakebyte, not an Explorer, the ZZ Top furry guitar and bass were both Dean Z models, the Red Special was finished in 1964, Slash actually used a Derrig LP copy, at least for 99% of all Guns outings, and EVH had the Frankenstein way before 1979. And the Page 1957 Les Paul error is a doozy.

    It's a nice idea, but there are too many guitar nerds out there - like me - who will spot every error on here, which is a shame as checking the details with anyone who knows would have been easy.

  • Tom Dickinson

     I totally agree. Les Paul never played that model of guitar, always preferring the original p90 pickups and later the 'Recording' model.

    It's a nice idea, but really easy to muck it up. And if you're going to put together a poster for guitar geeks/music fans, you have to make it exhaustive and get your facts right.