The Shapes of Things – The coolest use of curves, carves and cutaways

We here at TheToneKing.com have chatted before about some of our favorite guitar names and what makes them so cool, but one of the big “first impression” factors when it comes to guitars is obviously the body shape. Almost as soon as solidbody guitars became a thing, builders began toying with the traditional guitar body silhouette to help their models stand out from the increasingly expanding crowd. So, much like we shared our rundown of top guitar names, we’re going to now dive into another favorite subject: body shapes.

 

Guitar body shapes are an interesting topic. What was seen as radical or odd back at the dawn of electric guitar production is now standard, oft-copied and widely revered. Even the humble Fender T-style body, which is not considered particularly “out there” today, was mocked by the old-school string slinger crowd. Gibson’s automotive inspired V and Explorer shapes look decades ahead of their time, but even those had a tough time moving at their introduction.

 

This is actually a pretty tough field to narrow down here without writing a novel, so we here at TheToneKing.com are going to set some parameters. We’re just going to take the famous Fender S and T styles and the Gibson V, Explorer and single-cut styles (and the many models they inspired throughout the years) and call those undeniably cool and in no need of highlighting. Instead, we’re going to pick out some more unique and perhaps unheralded models to spotlight here.

 

Framus Stormbender and Idolmaker

Little surprise that Framus is also no slouch when it comes to killer guitar shapes as well as killer names. These models both got a nod in our previous story on cool guitar names and they take home another blue ribbon here as well for their looks.

 

The Idolmaker‘s inspirations are fairly easy to spot, but Framus has really given this model a unique look that still could have sprung from a designer that never had laid eyes on another offset in his or her life. It’s curvaceous lines and bi-level carve are both sophisticated yet still snarky; it wouldn’t be out of place in the hands of a buttoned-down jazzer, progressive metal pugilist or punky, indie sweater rocker.

On the other hand, the Stormbender looks more like an alien warship than anything that’s ever donned six-strings. Some of them even light up! It just looks like it means business and wants your toughest, trickiest runs, much like what it’s prog progenitor Devin Townsend serves up. You could spot one of these babies from a mile away.

Kramer Tracii Guns “Gunstar” Voyager

Again, another guitar where the inspirations are visible, but taken in entirely new directions. That’s probably what we like about it, come to think of it, besides the fact that the perpetually cool Tracii Guns has his name on this one. This writer’s favorite subtlety is how the non-reverse headstock kind of follows the lines the rear and lower front “wings.” Combined with the killer ghost flame graphics, this is just a guitar that wants to be pushed.

Knaggs Severn

We had the chance to mess around with one of these last year and really dug what Knaggs was putting out. Now, if you know a little bit about Knaggs you know there’s a connection to a certain famous Maryland-based builder and some of that connection comes through in the body shape. That being said, there’s a level of craftsmanship we really, really like in the Knaggs models and, combined with the unique headstock, this is definitely a standout instrument not only in looks, but in sound and playability.

Obviously, there are a lot of factors, especially for musicians, that go into the appeal (or lack thereof) of a particular instrument. But body shape is one of those things that everyone can enjoy and appreciate. For many of us, it was a big part of what got us started. We saw some dude or gal wielding one like Excalibur and were smitten. I can tell you this; I didn’t even know an electric guitar needed an amplifier to be heard. I somehow thought it just made sound some way or another all on it’s own (using electricity, of course). What I was sure of, though, was an electric guitar was one of the coolest-looking things on the planet. Seventy years later, they’re still looking great.

 

What are some of your favorite shapes that we haven’t covered here? Let us know in the comments!

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