Famous Rock Guitars Conclusion

This is the conclusion of the famous guitar series. I want to thank everyone who read these and the response was much more than I ever expected. I hope you enjoyed it. 

This is the last edition of this series. We covered:

Today we feature one guitar…and it’s a big one!

Image result for jimi hendrix at woodstock

Jimi Hendrix’s Woodstock Stratocaster (Izabella)

This guitar is a 1968 Olympic White Fender Stratocaster, with the serial number #240981, that he bought from Manny’s Music music store in New York. Its body was made of alder and has a maple neck/fretboard setup.

Hendrix played the Strat at the Woodstock Festival in 1969, including on his famous rendition of “The Star-Spangled Banner”. Hendrix purchased the guitar in 1968.

Jimi Hendrix gave the guitar his drummer Mitch Mitchell who had been with Jimi since he broke through with the Experience.

Mitch Mitchell:  ‘I had given him a drum kit as a present some time before and I said to him “I’ll have that guitar before you break it up” (I do not think that he would in fact have broken this particular guitar). He said, as was his way “You got it” and he then gave me the guitar. In retrospect I think it was by way of a gift as my daughter had just been born a few days previously’

Mitchell decided to auction the guitar off in 1990. Mitch had kept the guitar in the case and it never left his possession. The guitar needed to be cleaned up. Neville Marten who worked for Fender at the time did the job. This is what he said:

Taking the guitar to my workbench I checked the neck for straightness and it needed a slight tweak of the truss rod. That done, I cut off the strings and threw them in the bin. Isn’t hindsight a wonderful thing? Today they alone would probably be worth £50,000 (with Jimi’s DNA all over them)!

At an auction in 1990, it was bought by Gabriele Ansaloni for the sum of around $300,000. Ansoloni kept it for two years before selling it on to Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen for a sum believed to be north of 2 million dollars (some sources also say $1.3 million and $2 million).

Paul Allen housed it at The Experience Music Project in Seattle, Washington, the museum he founded to showcase the history of rock n roll music. And it’s on display there to this day…see below…

below that is Kenny Wayne Shepherd playing it.

Kenny Wayne Shepherd got to play the guitar on the Jimmy Fallon Show.

Woodstock Strat

Fender made an exact re-production of Izabella…it can be yours for around $6000 dollars.

Fender Custom Shop Jimi Hendrix Stratocaster Izabella Limited Edition Olympic White

Famous Rock Guitars Part 6

This is the 6th edition of this series. In Part 1, Part2, Part 3,  Part 4,  and Part 5. We covered Brian May’s Red Special, Willie Nelson’s Trigger, George Harrison’s Rocky, Eddie Van Halen’s Frankenstrat, Bruce Springsteen’s guitar, Neil Young’s Old Black guitar, John Lennon’s Casino + a Bonus, Keith Richards Telecaster, Paul McCartney’s Bass, and Eric Clapton’s Blackie.

Today it’s Jimmy Page’s Gipson EDS -1275 Guitar and Jerry Garcia’s Alligator

Jimmy Page’s Gibson EDS-1275 Double Neck Guitar

Jimmy Page on the 'Swagger' of Led Zeppelin's 'Physical Graffiti' - Rolling  Stone

This guitar was born out of necessity for Page. They had just recorded Stairway to Heaven and Jimmy played a  12-string in the song after the intro. To play the song live without a 12-string would not work. He was the only guitar player in the band so to replicate that part they either needed another guitar player or a way for Jimmy to switch to the 12 string while playing the song.

The solution came in the shape of a Gibson double-neck. A 6-string and a 12-string on the same guitar. Jimmy had seen pictures of American guitarists with a double neck guitar… Grady Martin with a Bigsby double-neck, Joe Maphis with a Mosrite. He also saw a strange band named Family with a guitar player  named Charlie Whitney with a double neck guitar.

Gibson first introduced the doubleneck guitar in 1958 with the EDS-1275’s forerunner the “Double 12”. The body and hardware specifications for the EDS-1275 include a solid mahogany SG-style body, a dark cherry finish with walnut filler, chrome hardware, a chrome ABR Bridge with chrome tumblewheels, Schaller strap locks, a five-play pickguard, two volume and tone control knobs, a three-way pickup-selector switch and a three-way neck selector switch.

