Guitars come in a wide variety of different styles, shapes, colors, and designs. Considering how many people are on Earth, it’s a safe bet that there is an infinite number of guitar ideas.
Unfortunately, not every guitar idea is spectacular enough for mass production. Yet, you’ll be surprised to see that even some larger manufacturers have tried their hands at some weird guitar designs.
Here are some odd guitars you might find in the wild, with large manufacturers and small builders included.
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Danelectro Coral Sitar
The late 1960s saw Western cultures become tinged with psychedelia. Even the most buttoned-up sectors of society could not escape this, as popular music began incorporating psychedelic elements.
Eastern Religious and philosophical ideas found new adoption, and, so too, did the influence of Eastern music. Even The Beatles loved the sitar’s sound so much that they included it in a few of their songs.
The sitar is a wildly different instrument than the guitar, despite its string-based construction. Because of this, manufacturers experimented with producing hybrid guitar/sitar instruments, with the most notable being the Danelectro Coral Sitar.
This guitar has a very odd shape, complete with sympathetic strings and metallic bridges to provide that signature sitar sound. Many artists have used this throughout the years, including Steve Miller.
Guitar manufacturers tend to not take failure lightly, and will often try to make lemonade out of lemons. Unfortunately, sometimes those ideas aren’t any more successful than the original ideas.
That’s precisely the case of what happened with Fender and the very obscure model, the Swinger. The company combined construction elements from 2 different failed models into a bizarre guitar.
Despite coming from the late 1960s, the Swinger has a body style similar to how many headless guitars look today. If it didn’t have Fender on the oddly-shaped triangular headstock, you probably wouldn’t know it’s a Fender guitar.
The Fender Swinger is an incredibly rare guitar, with less than 600 original models ever having been produced. It was reissued for a limited release, but even these seem to be lost to time.
You might be scratching your head and wondering why the Gibson Explorer is mentioned here. The answer to that question would be that the Explorer is an undeniably weird guitar.
Sure, this is a model that has seen regular production over the years. However, that is purely a metric based on the popularity and success of an experiment gone right.
Gibson debuted this model in 1958 and really didn’t catch on until the 1970s. The Explorer has a futuristic design that was definitely far ahead of its time.
Of course, now, the Explorer has become a mainstay guitar in metal and hard-rock genres. The Explorer will continue to be a guitar of choice for any guitarist looking for a bit of flair.
Gibson Flying V
Gibson certainly was not afraid of trying new things in the 1950s. Like the Explorer, the Flying V debuted in 1958 and is one of the most bizarre guitar designs ever.
For starters, this guitar is nearly impossible to play while sitting down, unless playing in a classical position. Gibson was aware of this and even added a traction strip to the side to prevent slippage.
The most iconic guitarist to don this guitar is Albert King, who eventually influenced many of the blues’ biggest guitarists. This shape has also been reproduced by other companies, finding wide use in 1980s metal.
Gibson Reverse Flying V
Once the new millennium came around, Gibson found itself struggling financially as a company. During this period, Gibson proved that it certainly was not afraid to continue experimenting with guitar designs.
Around 2007, Gibson announced that they were releasing a Reverse Flying V. While the original is a little ridiculous, the Reverse version is almost unpalatable to look at.
It was successful enough for Gibson to produce another run of what was originally intended to be limited. One has to wonder whether this is any easier to play than the original Flying V design.
B.C. Rich Warlock
Some people seem to have rose-tinted glasses on when looking back at the 1980s. However, much of what was happening in music at the time didn’t age as well as compared with other decades.
Metal music was especially popular at the time, which eventually branched into different subgenres. No matter what subgenre a band might have played in, a certain aesthetic appeal was needed for image purposes.
B.C. Rich provided some of the most “aggressive” guitar designs in the industry. The most recognizable is the Warlock, which has a hint of boxiness mixed with aggressive sharp edges.
Today, these guitars hold a certain amount of charm for the right guitarist. They are certainly a conversation piece in their own right.
