They've got character, style, and one-of-a-kind uniqueness. What are they? They're beater guitars, of course.
Seriously, though...for the uninitiated, you must be wondering what in the world is a beater guitar? The classical definition is based on an axiom: that every player needs a guitar he or she can take into a wilderness (mark that as hazardous) type environment without fear of the elemental or accidental things which will, in all likelihood, scratch and dent your axe. In short, it's the guitar you can take anywhere you wouldn't take your, uh, high priced name brand. Most of the time, the beater is the junker guitar you don't really care anything about: Substandard everything, but gets the job done.
However, Guitar Therapy has turned that assumption on it's head, mostly due to the inspiration of Edward Van Halen. (More on that in moment.) The point is, with regard to the so-called beater guitar, I believe in a different axiom: That every beater is a great guitar waiting to happen. Granted, some beaters really are fit for the fireplace. So I realize I'm overstating my case a bit. But in general, my experience has been that most beaters can be transformed into a guitar which sounds and plays as well or even better than some of the high priced competition.
That being the case, is it necessary or justified to even call it a beater? I mean, if the guitar has been essentially reborn, perhaps a change of name is in order and like the mythical Phoenix from the ashes, rises a new creation: the Born Again Guitar.
And this is the guy who made it possible, Edward Van Halen, one of my early heroes and, next to my Uncle (who taught me to play), probably the biggest musical influence in my formative years as a guitarist.
Larry Marano, Getty Images
In addition to his many other great accomplishments and contributions to the world of rock guitar, Edward redefined the beater, essentially teaching us that you don't have to spend thousands of dollars to have an exceptional guitar. He built his guitar to fit his needs and he did it for about $200. This is the big secret that the guitar industry doesn't want you to know about. That way, they can continue marketing their overpriced guitars to the public.