Can You Name the Guitarist Based on Their Gear?

40 PLAYS

By: Teresa McGlothlin

7 Min Quiz

Image: GibsonTV via YouTube

About This Quiz

Are you ready to take a trip through musical history like you've never taken before? During this quiz, you're going to get to show off your knowledge of some of the most legendary guitarists in the world! If you can name them from their equipment, you're either a guitar tech or you spend a lot of time trying to recreate some of rock 'n roll's most famous sounds. Do you think you can do it? 

While blues legends like Robert Johnson helped to shape the world of rock as we know it now, things got a little more interesting when amplification started taking over. As early as the '50s, guitarists like Buddy Holly and Johnny Cash were using specific combinations of gear to get their signature sounds. You might consider yourself an aficionado, but are you good enough to figure out who we're talking about by being asked about their setup alone? 

Pay special attention to the questions before you answer, and you might find a hint or two. The Vox AC30 seems to be everyone's favorite amp, so we've taken things a little bit further and asked about some of their pedals and all of their guitars, too. Can you do better than someone who works at a guitar store, or will you learn a thing or two? Turn it up to 11 and find out exactly how much you know! 

Do you know which guitarist loved to run his Hohner Telecasters through a Mesa Boogie ICC head?

From his Fender Jazz Bass to his Japanese Hohner Telecaster, Prince played an impressive array of guitars. Even though Fender sued Hohner for using its likeness, Prince owned several of them and refused to stop playing his favorite single-coil ax.

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He got his unique '60s sound with a Fuzz Face pedal and a Fender Jazzmaster; who is he?

Jimi Hendrix got his sound from his interesting setup using an octave pedal and a Dallas Arbiter Fuzz Face pedal. For the first year of his career, he played a 1957 Supro Ozark until it was stolen. After that, it wasn't unusual to see him strapping on an Ibanez Jet King 2 or a Fender Jazzmaster.

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Which of these former '90s drummers is especially fond of Vox AC30 amps and custom Gibson semi-acoustics?

Until Dave Grohl discovered the Vox line of amps, he was a big fan of Marshall amps. Some of the first Foo Fighters recordings used a battery-powered amp and extra-heavy strings to get the signature sound.

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What blues guitarist created his signature sound using only a Gibson ES-355 named Lucille and a Lab Series amp?

Unlike many guitarists, B.B. King didn't need a rack full of pedals to get his signature sound. Although he played many versions of Lucille throughout his years, he always preferred the use of combo amps over the altered sound of pedals.

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Can you figure out which '70s legend loved his Vox Wah-Wah, 100-watt Marshall heads and a 1956 Fender Strat?

Eric Clapton rose to fame when he covered Bob Marley's "I Shot the Sheriff," and he did it playing a '56 Stratocaster he lovingly named Blackie. At some point during the '60s, he began playing a Gibson Les Paul SG, but he's a huge collector. It's not unusual to see him playing any number of guitars.

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Who climbed a musical stairway with his MIDI controllers and a Les Paul Standard named "Number One"?

There's not enough room on this page to list all the equipment Jimmy Page has used over the years. Alongside his litany of pedals, he's been known to use a MIDI interface to get unusual tones out of his favorite guitars. That's why you'll often hear violin and piano tones screaming out of his amps.

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What British punk guitarist enjoyed his many Fender Esquires run through a Music Man HD 220?

When Joe Strummer was on stage with The Clash, he was usually seen with a Fender Esquire in his hands. Although he often used various combinations of Vox and Marshall amps, he always favored the Music Man.

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In her early years with The Runaways, what guitarist used a Sears Silvertone?

Before switching to a Gibson Melody Maker, Joan Jett played both a Gibson Les Paul and a Sears Silvertone. To get her pop-punk, grungy crunch, she runs them through a Mesa Boogie Mark 3 and into the ever-popular Vox AC30.

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What guitarist backed up Ozzy Osbourne with Flying V guitars and a host of MXR pedals?

While playing in Quiet Riot, Randy Rhoads had a simpler setup than he did when he played for Ozzy. Eventually trading in his Les Paul for a custom Karl Sandoval Flying V, he stepped things up by including MXR Chorus, MXR Flanger and Korg Echo pedals with his MXR Distortion.

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This should be easy! Who built and played a guitar named Frankenstrat before his '80s stardom hit?

Coming in at a whopping $130 to make, Eddie Van Halen's first guitar was a Gibson/Fender hybrid that he built by himself. Later moving up to the EVH line of guitars, his sound came from a variety of pedals like the MXR Phase 90 and the Echoplex Delay.

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Which '90s alt-rock guitarist debuted "Gish" with a blue '74 Fender Stratocaster?

Billy Corgan used many guitars like the Gibson Les Paul Special and the Gibson ES-335 during his career, but he started the Smashing Pumpkins with his beaten-up Strat. Well-known for his suitcases of pedals, there are few pedals he didn't use! He says that the Big Muff Pi Fuzz is his favorite, though.

