A Great Road Trip for the Guitar Geek
July 18, 2012 | Permalink
If you are a serious rock fan, your interest in the music likely goes deeper than the musicians who play it. (Fan is short for fanatic, remember.) You’re likely a fan of the instruments, too. There are a number of shrines where you can worship legendary rock musicians—the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland and the EMP Museum in Seattle spring immediately to mind. While these museums have displayed the instruments of famous musicians, like Jimi Hendrix and Kurt Cobain, the guitars took a back seat to their players’ personalities. Guitar-playing songwriters, of course, deserve a lot of attention. Without them, there would be no classic albums and no generational anthems.
However, as every great player knows, a well-crafted instrument—one that’s comfortable to play and has a great tone—makes writing that classic song much more doable. Classic songs tend to be played on classic guitars—that’s just the way it works. The following are places for the die-hard rock fan to visit, places where the instruments, not the players, take center stage.
Even the casual rock fan knows that Fender is the Cadillac of axes. Virtually all of the great players have used Fender electric guitars: Clapton, Hendrix, Townsend, Harrison and the list goes on and on. Through the Visitor Center’s very compelling interactive exhibits, you get the whole story—from Fender’s early days, when the company was Leo Fender’s baby, through the sixties and seventies, when the brand became the king of electric guitars, up to Fender’s status as a classic today.
Famous Fender models are on display paired with photos of iconic players who used them on famous records. A Bruce-Springsteen clear-finish Telecaster is paired with a giant reproduction of the Born in the USA album. It is a great feeling knowing that in addition to the Boss being a Fender devotee, Fender is a Bruce Springsteen devotee.
If you’ve ever wanted to be a guitar craftsperson, the Fender Visitor Center gives you the opportunity to realize your dream. You get to mix and match Fender bodies and necks in their “Wood Vault,” putting together your dream axe. The pros at the Fender factory will do the final assembly for you; then, your very own guitar design will be shipped to your home.
After learning about Fender’s storied history at the Visitor Center, you will get a guided tour of the factory. You’ll get to see every stage of the meticulous and magical process that gives the world Fender guitars. Rock on!
If Fender is the undisputed king of rock guitars, Gibson is the crown prince. Many legendary guitarists, like Jimmy Page, Marc Bolan and Keith Richards, have produced some sublime, dirty tones with their Gibsons (oftentimes running into Marshall amps turned up to eleven—Spinal Tap-style). How awesome is it that Gibson’s factory tour, the Gibson Beale Street Showcase, is located in Memphis—the city that gave us Elvis, Ike Turner and B.B. King? While you’re in Memphis, why not stop by Graceland (the King of Rock and Roll’s mansion) and Sun Records (the studio where the King recorded his first records)?
On Gibson’s forty-five minute tour, you’ll get to see every step in the creation of Gibson’s electric and acoustic guitars. And, if you’re an aspiring guitar craftsperson, you might even be able to chat up some of the guitar makers (who are called luthiers) and get some tips.
After rocking hard in Memphis and California, you’re going to need some home-style R&R (which is rest and relaxation, not rock and roll). Why not check into an Extended Stay Hotel, the best place for the comforts of home away from home?
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Its great to hear about the old guitar greats.Marc Bolan and Keith Richards are sadly missed by so many.Lets hope that in the years to come they will still be appreciated!
Posted by: Gary Upton | Aug 18, 2012 4:52:23 AM