The real winner here, I think, is the Telecaster. They're still made in droves, still immensely popular, and have been the backbone of millions of recorded tracks. And it's easy to see why. They're dead simple, making them both inexpensive to manufacture and straightforward to play. And the biting, aggressive bridge pickup tone cuts through walls of other loud instruments in a way that is much harder for the round, warm tone of a Les Paul.
Bigsby guitars are a historical curiosity. Rickenbackers are still made, but are a rare exotic most guitarists will never play. Les Pauls are a pricey luxury item.
But Telecasters! Telecasters are the sound of rock'n'roll flipping a middle finger to everything that's supposed to be "good". I love them.
Plugged into the same amp/settings, the Les Paul is a bit brighter/more cutting than the Tele (this is generally true of the better vintage bursts w/ PAFs, they occupy tele territory), but the Tele is a fantastic and versatile guitar. The 52s are typically the ones favored by rock guitarists (most famously Keith Richards) and they're punchy as hell, but they are anything but bright with a high output lap steel pickup in the bridge and brass saddles.
I'd give the Les Paul the nod to rock. Either that or the Stratocaster.
Off hand I can name some pretty iconic rock names attached to both the Les Paul and the Strat. Hell, Angus Young even uses an SG. But I can't think of anyone who I associate with a Telecaster.
Not that they're bad guitars, just that I don't think of them when I think "rock'n'roll flipping a middle finger to everything".
I'd still put Telecasters behind Strats and Les Pauls in terms of popularity and fame.
And yet tons of guitarists use one or more of those 3 brands. E.g:
Bigsby less mainstream, but they're hot in rockabilly circles, jazzers use them, etc.
In the pro circuit Rickenbackers are another tool to use, and there's also a thing as G.A.S.
Is a PRS any more "rare exotic" that a Bigsby? And yet those are perfectly common guitars...
And PRS is pretty common, especially when you throw in the import models. Actual Bigsby guitars (I'm not talking the trem installed on another brand of guitar) haven't been made in decades and are extremely rare.
Rickenbackers were quite popular among the country performers at the start of the guitar era. A Rickenbacker into a Vox is the sound of the British Invasion.
Guitars are fad driven. Strats were "garbage" until Hendrix and Clapton. Les Pauls were "garbage" until Slash. And so it goes ...
Said person also still owns his 70s Rickenbacker 4001, in immaculate condition. Needless to say, I am intensely envious ;-)
It really has been an enjoyable and relatively stress free experience. They are almost impossible to mess up, and that's saying something, since my skills with both woodworking tools and a soldering iron are completely underwhelming.
I'm on my second set of pickups now, first ones I put in were the Texas specials used on the MIM 50' reissues. Wasn't super impressed with those. Next I tried the Tonerider TR2, they are sounding much nicer, but the hum is still bothering me.
I was considering trying the Fender Gen4 noiseless next, then maybe the GK Gristle-Tone ones, but I might have to try a set of those EMG T's first if you are recommending them.
I don't know about this. Most "telecasters" I see in the wild are actually telecaster-shaped guitars with pretty much everything else altered.
Given how hugely inconsistent the early Teles were, it's hard to definitively say what a "real" Tele ought to be like. The Blackguard necks were all shaped by hand, with the only commonality being a thickness at the 12th fret of about 1". There are a huge range of profiles, thicknesses and fingerboard radii on vintage Teles. They used whatever body woods were cheap - ash, alder, poplar and pine, often switching woods within the same year. The Tele has always been a crude, cheap working man's guitar, so I see no sense in being a purist about what is fundamentally a mongrel.
To illustrate my point:
The majority of Teles I've seen are like this. Hard to say it "stood the test of time" if there's no agreed upon definition of it.
Most Teles made by Fender/Squier and most of their copiers follow this template. They're not just metal-oriented guitars with a Tele shape.
In all the years I've played I've just never really had any strong desire to own one.
It's worth bearing in mind that the Telecaster was designed for the heavy flatwound or pure nickel strings that were the norm in the 50s. A modern light gauge set of nickel-plated roundwound strings will sound exceptionally bright on a Tele. A plain third string won't intonate properly on a three-saddle bridge either.
Another solution is to use a hotter bridge pickup (which will be necessarily darker), and replace the neck pickup with, heck, almost anything else.
Basically, their simple construction makes them as simple to modify; when you pick up a Telecaster in the gig shop, you’re just getting started; tuning it to your preference is an ongoing process some people take lots of pleasure in. (Whereas others, as with Land Rovers, curmudgeonly quip that it is a pity Fender didn’t just get it right in the first place; the latter group are IMHO missing the point. :))
Worst I've seen is the non-string-thru Bigsbys on your average Gretsch. You have to thread the ball end of the string over a tiny peg which is on the _bottom_ of the bar, wrap the string around the bar, and then thread it through your tuning peg without it popping off at the bridge end. It's a nightmare - some people use a wedge of rubber or polystyrene to try and wedge the ball end onto the peg until the string is at decent tension.
The electric guitar first entered the music scene in the '20's. At that time, it started to appear in the Jazz, Country, and Big Band scenes. Even spanish-style electric guitars (that is, solid body Telecaster/Les Paul style guitars) pre-date the R'n'R phenomenon.
Oh, and the Hawaiian music scene (that haunting 4 note tune everyone associates with Hawaiian music is often done on a steel guitar).
The two-color sunburst finish became a three-color sunburst finish in the first half of 1958 with the addition of an “in between” red hue.
Mastodon: Rythm guy plays a les paul.
SOAD: Daron favors a les paul as well.
Les Paul, stratocaster, and telecaster style guitars are very very common in metal as well.
If you see someone playing a Les Paul, it could be anything. If you see someone playing an Explorer, good bet it's metal.
Disclaimer: I'm an LP person, but I've an equal number of Strats and Teles. I love them each for their unique qualities.
But the Esquire was the first mass-produced electric solid-body guitar designed to be played like a regular acoustic, standing up with a strap.
edit: mass-produced. Paul Bigsby's solid-body predated Fender's but were custom made.
 has a collection of circuit diagrams /schematics for Fender amplifiers. The Champ circuits look very simple with basically a volume control.
Many of the early amp designs were either cribbed from radio amp or ham amp power stages--these are "clean".
"Distortion" wasn't a thing until much later. For instance, the whole reason why "fuzz" pedals came into existence is that a volume control on the preamp wasn't a common thing at that point--and were talking the mid 60's at that point.
Another musician said he'd poke holes in the speaker with a pencil. And another said the "drunk band" dropped the amplifier while loading it, damaging it, but they liked the damaged sound and kept it.
I have a 1950s Supro 5 watt (similar to a Champ) that hardly has a clean sound in it. By the time the volume is at noon, it sounds like what you imagined a wall of Marshalls sounded like when you first saw a picture. Fantastic recording amp. It's that sound, the sound of rock.
Fender was by far the most important innovator for amps, too. Most tube amps today are derived from early Fender designs like the Champ and the Twin (although they're often two or three generations removed at this point).
Of that, the loudspeaker(s) and the cabinet it's in are as important as the circuit.
The banjo, probably one of the instruments most closely associated with country and southern American music was derived from instruments brought over by slaves from Africa.
It's pretty damned hard to escape African/African-American influence on any folk music traditions in the Americas, if that's even possible at all.
It shows up in melody, too. Anything blues-derived, as opposed to diatonic, has African roots. Diatonic harmony was Europe's contribution to American music. Blue thirds and sliding sevenths were Africa's contribution.