The ‘90s was a watershed era for gear, and set the template for the future of the electric guitar – these are the retro designs, digital innovations and misfit toys that defined a decade and beyond

Guitar player Steve Vai poses at a Hotel in Amsterdam, Netherlands on 24th April 1990.
(Image credit: Frans Schellekens/Redferns/Getty Images)

Electric guitar technology progressed at a steady pace for four decades from the ‘50s through the ‘80s, but by the ‘90s many guitarists seemed ready for a break. 

The sudden shift of the dominance of “hair metal” to grunge was partially responsible for the revolution against evolution that took place, as the renewed interest in guitars and effects from the past that developed seemed to be inspired more by a desire to challenge the status quo than nostalgia. 

Thank you for reading 5 articles this month**

Join now for unlimited access

US pricing $3.99 per month or $39.00 per year

UK pricing £2.99 per month or £29.00 per year 

Europe pricing €3.49 per month or €34.00 per year

*Read 5 free articles per month without a subscription

Join now for unlimited access

Prices from £2.99/$3.99/€3.49

Chris Gill

Chris is the co-author of Eruption - Conversations with Eddie Van Halen. He is a 40-year music industry veteran who started at Boardwalk Entertainment (Joan Jett, Night Ranger) and Roland US before becoming a guitar journalist in 1991. He has interviewed more than 600 artists, written more than 1,400 product reviews and contributed to Jeff Beck’s Beck 01: Hot Rods and Rock & Roll and Eric Clapton’s Six String Stories.