Why do we still categorize guitars as fender vs. gibson?

Discussion in 'Standard Guitars' started by JediMasterThrash, Jun 7, 2018.

  1. JediMasterThrash

    JediMasterThrash SS.org Regular

    Messages:
    104
    Likes Received:
    12
    Joined:
    Jan 18, 2014
    Location:
    Minneapolis, MN
    I'm constantly confounded by this. It seems that all over, whether you're trying to go through some string or pickup selection app, or customizing a guitar, or just looking for tone advice, it seems much of the world is still classifying all guitars as either fender-style or gibson-style.

    But a fender strat and a gibson are really just a single configuration of shape, frets, wood, and pickups, out of an almost infinite possibility.

    When I shop for guitars, I'd say less than 5% could actually be categorized as a fender strat or gibson style. Guitars come in every possible combination of 22 vs 24 frets, 24.75 vs 25.5 scale length, bolt on vs neck true vs solid body, half a dozen different fretboard radii, locking tuners, tremolo, floating tremolo, any possible combination of one to three humbuckers or single-coils or dual-rails or p90s. Any combination of alder, basswood, mahogany, etc with or without maple tops or maple or rosewood fretboards, etc. etc. etc.

    I just fail to see why so much of the guitar community continues to categorize guitars as fender or gibson, when 95% of guitars are just any combination of the above listed features.

    (my 95% number is made up, it's just a perception)
     
  2. MaxOfMetal

    MaxOfMetal Likes trem wankery. Super Moderator

    Messages:
    27,721
    Likes Received:
    5,450
    Joined:
    Aug 7, 2008
    Location:
    Milwaukee, WI
    Because most guitars are either a Gibson or a Fender, and most of the rest are copies of such.
     
  3. spudmunkey

    spudmunkey SS.org Regular

    Messages:
    607
    Likes Received:
    298
    Joined:
    Mar 7, 2010
    Location:
    Near San Francisco
    Those two guitars were two of the earliest to get massive worldwide success, and they were on opposite ends of the spectrum when it came to a lot of their aspects, both tonally and construction. On the strat side, you had all sorts of things that make for a tight, punchy, sharp and bright guitar: maple, long scale, bolt-on, single coil pickups and a trem. On the other end of the spectrum, you have a set-neck, shorter scale, mahogany guitar with humbuckers and a fixed bridge.

    They are used as the end-zones because people know what they are...they are known quantities, and are understood by most when used as a yard stick. They have gone beyond themselves in terms of their branding being common use, like Scotch tape, and Kleenex.

    If you told someone who *barely* knew anything about guitar, you could say you were building a Les Paul with Strat Pickups, they'd know what you were talking about. If you said you were putting two humbuckers into a Strat, many would say, "Oh, so you're going more for a 'Les Paul' sound, then?"
     
  4. budda

    budda Guiterrorizer Contributor

    Messages:
    21,881
    Likes Received:
    1,964
    Joined:
    Jan 22, 2007
    Location:
    London ONT
    Because non guitarists cant name anything else, and those two were first.
     
  5. spudmunkey

    spudmunkey SS.org Regular

    Messages:
    607
    Likes Received:
    298
    Joined:
    Mar 7, 2010
    Location:
    Near San Francisco
    In order of recognize-ability to non-guitarists or beginners, it goes:

    1. "Do you play electric or unplugged?", or alternatively, "Rock guitar or country guitar"
    2. Strat
    3. Les Paul
    4. Heavy metal guitar (which would include anything with a floyd, painted black without a white pickguard, and either pointier horns or a pointy headstock)
    5. Telecaster
    6. "Do you play rhythm or lead?"
    7. Ibanez
     
  6. vilk

    vilk Very Regular

    Messages:
    4,964
    Likes Received:
    991
    Joined:
    Apr 30, 2013
    Location:
    Chicago
    I think it's less of a "categorization" and more of a reference point intended to be understood by the greatest number of people. If I am selling something as "it's got that Reverend style neck carve" no one is going to know wtf I'm talking about because almost no one has ever played a Reverend brand guitar.
     
  7. JediMasterThrash

    JediMasterThrash SS.org Regular

    Messages:
    104
    Likes Received:
    12
    Joined:
    Jan 18, 2014
    Location:
    Minneapolis, MN
    Yeah, it just seems like the vast majority of options you can buy from Ibanez, ESP, Jackson, Kiesel, Schectar, BC Rich, etc don't fall into those two endzones.

    Though most of these are "metal" guitars brands, and I'm mainly only interested in those types of guitars, hence my "95%" number. Most metal guitars are strat-like designs with gibson-style dual humbuckers, and then floating tremolos, 24-XL frets and large radius necks and pointy designs that don't fall into either bucket.

    I always just wonder what I should call it then, is it a strat because of the shape, a gibson because of the humbuckers, or if I'm lucky they have "superstrat" as an option, though I think technically a superstrat has a bridge humbucker and a middle and neck single-coil.
     
  8. narad

    narad SS.org Regular

    Messages:
    5,968
    Likes Received:
    3,121
    Joined:
    Feb 15, 2009
    Location:
    Cambridge, UK
    I think it's a bad idea right-off to start binning high-level specs and genre together. For instance, the statement "Most metal guitars are strat-like designs with gibson-style dual humbuckers, and then floating tremolos, ..., etc". There's probably more exceptions to your categorization than there are things that it actually applies to.