Jimmy played Les Pauls and wanted to get another Gipson. By the time Page wanted an EDS-1275, they were no longer in production so he ordered a custom-made cherry guitar.

Page’s EDS-1275 has a slightly different body shape from that of the then current model. Page’s also has one-piece mahogany necks rather than the current three-piece maple, and has tailpieces positioned near the bottom of the body, reportedly increasing sustain, and Patent No. or T-Top humbucking pickups.

Jimmy’s EDS-1275 made its live debut in March 1971, allowing him to play 12-string and six-string parts without swapping guitars and it certainly did become iconic.

Page recently donated a later model EDS-1275 for charity, but it was not the famous one he used with Led Zeppelin. That guitar remains firmly in his possession.

Jimmy Page: “I asked to get one from Gibson, because I knew it was the only way,” “I knew I couldn’t do Stairway…, but it was essential to do it. So it became iconic, didn’t it? If a little tough on the left shoulder…Yeah, though I’ve got heavier guitars! But nevertheless, it was pretty weighty.”

Jerry Garcia’s Alligator

Jerry Garcia's “Alligator” '50s Strat Will Be Up For Auction – Rock Pasta

Graham Nash gave this 1957 Strat to Jerry Garcia as a gift in 1970. Nash  purchased the guitar in 1970 from a pawnshop in Phoenix. Graham wanted to show his appreciation for Jerry’s guitar work on his solo album “Songs for Beginners.”

Roadie Steve Parish recalled a night in Buffalo on Garcia’s first tour outside the band, where “it was so cold that when Jerry stepped out on stage and strummed his ‘Alligator’ the face plate on the guitar broke and the guts popped out. That’s how the show began.” Alligator got patched up with gaffer’s tape, and a new brass plate affixed at the tour’s end.

The Dead helped start an instrument and gear-building auxiliary company called Alembic. Alembic was found by the Dead’s sound man and chemist Owsley Stanley.  Garcia’s Strat found itself on the Alembic workbench numerous times.

In 1972, Garcia would add a number of stickers to the body, including a grinning cartoon alligator on the pickguard that gave the guitar its name. But by then nearly every other bit of the instrument had been overhauled in a series of refinements by Alembic technician Frank Fuller.

Jerry Garcia Alligator Guitar #deadhead | Guitar, Famous guitars,  Stratocaster guitar

The guitar got new Schaller tuning pegs and gears, a series of bridges (Gibson ABR-1 Tune-o-Matic and an Alembic custom), a new control plate (hammered brass), taller frets, and an in-board post-volume “blaster”. “Each pickup cover had its own individually grounded wire.”

Technicians Frank Fuller and Rick Turner of Alembic Guitars modified the guitar regularly, so much so that they referred to it as a “Frankenstein” guitar. Jerry played this guitar on the Dead’s famous first full European tour in 1972 and their two great albums Working Man’s Dead and American Beauty. Alligator played its last show on Garcia’s 30th birthday…August 1st, 1973 in Jersey City, NJ.

The show was recorded by Deadheads, Alligator was sent off properly with a long version of “Dark Star.”

Jerry would play  more custom built guitars through his career.  Wolf (73-93), Tiger (79-95), Lighting Bolt (93-95), Rosebud (90-95), and Top Hat (95). My favorite remains Alligator.

Graham originally bought the guitar for $250 dollars…the guitar was sold at an auction in 2019 for $420,000 dollars.



Famous Rock Guitars Part 2

Lets continue browsing through famous guitars. In Part 1 we had a guitars owned by Brian May and Willie Nelson.

George Harrison and Eddie Van Halen’s guitars

Today we will visit two more….George Harrison‘s Strat “Rocky” and Eddie Van Halen‘s “Frankenstrat”

Today we will start off with one of my favorite guitars for obvious reasons…and then Frankenstrat below Rocky.


When The Beatles were in the studio recording “Help!“, John Lennon and George Harrison sent roadie Mal Evans out to go get a couple of Fender Stratocasters.   Evans came back with matching 1962 Sonic Blue Strats. You can hear both of these guitars on Rubber Soul…especially both playing the solo on Nowhere Man in unison.

George Harrison: “During ’67, everybody started painting everything,” “and I decided to paint it. I got some Day-Glo paint, which was quite a new invention in them days, and just sat up late one night and did it.”

