The Beatles were a British rock band that formed in Liverpool in 1960. The group consisted of John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison, and Ringo Starr. They are regarded as the most commercially successful and critically influential act of the rock era.
They had started as a skiffle group and evolved into the most popular band in the world. It’s no surprise that their gear has been of interest to musicians for decades.
What guitars did The Beatles use? The Beatles used so many different guitars in their recordings and performances. The band frequently used guitar models from brands like Rickenbacker, Gretsch, Fender, Epiphone, Gibson throughout their career. They also used guitars from Höfner, C.F. Martin, Ramirez, Framus, and Vox.
What guitars did John Lennon play?
Although he is widely considered one of the greatest songwriters and cultural icons of all time, John Lennon was a guitarist first. Here are the guitars Lennon used throughout his career with The Beatles:
During his early days in the Cavern Club, John Lennon used a 1958 Rickenbacker 325 Capri. This model is considered the holy grail of Lennon’s guitars. It has a natural finish and a gold pickguard.
In 1962, Lennon used a 1962 Gibson J-160E with a sunburst finish. Both John Lennon and George Harrison bought this model at Rushworth’s Music House in Liverpool.
Lennon bought a 1964 Gibson J-160E to replace the previous guitar two years later. This model looks exactly like his first J-160E.
Lennon also bought a black 1963 Rickenbacker 325 Jetglo. This model was designed with Lennon in mind. He replaced it with a new 1964 model, which Rickenbacker shipped to him. The two guitars are identical, except for the headstock and the tailpiece.
In 1964, Lennon also owned a Ramirez A-1. This was a nylon-string classical guitar, often called the Segovia model.
Lennon also had a Framus 12-string “Hootenanny” acoustic. This German guitar only sold for just £42.
Another guitar that both Lennon and Harrison owned was the 1961 Fender Stratocasters. Lennon used this model on “Nowhere Man” and a few times on the Sgt. Pepper album.
John Lennon owned an orange 1963 Gretsch 6120, with a hollow-body and double-cutaway model. He used this in “Paperback Writer”.
In early 1966, Lennon bought a 1965 Epiphone E230TD Casino guitar with a sunburst finish and stock trapeze tailpiece. This was Lennon’s main guitar in the ’66 tours.
In the same year, Vox gifted Lennon a 1966 Kensington, an odd prototype guitar. Vox is most known for making the Vox AC30 guitar amplifier used by prominent rock bands. Lennon used this in the “Hello, Goodbye” video session shots.
Lennon owned a 1965 Martin D-28 in 1967. He used this dreadnought acoustic guitar alongside his Gibson J-160E on the band’s albums. He also used this guitar to compose most of his White Album songs.
What guitars did George Harrison play?
George Harrison played many different guitars in his career as a member of The Beatles. Here’s a list of the guitars that Harrison used while in the band, starting in 1961:
George Harrison used a black 1957 Gretsch 6128 Duo Jet with a semi-solid mahogany body and silver pickguard during his Cavern Club days. He bought this guitar from a taxi driver.
In mid–1963, Harrison switched to a 1963 Gretsch 6122 Country Gentleman with a walnut finish and gold hardware. Harrison was using this guitar when they first propelled worldwide success.
Later in the year, Harrison also bought a deluxe Gretsch 6119 Tennessean. This guitar is most notably seen in the opening sequence of the film “Help!”.
Harrison also bought a 1962 Rickenbacker 425 (Fire-glo) for $400 in September ’63 at Fenton’s Music Store in Mount Vernon in Illinois.
In 1964, George Harrison introduced the 12-string guitar to mainstream pop with his 1963 Rickenbacker 360-12 (Fire-glo). Rickenbacker president F.C. Hall personally gave this guitar to Harrison.
Radio station WDGY gifted Harrison a 1965 Rickenbacker 360-12 (Fire-glo) when the Beatles came to Minneapolis. Harrison used this newer model and retired his first 360-12.
Harrison also finally owned a 1961 Fender Stratocaster in 1965. This Fender guitar was finished with a rare blue color.
In 1966, Harrison bought an Epiphone E230TD(V) Casino (sunburst) through McCartney’s lead. He used it regularly in the studio and on tour. This hollow-body electric guitar appears in many performances, including the “Hello, Goodbye” promo.
Harrison also used a Gibson SG Standard with a cherry red finish around 1966. He first used it during the Revolver sessions. It also appears on the promo film for “Lady Madonna.”
In 1968, Fender gifted Harrison with a 1968 Fender Telecaster. It was one of only two made. Harrison used this in the Let It Be sessions and the Beatles’ last public performance at the rooftop concert.
What guitars did Paul McCartney play?
While most famous for his bass playing, Sir Paul McCartney started off his rock and roll career on a six-string guitar. Here are the guitar models that McCartney used in The Beatles.
In 1960, Paul McCartney used a Rosetti Solid 7 electric guitar. In an interview, McCartney revealed his distaste of the guitar, saying it was a cheap guitar with a good-looking piece of wood.
During the Beatles’ early residence in Hamburg, McCartney custom-ordered a left-handed Höfner model 500/1 “violin” bass.
The Hofner 500/1 bass was updated in ’61 and ’63. Hofner gave McCartney the new model in 1963. His bass guitar had a few changes, including the neck, machine heads, pickups, headstock logo, body, and fretboard dot inlay.
McCartney bought an Epiphone Texan FT-79 acoustic guitar in December 1964. McCartney still has this instrument.
McCartney also bought a 1962 Epiphone Casino ES-230TD at the same time he bought the Texan. After following John Mayall’s advice, he got this right-handed, hollow-body electric guitar.
In October 1965, McCartney switched to a 1964 Rickenbacker Model 4001S-LH bass (Fire-glo). The previous year, Rickenbacker president F.C. Hall presented this model to McCartney at the same time he gave Harrison his 360-12. However, the bass was a right-handed model, so McCartney had to wait more than a year for a left-handed one.
McCartney bought a 1964 Fender Esquire in sunburst finish. He used this single-pickup Telecaster model during the Revolver sessions.
In 1968, McCartney was seen playing a C.F. Martin D-28 acoustic guitar. This sweet-sounding dreadnought guitar was used in the “White Album” sessions.
McCartney also briefly used a left-handed 1966 Fender Jazz Bass (Sunburst). This model appears in Abbey Road studio photos.
The Beatles are widely known for their music and are regularly named the most influential rock act. We hope you enjoyed taking a closer look at the guitars that John Lennon, George Harrison, and Paul McCartney used.
Michaela Jyra Melo is a freelance writer, music obsessive, and professional content creator with a passion for sharing her experiences and knowledge with the world. Michaela is a music lover first and foremost. She's passionate about new music and artists, but she also loves to dig into musical instruments and equipment. Michael studies communication at the University of the Philippines. When she's not writing or listening to new music, she can be found reading on her Kindle or traveling somewhere new with friends.