10 Strangest Signature Guitars Ever Made!

In this blog, we've compiled a list of 10 of the weirdest (yet wonderful) signature guitars that we've ever seen! From strange colour-schemes to otherworldly body shapes, there have been some very unexpected collaborations over the years too...

Elliot Stent

Elliot Stent

Signature guitars have become increasingly popular in recent years. Players seem to be more keen than ever to imitate their heroes by wielding instruments similar to the ones that they use onstage – in order to capture their sound and style. However, while most signature guitars are just subtly-tweaked versions of existing models; there are others that depart massively from traditional formulas.

In this piece, we’ve picked out 10 signature guitars (both past and present) that we consider to be among the strangest ever created! But before we get into our list, let’s fully define what a signature guitar is and why instrument brands are so keen to market them.

What is a Signature Guitar?

A ‘signature guitar’ is a dedicated artist model co-designed by a musical instrument company and a selected guitar player. Often bearing their name, musicians that are graced with their own signature guitars are typically well-known and have a large following. They may have also had longstanding ties with a certain guitar manufacturer, with their signature model regarded as a culmination of that relationship.

The purpose of a signature instrument is to allow fans of a particular musician to emulate their idol by playing the same guitar as them – or at least one that is very similar. But for instrument brands, signature guitars can serve as excellent marketing tools. They often become best-sellers too, depending on the popularity of an artist and the appeal of their instrument.

10 Weirdest Signature Guitars

Now that we have the definition out of the way – let’s get to the top 10! We assembled a big list of contenders, but the following signature guitars were, in our opinion, some of the most bizarre of the bunch. They’re in no particular order, by the way!

Fender Shawn Mendes Musicmaster

Fender Shawn Mendes Musicmaster Signature Guitar

Shawn Mendes is a modern pop icon. Dominating the US and his native Canadian charts in recent years, Mendes has also achieved major international success with his heavily-played hit tracks “Stitches”, “In My Blood” and “Señorita”. Mendes has powered his pop-rock style with Fender guitars, and his first signature model with the industry giant is definitely a bit of a “marmite” guitar!

Based on Fender’s old Musicmaster model, a short-scale student guitar last produced in the ’80s, Shawn’s signature axe boasts a striking floral livery designed by renowned French artist Adolphe Millot. Also sporting a tasteful ‘Prairie Grass’ pickguard, you’d be forgiven for comparing this instrument’s looks to “victorian bathroom wallpaper” – as one of our Twitter followers pointed out…

Schecter Al Jourgensen Triton

Schecter Al Jourgensen Triton Signature Guitar

Is it a bird? Is it a plane? Neither –  it’s a three-horned Flying V! Ministry frontman Al Jourgesen has always been a flamboyant character, so it’s therefore no surprise that his signature Schecter Triton guitar matches his eccentric personality. But even this seems too “out there” for him, and more akin to a witch’s broomstick with some unnecessary bling.

Looks aside though (but to be honest, they’re pretty hard to ignore), the Schecter Triton is actually quite a kitted-out instrument. Equipped with a set of Schecter’s proprietary ‘San Andreas’ humbuckers, the Triton has a potent voice with its all-Mahogany construction ensuring a thick and powerful sound. Other key appointments include a reliable TonePros bridge, Graph Tech nut and Schecter locking tuners. If you want one of these – you better have some stage presence to pull it off!

Duesenberg Johnny Depp Alliance

Duesenberg Johnny Depp Alliance Signature Guitar

Johnny Depp is a Hollywood A-lister, but he’s a bonafide rock star too! Before his acting career took off, Depp actually aspired to become a musician and was involved in several projects. That was until his breakthrough television/film roles in ’21 Jump Street’ and ‘Edward Scissorhands’ steered him in a theatrical direction.

