Guitar players are a stubborn bunch when it comes to innovation, usually opting for tried-and-tested designs; Staples of the instrument, from the stratocater to the Les Paul, date back as far as the late 50s and early 60s. Needless to say, fender’s recent announcement of a brand-new guitar shape, dubbed the Meteora, has invited a mixed reaction.
Personally, I’m a fan. Its certainly different, but it’s still fundamentally conservative in its inspiration, taking cues from two of Fender’s most popular shapes: the telecaster (think Jeff Buckley, Joe Strummer) and the jazzmaster (think Johnny Marr, literally any indie rock band). The result is something that is traditional whilst still being distinctly new.
Whilst I feel that the criticism is unfair, I don’t blame guitar players for being cautious. After all, they’ve been burned before. Never mind the garish trends of the 1980s that saw guitars become increasingly pointy and angular until they looked more like weapons. The real crimes started when technology started being abused.
In 2010, Gibson released the Firebird X: a computerised crime against music that had wireless connectivity, an onboard effects unit and robotic automatic tuners. Naturally, it was a complete commercial failure and was quickly removed from Gibson’s catalogue and never mentioned again.
Flash forward and guitar manufacturers seem to have a better handle on what a novel guitar should look like. The meteora may divide opinion, but in my book it’s a welcome change, and one that’s sure to be embraced.