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This famous guitarist started out playing an Epiphone Casino, but has been playing a Telecaster since the '70s. Who is he?

Always one to do things his own way, Keith Richards is well-known for his five-string, open-G style of guitar playing. Often seen with amps like the Vox AC30 and the Fender Tweed, his sound has defined generations.

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Which heavy metal god once played a Jackson King V Custom with a "Kill Bon Jovi" sticker on it?

Dave Mustaine was endorsed by Jackson, but it was Hetfield who played one first. Dating all the way back to 1985, he fell in love with a Jackson King Custom V but declined to accept a similar deal. Instead, he continued to play the guitar with a "Kill Bon Jovi" sticker across the company's logo.

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Any idea who plays his Maton BB1200 through a DigiTech Whammy and an Ampeg V22, among other things?

Like many guitarists, Josh Homme's list of pedals, amps and guitars are long enough to fill a novel. His love for the Australian-made Maton BB1200 and vintage amps help define The Queens of the Stone Age's sound, though.

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What Detroit guitarist used a reissue of Fender Twin Reverb instead of a vintage Silvertone combo amp when he formed The Dead Weather?

Jack White rose to stardom in the White Stripes with a gritty vintage sound. When he formed The Dead Weather, he changed things up and primarily worked with a reissue of the '65 Fender Twin Reverb. He also added in a Voodoo Lab Tremolo to spice things up.

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Which Seattle guitarist often plays her Danelectro U-2 through a Bass Micro Synth?

Corin Tucker plays the guitar, but she's often functioned as a bass player, backing fellow Sleater-Kinney bandmate Carrie Brownstein. She credits her deep, low tones to the magic of her favorite pedal — the Electro-Harmonix Bass Micro Synth.

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Can you figure out which grunge guitar hero's Fender Mustang now hangs in the Rock 'n Roll Hall of Fame?

Kurt Cobain's first Mustang can be seen in the "Smells Like Teen Spirit" video, but there were between three and five custom models made for him afterward. He preferred to keep the pedal game simple, and he often sang the praises of Boss DX-1 and DX-2 pedals.

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Do you know which '90s artist played a guitar called the Conn Drifter?

For every 20 years, Thurston Moore's Conn Drifter defined the noisier part of Sonic Youth's sound. When he wanted a cleaner sound, he was known to turn to the Fender Jazzmaster. Sadly, most of his original gear was stolen in 1999.

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What CBGBs guitarist's simple setup of Marshall cabinets put him on the map?

If you're looking to recreate Johnny Ramone's sound, you don't have to go all out. When he first started with The Ramones, he hit the stage with a set of Marshall 4 x 12 cabinets powered by a Marshall Superlead Guitar Head, a tuner and a Fender Stratocaster.

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He defined Black Sabbath's sound with a Gibson SG and a Marshall 50w Plexi; do you know who he is?

Not only does Tony Iommi play left-handed, but he also plays without all of his fingertips. About halfway through recording Black Sabbath's first album, his Fender Stratocaster was broken. It was at that point he started a career-long love affair B.C. Rich and Gibson guitars.

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"Do you feel like you do" know who plays his Les Paul Goldtop through a modified Marshall JMP?

For someone with his level of talent, Peter Frampton likes to keep things simple. Whether he's playing his signature Gibson Les Paul, his Les Paul Goldtop or his Fender Jaguar, he always runs it through a Marshall JMP head that's been altered to accommodate his talkbox.

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Which edgy '80s female guitarist used Univox Super-Fuzz and Fender "Silverface" Pro Reverb for her itchy, signature sound?

There are times you'll see Poison Ivy with a Danelectro Longhorn Guitarlin, or her favorite, the Gretsch 6120. You'll never see her with a complicated rig, though. Her raunchy, rockabilly riffs are accomplished using only a Univox Super-Fuzz and a couple of Fender AB688s.

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What famous shredder keeps things simple with a humbucker-fitted Les Paul? Don't forget the top hat!

Slash is such an exceptional player that it sounds like he's using more equipment than he really is. Preferring only Gibson guitars, Marshall vintage tube amps and two pedals, his signature sound comes from his unique way of playing.

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Can you figure out which alternative guitarist gets his frequency with vintage amps, a Line 6 DL4 and a Rickenbacker 360?

R.E.M. gets most of its sound from Peter Buck's skilled playing. Although he owns too many guitars and pedals to list, he usually sticks to his favorites — the Rickenbacker 360 and a custom Fender Telecaster. One of his favorite amps is the Savage Blitz 50.

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Try to "walk this way" and tell us who played a Gibson Les Paul Junior through a Maestro Fuzz-Tone with his band in the '70s; can you?

Joe Perry is another great guitarist who would rather keep things simple. During the '70s, he was usually seen playing his Les Paul Junior through an Ampeg V-2 head and a set of Marshall 4 x 12" speakers.