Taking a step back from acting, Depp has returned to his roots as part of rock supergroup ‘The Hollywood Vampires’ – alongside Alice Cooper, Joe Perry (Aerosmith) and session star Tommy Henriksen. Depp is often seen wielding a truly unique Duesenberg Alliance guitar that is completely “him”. The instrument’s stunning aluminium top plate is etched with a number of Johnny’s personal tattoos, and also features a graphic on the rear of the body that matches Depp’s back tattoo.

Other key details include Duesenberg’s proprietary Diamond Deluxe Tremola bridge system and a custom-tapped JD-63 pickup – specially-designed to deliver every characteristic of a vintage single-coil. For a more personalised touch, Duesenberg offers a pickup option with genuine 1963 wire – Johnny’s year of birth!

Ibanez Paul Gilbert Fireman

Ibanez Paul Gilbert Fireman Signature Guitar

Paul Gilbert is one of Ibanez‘s longest-serving endorsees, alongside his virtuoso contemporaries Joe Satriani and Steve Vai. Over the last 30+ years, Ibanez has released several signature guitars for the super-shredder. And it’s fair to say that he always likes something a bit quirky!

The Fireman is no exception, which has now been Paul Gilbert’s main axe for more than a decade. The story behind the guitar’s angular body shape is quite funny, as Gilbert has stated “it’s basically an upside-down Iceman” – simply taking that model and flipping it in Photoshop! There are some slight tweaks though, including an ergonomic cutaway that’s carved out to enable easy access to the upper frets. The distinctive pickguard design is also unique and perfectly complements the model’s unorthodox body shape.

EVH Striped Series “Shark”

EVH Shark Eddie Van Halen Signature Guitar

Eddie Van Halen has brought some of his most iconic instruments back to life through his eponymous EVH brand. Designed for die-hard fans looking to emulate Eddie’s idiosyncratic style and gamechanging “brown” sound, it’s worth noting that these particular guitars are relatively affordable too – unlike a certain $25,000 Frankenstrat replica released about a decade ago!

While a few of Mr. Van Halen’s most memorable modded guitars have been resurrected through EVH’s ‘Striped Series‘, the company has also released a couple of oddball instruments from Eddie’s past – including his peculiar “Shark” guitar. Originally an Ibanez Destroyer, Eddie famously sawed a chunk out of the instrument’s body and left jagged edges to resemble teeth (hence its nickname) – a decision he later regretted, claiming it “ruined” its sound.

Refinishing the guitar with his signature striped livery and replacing the electronics, Eddie often wielded the “Shark” onstage during Van Halen’s first US tour in 1978. It’s even alleged that he recorded “You Really Got Me” with the instrument – a renowned cover which appeared on Van Halen’s debut. The “Shark” replica is no longer available, but EVH will probably release a few other throwback guitars down the line!

Music Man Nigel Tufnel Mr. Horsepower

Ernie Ball Music Man Mr. Horsepower Nigel Tufnel Guitar

‘This Is Spinal Tap’ (1982) is one of the funniest films ever made; a “rockumentary” that follows a fictional British rock band embarking on a US tour in support of its latest controversially-titled album. A cult classic and one of the most quotable movies of all time, the overwhelming success of the film led the cast to make sporadic real-life festival appearances in the following years.

Spinal Tap lead guitarist Christopher Guest (a.k.a. Nigel Tufnel) worked with Ernie Ball Music Man in 1992 to create a completely over-the-top, car-themed signature guitar in-keeping with his character’s outlandish persona – named “Mr. Horsepower”. Using the instrument for several live performances, this hot-rodded machine featured an 8-coil humbucker, working tachometer and hilarious upside-down position markers to indicate the notes on the E strings.

Guest also pointed out an in an interview that it “has a Flamed Maple top, but they’ve painted over it, of course, to help the sustain.” Limited to just 25 pieces, this outrageous instrument is pretty hard to find – but we can assure you that it definitely goes to 11!

