Guitar might not be at the forefront of popular music in the way it once was, but that doesn't mean the 2010s wasn't an innovative decade for the evolution of our beloved instrument. The last ten years have seen some pretty unique guitar designs enter the fold to try and elevate the instrument to a new level to mixed results - we've seen some visionaries emerge, and we've seen some classic companies fall flat on their face trying to keep up with the times. However, all progress is good progress, and without further ado, here's our ten favourite crazy guitar designs of the 2010s.
Perhaps one of the most influential designs of the past decade, the Boden was by all means a massive success for Strandberg. From its distinctive headless design to the multi-scale fanned frets and all the way down to the forboding (yet surprsingly ergonomic body), the Boden was destined to attract the attention of the masses, and the fact that it sounded and played like nothing before made it all the more exciting - especially in the hands of a player like Plini.
The Boden's popularity in prog and metal circles has seen the design amass quite a cult following in recent years, and with Strandberg finding endless ways to tweak the nuances of the shape, it looks like that'll be the case for quite some time.
The Starsream is certainly one of the more ambitious designs on this list, and although it didn't take off with the wider public, it's still a pretty unique guitar. This futuristic modelling guitar from Vox features an inbuilt DSP engine, piezo and two humbuckers to let you channel the sounds of various synths, acoustics and other stringed instruments, while a carved mango body creates a lightweight, ultra comfortable playing experience. The Starstream also features two outputs - a regular 1/4" and an 1/8" for your headphones, making it a beast for silent rehearsals
Ernie Ball Music Man St. Vincent
St. Vincent's Annie Clarke is often touted as one of the most influential guitarists of the 2010s, and her signature model with Ernie Ball Music Man really emphasises the creative energy she brings to the fretboard. Unveiled back in 2016, the EBMM St. Vincent is one of the guitar world's greatest innovations in recent memory, boasting an oblique contoured body with a totally unique triple mini humbucker setup and appointments such as an Ernie Ball two-point Tremolo and a gunstock oil, hand-rubbed neck.
Ernie Ball have created several variations of this model since its launch, and Clarke herself owns a number of custom/prototype models which are just as cool as the original design.
Ormsby TX GTR
Straight out of Western Australia, the TX GTR mightn't be the best known model from the Ormsby bunch, but it ranks up there among some of their best. Taking design cues from the tried-and-true Telecaster and then shooting them into outer space, the TX GTR features 29 fanned frets with a multi-scale design for optimized shred-ability, while the over-emphasised contours and slanted pickups go the distance to make this one a true oddity. However, it's an extremely comfortable, well-playing instrument, and it definitely has the potential to become a cult favourite in the years to come.
Millimetric Instruments MGS2
Guitars really don't get much more aesthethically pleasing than the Millimetric Instruments MGS2. A bespoke manufacturer from Canada, Millimetric Instruments elevate the idea of a guitar into an artform, opting for incredibly minimalist shapes and colours while ensuring that all aspects of sound and playability are in check.
The MGS2 is somewhat remniscent of a Telecaster, but lacks the rounded bevels of a typical Fender, instead delivering an angled body with a distinctive neck join and crazy looking electronics in the form of rustic-looking lipstick tube pickups or gritty humbuckers. If there was ever a guitar built exclusively for post-rock or math guitarists, this would have to be it.
PRS Silver Sky John Mayer Signature
Remember how the guitar world collectively pointed their fingers and laughed when John Mayer and PRS unveiled the Silver Sky and said it'd never take off? Boy, were we all wrong. Mayer's Silver Sky aimed to address certain improvements he conceptualised after playing hundreds of different Stratocasters over the years, with the blues virtuoso jumping ship for PRS after Fender failed to see eye-to-eye with his vision.
It takes a while to get used to Mayer's custom specs, such as the enhanced contours, differently voiced pickups, wider neck radius and the confusing PRS headstock up the top end, but as it turns out, Mayer most definitely was in the right: the Silver Sky is the closest anyone has ever come to bettering Leo's original blueprint for the Stratocaster.
Gibson Firebird X
I think we can all agree that the 2010s didn't exactly pan out to be the best decade for Gibson, and if there's any one instrument that represents their struggle to stay ahead of the curve in the innovation department, it's the Firebird X. A wildly ambitious instrument that was burdened by technical flaws (those Robo tuners really never took off like they should have), this quirky build saw Gibson make their Firebird design as futuristic as possible, exaggerating the shape of the guitar to high hell and bundling in a stack of weird features like automatic tuning, 23 frets, inbuilt effects and an unsightly colour combination.
By all accounts, the Firebird X was one of the worst guitars of the decade, but that still didn't justify Gibson steamrolling a whole bunch of them in a leaked video that caused uproar among the industry. Thankfully, Gibson have since picked things up, and it looks like this decade could see a renaissance for the heritage brand.
Abasi Concepts Larada 8
As the wildly talented guitarist for Animals As Leaders, it only made sense for Tosin Abasi to channel some of his genius into his own instrumental endeavours, and boy did they pay off. The Abasi Concepts Larada 8 is one of the cleanest, most ergonomic and original instruments we've seen in recent years, with its multi-scale, fanned-fret design being complemented by a unique set-neck construction, recessed input jack and crazy extended body. While it might look a bit intimidating at first (particularly when played by Abasi himself), the Larada 8 is also surprisingly versatile, even finding a fan in John Mayer, who is the last dude you'd expect to rock a guitar like this.
Since debuting the Larada 8, Abasi has gone on to conceive several other variations of the design, including some six string models, and the newer Larada Space-T, which fuses the shape with the classic appointments of a Telecaster. Yeehaw indeed.
Electrical Guitar Company EGC500
Inspired by those classic Travis Bean designs of the '70s, Electrical Guitar Company are a Florida-based company specialising in the creation of aluminum instruments, and are credited as being the driving factor in their widespread revival as of late. Their EGC500 was conceived in 2015 for Steve Albini, a noted fan of early Travis Bean instruments, and fused an alder body with an aluminum neck anchored to a resonator plate to essentially make it indestructible.
Although it's not as weird as some of the other models on this list, the EGC500 still deserves props for adding something new to the guitar world, and acts as a great example of an alternative approach to making guitars today.
Framus Devin Townsend Stormbender Guitar
Devin Townsend is a quirky dude, so it makes sense that his latest signature effort with Framus is a quirky, quirky instrument. His Stormbender guitar is the result of two to three years of intensive R&D, with Townsend aiming to create the ultimate guitar by merging the sound of a Les Paul Custom with a design optimised for chunky riffs and high octane shredding.
It's a hefty guitar constructed from mahogany and maple veneer, while a carbon fibre centre and Evertune bridge provide enhanced sustain and tuning stability, and even features a Fishman pickup that can be charged up via USB. It's definitely a guitar for the future, and it will put you back a bit - although there is a TeamBuilt version that's not quite as pricey, if that's up your alley.
Want to check out some more offbeat guitars? Here's some local builders for you to suss.