When it comes to names for guitars, the world of music is as diverse as the guitarists who strum these iconic stringed instruments.
From legendary axes like B.B. King’s “Lucille” to Willie Nelson’s “Trigger,” the tradition of naming guitars has been a long-standing ritual among musicians, adding a touch of personal flair and creating a unique bond between player and instrument.
The purpose of this article isn’t merely to dive into the fascinating stories behind famous guitar names but to inspire you, the reader, to christen your own guitar.
Whether you’re a budding rock musician or a seasoned player, assigning a name to your six-stringed companion can change your relationship with the instrument, infusing each chord with a more profound sense of connection and musical identity.
Names For Guitars: Should You Name Your Guitar?
Music is, above all, a very subjective experience for every listener and performer.
To many, it’s also a very emotional experience, a great way to evoke and express emotions.
So if there’s any way for a performer to feel more connected to the music they’re playing, then they should go for it.
And one way to feel more connected is to give a name to your instrument.
Spending countless hours practicing, playing gigs, and creating music with your guitar becomes an extension of yourself.
Just as you might name a beloved pet or a close friend, naming your guitar can signify your unique relationship with your instrument.
Now, I’m absolutely aware that a guitar is just an object.
After all, we need to be realistic.
But that doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t give your instrument a name if you feel like it.
A little bit of personification can be a fun game of sorts.
Think about it: every scratch, every mark, and every chord progression learned has a story behind it.
Regardless of its brand or quality, by naming your guitar, you may more likely treasure the experiences and memories you’ve built together.
The Psychological Impact of Names For Guitars
Psychologically speaking, naming your guitar can profoundly affect your mindset and performance as a musician.
It says that people tend to develop a stronger attachment to objects they have named.
Giving your guitar a name creates a sense of ownership and emotional investment in your instrument.
Nonetheless, I won’t be going too much into psychology since I’m far from an expert on the matter.
But I know more connection to the instrument can enhance the playing experience.
And with an enhanced and more personal experience, the chances are that you’re going to play better.
So should you name your guitar?
If you feel like it, then absolutely go for it.
What Are The Best Names For Guitars?
It’s impossible to say what’s the “best” guitar name.
As I already mentioned, music is a subjective experience for listeners and performers.
So the “best” name is the one that works the best for you and for the instrument you’re planning to name.
Since the whole point is to feel more connected to it, think of your guitar and what it reminds you of, or better yet, who it reminds you of.
Were you inspired to get this guitar because your favorite guitar player plays this same model?
Or did you perhaps get this instrument as a gift from someone?
It’s all up to you.
I know that this might not seem like a helpful piece of advice at the moment.
But you need to know what this instrument means to you.
How it feels, how it sounds, and how it looks go into the naming equation.
Names for Guitars: Factors to Consider
So you’ve got your brand new (or old) six-string in your hands, and it’s time to ponder names for guitars.
Like I’ve said, naming your guitar isn’t just a whimsical act reserved for B.B. King and his beloved Lucille.
It’s a tradition embraced by many guitarists, amateur and professional alike, signifying a bond that forms between a musician and their instrument.
The Guitar’s Physical Characteristics
Take a good look at your guitar.
Does its color inspire a name?
Perhaps it’s as red as cherry or black as the midnight sky.
The shape can be a source of inspiration too.
For example, a double-neck guitar might lend itself to a name that reflects its unique form.
Even the smaller details, like the number of frets on the fretboard or the design of the headstock, can hold the key to the perfect name.
The Sound or Tone of the Guitar
Next, think about the sound of your guitar.
Is it soft and mellow, or loud and brash?
Names for guitars can spring from the tonal qualities they possess.
How your guitar resonates when strummed or picked, how it sounds through different amps and pedals, or even the specific notes, it produces can all influence the choice of name.
After all, a name that mirrors the guitar’s voice is bound to be fitting.
Personal Experiences or Memories Associated with the Guitar
Reflect on your journey with your guitar.
Did you buy it on a memorable trip?
Did you perform your first gig with it?
Or it could be a gift from someone special.
For instance, names for guitars can derive from personal experiences or memories, creating a connection that’s uniquely yours.
So don’t stop naming your guitar after a significant event or a cherished memory.
Inspirations from Music, Literature, History, Etc.
Finally, consider drawing from the cultural well.
There is no limit to the number of references you can make.
You may name your guitar after a beloved song or album, a famous musician, or even a literary or historical figure.
There are numerous potential names in music, literature, history, and other fields.
Consider naming your banjo ‘Atticus,’ after Harper Lee’s iconic character, or your guitar ‘Zeppelin,’ after the legendary rock band.
The possibilities are endless, and each option adds a layer of personal meaning and story to your instrument.
So next time you pick up your guitar, think about all the different types of guitars out there, each with its unique names, and ponder on what name suits yours best.
It might deepen your connection with your six-stringed companion and add a personal flair to your musical journey.
What Are Some Nicknames for a Guitar?
Any nickname that comes to mind is fair play.
Jot down any words, phrases, or names that resonate with you.
Even a nonsensical combination of letters and characters if you really feel like it.
But there are some more or less “standard” ways to nickname a guitar.
The most common nickname of sorts is an “ax.”
Although more of a synonym, calling it “my ax” does feel like a nickname.
