July 27, 2008

Comparing Fake Plastic to Real Guitars

I didn’t know anything about guitars until I picked up a fake plastic one. After owning almost every fake plastic guitar on the market — and a few trips to Guitar Center to pick up some essential fake plastic band equipment — I’ve begun to appreciate how beautiful real guitars truly are.

I thought it might be fun to compare each fake plastic guitar with its real life equivalent, side by side.

Here’s the guitar that started it all — the original 2005 Gibson SG controller. The Playstation 2 version of Guitar Hero I came with the black version, and Guitar Hero II added the red (as well as some internal design improvements). You can buy the red, black and two newer “wood” variants of this original SG model at the Guitar Hero Store as well, but they’re still wired, unfortunately.



Around the time Guitar Hero II: Rocks the 80s was released, new wireless controllers were introduced for the Playstation 2. These aren’t an official licensed design, but they look awfully similar to the Fender Jazzmaster to my eye.



The release of the Xbox 360 version of Guitar Hero II brought the licensed Gibson Explorer design. A solid controller, but the shape was difficult to get used to.



Guitar Hero III added not one, but two more new guitar designs. The PS2 version of the game got the relatively obscure (but cool looking!) Kramer Striker.



The PS3, Xbox 360, and Wii versions of Guitar Hero III included what many (including me) consider to be the best fake plastic guitar yet, the Gibson Les Paul.



Rock Band included the classic Fender Stratocaster design — which was much larger in scale than previous fake plastic guitars as well. They went for realism, and although I think the Rock Band Strat is basically a failure as a controller, it’s definitely the one that makes you look least ridiculous while rocking the fake plastic. Which, admittedly, isn’t saying much, but..



Rock Band 2 introduced a much improved strat, some (including myself) would say the first actually worth playing. Similar look, though, but with more of a “1974 classic Stratocaster” vibe. Note that the sunburst is only available on standalone guitars; if you buy the band kit you get a plain black version of this.



And just for fun — remember The Battle Axe guitar, awarded to guitarists who finish Expert on Guitar Hero I and II?


Here’s a picture I found on Vintage Kramer of a real-life Battle Axe guitar. Go figure!


Update: The Guitar Hero World Tour guitar is identified here. It’s an odd one..

Gene Simmons has a great Axe Bass.

And I think I remember Alice Coopers guitarist playing a machine gun guitar on the Poison tour (which had Kip Winger on bass).

July 28, 2008 at 7:35 pm

Very cool – but why no love for the Fender Statocaster? That one is my favourite design. Responsiveness problems aside, it looks great, the strum bar has a nice string-like springyness, flat buttons are fantastic to play on and the extra touches (effects, solo buttons) are a really nice touch.

July 31, 2008 at 2:42 am

That battle axe guitar is actually based off Gene Simmons’ bass. Which has since been redesigned through third party companies as a guitar… there is also a GH/RB controller designed after it as well… and also the BC Rich Warbeast which is a hideous guitar to actually own, but as a controller doesn’t seem as ridiculous.

March 16, 2009 at 4:32 pm


April 22, 2009 at 9:53 am

This Kramer bass is actually one of Gene Simmons’ Axe Basses. Some of them were Kramer, some were Cort and some were custom made for Gene with no brand name on them. There’s also a Gene Simmons Axe controller for Guitar Hero.


And I believe it’s almost equivalent to the vintage Strat in terms of good looks because it’s made by the same manufacturer as the real one, Gene himself. The only difference is the tremolo, but then again, Les Pauls are famous without a tremolo and SGs, too. But you can see a Tremolo Les Paul or SG (especially vintage vibrato SGs) or locked Explorers, Strats, etc, but no real Tremolo Axe Bass yet!!

Radon Rose
May 26, 2011 at 3:09 am

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