"Named" Famous Instruments that are not Guitars or Violins.

Many famous guitarists are known for a particular instrument they play, even if they use many different makes and models. Usually, these instruments have been named by either the artist or their fans. Willy Nelson has “Trigger.” Eddie Van Halen has"Frankenstrat" and Brian May has “Red Special.”
I’ve added violins because most Stradivarius violins seem to have their own code name or sobriquet.
Are there other instruments that have a name that fans of a particular artist would say “(Drummer) John Smith did his best work using his kit, ‘Kitty?’”

Cellos get names as well. (Some violas as well.) Much for the same reasons as violins. Usually again only big name makers, strads, Guarnari etc. Many other orchestral instruments have a limited life. Woodwinds especially. You don’t see any historical instruments in use. Just unplayable ones in museums. Pianos have a limited concert life. About the best example I could come up with is pipe organs. Every one of these is named, often only by where it is located, but quite a few have more specific names.

John Entwistle’s “Frankenstein” Bass:

Oops. I guess a bass qualifies as a guitar…duh.:smack:

Ben Webster called his sax “Old Betsy.”

Big Ben? The Liberty Bell?

Getting obscure:

“His Package,” a Yamaha QY700 sequencer, from Atom and his Package.

Hah! How funny. I saw him in Budapest back in 2003, just kind of randomly at a club. Never heard of him before, but remember him putting on a fun show.

The Sisters of Mercy name their drum machine Doktor Avalanche, but the name is applied to whatever machine they’re currently using, not one specific device.

In medieval Japan, famous flutes had names. Taira no Atsumori, a young samurai know for his early death in battle, played a flute called “Saeda”, meaning “little branch”. According to The Tale of the Heike which records Atsumori’s death, “The flute of Atsumori was one which his grandfather Tadamori, who was a famous player, had received as a present from the Emperor Toba, and had handed down to his father Tsunemori, who had given it to Atsumori because of his skill on the instrument.”

Other flutes are named in the Noh play Atsumori:

Many are the famous flutes that have been made;
Little-Branch and Cicada-Cage,
And as for the reaper’s flute,
Its name is Green-leaf

Seasick Steve’s percussion is by something called the Mississippi Drum Machine (it’s a wooden box with a Mississippi motorcycle license plate on it :p) and his guitar is the Three-String Trance Wonder.

Seasick Steve - Dog House

I did not know this. I love knowing this - thanks. He’s a favorite.

I’ve been thinking about this. There’s famous instruments - Dizzy’s crook-necked trumpet for instance - but no names come to mind.

I will say that Paganini’s violin stands out to me. Most pricey stringed instruments are named by their provenance, e.g., the Countess of Stanlein (a Strad cello), or an identifying characteristic, e.g., the Dolphin (a Strad violin whose unique sunburst is said to look like a dolphon’s back). Paganini’s Guarneri violin is called The Cannon - Il Cannone. Fuck yeah. That’s his Excaliber. That’s different.

It’s funny, but I hadn’t thought about it, but the whole naming think does seem very “lead string instrument oriented” - whatever stringed instrument was prominent, violin, guitar, etc.

Questions arise.

  • So, there’s old Lutes, Citterns, Vihuelas and Ouds with badass names we should be aware of? I can totally see some Ancient dude with a skull lyre giving it a formidable name ;).

  • Pianos have been far more popular, but I don’t recall them having names. They are more by Model and Location. “That Steinway D at the XYZ Symphony Hall - man what a great touch on that one.” Players having their favorites are part of a lot of stores - I read a book on Glenn Gould’s pianos - but I don’t recall names.

  • Brass - I looked up Dizzy’s and the Smithsonian had an article about getting it from his widow. They tell the story of how one was bent and he decided he liked it, so whenever he got a new one, he had the same bend put in. I guess the fact that brass instruments wear out (??) means one doesn’t develop an affection? I know sax players cherish their Selmers for decades so that doesn’t make sense. But other than hearing about Ben Webster’s Old Betsy, names don’t come to mind. Hmm.

Glenn Gould had his chair. I don’t think it had a name.

The 60s rock group Lothar and the Hand People. “Lothar” was the name of the Theremin that was the basis of their sound.

Yeah, that low-slung chair. It was discussed a lot in the book.

Interesting. We spoke in another thread about Steve Vai…and Yngwie was mentioned and routinely discarded. I object to this, only to defend his earliest work, which in his own words was inspired by Paganini. Regardless of anyone’s opinion, Eengvhay could play classical guitar.

I saw Genesis on the “Duke” tour back in 1980. They had used a drum machine on a couple songs on the album, and in concert Phil Collins introduced the drum machine as “Bertie”.

[quote=“FoieGrasIsEvil, post:16, topic:804690”]

Interesting. We spoke in another thread about Steve Vai…and Yngwie was mentioned and routinely discarded. I object to this, only to defend his earliest work, which in his own words was inspired by Paganini. Regardless of anyone’s opinion, Eengvhay could play classical guitar.


I’m not commenting on Paganini’s playing - I haven’t dug in, but know he was a shredder. I was only commenting on his named favorite. Yngwie has a white 1971 Strat called The Duck, because it has a little Donald Duck decal on it. Not as badass as Il Cannone, but there ya go.

Ben Webster’s tenor is such lovely, relaxed playing, it kind of slouches along, yet without being at all lazy…so glad to hear you’re a fan as well. I poked around and learned a little more:

I seem to vaguely remember hearing that Echo from Echo and the Bunnymen was the drum machine.