What guitars do popular surf rock bands play? Several come to mind – Fender Stratocasters, Jazzmasters and Jaguars, Mosrites, and Danelectros.  Not only do they usually have a certain sound, but they also have a certain look.  You don’t see a lot of Flying Vs in surf bands.

Let’s take a quick and unprofessional look at what popular bands of different eras played:

  • The Ventures – Fender Strats, Fender Jazzmasters, and Mosrites
  • Dick Dale – Fender Strat
  • Surfaris – Fender Strat
  • The Beach Boys – Fender Strat
  • Duane Eddy – Gretsch
  • Link Wray – Les Paul Goldtop, Gibson Firebird, Supro Dual Tone
  • The Shadows – Fender Stratocaster
  • Man or Astroman? – Silvertone Hollowbody, Epiphone Coronet, Hofner Hollowbody
  • The Mermen – Fender Stratocaster
  • The Blue Stingrays – Fender Jaguar (I think)
  • Los Straitjackets – DiPinto Galaxie
Guitar Store Display of Fender Guitars

Guitar Store Display of Fender Guitars

According to the book “Guitar Rigs” by Dave Hunter:

“Fender’s Jazzmaster and Jaguar have been the dual lodestones of the retro surf crowd.”

That certainly seems to be true.

Just from this small sample, Fender Stratocasters have been amongst the most popular as well.  Today, of course, you have many more choices than early surf bands.  All in all, I’d say there’s more than a couple of different “classic” surf guitars and rigs.