    Really I don't see the problem. If the world only recognized ducks and beavers, I wouldn't stress over what to call a platypus. I'd just call it a platypus.
     
    Spicypickles likes this.
  9. bostjan

    bostjan MicroMetal Contributor

    Messages:
    14,725
    Likes Received:
    2,660
    Joined:
    Dec 7, 2005
    Location:
    St. Johnsbury, VT USA
    They were the first truly ubiquitously marketed solidbody electric guitars, with two different scale lengths and two different pole piece spacings. So, when you buy a pickup, it's compatible with Gibson or with Fender, just like when you buy a computer keyboard, it's compatible with Apple or with PC.
     
  10. spudmunkey

    spudmunkey SS.org Regular

    Messages:
    607
    Likes Received:
    298
    Joined:
    Mar 7, 2010
    Location:
    Near San Francisco
    But what about Tandy?!
     
    AxeHappy, synrgy and bostjan like this.
  11. bostjan

    bostjan MicroMetal Contributor

    Messages:
    14,725
    Likes Received:
    2,660
    Joined:
    Dec 7, 2005
    Location:
    St. Johnsbury, VT USA
    Yeah, it was weird, but still fully IBM PC compatible, except the graphics and possibly sound cards.
     
    AxeHappy and synrgy like this.
  12. BlackSG91

    BlackSG91 Loves Black Guitars

    Messages:
    69
    Likes Received:
    43
    Joined:
    Jul 22, 2013
    Location:
    Oshawa, ON
  13. zappatton2

    zappatton2 SS.org Regular

    Messages:
    567
    Likes Received:
    155
    Joined:
    Mar 7, 2009
    Location:
    Ottawa, ON
    Always choose Warlock!!
     
    BlackSG91 likes this.
  14. Flappydoodle

    Flappydoodle SS.org Regular

    Messages:
    320
    Likes Received:
    246
    Joined:
    Feb 26, 2018
    Better question is, why are guitar makers in 2018 still intent on copying those designs and features?

    Even the new companies like Chapman are still releasing S shape, T shape, LP shapes. Even custom guitar companies still have their S, T etc shapes as baseline models.

    The 25.5 scale length has become totally standard too. For some reason, almost nobody except Gibson uses 24.75. PRS have tried to be different, but the changes are so slight that you'd never notice other than on the spec sheet.
     
  15. bostjan

    bostjan MicroMetal Contributor

    Messages:
    14,725
    Likes Received:
    2,660
    Joined:
    Dec 7, 2005
    Location:
    St. Johnsbury, VT USA
    I dunno, I kind of like having scale lengths in standard bins of sizes. It makes things easier overall. Also, I never gelled with 24.75" scale length, personally - the low E always sounded kind of boxy to me.
     
  16. bostjan

    bostjan MicroMetal Contributor

    Messages:
    14,725
    Likes Received:
    2,660
    Joined:
    Dec 7, 2005
    Location:
    St. Johnsbury, VT USA
    double
     
  17. JSanta

    JSanta SS.org Regular

    Messages:
    718
    Likes Received:
    230
    Joined:
    Aug 20, 2012
    Location:
    Rochester, NY
    More than likely, it's because those shapes are the most popular on the market. Regardless of what many of the members of this forum believe (partially in jest), I highly doubt most guitarists want something radical looking. There's a reason the classics and close derivatives remain popular - it's what the market wants.
     
  18. bnzboy

    bnzboy Asian Dying

    Messages:
    636
    Likes Received:
    117
    Joined:
    Jan 8, 2014
    Location:
    London, ON
    ya I am thinking classical strings/brass/woodwind instruments. maybe not exactly what the market wants but i'd say the guitar is the most customizable instrument out of those
     
  19. bostjan

    bostjan MicroMetal Contributor

    Messages:
    14,725
    Likes Received:
    2,660
    Joined:
    Dec 7, 2005
    Location:
    St. Johnsbury, VT USA
    Just like the music that's most popular. Key of G major, I - V - ii - IV or similar progression, chain of thirds melody, attractive 20-something singer, fake beat on the drums, eighth notes on bass following root notes of the chord progression, lyrics about something benign and just on the slightly more interesting side of vapid with a lot of repetition. Bingo, hit song.
    Played on an electric guitar that looks like a Strat or a Les Paul, or, maybe, if it's country, and the guitarist wants to look a little old fashioned, on a Tele.
    It's because it's more difficult to make money these days with music, so everyone is staying more on the safe side. It's much safer to release a guitar that's a remix of last year's most popular model, just like it's safer to release a remix of last year's most popular song, than it is to try something entirely new.
     
  20. JSanta

    JSanta SS.org Regular

    Messages:
    718
    Likes Received:
    230
    Joined:
    Aug 20, 2012
    Location:
    Rochester, NY
    And honestly, what's not to love about a good Strat, Tele, or LP? And there is plenty of experimental and progressive music being played on those types of guitars. I don't think a Xiphos is any more suited to metal than any other guitar, for what it's worth.
     

Share This Page