To kick off this list we have an absolute icon! When people think of guitars, one of the first they think of is the Fender Telecaster. Introduced back in 1951, the telecaster revolutionized the electric guitar. Over the years there have been many iterations of this legendary guitar, but one that I feel is overlooked is the Fender Player Telecaster. Unbelievably comfortable, efficient, easy to use, and very affordable, the Player Series is perfect for guitarists looking to get their first Fender guitar without breaking the bank, as well as guitarists looking to get a versatile guitar that they can use for years to come. Even 60 years after its invention, modern Telecasters differ very little from their ancestors, with a few exceptions to make them even more user-friendly. The Player Series Telecaster now has a more comfortable modern “C” neck shape that makes navigating the fretboard a breeze. The alder body makes this guitar very light, making it the perfect guitar for gigging. The Alnico 5 Tele Single-Coil pickups are very solid pickups replicating the iconic Telecaster “twang”. But if those pickups aren’t your thing, finding replacement pickups will be very easy, just about every pickup company makes telecaster-style pickups because of the popularity of this guitar! Versatile enough to handle any style, durable enough to handle any gig, and easy enough for anyone to pick up and play, the Fender Player Telecaster is the perfect workhorse guitar for any musician!
Notable players: Jimmy Page, Keith Richards, Jim Root, Jeff Buckley, George Harrison
The other guitar that most people think of when they think of the electric guitar is the Fender Stratocaster! Released back in 1954, the Fender Stratocaster is the instrument that launched Fender into the “Stratosphere”. The three-pickup configuration and rounded edges with body contours set this Strat apart as one of the most remarkably comfortable and versatile instruments. Much like the Telecaster, there have been many iterations of the Stratocaster over the years. If you are looking for a classic guitar with modern features look no further than the Fender Player Plus Stratocaster. Much like the Fender Player series, the Fender Player Plus is comfortable, easy to use, and affordable. What sets the Player Plus series apart from the Player Series are different finishes and even more modern features. Instead of Alnico 5 pickups, the Player Plus series is loaded with Noiseless Strat pickups. Bright, touch-sensitive single coil pickups that offer the classic Strat tone, but without the single coil hum! An added bonus with these pickups is the ability to add the neck pickup to positions 1 and 2, using the push-pull pot on the tone control, for sounds that are usually not found on a Strat creating sounds closer to a humbucker. The silky satin Modern “C” neck fits your hand like a glove allowing for impeccable fretboard access. The Fender Stratocaster is used in everything from Funk to Hard Rock, the versatility of this instrument cannot be understated. If you are looking for a comfortable, versatile, and stylish guitar, the Fender Player Plus Stratocaster is the perfect tool to spark your creativity and stand out!
Notable players: Jimi Hendrix, Jeff Beck, Mark Knopfler, John Frusciante, Stevie Ray Vaughan
If you are looking for a semi-hollow this holiday season, the Gretsch G5655T Electromatic Center Block Jr. is the epitome of beautiful style and tone! The first thing we noticed about this guitar was the incredible finish. Having hands down one of the best Quilted Maple tops we have ever seen, this guitar stands out in the crowd. As good as this guitar looks, it turns out it has the tone to match. The G5655TQM features a smaller body with a chambered spruce center block for dynamic resonance as well as making it extremely lightweight. The smooth thin “U” lower maple neck offers easy access to the higher frets, while the 12”- radius laurel fretboard with 22 medium jumbo frets and Neo-Classic thumbnail inlays offer excellent playability. On top of the beautiful craftsmanship on all of the wood, the electronics expand this instrument's tonal palate. The Dual Black Top Broad’Tron humbuckers offer a bold articulate punch with all the high-end shimmer you expect from Gretsch. As if all of that wasn’t enough, this instrument is fitted with the finest hardware. Fitted with a classic Bigsby B70 tailpiece perfect to add a wavy feel to sustained chord progressions without worrying about going out of tune. All of the hardware in the G5655TQM’s collection is heavy-duty nickel to ensure long-lasting performance. The Gretsch G5655TQM is easily one of our favorite semi-hollow guitars we have ever played, and the price only makes this guitar even better! It is incredible that a guitar of this quality can sit at such an affordable price, making this a steal for the holidays!
Moving away from classic guitars and to something geared more towards metal heads and shredders, we have the EVH 5150 Standard. Engineered for speed and comfort, the reinvented 5150 Standard Series is an iconic blast from the past that effortlessly blends both throwback and modern features. The EVH 5150 was built for high performance, we would expect nothing less from a guitar that was designed by Eddie Van Halen himself! Like its predecessor, the 5150 Standard features a modified Strat-style basswood body that offers a growling mid-range tone that pairs perfectly with the Wolfgang Alnico II humbuckers. Eddie spent so much time tinkering with pickup windings to try to achieve his signature tone, and the Wolfgang Alnico II humbuckers are the culmination of his experiments. They nail Eddie's classic tone perfect for full-throttle gain! The quartersawn maple neck features a modified “C” profile with a hand-rubbed satin finish making this one of the most comfortable necks I have ever played. EVH tried to make a neck that was a shredders dream, and they absolutely achieved what they set out to do! It genuinely feels like your hand flies across the neck without any resistance. A welcome throwback is the addition of the “hockey stick” matching headstock, this gives the guitar a really unique look that not many modern guitars can pull off! Loaded with a “dive-bomb” certified EVH branded top mount Floyd Rose for massive drops, and a patented EVH D-Tuna for effortless switching drop D to standard tuning in an instant. My personal favorite addition is the lower bout kill switch to mute the guitar for those stutter effects like in “You Really Got Me”.
Closing out this list is one of my personal favorite guitars we have. If you are looking for something that can do sludgy doom metal all the way to warm clean tones, you want to pick up the Dunable Cyclops DE V2. Now if you haven’t heard of Dunable (I didn’t until I started working at Safe Haven), that’s okay they are a smaller builder compared to Fender and EVH, but their quality is absolutely up to the standards set by the titans of the industry. Dunable guitars have taken inspiration from brands like Gibson but put their own twist on them. They are perfect if you are looking for a Gibson but don’t want to pay the Gibson price. The mahogany neck and body give this guitar a very warm balanced sound. The bound ebony fretboard makes this easily one of the most comfortable guitars to play whether you are chugging chords or ripping leads. The split-coil Dunable Cthulhu pickups cover just about every sound you could ever want. They are very warm and full sounding, then just pull the tone knob and now you have very bright single-coil pickups. This guitar is meant to be played very hard, so Dunable installed a Nashville tune-o-matic bridge with a stop tailpiece and a set of lightweight open-back tuning keys to ensure that no matter how hard you batter the strings, tuning stability won't be an issue. The Dunable Cyclops DE is available in an array of finishes to fit any style! Another awesome bonus about this guitar is that it is one of the few South Korean-made instruments to come with a padded gig bag! The Cyclops is the perfect guitar for musicians looking to upgrade their guitar to something that will last a lifetime!