Guitars of the Stones

Brian Jones

     The early days found the Stones playing the Ealing club. Brian Jones used a Harmony Stratotone Mars H46 model. This guitar was a semi-hollow flattop single-cutaway with a “bolt-on” neck, two DeArmond pickups, and a sunburst finish. In the summer of 1963, just after their first single, “Come On”, was recorded,  he replaced the Stratotone with a 1963 Gretsch model 6118 Double Anniversary in two tone green. He used this guitar during the first American tour and recording sessions at Chess studios in June of 1964.  During these sessions he also played an unidentified 12 string guitar tuned 7 half steps lower than Keith’s Epiphone Casino to achieve the “clanging sound” (the strings slapping against the frets and fretboard) heard in “It’s All Over Now”.  He used the Gretsch Anniversary until July of 1964 when he was given the guitar for which he is  most known, a white Vox Phantom Mark III lute shaped guitar. This became his most used guitar and the guitar he used to do the intoxicating lead riff in “The Last Time” (Mick and Keith’s rewrite of the Staple Singers “Last Time”, though Brian’s melodious lead riff is not part of the Staple Singers recording). He also does the lead riff in “Have Mercy” with this Vox.  Gibson gave both Brian and Keith ” reverse Firebird” guitars in May of 1965(designed by an automotive architect to appear to be “backwards or upside down”). Brian used his Firebird 7 and it can be heard in “Nineteenth Nervous Breakdown”. Keith used his Firebird for “Satisfaction” and “Get Off My Cloud”, and later gave his to Dave Hassinger, their recording engineer at RCA. Brian appeard on the Ed Sullivan show in September of 1966 using a “non reverse” Gibson Firebird and in 1968 appeared in the “Rock and Roll Circus” with a 1968 Gibson Les Paul.


Brian and his Vox Phantom Mk.III


Bill Wyman

Bill Wyman had small hands and chose a bass with a skinny neck. Bill used a modified, fretless British Dallas Tuxedo bass in 1963 until he got a German Framus hollow body bass(the Dallas Tuxedo is, however, the bass used for the descending sliding riff at the end of 19th Nervous Breakdown).  Bill’s first big body Framus Star Bass was used in 1964 and part of 1965, when he changed to a smaller bodied Framus 51/50 Star Bass DeLuxe in the later part of 1965. He nicknamed this bass the “Humbug” bass because its wood stripes looked like a popular striped English candy of that name.  It had an arched laminated top and back with white binding, a multilayer laminated neck with a bound rosewood fingerboard, and an adjustable rosewood bridge, with “Star Bass” engraved in the tailpiece. The Star Bass DeLuxe had the same style of black Framus pickguard/pickup and electronics assembly as Bill’s larger cherry sunburst Star Bass. It came in what Framus called their “New Line” finish, a natural finish that showed off the brown and yellow stripes of the instrument’s laminated top. Bill’s “Humbug” bass was his guitar of choice on stage and in the studio until the summer of 1966 when he switched to a Vox  “Wyman bass”,which was a hollow bodied lute shaped instrument, similar to Brian’s white solid body Vox. He began using a Vox violin shaped EKO product in 1968 that was marketed by the “Thomas Organ Company” and appears with this instrument in “Rock and Roll Circus”.

bill wyman

Bill Wyman and his “Humbug” Framus Star bass


Keith Richards

Keith Richards, from 1963 to May of 1964, used a Harmony H75 “Meteor”.  He played an Epiphone Casino from May 1964 to August 1964. He acquired, from a London Music store, in September of 1964,  a 1959 Les Paul with an added Bigsby Tremolo system. He used this on tours until May of 1965(it is also used for the lead guitar solo in “Heart of Stone”).  He then began using a Gibson reverse Firebird 7 during the recording sessions for “Satisfaction” at RCA studios.  It proved to be unwieldy for him(decades later he discouraged Ron Wood from buying a reverse Firebird in a Louisville vintage guitar shop).   From September 1965 until December  of 1965 he returned to using his Epiphone Casino(this guitar provides the opening solo in “Time is on My Side” that was part of their “Greatest Hits- High Tides and Green Grass”).  Then, in January of 1966  he  began playing a  Guild M65 Brian had brought to the studio and used this until the fall of 1966.  He then played a 1958 Black Les Paul Custom until 1969.

kieth richards