Q: What do Led Zeppelin, Queen, Soundgarden, Van Halen, and Dinosaur Jr. have in common?
A: Each of these bands has successfully reunited for one or more concerts in the last ten years, despite having been broken up or on hiatus for an extended period of time.
Reunion tours have become a thing in the last decade. Perhaps time heals all wounds—quite a few former bandmates have forgotten the things that drove them apart and decided to make music together again. Some have replaced deceased and/or unwilling band members with hired guns or new-found talent. Others just wanted to play together one more time.
Whether a one-off show, a farewell tour, or a new chapter for these bands, guitar fans have been happy to see and hear some of the guitarists’ iconic axes played live one more time. Read on to see some the famous guitars that have been given new life on recent reunion tours.
Formed in 1970 in London, Queen brought theater and sophisticated performance values to rock music like no other band before them. Frontman Freddie Mercury was a masterful performer and showman. His command of the music and the stage was electrifying, and his charisma continues to win the hearts of fans long after Mercury’s AIDS-related death in 1991 .
The rest of the band were veteran performers as well. Bassist John Deacon gave the world the unforgettable bass riff from “Another One Bites The Dust”. Roger Taylor not only provided the solid backbeat and delicate fills on drums, he also contributed heavily on background vocals as well. Brian May brought together all these incredible elements and injected his unmistakably huge signature guitar sound that helped define Queen as rock legends.
Touring most recently with new frontman, Adam Lambert, Queen has been rocking stages across the world once again. They also released a new album in 2014 called Queen Forever.
Brian May Red Special
The Brian May Signature Guitar is based on the iconic “Red Special,” the axe the guitarist built for himself and would become an essential part of Queen’s sonic onslaught.
Brian May’s Red Special guitar is one of the most famous and iconic guitars in the world. Built when May was a teenager, with help and guidance from his father, the Red Special is a unique instrument. May and his father tooled and formed every last piece on the guitar, even salvaging an old fireplace mantle to use in the neck.
Led Zeppelin are one of the forefathers of heavy, bluesy, guitar-driven rock music. Formed by studio musicians Jimmy Page and John Paul Jones, and local working bandmates John Bonham and Robert Plant, Led Zeppelin took the world by storm in the ‘60s with their heavy, bombastic take on blues songs both original and borrowed. Although their reunion was only for a single concert at London’s O2 Arena, Led Zeppelin have been one band that fans truly beg to get back together.
Jimmy Page’s Gibson Les Paul
Many of us have heard the stories about Jimmy Page playing a Fender Telecaster for the first Led Zeppelin album and tour. While this is true, Page’s most truly iconic guitars are the pair of 1959 Gibson Les Pauls (conveniently named No. 1 and No. 2), as well as his double neck SG.
This Gibson Les Paul 1959 reissue is painstakingly built to the historic specifications of the LP Jimmy Page is most closely associated with.
Consistently voted one of the most iconic guitars, Jimmy Page’s 1959 Gibson Les Paul is synonymous with the heavy rock and blues music of Led Zeppelin. While an all-original 1959 Gibson Les Paul will set you back five figures, this reissue is a more affordable next best thing. Complete with bumblebee capacitors and a one-piece mahogany neck secured with hide glue, this beauty truly captures the elements that made this guitar legendary.
After a 12-year hiatus, Seattle grunge gods Soundgarden have been quite active again. Releasing a compilation album, a 3-disc box set, and a new studio album between 2010 and 2014, the band also toured with Nine Inch Nails, and played live shows at Download Festival and Lollapalooza.
Kim Thayil’s Guild S-100 Polara
The Guild S-100 Polara brings heavy chaos in a roadworthy, affordable package.
Kim Thayil’s main axe—the Guild S-100—has been with him since the early ‘90s. Although he has other guitars in his collection (who doesn’t?), the S-100 is the guitar most closely associated with the heavy, brooding riffs of classic-era Soundgarden. The S-100 boasts a solid mahogany body and a pair of Guild HB-1 pickups that combine with its 24-¾” scale for a sound and feel all its own.
With the expected drama, rumors, lineup changes and fanfare, Van Halen reformed most recently with original frontman David Lee Roth on vocals, and Eddie’s son Wolfgang on bass (replacing Michael Anthony). The band released a new studio album in 2012 that entered the Billboard charts at No. 2. As of mid-2015, the band will be touring through October. Rumors of another studio album abound, but Van Halen fans have learned to take a wait-and-see approach.
Eddie Van Halen’s “Frankenstein” striped guitar
Based on the axes Eddie played back in the ‘80s with their distinctive cosmetics and amazing firepower, the EVH striped guitar is built for punishing hard rock.
Eddie Van Halen, like many guitarists, has been on an eternal quest for tone and playability in his guitar. This EVH Signature Striped Series is a faithful replica of Eddie’s iconic Frankenstein guitar. Featuring the bright articulation of a quartersawn maple neck, the raw simplicity of a single direct-mount humbucker, and a Floyd Rose tuning system with EVH D-Tuna for tuning stability, this is a killer axe for the avid shredder.
Dormant since 1997, this jangle-punk alternative juggernaut reformed its original lineup in 2005, releasing three studio albums to date.
J Mascis Signature Jazzmaster
Known for endless experimentation and a punchy, gritty guitar sound that’s immediately identifiable, J Mascis has always followed a form-over-function ethos regarding guitars. The band’s volatile history of lo-fi noise, indie, and punk rock was fueled by the guitarist’s confrontational approach to guitar.
Packing a massive, gritty sound, the Squier J Mascis Jazzmaster delivers much of the power of his Fender guitar at a very easy price.
Mascis’ guitar style is unique and monolithic. Much of this sound can be attributed to his signature guitar, the Fender Jazzmaster. Featuring overwound, hot Jazzmaster pickups, and a variety of switching and phasing options, this guitar is versatile. Finding just the right noise is critical in perfecting the angular punch of Dinosaur Jr. songs, and this guitar delivers.
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