Top 5 Iconic Country Guitars

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Country music has a rich history filled with iconic figures and legendary instruments that have played a significant role in shaping the sound of the genre. Among these instruments, the guitar stands out as a staple in country music, providing the twangy melodies and heartfelt chords that have become synonymous with the genre. In this article, we will take a closer look at five of the most iconic country guitars that have left an indelible mark on the world of music.

The Fender Telecaster

When it comes to iconic country guitars, the Fender Telecaster is undoubtedly at the top of the list. Known for its bright twang and crisp tone, the Telecaster has been a favorite among country musicians since its introduction in the 1950s. Artists like Merle Haggard, Keith Urban, and Brad Paisley have all wielded the Telecaster, using its distinctive sound to craft some of the genre’s most memorable songs. With its simple design and versatile tone, the Telecaster continues to be a go-to instrument for country artists of all styles.

Merle Haggard’s Influence

Merle Haggard, often referred to as the “Hag,” was a country music legend who helped popularize the use of the Fender Telecaster in the genre. Haggard’s signature sound, characterized by his Telecaster’s twangy tones and emotive phrasing, has inspired countless musicians to pick up the iconic guitar and try to capture his unique style. Songs like “Mama Tried” and “The Fightin’ Side of Me” showcase the Telecaster’s ability to convey raw emotion and gritty storytelling, cementing its status as a true country music classic.

Keith Urban’s Modern Take

In more recent years, artists like Keith Urban have taken the Fender Telecaster to new heights, blending traditional country sounds with modern production techniques. Urban’s virtuosic playing and innovative approach to the instrument have helped keep the Telecaster relevant in an ever-evolving musical landscape. Hits like “Blue Ain’t Your Color” and “Somebody Like You” demonstrate the Telecaster’s enduring appeal and its ability to adapt to different styles while maintaining its distinctive country flavor.

The Gibson J-200

While the Fender Telecaster may reign supreme in the realm of electric guitars, the Gibson J-200 holds a special place in the world of acoustic country music. Known for its rich, warm tone and stunning visual aesthetics, the J-200 has been a favorite among country artists for decades. Icons like Johnny Cash, Emmylou Harris, and George Jones have all relied on the J-200 to deliver the lush, resonant sound that defines classic country ballads.

Johnny Cash’s Deep Baritone

Johnny Cash, the Man in Black himself, was synonymous with the Gibson J-200, using its deep, resonant tones to accompany his distinctive baritone voice. Songs like “I Walk the Line” and “Folsom Prison Blues” showcase the J-200’s ability to provide a solid backbone for Cash’s storytelling lyrics, creating a sound that is both timeless and unmistakably country. Cash’s partnership with the J-200 helped solidify the guitar’s place as a true classic in the world of country music.

Emmylou Harris’s Ethereal Sound

Emmylou Harris, often hailed as one of the queens of country music, has also wielded the Gibson J-200 to great effect throughout her illustrious career. Harris’s ethereal voice pairs perfectly with the J-200’s lush, shimmering tones, creating a sound that is both haunting and beautiful. Tracks like “Boulder to Birmingham” and “Red Dirt Girl” showcase Harris’s masterful use of the J-200 to evoke emotion and atmosphere, solidifying the guitar’s reputation as a beloved instrument in the country music world.

The Martin D-28

Another iconic acoustic guitar that has left an indelible mark on the world of country music is the Martin D-28. Known for its rich, full-bodied tone and exceptional playability, the D-28 has been a favorite among country musicians for generations. Artists like Hank Williams, Neil Young, and Clarence White have all relied on the D-28 to deliver the crisp, clear sound that has become synonymous with classic country music.

Hank Williams’s Honky-Tonk Style

Hank Williams, often referred to as the “Hillbilly Shakespeare,” was a pioneer of honky-tonk music and a master of the Martin D-28. Williams’s raw, emotive singing style paired perfectly with the D-28’s warm, resonant tones, creating a sound that defined an era of country music. Hits like “Hey, Good Lookin'” and “I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry” showcase the D-28’s ability to convey heartbreak and longing, making it a staple in the country music canon.