Gibson was truly struggling to stay relevant in the 1960s, especially after the failure of the Explorer and Flying V. What do you think their attempted solution was to find popularity in the industry?
That’s right, they created more guitars! The Firebird came in 1963, which takes inspiration from the classic cars that were being produced at the time.
In a way, this is almost a direct competitor to the Fender offset shapes such as the Jazzmaster and Jaguar. If you put a left-handed Jazzmaster body in a right-handed formation, the resulting shape resembles a Firebird.
This is often why you’ll hear the Firebird being referred to as “reverse”. The elongated shoulder is in a different location than what was traditionally produced on guitars.
Blues guitarist, Johnny Winter, is the most famous guitarist to adopt the Firebird. It truly does have a uniquely hot-rodded tone of its own.
Gibson Non-Reverse Firebird
It shouldn’t come as a surprise that the original Firebird idea didn’t take off as Gibson expected. Many people found the design to be a bit too radical for their tastes, so Gibson reversed the idea.
The result of this is, confusingly enough, a Non-Reverse Firebird, which came out in 1965. There’s no denying that this guitar looks odd as if it isn’t exactly sure what it’s supposed to be.
These guitars are even rarer in the wild than the original Firebird. However, if you want to hear one in action, check out the blues guitarist, Clarence “Gatemouth” Brown.
Every obsessive guitar player has likely scribbled drawings of guitars in a notebook throughout their life. While Kurt Cobain was no exception to this, one of his creative journal designs did find production.
The result is the famed Jag-Stang guitar, which combines halves of both the Jaguar and Mustang. This guitar has a very odd body shape that, in some ways, resembles the Non-Reverse Firebird, only with sharper points.
Fender has released this guitar a number of times since its debut in the mid-1990s. If it wasn’t Kurt Cobain, it’s tough to say whether Fender would’ve produced this for as long, if at all.
Imagine taking a photo of a Stratocaster and running it through a series of phasers and flange pedals. If such a thing were possible, you’d likely end up with something that looks like the Bender Distortocaster.
This guitar was produced in a very limited run by UK luthier, Brian Eastwood. And, while it might be a joke, the Distortocaster is actually quite a beast in terms of Stratocaster tone.
An amazing amount of craftsmanship went into pulling this guitar off. If you’ll notice, even the neck, headstock, and bridge are completely bent out of their traditional places.
Trey Anastasio’s Matterhorn
Trey Anastasio is known best for playing guitar in Phish, usually playing his custom-made Languedoc guitars. Around 2000, Trey teamed up with Les Claypool (Primus) and Stewart Copeland (The Police) to form Oysterhead.
The group only made one album, but their tour showed that Anastasio had a few tricks up his sleeve. Most notably, fans were introduced to his “Matterhorn” guitar, which has a large protruding antler attached to the guitar’s body.
The Matterhorn functions like a regular guitar, but Anastasio will frequently put the guitar in a standing lap-steel format. By holding the antler, he is able to keep the guitar in position for ethereal slide work.
This specific guitar hasn’t seen much use since its original Oysterhead days. Those that were lucky enough to see it in action experienced some dark and spooky jams that are unforgettable.
What kind of guitar would you have created if you had an endless budget and access to a master luthier? Linda Manzer was commissioned to create what is known as the Medusa, and it is a guitar full of possibilities.
Just looking at this guitar and all of its complexities can give you a headache. It has 52 strings total, spread between sympathetic drone strings, harp strings, and 3 different necks.
One of the necks is fretless and sounds like you might expect a fretless ukulele to sound. The middle is actually an 8-string baritone with fanned frets.
At the bottom, you’ll find a 5-string guitar with scalloped frets. However, this neck also has 4 sympathetic strings to give the guitar a sitar sound.
Texas “T Caster” Guitar
The saying goes that everything is bigger in Texas, and Texas pride certainly isn’t exempt from that list. Over the years, numerous photos have surfaced of guitars that have the shape of the state of Texas.
Now, if that isn’t Texas pride, then we’re not sure what you could call this. However, it has started a trend of people have been playing state-shaped guitars, with Alaska being a popular one.
