ChatterBank11 mins ago
why is guitar called an axe?
just wondered if anybody knows why when people talk about guitar players, the refer to them as axemen.
I wondered if it relates to any one particular guitar player, or to guitar playing in general.
Either way, in our office, we would love to know how this term came around so if anybody knows I'd be grateful
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I think it more likely it is just from the shape. If you look at a Gibson SG or aTelecaster, the shape is uniform, and with the neck, it vaguely resembles an axe in shape.
Musicians are a comical bunch, in a similar vein, a fret-board on a guitar is known as a 'plank' and playing a solo can be referred to as 'spanking your plank' and a guitarist who is fond of long solos is thus a 'plank spanker'.
I was a member of a band called the Axemen back in the early to mid 60's and we took our name from the traditional jazz / blues reference to the guitar players "axe"....and it had nothing to do with destroying the instruments because this was well before the advent of The Who and besides ...who the heck could afford to destroy good gear back then.
This is a tribute to a man known only as Torvill. Torvill was a freed slave who made his way north after the civil war and made his living as a logger. He was also possibly one of the best blues men ever to play.
The story goes that Torvill had taken to playing his guitar in the evenings around the campfire. One night when he came back to the camp, his guirat had been broken. He salvaged what he could of the strings and strung them to the only thing he had handy, his two handed, double bitted axe.
The axe obviously provided no amplification, but anyone sitting close enough could hear the haunting and interesting new notes he was able to wring from this makeshift instrument.
It wasn't until many years later that solid body guitars with amplifers could be built.
The next time you pick up your axe, remember Torvill, an honest man forgotten by history.