Ampeg Dan Armstrong Lucite

Ampeg Dan Armstrong Lucite Guitar

When Dan Armstrong pitched the idea of a see-through electric guitar to Ampeg in the late ’60s, they must have thought he was mad! However, the iconic Ampeg Dan Armstrong Lucite guitar is etched into the rock and roll history books, with the likes of Keith Richards, Gilby Clarke and Dave Grohl later using this utterly unconventional instrument onstage and even in music videos.

Made from plexiglas, the Ampeg Dan Armstrong guitar’s body is completely transparent. This made it unlike any other instrument available at the time of its release in 1969 – regarded as futuristic and ahead of its time. However, the plexiglas body wasn’t just an aesthetic feature, as it’s been claimed that this particular material yields incredible sustain – but it’s heavy!

Apart from its clear construction, the Ampeg Dan Armstrong guitar was also unique for being one of the first marketed guitars sold with 24 frets as standard. But its most innovative feature was its Bill Lawrence-designed interchangeable/modular pickup system, which allowed you to easily switch between single-coil and humbucker “cartridges” without removing the guitar’s strings or re-soldering any connections.

ESP E-II MF-9 Babymetal

ESP Babymetal 9-String Signature Guitar

Metal duo Babymetal has been one of Japan’s biggest musical exports in recent times. Fusing anthemic J-Pop vocals with crushing djent-metal instrumentation – this irregular musical blend is a winning formula that has seen their international fanbase grow exponentially. To celebrate the release of Babymetal’s third record, “Metal Galaxy”, ESP released a 9-string monstrosity adorned with custom artwork from the album’s cover. And it’s definitely not for the faint-hearted!

The Japanese-crafted ESP E-II MF-9 perfectly embodies Babymetal’s modern metal style. Its earth-shaking extended range offers bellowing bass-like lows, with its single EMG 909 pickup dishing out plenty of output while keeping things tight and focused. But that’s pretty much it! This instrument really is a one-trick pony – but it does what it was designed to do exceptionally well.

Gibson Kiefer Sutherland KS-336

Gibson Kiefer Sutherland KS-336 Signature Guitar

One of the oddest collaborations ever? Yes – probably! Kiefer Sutherland is the second actor to appear on our list, but like Depp, the ’24’ star does actually have musical credentials. With two country albums to his name, Kiefer’s work has received critical praise and proves that the sky is limit when you have bundles of creative talent.

Almost a decade before putting out those records though, Gibson created a signature KS-336 guitar for Sutherland. At the time it seemed odd, but Sutherland has always been an avid guitar collector with a preference for vintage Gibson instruments. The Nashville brand therefore celebrated his commitment with a signature model made to his exacting specifications –  Kiefer’s “ultimate guitar”, if you will.

Reverend Billy Corgan TERZ

Reverend Billy Corgan TERZ Signature Guitar

Smashing Pumpkins frontman Billy Corgan has used a bunch of different guitars during his career, but became synonymous with hardtail Fender Stratocasters during his band’s heyday. The release of Corgan’s Reverend signature guitar in 2016 therefore came as quite a surprise, not just because of the collaboration itself, but more so from the instrument’s unconventional design. However, what was even more unusual was the release of the “TERZ” version of his signature model!

Based on a 19th Century instrument tuned a minor third above concert pitch (G-C-F-A#-D-G), the Reverend TERZ guitar eliminates the need for a capo on the third fret of a standard-tuned guitar. But it has a completely unique and punchy sound of its own, especially with its short 21.5″ scale length. The TERZ still retains the offset shape of Billy’s full-sized model as well as the strange segmented aluminium pickguard, which covers strategically-placed body chambers that reduce weight and enhance resonance.

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Elliot Stent
Elliot Stent
Elliot is a Senior Product Copywriter at Andertons, a guitarist and a YouTube gear demonstrator. Having studied Music and Music Technology, his interests lie equally in both performance and production. Favouring Fender instruments and Marshall amps, Elliot is also a pedal fanatic with a large collection of effects.

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