5 guitar models that define modern indie rock

Chelsea Wolfe - indie rock Source: guitarsenmoreaudio.com

Every generation has its guitar heroes and famous instruments that they make use of. To some, Rickenbacker guitars defined the psychedelic 1960s. For others, the Gibson Les Paul symbolized arena rock of the 1970s. What about the modern sound of indie rock? Here are 5 guitar models that encapsulate the sound and look of today’s indie music.

The Airline Res-O-Glas

Guitarists of the past were known to splurge on classic Les Paul and Stratocaster models. But, Jack White felt like he needed a challenge. Originally the Airline Res-O-Glas was the kind of inexpensive guitar ordered out of a magazine for around $100. Its use on the White Stripes’ Elephant album helped the brand’s popularity. The guitar, and similar models, are now often used in indie rock, noise and even modern blues.

Fender Stratocaster / Squier Stratocaster

It would be unfair not include the classic Fender Stratocaster on this list. Despite its fame, and relative high price, the guitar still finds itself favored by modern day, often unlikely, guitar heroes such as Mac DeMarco. Previously, DeMarco had used a slightly less expensive Japanese Teisco. Other guitarists looking for a cheaper alternative tend to rock the Strat’s less expensive cousin, the Fender Squier.

Of the two most famous guitar brands, Fender and Gibson, the former has seen a far greater use in the new epoch of alternative rock and indie. Even cheaper Fender models, such as the Jaguar, have found a place in modern rock music. Famously Kurt Cobain played a left-handed model. Fender now makes a signature Kurt Cobain Jaguar guitar that continues to be a big seller.

On the other hand, Gibson hasn’t quite made the transition to the new era quite as seamlessly. While they undeniably remain one of the industry’s standards, frequent complaints about high prices and poor quality control have hurt the company’s reputation. Perhaps, the most famous example of a Gibson being used by a modern guitarist is Green Day‘s Billie Joe Armstrong’s use of a Gibson Junior.
Armstrong favors the classic, single coil version, a kind of Telecaster for the Gibson company and, funnily enough, one of the company’s less expensive models.

Mac de Marco, indie guitarist, singer-songwriter, Source:https://www.fender.com

Fender Jazzmaster

Lee Randol - Sonic Youth guitar, indie rock
Lee Ranaldo – Sonic Youth (Source: enmoreaudio.com)

As with many guitar companies, much of their fame can be traced to the popularity of one genre. In the case of the Jazzmaster, the genre is surf rock. With its subtle maple wood neck, and its single coil pickups, the Fender Jazzmaster is ideal for the cleanish, reverb soaked sound. It was famously used by Troy Van Leeuwen of Queens of the Stone Age and Lee Ranaldo and Thurston Moore of Sonic Youth. More recently, it has been favored by Alex Rosamilia of the Gaslight Anthem, Joshua Hayward of The Horrors or Ira Kaplan of Yo La Tengo.

Albert Lee HH

Modern day guitar heroine, St. Vincent (Annie Clark) plays the Albert Lee HH (Signature Music Man) religiously for her blend of artsy indie rock. St. Vincent says she has opted for the guitar because of its sound as well as its shape and weight which make it ideal for live playing.


The Danelectro guitars have been around for decades and have always sat as something of an oddity. Its odd look, strange taste for pickups and elongated neck made a staple of the acid rockers of the late 1960s. But, the instrument has made a comeback with indie rock guitarists who love a bit of experimentation choosing the model for the present day. Beck, Zachary Cole Smith of Diiv, Mark Oliver Everett of Eels, sing the instruments praises.

Author: Eduard Banulescu

Eduard is a writer, blogger, and musician. As a content writer, Eduard has contributed to numerous websites and publications including FootballCoin, Extra Time Talk, Fanatik, Sportskeeda, Nitrogen Sports, Bavarian FootballWorks, etc. He runs and acts as editor-in-chief of the alternative rock music website www.alt77.com Eduard is also a musician, having played and recorded in various bands and as a solo artist.

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