September 27, 2022By email@example.com BigCommerce 0 Comment
The Coolest White Electric Guitars of All Time
By Brad Tolinski
Electric guitars are usually known for their wild colors and psychedelic paint jobs, but, ironically, some of the greatest, most iconic guitars have no color at all. Hendrix, Rhoads, Prince, Van Halen and many of rock’s most flamboyant players have gravitated towards white guitars, and for good reason. A white instrument can be seen from the cheap seats, and they have the unique ability to change colors depending on what lights you shine on them. A white electric guitar might seem boring compared to some of the more unique models out there, but they actually look great on stage.
So today – in honor of our new white Spark Pearl amplifier – we've rounded up a handful of our favorite white electric guitars, unranked. Sure, we could have included dozens of other examples, but everyone knows part of being cool is knowing not to overstay your welcome.
Cool White Guitars
Jimi Hendrix’s 1968 Olympic White Stratocaster
Affectionately nicknamed “Izabella” by Jimi Hendrix, few guitars have been cemented into rock and roll history by a single performance the way this legendary white electric guitar has. It was with this Olympic white Strat that Jimi delivered his historic performance of “The Star Spangled Banner” at Woodstock on August 18th, 1969, which many consider one of the greatest rock guitar moments of all time. The famous white Fender was eventually sold to Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen for $2 million who placed it at the Experience Music Project in Seattle, Hendrix’s hometown.
Forever immortalized in the 1984 film Purple Rain and the popular video to “Raspberry Beret,” Prince’s Cloud was originally a one-of-a-kind guitar built by Dave Rusan, who worked out of Knut-Koupée Music, a shop in Minneapolis. The unusually-shaped white guitar was inspired by a bass guitar found by Prince’s friend and bassist Andre Cymone at a small store in San Rafael, CA while they were recording Prince’s first album, For You. In the following years Prince would commission Rusan to make two additional versions of the guitar in different colors, and in 1985 Warner Bros commissioned a fourth for a contest giveaway. In 2019 replicas of the guitar became available worldwide on the Prince website in both white and blue.
Randy Rhoads’ Custom Jackson Concorde
It was a couple days before Christmas in 1980 when Randy stopped by Grover Jackson’s custom shop in San Dimas. According to Jackson, “[Randy] brought a little scrap of paper that had a couple line drawings, saying, ‘This is kinda what I want this guitar to look like,’” Randy had taken the basic shape of a Gibson Flying V but made it asymmetrical. Unlike his Karl Sandoval black Flying V with white polka dots, the new design had a top body horn that was longer than the bottom point. At the time Randy called the prototype “The Concorde,” inspired by a supersonic passenger airliner. The model was later renamed “The Randy Rhoads Model” after the shredder’s tragic passing in 1982.
Van Halen’s Frankenstrat
Frankenstrat was built by Eddie Van Halen from an amalgamation of eclectic guitar parts with the intention of creating a guitar that had both the sound of a classic Gibson guitar and the tremolo bar functionality of a Fender Stratocaster. Van Halen’s personal touches on this guitar go as deep as the wiring, removing tone-control potentiometers and wiring the pickups in a simple circuit largely due to his limited knowledge of electronics.
For the finish Van Halen painted the guitar black, and when it was dry he put strips of gaffer's tape on the body and repainted it white, creating the classic Frankenstrat design. He kept the guitar white with black stripes for a couple years before he later re-taped the body of the Frankenstrat and painted it with the more familiar red Schwinn bicycle paint. Still, there are many of us who like the white version better.
Zakk Wylde’s "The Grail" Gibson Les Paul Custom
Zakk Wylde's Gibson Les Paul Custom, lovingly referred to as "The Grail," is one of the most iconic guitars in modern metal. However, some fans may be shocked to learn that this famous white guitar's legendary design was created on accident.
While recording tracks for Ozzy Osbourne's 1988 album No Rest For The Wicked, Zakk received this then-all-white guitar in a trade. Zakk kept the original paint job throughout the recording process, until promotional photoshoots started being booked. "I was like, "Dude, I can't have a clean Les Paul. It's Randy's [Rhoads] signature thing,"" he recalled in a 2013 interview with Premier Guitar.
Zakk rush-ordered a new paint job for The Grail, with instructions to base the design on Alfred Hitchcock's legendary vertigo design. It instead came back with the now-famous bullseye design, and the rest is history.
James Hetfield’s Electra Flying V
James bought this white electric guitar in 1980 for $200, which was considered cheap even back then. He played it on Metallica’s first album Kill ’em All, forever preserving its incredible tone on the legendary debut record. But what was even more iconic than the guitar’s sound, was its ability to take a beating! Over the four years that guitar went on tour with Metallica and was exposed to brutal wear and tear, until the neck was broken in 1984. However, in 2009 James had the guitar refurbished to use during the recording of Death Magnetic.
Johnny Ramone’s Mosrite Ventures II
Few pairings of guitarists and guitar have affected the sound of rock and roll more than Johnny Ramone and his white Mosrite. Ramone’s manic brand of down-stroked power chords almost single-handedly planted the seeds of American punk and laid the foundation of speed metal and grunge. “I bought this at a used guitar shop sometime around 1976,” remembered the late Ramone. “I got it to replace my first guitar, which was stolen. That was also a Ventures II model, which was the cheapest of the Mosrites.” This white electric guitar was made in the mid-Sixties, but a more accurate dating is impossible because the serial numbers are filed off.
Alex Lifeson’s 1976 ES-335
Although Alex Lifeson of Rush has played many different guitars through the years, he is probably most associated with his beautiful 1976 ES-335. “I did a tour of the Gibson factory in Kalamazoo, MI, and selected that guitar while I was there,” he said. “I fell so madly in love with it. It looked unique with that white finish, and I still love the sound of it.” And so does everyone else. LIfeson used this white electric guitar almost exclusively on many of Rush’s greatest albums including A Farewell to Kings and Hemispheres, and continues to use it to this day.
Final Thoughts: Cool All White Electric Guitars
Of course, nothing looks better with a white guitar than a white amp. Introducing the limited Spark Pearl, a snowy white tolex version of the #1 best-selling practice amp that’s trimmed with gold piping and a contrast-stitched strap. Pearl delivers everything you love about your original Spark—like Smart Jam, Auto Chords and over 10,000 tones—but in a gorgeously styled package. Want to get your hands on one for yourself? Find out more here.
Brad Tolinski is perhaps best known for his work as the editor-in-chief of Guitar World magazine for 25 years. He is also the author of Light and Shade: Conversations with Jimmy Page (Crown); and Play It Loud: An Epic History of the Style, Sound and Revolution of the Electric Guitar (Doubleday), which was the basis for a 2019 guitar-focused exhibition at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City. Most recently he edited the 50th Anniversary Commemorative Issue of CREEM magazine, and his latest book Eruption: Conversations with Eddie Van Halen (Hachette) will be coming out in October 2021.