It's been rock 'n' roll's version of Coke vs. Pepsi, the Yankees vs. the Red Sox, almost since the music's start.
And the battle is still being fought every day in garages, studios, and music clubs across America. It's the guitar wars: Fender vs. Gibson. That ongoing struggle is documented in the new 50-minute DVD "Solidbodies: The 50 Year Guitar War."
The title refers to the way the Fender Stratocaster and the Gibson Les Paul electric guitars redefined pop music. Their solid bodies gave them a big, thick sound that allowed guitarists to become dominant players, not just the background rhythm instruments of the Big Band era.
A lot of big-name guitarists are highlighted in the documentary - Led Zeppelin's Jimmy Page is a Les Paul man, Hendrix lived with his Stratocaster - but few are actually quoted. Instead, many of the best interviews are with guitar retailers and tech folks, which works in a way, since musicians aren't always the most well-spoken crew.
There is an odd Bay State flavor to the DVD, because among the axmen interviewed are local players Gary Hoey (above) and Johnny A, along with Derek Trucks, who is married to onetime Boston-area blues singer Susan Tedeschi.
"Solidbodies" is for the serious music fan, not the general public, though it will appeal to more than just guitar players and geeks. It effectively captures the up-and-down history, the rivalry, the back-and-forth tug of two of the most powerful images in modern music.
According to Hoey, it's all about "the quest for the holy tone."