Gibson versus Fender has been a debate since the dawn of rock. Every brand of guitar has its strengths and weaknesses, but the biggest names in music disagree on which is the best. Former Van Halen frontman Sammy Hagar prefers Gibson, and the 74-year-old rocker opened up about his longtime relationship with the iconic luthier.
Sammy Hagar’s Favorite Guitar Brand
Still an avid performer in the mid-’70s, Sammy Hagar opened up about his longtime love affair with the Gibson Les Paul in a 2022 interview. According to the veteran musician, it all comes down to what suits the person behind it. the guitar.
“I’m a Gibson Les Paul guy. I can’t play a Fender,” Hagar told the San Diego Union-Tribune. “Vic, my lead guitarist, plays a Fender.”
Every artist has their own style, and not every type works with all the tools of the trade. According to Hagar, his history with Les Paul dates back to his early days in music. Swapping out his Gibson for a Fender would be like a professional athlete moving on to another sport.
“For me, playing a Strat is like trying to wrestle a professional wrestler,” Hagar said of the Fender Stratocaster. “I was brought up on Gibson guitars, and my hands feel great playing them. I have Strat; I just don’t play them.
Despite her personal preference, Hagar enjoys the Fender sound in places like her Las Vegas home, the Strat. Although he keeps an open mind about which guitar is better, the Fender-versus-Gibson remains a hot topic among musicians.
Gibson vs. Fender: Who Makes the Better Guitar?
The Gibson and Fender models are not close replicas with minor differences. They are different instruments that meet different musical needs. According Merriam Music, the Gibson Les Paul has two volume knobs and higher gain allows users to achieve the woodsy tone they most desire. It is ideal for rock ‘n’ roll, blues and hard rock players.
Fender guitars produce a modern, cleaner sound that many contemporary artists like to use for heavy post-production. According Guitar space, Fender’s single-coil pickups give it a clean, electric sound that suits most modern genres. Still, Gibson’s long neck makes it easier to play. However, professional musicians might prefer the Fender’s smaller area between the frets.
That said, while successful rock musicians like Sammy Hagar can afford the best guitars, novice musicians cannot. Thus, artists on a budget might prefer less expensive models. According to Guitar Space, Fender offers a wider selection of affordable guitars, while higher-end Gibson models cost thousands of dollars. It all comes down to story, feel and need.
A blues rocker like Hagar prefers the classic Les Paul, while modern players love the clean sound of Fender. Hagar has found her favorite, her bandmates have found theirs, and the competition feels less like two sides vying and more like completely different markets.
What is Sammy Hagar doing now?
Sammy Hagar knows how to market his name and image. His Cabo Wabo clubs are a hit around the world, and like several aging musicians before him, Hagar has landed a residency in Las Vegas that allows him to play the hits while offering something new to fans.
“I’m about as busy as a man can get – and I don’t know why. I’m confused!” Hagar said San Diego Union-Tribune. “One night we did the whole first Montrose album. Another night we did a dozen Van Hagar songs, and a couple of songs from a new Circle album coming out later this year, tentatively called mad times. We really push each other in Vegas, and I love mixing it all up.
Hagar likes to push the limits. Like most musicians, he thinks the art is most important. Give a bad player a good guitar, and the music suffers the most. But give an accomplished musician like Hagar a bad guitar, and audiences will likely go home happy. Still, having the right tools for the job helps, and Sammy Hagar’s preference keeps him in the Gibson family.
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