Ever since the mid-1950s, when Chuck Berry, Bo Diddley, Elvis and Buddy Holly were creating a new genre called rock and roll, the electric guitar has been its dominant instrument. The electric guitar's roots go back to the 1920s and '30s, when jazzmen such as Charlie Christian were playing them with Big Bands, but it was Les Paul's invention of a guitar with a solid body that set the stage for rock and roll. Les's idea was a guitar with reduced feedback--and the every increasing volumes that rock reached would need it. Leo Fender picked up the idea and ran with it in the very early '50s with the Telecaster, the first mass-produced solidbody electric guitar, and pretty soon, to keep pace, Gibson came a knocking to Les's door to mass produce their own solidbody guitar, based on a combination of their great engineering work, and Les's pioneering ideas.
Add to that Leo Fender's electric Precision Bass, and the tools that dominated rock music were in place by about 1953. It just took Chuck, Buddy, and later, Jimi, Jimmy, James and Eric to show the world what could be done with them.
Of course, few people got that good a look at those instruments. As rock grew in popularity, it began to fill first clubs, then concert halls, then sports arenas and then giant outdoor stadiums-and each step put the fans further away from their heroes. And while plenty of photographs were taken of rock's stars, few concentrated on their equipment.
The Guitar As Centerfold
Guitar World magazine tried to change that. They launched in the early 1980s as an east coast competitor to the Northern California-based Guitar Player magazine, which had been around since the mid-1960s. At the time, Guitar Player had plenty of rock stars on their cover, but you got the feeling that their first loves were jazz and classical, because it dominated their feature articles and technique columns.