Five on Five: Fender vs. Gibson, Who Had the Better Players?
For guitar players, it's an age old question: are you a Fender guy or a Gibson guy? Over the years since both companies became popular in rock music, many other guitar manufacturers have made inroads, but none have been able to surpass the power and tradition of these two giants in the guitar industry.
Gibson is generally consider the beefier and less genteel of the two, built for volume and distortion, particularly the Les Paul and SG models. They have semi-hollow body guitars and even acoustics used across the spectrum of music, but when most think of Gibson, they think of rock and roll.
Fender tends to make lighter instruments, both in tone and in physical weight, but it hasn't lessened their impact. The Stratocaster and Telecaster are two of the most prominent guitar models in the world and have been played by some of the greats in rock and roll.
So, that leaves us with a barn burner of a showdown. Instead of trying to rifle through dozens of different guitarists, some who played both brands (shocking!), I decided to narrow it down to ten guys generally known for the brand. All of them have, at one point or another, tried their hand at a variety of instruments, but they are iconic on one or the other.
Let the battle begin.
Eric Clapton (solo) vs. Eric Clapton (Cream)
When looking at the catalog of the great Slow Hand, it is hard to imagine a more storied career for anyone on any instrument. But, the younger version of Clapton was a different animal from his elder self: louder, rougher and with a Gibson guitar instead of his well known Fender Strat. So, which one wins in a face off? I've got to go with the older, solo version. While Cream is a favorite, it's hard to look at the run of music after he gave up the Gibson SG and not give that guy the nod.
With or without Cream?
Winner: Eric Clapton (solo)/Fender
Jimi Hendrix vs. Jimmy Page
Frankly, this could arguably be a battle for greatest guitarist of all time. No doubt many a guitar player and music fan has haggled over that very thing. Both were extremely influential. Both played timeless music that is still loved today. Both experimented and grew beyond their initial offerings. The only slight edge here goes to Page for no other reason than longevity and the fact that he was the mastermind behind Led Zeppelin. Small irony: his most famous solo on "Stairway to Heaven" was played with Jeff Beck's Fender Telecaster.
Jimmy vs. Jimi
Winner: Jimmy Page/Gibson
Ritchie Blackmore vs. Tony Iommi
When it comes to 70s heavy metal, you'd be hard pressed to find two more influential guitarists than Sabbath's Iommi and Deep Purple's Blackmore. Blackmore turned a legion of young shredders on to classically-influenced solos on his Strat, while Iommi was bringing the doom with Ozzy and fellow Sabbath band mates. While Blackmore probably did more for '80s guitarists, Iommi basically invented the genre Blackmore played.
Metal guitar gods Blackmore (left) and Iommi.
Winner: Tony Iommi/Gibson