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Old 08-06-2008, 09:54 AM
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Default Why Are Guitars called "Axes"?

I'd heard it's because Gibson SG guitars look like an executioner's Ax. Is that the reason?
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Old 08-06-2008, 10:01 AM
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It's because guitarists have "chops"!
He "slayed" that song!
That guitar is "killer"!
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Old 08-06-2008, 10:05 AM
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They are used to "murder" audiences.
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Old 08-06-2008, 10:07 AM
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Old 08-06-2008, 10:08 AM
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No, no. This is old jazz usage that began with saxophone and other horn players. It may be from the sound of the word "sax," or from the player "swinging." From there any musical instrument became an axe. "Chops" is from use of the jaw and lips to play those instruments. It takes strong "chops" to make a good embouchure. That jazz slang also was extended to other instruments, probably in the 1950's. The reference of "chops" to lips is old--it predates jazz by a long way.
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Old 08-06-2008, 10:11 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Howard Klepper View Post
No, no. This is old jazz usage that began with saxophone and other horn players. "Chops" is from use of the jaw and mouth to play those instruments. Predates the solid body guitar.
Tell Jimi that!
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Old 08-06-2008, 10:13 AM
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Cause most of us are hacks.
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Old 08-06-2008, 10:21 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Howard Klepper View Post
No, no. This is old jazz usage that began with saxophone and other horn players. . .
Hold your calls. . .

Musicians have been asking, "Did you bring your axe?" for many moons
Not exclusive to guitar
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Old 08-06-2008, 10:24 AM
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Because practice time is often referred to as "woodshedding". The woodshed is where you would use your "axe" to cut wood.
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Old 08-06-2008, 10:31 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Acoustic Rick View Post
Because practice time is often referred to as "woodshedding". The woodshed is where you would use your "axe" to cut wood.
Hence the famous "Woodchoppers Ball" (made famous by Woody Herman)

Here's a link to an up-tempo, abbreviated version
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Old 08-06-2008, 10:59 AM
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I don't call them that because to me that makes no sense--and I'm a guitar player.

So why do some guitar players call their collection of "axes" a "herd?"

How did these undescriptive analogies about chopping and groups of animals come to be applied to beautiful instruments?
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Old 08-06-2008, 11:07 AM
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Default Axes of Evil

I thought it was because back in the ‘30s – ‘40s Mussolini, Hirohito and Hitler had a little combo, they all played early Gibson electrics, so the group was called "Axis” but over time the spelling changed. Of course I could be wrong on one or two points.
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Old 08-06-2008, 12:45 PM
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I think whatever its origins, "axe" for guitar is one of those words which denotes attitude and (maybe) age. For a mild-mannered guy in his 40s who plays acoustic guitars at home, the word "axe" would sound kind of ridiculous from my mouth.
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Old 08-06-2008, 12:54 PM
xanatos xanatos is offline
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From ethymology online (for what it's worth)

http://www.etymonline.com/index.php?...earchmode=none

Quote:
ax/axe
O.E. æces, later æx, from P.Gmc. *akusjo (cf. O.S. accus, O.N. ex, O.Fris. axe, Ger. Axt, Goth. aqizi), from PIE *agw(e)si- (cf. Gk. axine, L. ascia). Meaning "musical instrument" is 1955, originally jazz slang for the saxophone; rock slang for "guitar" dates to 1967. Figurative verbal sense of "discharge (someone) from office," especially as a cost-saving measure, is from 1922, probably from the notion of the headman's axe. To have an axe to grind is from an 1815 essay by U.S. newspaper editor Charles Miner, in which a man flatters a boy and gets him to do the chore of axe-grinding for him, then leaves without offering thanks or recompense.
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Old 08-06-2008, 01:03 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Howard Klepper View Post
No, no. This is old jazz usage that began with saxophone and other horn players. It may be from the sound of the word "sax," or from the player "swinging." From there any musical instrument became an axe. "Chops" is from use of the jaw and lips to play those instruments. It takes strong "chops" to make a good embouchure. That jazz slang also was extended to other instruments, probably in the 1950's. The reference of "chops" to lips is old--it predates jazz by a long way.
Howard has the vote on this according to www.word-detective.com. They state:

"The use of “axe” as slang for a musical instrument dates back to 1955, i.e., in the edenic pre-Kiss days. The instrument to which “axe” was first applied, however, was not the guitar, but the saxophone. The logic may have been simply the “sax/axe” rhyme, but another theory ties “axe” to the “swing” of a jazz sax player in full stride. “Axe” was also later applied to the trumpet before becoming accepted as slang for the guitar, a use which has probably persisted in part because of the instrument’s resemblance to an actual axe."
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