The T Caster is one of the most iconic state-shaped guitars floating in the guitar lexicon. Unfortunately, these guitars are hard to track down these days, but they somehow keep finding a way to the stage.
Flipped Backwards Stratocaster
Have you ever wondered what a backward Stratocaster would look like? The auction site, eBay, has had this very concept for sale over the years.
This is very reminiscent of Gibson’s concept of the Reverse Flying V. What’s funny about this is that the neck pocket remains intact, despite being unused.
The Backwards Stratocaster does play, and fortunately, the actual input jack is by the neck pocket rather than the shoulder. However, the guitar is more of a gimmick and likely wouldn’t be ideal for professional gigs.
Nevertheless, the Flipped Backwards Stratocaster is definitely a unique guitar. Having this on a wall is sure to start some conversations.
Mountain Dew Djentar
Memes have certainly become embedded within internet culture, and the guitar community is not exempt from using them for jokes. As the djent music became more popular, a meme began to circulate of a Mountain Dew-themed djent monstrosity.
YouTube guitarist Jared Dines worked in collaboration with 10S Guitars to bring this joke to life. And, believe it or not, this Mountain Dew abomination plays like a top-tier guitar.
Jared puts the guitar to the test, playing it like a lap steel, proving that the guitar is actually playable. In turn, Dines put the meme to bed, in hopes that he’ll never have to see the meme again.
Steve Terreberry’s Djentar
YouTube guitar player, Steve Terreberry is known for making fun of things in his own absurd way. What could be more absurd than a 20-string Djentar made by 10S Guitars?
This guitar is massive, almost dwarfing Terreberry’s body. In fact, it seems as if he has to hug the guitar in order to play all of the strings.
Jokes aside, the Djentar is a beautiful piece of work, offering a combination of massive fanned frets and fretless strings. Both Dines and Terreberry went back and forth on whose Djentar was better and more extreme (in good fun, of course).
Swinger Tour De Force
Have you ever wondered what a guitar made of a tennis racket would sound like? Swinger Guitars is actually a company that specializes in making racket-themed guitars.
The Tour De Force is just one of their designs. And, while it looks like a racket, isn’t actually a real racket (bummer).
Nevertheless, the Tour De Force looks exactly like a vintage tennis racket and comes equipped with a single-coil pickup. The guitar is both fretted and fretless, denoted by where the handle grip tape would be.
Burls Art Ocean Plastic Guitar
Ocean pollution has become an increasingly worrisome problem to which humanity is just now looking for solutions. And while there is an actual island of trash floating in the Pacific, progress is starting to be made.
But, what if you could put that plastic to good use, effectively recycling it for a permanent product? That idea is what Burls Art aimed to achieve with his guitar made completely of plastic found in the ocean.
The guitar itself is actually quite unique and reminiscent of old celluloid guitar picks. Even the fretboard is given treatment and looks like a pack of Zebra Stripe gum.
If you’re a guitar luthier, consider taking this idea and running with it. We need more long-term solutions like this to help take care of the growing plastic problems in the world.
Burls Art Newspaper Guitar
Vintage guitars are noted for their use of older woods, grown from old trees with lots of history. That unfortunately isn’t the case anymore, as manufacturers are essentially aging newer wet wood to emulate old wood characteristics.
If you want a guitar packed full of history, why not make a guitar made completely of old newspapers? Burls Art did just that, and in turn, created a time capsule guitar where some headlines are still readable.
This is yet another recycling solution that Burls Art has provided to the world. And, it looks pretty good, too!
Guitar luthiers need to take this as an example of something that they can use for their own builds. It could help to save the environment.
Weirdest Guitar Designs Ever, Final Thoughts
It just goes to show that you can have almost any idea and apply it to a guitar. Of course, some ideas are a little easier on the eyes than others.
You could easily use these guitars as inspirations for your own guitar builds. Just be wary that your experimental abominations could easily land on a list like this.
Nevertheless, it’s nice to see that people are exercising their creativity without concern for what others think.