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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.

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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).

About the author

Mark Wilson is a senior writer at Fast Company. He started Philanthroper.com, a simple way to give back every day.

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