Some also use “ax” as a shorter form, but that’s completely up to you.
You’ll also find terms like “six-string” for 6-string guitars.
I often refer to one’s guitar as a “weapon of choice” or call someone’s collection an “arsenal.”
Call your guitar by each name, and feel how it sounds and how it resonates with you and your instrument.
Eventually, you’ll find the one that feels just right – the name that encapsulates some of what your guitar represents to you.
Names for Guitars Tips
To make things simpler, here’s a list of things that might help you come up with a name:
- Name or a nickname of a musician who you feel connected to
- Name or a nickname of a musician playing that particular guitar model
- A name of a city, town, or a place you feel connected to
- Names of your family members or cousins
- The color, or colors, of the instrument in question
- The age of your guitar, combined with some other traits, can also be a good idea
- If you got your guitar as a gift from someone, you can consider that person’s name
- A name that appears in a song that you like
- A name of a person who inspires you
- Fictional characters from books, films, or other media that interest you
- Special tonewoods or materials used for the guitar
- Numbered names, either in order of priority or so that you acquired your guitars
The Heritage of Naming Guitars
Countless rock legends, blues guitarists, and jazz maestros have christened their guitars with names that resonate with their personal experiences and the guitar’s unique characteristics.
Notable guitarists often form a special bond with their instruments, leading them to assign a distinct identity that reflects the guitar’s role in their musical journey.
If you’re wondering how people name their guitars, I suggest you check out what the big names of the guitar world did.
Famous People and Their Names For Guitars
- B.B. King named one of his early instruments Lucille.
There’s a whole story behind this name.
A fire broke out during his performance.
Two men fought over a woman named Lucille, knocking over a burning barrel used for heating.
- Frankenstrat, or just Frankie, is a clever name given to Eddie Van Halen’s legendary Stratocaster.
This particular guitar was made out of parts of different discarded guitars, thus its name.
- Albert King had a 1958 Gibson Flying V that he called Lucy, giving the same name to a series of other Flying Vs that he had.
The name was an homage to American actress Lucille Ball.
A few musicians also used numbers for some of their guitars.
- Stevie Ray Vaughan had his Lenny and Number One Strat.
He also refers Number One as the “First Wife.”
- Led Zeppelin’s Jimmy Page also has his Number One Gibson Les Paul, as well as Number Two and Number Three.
Tony Iommi has a custom SG built by John Diggins that he calls The Old Boy.
The legendary Eric Clapton had several guitars with names of their own.
- Eric Clapton’s “Blackie,” a Fender Stratocaster amalgamation, was his go-to instrument for studio work and live performances for many years.
- Its counterpart, “Brownie,” another Strat, was the original guitar on which Clapton recorded the iconic “Layla.”
Each guitar and name represents a different chapter in Clapton’s illustrious career.
- Queen’s Brian May crafted his “Red Special” guitar with his father.
This homemade guitar, built from different types of wood, including an old fireplace mantel, became his signature sound.
The name “Red Special” was derived from the reddish-brown color of the guitar and its unique status in May’s collection.
- Keith Richards and his so-called Micawber Fender Telecaster.
- Then there’s the legendary Jimi Hendrix with his “Black Beauty,” a guitar that redefined rock music.
Each of these musicians found their voice, their unique sound, with these instruments – hence the importance of these names.
The tradition of naming extends beyond electric guitars, encompassing acoustic guitars, bass guitars, and even classical guitars with their nylon strings.
- Willie Nelson’s beloved Martin N-20 classical guitar, known as “Trigger,” is as famous as Nelson’s.
The hole-riddled guitar is a testament to Nelson’s long, storied career and unique playing style.
- Chuck Berry’s “Maybellene”
- Yngwie Malmsteen’s “The Duck”
- George Harrison’s “Lucy”
I could go on with these names forever.
But in the end, the same point still stands.
Your guitar is your business, and you’re the one giving it a name.
And if you want to pay homage to one of the greats, you can always start with a guitar like theirs.
For instance, if you want to own a Number One, Gibson Les Paul like Jimmy Page, get yours from Guitar Center:
Names for Guitars: Conclusion
Drawing the curtain on our musical journey into the realm of names for guitars, we’ve uncovered the unique bond between musician and instrument, as embodied in a name.
Each guitar, just like every song, tells a story.
Naming your guitar reflects this narrative; it’s the essence of your musical journey, shared victories and hardships, and the countless hours spent strumming away.
Remember, there’s no ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ when it comes to names for guitars.
It could be as simple as ‘Betsy,’ as illustrious as ‘Excalibur,’ or as playful as ‘Strummingbird.’
The name springs from your connection to the instrument, experiences, and memories you’ve created together.
A name adds a layer of personalization, transforming an object of wood and string into a trusted companion.
I hope this article has helped you think through names for guitars and if you should name your ax!
And if you want to read more about the guitar on this blog, then check out:
- Guitar Statistics and Data to Know about in 2023
- Ukulele Sales Statistics
- Guitar Demographics: Who’s Playing Guitar in 2023
Now it’s your turn!
Got a guitar yearning for a name or a named guitar with a tale to tell?
We want to hear from you.
So, let’s keep the conversation flowing.
Comment below with the names for guitars you’ve chosen or are considering, and share the stories that have shaped these choices.