One of the most legendary musicians of all time was also quite the great guitar player. Many don’t associate John Lennon with being a great guitarist, but in actuality he was. Sure in the early Beatles’ days, he played standard rhythm guitar, but in later years he was soloing along side George Harrison.
So what guitars did John use as a Beatle? Lets take a closer look…
1958 Rickenbacker 325 Capri
It was in 1960 that John acquired the 325 capri, which accompanied him in the Hamburg days. This guitar can famously be seen in the Beatles’ first Ed Sullivan Show performance. Rumor has it that this guitar was a natural color and was painted black in 1962. It is believed that he stopped using it sometime in 1964. The 325 Capri has been left in the hand of John’s son, Sean Lennon.
1962 Gibson J-160E
One of John’s most famous acoustic guitars is easy to recognize with the sunburst finish and knobs on the soundboard to control the built-in pickup. The Gibson can be heard on the song “Love Me Do” and was used extensively on the Please Please Me sessions. Lennon picked up another J-160E, which he took on tour in 1964 and 1965.
1963 Rickenbacker 325
This Rickenbacker came in to replace John’s “Hamburg” Capri, which had taken quite the beating. It was used on the album A Hard Day’s Night. As well, it was used on the second performance the Beatles did on the Ed Sullivan Show. Lennon also received a 12-string version of this guitar.
1961 Fender Stratocaster
In 1964, John Lennon and George Harrison made a request for some strats, and each received one. In a cool light blue color with a rosewood fretboard, the stratocasters were used on the song “Nowhere Man”. George Harrison later gave his a psychedelic paint job for the All You Need is Love satellite broadcast.
1965 Epiphone E230TD Casino
This hollow body guitar is quite famous as John used it for the impromptu rooftop concert. He also toured with it extensively in 1966 and it can be seen at the Beatles’ Shea Stadium performance. Sometime in 1968, John has his Casino sanded down to its natural finish, which can be seen in the rooftop concert.
Other guitars John had during the Beatles
- Ramirez A-1 classical guitar
- Framus 12-string acoustic guitar
- 1963 Gretsch 6120, Guild Starfire XII
- 1966 Vox Kensington
- 1965 Martin D-28 acoustic
– Posted by Raj who writes a blog on Guitar Tone
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8 thoughts on “John Lennon’s Guitars in the Beatles”
For years I’ve wondered about the acoustic guitar sounds on “Hey Jude” and my best guess is the Gibson J-160E plugged into a mic’ed up Vox combo amp. Any light to be shed out there?
I would recommend Andy Babiuk’s fine guidebook, “Beatles Gear,” in which he exhaustively details every instrument owned and used by every Beatle, including amps. It’s a great read, and very informative.
In a recent interview, Earl Slick talked about working in the studio for the first time with John Lennon for the Double Fantasy album. He said he was absolutely stunned at what a tremendous guitarist John was. John is definitely an underrated guitarist, particularly as a rhythm guitarist and in his use of different chord voicings.
Great post, thanks! I’ve been working my way through the Beatles songbook…it’s such a tremendous catalog.
If you listen to John on his 65 epiphone on the rooftop concert playing I’ve got a feeling , he plays the lead intro in a single chord I’ve never seen before
Really great John Lennon and George Harrison guitar pages at this site. I know, It’s my site. Enjoy!
On the Youtube video (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jn8d69QRU1c), on frame 1:45 and 2:12 you can see John’s Rickenbacker 325 Capri still in natural color .
The Framus 12 string was a casualty on the Australian tour in ’64. The neck was broken on the trip, and was taken to a luthiery not far from their hotel in Sydney. When the tour moved on the guitar was inadvertently left behind. I saw that guitar many times, as I did my apprenticeship in a hotel across the road from the shop, and had my setups done there. Lennon never returned to get the guitar. Sometime in 1971 the luthier, who was convinced Lennon would come back for the instrument, or have it posted, moved/closed or maybe retired. He was pretty old. I don’t know what became of that guitar. I wish I did know; it would be worth a fortune now.