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Dean guitars loved which metal player so much that they made a custom pickup named DimeTime?

Metal fans still look up to the stellar guitar work that Dimebag Darrell left as his legacy. Known for playing signature Dean Flying V guitars, the brand loved him so much that they created a signature pickup for him. Unlike most metal guitarist, Dimebag liked Randall amps much more than Marshall.

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What groundbreaking country artist walked the line with a Martin in his hands? Sometimes, it had a piece of paper on the frets.

The Man in Black, Johnny Cash, may have played country music, but he was one of the front-runners of rock 'n roll. When he first started, he got his signature chugging sound by affixing a piece of paper around a fret, giving his playing a bit of a percussive feel.

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Which former Yardbirds guitarist used a Dunlop Cry Baby in his formative years?

Jeff Beck owns plenty of Gibson guitars, but he always gave his Fender Stratocaster higher marks. While playing in the Yardbirds, he stuck to the Vox AC30, a Dunlop Cry Baby pedal and little else. These days, his list of gear is long enough to line a city block.

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Any idea which Texas blues player sometimes played a Conqueror through a '64 Fender Vibroverb?

Once again proving that it's the player and not the gear, Stevie Ray Vaughan also liked to keep things uncomplicated. When he first started playing, he used a rare guitar named Conqueror. Later in his career, he played everything from the Stratocaster to the Robin Octave Double Neck.

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Do you know what "Freak Out" songwriter utilized a Gibson ES-5 Switchmaster?

If you follow Frank Zappa's guitar chords to the amp he used while recording "Freak Out," you would find a Fender Deluxe. Zappa loved to experiment with sound, and often enlisted pedals like the Electro-Harmonix Big Muff and the Mu-Tron Wah to get just the right tone.

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What Australian guitarist was practically inseparable from his Gibson SG?

Angus Young put AC/DC on the map with his gritty sound, but he did it in an unusual way. In addition to his numerous Marshall stacks and pedals, he was a huge fan of swapping out the speakers for something a little meatier. The Celestion line was a favorite!

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You'll probably know this guitarist from his rectangular Gretsch G6138; do you?

Few guitar players had as much style as Bo Diddley! Although little is known about his early amp preferences, he certainly had unique taste in guitars. With a sound all his own, he was one of the first to use the DeArmond Tremolo Control pedal.

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Can you correctly choose the Irish guitarist who's fond of the Gibson Explorer?

The Edge's official list of equipment is over five pages long, but the iconic guitar you usually see him with is named the Explorer. The U2 guitarist is a master of effects and uses plenty of them. He has often spoken highly of the Lovetone Doppelganger, though. He's used it since the '80s.

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Which Decca Records star created hits like "Peggy Sue" with his Gibson Les Paul Goldtop?

Buddy Holly was a bigger fan of his Fender Stratocaster, but the powers that be initially suggested that it was too edgy. Instead, Holly recorded many of his hits using a Les Paul Goldtop and an assortment of vintage amps like Fender "TV Front Tweed."

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What '60s legend was often seen with a Gretsch Country Gentleman and a Fender Deluxe?

When Lou Reed's Velvet Underground took to New York clubs, they brought a sound unlike any other. Alongside fellow guitarist Sterling Morrison, their experimental sounds came from using a variety of amps like the Vox Phantom.

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He's a champion who played a guitar named the Red Special through a Deacy Amp; who are we talking about?

Queen's Brian May continues to inspire guitarists across the world. While there are few guitars he doesn't own, he's often seen with his Red Special or his Washburn RRV run through a series of amps including the coveted vintage Vox AC30 the Deacy.

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What guitarist delivered catchy songs like "Lola" on a Gibson Nighthawk?

Few things are more exciting to vintage gearheads than the list of amps Ray Davies had in his roster. Along with the Peavey Decade and the Elpico AC55 "Little Green Amp," he was also a fan of the AC30 Combo.

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Do you know which pop-punk guitarist loves the sound of a guitar named Floyd hooked up to a Fender Bassman?

Green Day's Billie Joe Armstrong has a collection of guitars that would make any gearhead drool. When he first started the band, he preferred playing his Les Paul Junior through a Fender Bassman. These days, his list of gear rivals that of a giant music store.

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Who plays a guitar named Old Black through a Fender Deluxe on songs like "Cinnamon Girl"?

The legendary Neil Young has always been a fan of beaten-up vintage gear. To get his jangly and crunchy sound on songs like "Hey Hey My My," he can be found playing a 1953 Gibson Les Paul Goldtop that he lovingly named Old Black.

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What deafening guitarist ran his Rickenbacker 360/12 through a Fender Bassman and Marshall cabinets on 1964's "I Can't Explain"?

Back when The Who was taking the stage, they were considered one of the loudest bands in the world. Pete Townshend's Rickenbacker simply screams with its modified set of strings, and his infamous amp setup is still mimicked today.

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