Neil Young’s Folk Rock Fusion

In a different vein, Neil Young brought the Martin D-28 into the realm of folk rock, blending its traditional sound with his signature electric guitar work. Young’s introspective lyrics and raw, emotive vocals found a perfect match in the D-28’s rich, resonant tones, creating a sound that was both intimate and expansive. Songs like “Old Man” and “Heart of Gold” highlight the D-28’s versatility and ability to transcend genre boundaries, solidifying its status as a true classic in the world of music.

The Gretsch White Falcon

For those looking to make a statement, the Gretsch White Falcon is the ultimate showpiece guitar in the world of country music. Known for its striking appearance and bold, twangy sound, the White Falcon has been a favorite among rockabilly and country artists alike. Musicians like Eddie Cochran, Duane Eddy, and Brian Setzer have all wielded the White Falcon, using its distinctive look and sound to captivate audiences around the world.

Eddie Cochran’s Rockabilly Roots

Eddie Cochran, a rockabilly pioneer, was known for his energetic performances and infectious guitar riffs, all delivered on his beloved Gretsch White Falcon. Cochran’s hits like “Summertime Blues” and “C’mon Everybody” showcase the White Falcon’s ability to cut through the mix with its bright, twangy tones, creating a sound that is both rebellious and undeniably catchy. Cochran’s partnership with the White Falcon helped solidify the guitar’s reputation as a symbol of rock and roll rebellion.

Brian Setzer’s Revival

In more recent years, Brian Setzer has spearheaded a revival of the Gretsch White Falcon, bringing the iconic guitar back into the spotlight with his band, the Stray Cats. Setzer’s high-energy performances and virtuosic playing have showcased the White Falcon’s versatility and unique sound, blending elements of rockabilly, country, and jazz into a seamless fusion. Tracks like “Rock This Town” and “Stray Cat Strut” highlight the White Falcon’s ability to transcend genre boundaries and captivate audiences with its unmistakable style.

The Gibson Les Paul

Rounding out our list of iconic country guitars is the Gibson Les Paul, a staple in the world of electric guitar playing. Known for its powerful tone and sustain, the Les Paul has been a favorite among country rock and blues artists for decades. Musicians like Duane Allman, Billy Gibbons, and Brad Whitford have all wielded the Les Paul, using its thick, creamy sound to create some of the genre’s most memorable riffs and solos.

Duane Allman’s Slide Guitar Mastery

Duane Allman, best known for his work with the Allman Brothers Band, was a slide guitar virtuoso who favored the Gibson Les Paul for his iconic playing style. Allman’s searing slide solos on tracks like “Statesboro Blues” and “Whipping Post” showcase the Les Paul’s ability to deliver soulful, emotive tones that cut straight to the heart. Allman’s partnership with the Les Paul helped elevate the guitar to legendary status in the world of rock and country music.

Billy Gibbons’s Bluesy Licks

Billy Gibbons, the frontman of ZZ Top, is another iconic musician who has relied on the Gibson Les Paul to deliver his trademark blues-infused sound. Gibbons’s gritty, bluesy licks and muscular riffs, heard on tracks like “La Grange” and “Sharp Dressed Man,” demonstrate the Les Paul’s ability to provide a solid foundation for hard-hitting rock and country tunes. Gibbons’s innovative approach to the Les Paul has inspired countless musicians to pick up the guitar and try to capture his fiery playing style.

Looking to learn more about iconic country guitars? Check out our articles on top 10 country guitars, influential country guitars, top 5 ES-335 players in country music, top 10 famous electric guitar players in country music, and the significance of ebony in country guitars for a deeper dive into the world of country music instruments!


In conclusion, the world of country music is filled with iconic guitars that have helped shape the sound of the genre and inspire generations of musicians. From the twangy tones of the Fender Telecaster to the lush resonance of the Gibson J-200, each of these guitars has left an indelible mark on the world of music, helping to define the sound of country for decades. Whether you’re a fan of classic country ballads or high-energy rockabilly, these iconic guitars offer something for every music lover to enjoy and appreciate. So, next time you listen to your favorite country tune, take a moment to appreciate the role these guitars have played in bringing that music to life.

About the author

Hi there! I’m Jack Little – an avid country music fan with tons of live country performances in the past. I used to play banjo in a country band with my best friend John Peters, who’s a true country harmonica master. Those were great years and I’m still mastering new banjo playing techniques, writing my own country songs and lyrics, and collecting banjos!

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