Harrison used some of his ex-wife Patti Boyd’s nail polish to paint the headstock. George played the guitar that year in the Beatles’ live performance of “All You Need Is Love” on the around the world satellite feed called Our World, the first global satellite TV program, and in the film Magical Mystery Tour, in the segment where the Beatles mime to “I Am the Walrus”

In 1969-1970 on the advice of the great slide guitar player Ry Cooder George set Rocky up for slide only.

George Harrison's Magical Mystery Tour Guitar (Pre 1969 Rocky) – Sometimes  I Get Bored

George Harrison “Rocky” Stratocaster Tribute | ChasingGuitars

The Harrison Estate still owns this guitar.

Following its announcement at NAMM 2020, Fender has now officially released its faithful recreation of George Harrison’s ‘Rocky’ Stratocaster…hmm I know exactly what I want for Christmas!

History of the Frankenstrat | My Frankenstrat Build


Eddie wanted to make a guitar that was a cross of a Gibson and Fender. To have the clean tone of a Fender and the ability to have the crunch of a Gibson.

In 1974 he visited Boogie Bodies guitars, whose parts were used on early Charvels, and bought himself a factory second unfinished body and neck, paying total of $130. The body he bought was the first one he saw laying around in the store, but he paid close attention to choosing the right neck – he looked for a wide neck with a really thin profile and big Gibson-style frets.

He painted the body black and wrapped masking tape around it and repainted the body white.  He installed a  Fender tremolo from a 1958 Stratocaster, Schaller tuners, and a Gibson PAF pickup from an old ES-335 which he dipped into paraffin wax in order to get rid of the feedback.

He played the guitar on Van Halen’s first album, and during the band’s first tour. Towards the end of the tour, the guitar was changed to feature a white pickguard and a rosewood neck.

He later changed out necks and hardware and painted it red with bicycle paint.

Eddie Van Halen's Frankenstrat on a Pillowcase: Hell Yeah!

Frankenstrat  was donated to the Hard Rock Cafe in 2004. In 2017 Frankenstrat had been stolen from the walls of the city’s Hard Rock Cafe but returned later.

NAMM 2020 Video: First look at the Fender George Harrison Rocky Stratocaster


Famous Rock Guitars Part 1

I love guitars…I own 12 of them. It’s something about them that draws me in. Each one has its own sound and vibe. My family made guitars in the 60’s and 70’s so I do remember as a small kid walking into the guitar shop smelling the wood and glue. Some guitars are just as famous as their former or current owners.

I will include 2 guitars per post…this week we have two famous guitars from two completely different artists.

Brian May’s “Red Special”

Brian May’s sound was as a big part of Queen as Mercury’s voice. Brian May designed and built the Red Special with his father, in 1963, using any parts they could find.  The neck of the guitar was fashioned from an 18th-century fireplace mantel, the inlays on the neck from a mother-of-pearl button. For the body, they used wood from an old oak table. Then the bricoleurs combined a bike saddlebag holder, a plastic knitting needle tip, and motorbike valve springs to create a tremolo arm.

Brian May: I remembered that at the time we finished the topcoat of varnish, my Dad had wanted to christen her as the Brian May Special, and I had poo-pooed the idea; now I realized that it wasn’t so uncool to give her a proper name. So one day in a radio interview, when someone asked me what I called the guitar, the words Red Special just tumbled out before I’d had time to think. 

Legendary Guitar: Brian May's Red SpecialBrian May of Queen, playing Red Special, the guitar he built himself as a  teenager. | Queen guitarist, Brian may, Queen band

The Red Special is not in a museum it’s with Brian and it’s still his number 1 guitar.

I have a couple of guitars that has some cracking in the finish but nothing I’ve had or seen compares with this one.

For more than 40 years Willie Nelson has been playing a Martin N-20 nylon-string acoustic guitar he named “Trigger,” after Roy Rogers’ horse. A classical guitar designed with no pick-guard, the famous relic has developed a gaping hole in the body.

Willie got this guitar in 1969 after a drunk stepped on his Baldwin guitar. The same year he bought Trigger his house caught fire and Willie braved the blaze to pull it out.

Willie Nelson has said….“When Trigger goes, I’ll quit.” 

Willie still plays this guitar…and yes it has a distinctive sound all its own.