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..