As a collector and dealer of rare music memorabilia and I never fail to get excited at the thought of getting my hands on an artist owned and used guitar from one of my favourite artists. There is something very special about owning a guitar from an artist you admire, it kinda feels like you have a piece of the music, something tangible that you can hold in your hand. These guitars appear on the market from time to time, though they don’t stay around for long. Some artists donate guitars to charity auctions while others just trade them in and they end up in a guitarists hands who may never know that the guitar was once used by an iconic artist. It’s believed that Keith Richards owns circa 3,000 guitars!. So it’s not surprising that not many Keith Richards owned used guitars come on to the market, cos he keeps them all. On that note, let’s have a look at some Keith Richards owned used guitar. Enjoy.
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Les Paul Junior Keith Richards owned used guitar
Although Keith used a couple of different Les Paul Junior models from the early 1970s, one that stands out from the bunch is a 1957 Les Paul Junior finished in TV Yellow. The guitar is nicknamed “Dice” because of a dice sticker which was there when Keith got the guitar.
He allegedly took the guitar as payment for a gig he did for a band in America. Apparently the band were quite naughty and announced, much against his wishes, that Keef was appearing. So as he liked the guitar, he just kept it.
The guitar is pretty much stock except for the control knobs which were replaced with ones from a Telecaster. Keith started using it around 1979 almost exclusively for the song “Midnight Rambler”, and he still plays it today on some other songs such as “Out of Control” from Stones’ 1997 album. (Source: https://www.groundguitar.com/keith-richards-guitars-and-gear/)
Gibson Les Paul Keith Richards owned used guitar
Even some ardent Gibson Les Paul fans forget this, but Keith Richards was the first big-name guitarist to tote a Sunburst Les Paul. His most fabled was an original 1959 Les Paul Standard. The guitar was bought new in 1961 from Farmers Music Store in Luton (U.K.) by John Bowen, who played with aspiring English popsters Mike Dean & The Kinsmen. Bowen had a Bigsby vibrato fitted at Selmer’s music store in London before trading it for another guitar in 1962. Soon after, a young Keith Richards, playing guitar in a little-known band called The Rolling Stones, walked in to Selmer’s and bought it.
Richards used the ’Burst extensively in the Stones’ early days. It was seen regularly from 1964 to 1966 when Keith began to favor Les Paul Customs. Appearances on TV show Ready Steady Go and classic songs like “The Last Time” and “Satisfaction” were all played on this ’59 ’Burst.
Keef sold the guitar to Mick Taylor in 1967 – the future Stone had replaced fellow Les Paul maestros Peter Green (and before him, Eric Clapton) in John Mayall’s Bluesbreakers.
There are photos of Mick Jagger with the ’59 Burst at some 1970 recording sessions – by which time Taylor was in The Stones – but it then disappeared. Rumor has it that the guitar was stolen in 1971, either from London’s Marquee Club after a gig, or from Nellcote in southern France during the recording of Exile on Main St. Whatever the truth, it did end up in the hands of Cosmo Verrico of the Heavy Metal Kids who were signed to Atlantic Records (alongside The Stones).
Verrico owned the ’59 until 1974, when he then sold it to Bernie Marsden (later of Whitesnake). Marsden kept the guitar for a little over a week before, perhaps rashly; he sold it to a U.K. collector. The fabled ’59 was sold again to another collector in 2006, “somewhere in Europe” according to auctioneers. (Source: http://www.gibson.com/News-Lifestyle/Features/en-us/keith-richards-0502-2011.aspx)
Gibson Hummingbird Keith Ricahrds owned used guitar
Keef loved acoustics in the late ’60s. “Jumpin’ Jack Flash” and “Street Fighting Man” were both written on his favored Gibson Hummingbird (vintage unconfirmed). Says Keef: “I tuned to open D, six string. Open D or open E, which is the same thing – same intervals – but it would be slackened down some for D. Then there was a capo on it, to get that really tight sound. And there was another guitar over the top of that, but tuned to Nashville tuning. Both acoustics were put through a Phillips cassette recorder. Just jam the mic right in the guitar and play it back through an extension speaker.” In his Life autobiography, Richards reveals, “There are no electric instruments on ‘Street Fighting Man’ at all… All acoustic guitars. ‘Jumpin’ Jack Flash’ the same.” (Source: http://www.gibson.com/News-Lifestyle/Features/en-us/keith-richards-0502-2011.aspx)
Fender Telecaster Keith Richards owned and used guitar
Richards acquired this butterscotch Telecaster in 1971. Nicknamed “Micawber”, after a character in Charles Dickens’s novel David Copperfield, it is set up for five-string open-G tuning (-GDGBD), and has only five bridge saddles. The neck pick-up has been replaced by a Gibson PAF humbucking pick-up, and the bridge pick-up has been replaced by a Fender lap steel pick-up (similar to a Fender Broadcaster pick-up). “Micawber” is one of Richards’ main stage guitars, and is often used to play “Brown Sugar”, “Before They Make Me Run”, and “Honky Tonk Women”. (Source: http://equipboard.com/pros/keith-richards/fender-telecaster-duplicate–6)
1959 Gibson Keith Richards owned and used
This rather renown photo is from a photoshoot by Annie Leibovitz. It’s for a Louis Vuitton advertisement, where Keith Richards can be seen strumming his 1959 black ES 355 mono.
An article on Gibson’s official site says, “His black 1959 ES-355 has been used for live versions of “(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction,” “Oh No Not You Again,” “She’s So Cold,” “Little T&A” and others.” (source: http://www2.gibson.com/News-Lifestyle/Features/en-us/keith-richards-0502-2011.aspx)
The stock photo shows a newer model 355. The Keith Richards original one does not have a pickguard, and obviously differs since it’s a vintage from 1959. (Souce: http://equipboard.com/pros/keith-richards/1959-gibson-es-355-mono-black-electric-guitar)
Do you have any Keith Richards owned and used guitars???
I am always looking for rare Keith Richards memorabilia and would love to hear from you. Please feel free to contact me at: firstname.lastname@example.org