10 Guitars You Didn’t Know Paul McCartney Used

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While Paul McCartney is known for being the iconic bassist of arguably the largest band in history, he was also a skilled guitarist.

In his time propelling this band to the spotlight, you might not have known that he actually had a large part in writing and playing guitar parts for the band.

This article reveals some of Paul's secret axes that you probably never even knew he played. From writing in The Beatles to his later solo years, all of these guitars and basses are some of Paul’s favorites! 

If you are a guitarist looking to capture some of the magical tones that Paul has created in The Beatles and beyond, these guitars are a great place to start. 

Paul McCartney’s 10 Favorite Guitars

This list shows you Paul’s favorite guitars!

1. 1964 Fender Esquire Sunburst

While Paul was more of a Gibson player than a Fender, he is still known to be a big fan of the Fender Esquire guitar, which is similar to a Telecaster, but with a couple of modifications, notably the use of a single pickup rather than two. 

Paul played the Esquire for a couple of songs on "Sgt Pepper's Lonely Hearts Band," where he found a 1964 Sunburst model in the studio.

Of course, he had to make some additional modifications to be able to play it left-handed… You can hear this sweet tone on the title track of Sgt Pepper’s, as well as ‘Helter Skelter’ and ‘Good Morning Good Morning.’

This historic guitar is a little harder to find these days, as it is a rarer and less produced model—there are no affordable Fender versions.

If you want to make this kind of tone, the best bet is to use a Telecaster and only play through the bridge pickup

However, if you have the money, you might be interested in this gorgeous Fender Custom Shop Esquire.

Alternatively, you could try this affordable Squier Sonic Esquire

If you are looking for a similar-looking guitar, this Fender Player Telecaster in the sunburst color is pretty dang close.

2. Rossetti Lucky 7

The Rossetti Lucky 7 was another one of Paul’s favorite electric guitars back in The Beatles’ early years.

This unique-looking guitar was picked up by Paul in 1960 in a Liverpool music shop. He paid £21 for this back in the day, which is the equivalent of around £400 today. 

He made several modifications to this guitar through its time, including making it left-hand friendly and also converting it into a bass guitar. He used the Rossetti as a bass for live performances until he bought his iconic Hofner bass around 1961. 

Unfortunately, these guitars have long since been out of production, so you’ll have to look on the second-hand markets if you want to find one. 

However, there are many similar guitar models made today, including the Ibanez Artcore Expressionist AM93QM, and the Ibanez Artstar AM153QA.

In fact, many of the modern Ibanez Semi-Hollowbody Guitars seem to take an influence from the Rossetti Lucky 7. 

3. Epiphone Texan FT-79

This acoustic guitar was one of Paul’s favorites in The Beatles’ early days. In many of the first recorded live performances, Paul can be seen playing an Epiphone Texan FT-79, which is a loud and bright dreadnought acoustic guitar known for its bluesy, country-style tone. 

This guitar is known to have been involved when writing ‘Yesterday’ and ‘I’ll Follow the Sun,’ where the same guitar would also be bought out for live performances of these tracks. 

If you’re looking for acoustic guitars loved by Paul McCartney, this is a true classic. 

You can see Paul and his Epiphone Texan in action in this early video of Yesterday performed live.

In this Paul McCartney interview, he explains how he stuck to using this cheaper guitar thanks to the mindset his father gave him.

You can pick up modern versions of this guitar for around $800, which still are made with the same design principles and blueprints as the early 60s models.

Pick up this Epiphone Masterbilt Texan on Sweetwater for a similar look and feel. 

4. Epiphone Casino ES-230TD

Epiphone Casino guitars have seen a lot of use throughout The Beatles’ discography. These affordable semi-hollow, jazz-style guitars have a bright and resonant tone, known to be on the janglier end of the spectrum.

The Casino is truly iconic to Paul McCartney, and he still often plays them in live performances today. 

This was one of Paul’s first electric guitars, which he used in an attempt to minimize feedback. Although, these semi-hollow guitars would turn out to be much more feedback-prone than solid-body guitars. That said, Paul loved the tone and used it to write and play countless Beatles classics. 

Some examples include writing the lead lines for ‘Paperback Writer,’ ‘Taxman,’ and ‘Another Girl.’

Due to its popularity, Epione still produces the Casino in several colors and craftsmanship, from the humble Epiphone Casino ($699) to the mighty Epiphone USA Casino Hollowbody ($3499). 

5. C.F. Martin D-28

As far as acoustic guitars go, Martins are known to be the cream of the crop, which might be one reason why Paul had such a soft spot for the D-28. 

When recording The White Album, the D-28 had become Paul’s favorite acoustic guitar, which he had modded to work for his lefty playing. Although, the only real modding he did was changing the string order. 

As you can see from this image, the bridge is still fitted in the right-handed orientation, meaning the guitar’s intonation will have been slightly off. Perhaps this was a minor contribution to the uniqueness of The White Album’s acoustic guitar tones - although it still sounds technically spot on.  

Basically, every acoustic guitar song on The White Album was recorded on a Martin D-28, including the iconic ‘Let It Be’ and ‘Blackbird.’ 

Due to the superior craftsmanship, these Martins will cost a pretty penny; however, they are definitely worthy of the larger price tag.

Check out this modern Martin D-28 for a similar look and feel.

These are truly beautiful guitars, and every element has been made with the best attention to detail available in modern acoustic guitar manufacturing. 

6. Gibson Les Paul Goldtop

In more recent years, Paul has been lucky enough to access guitars that are actually designed for left-handed players rather than having to make customizations. 

This left-handed Les Paul Goldtop is a super rare guitar made in 1957. Original Gibson Goldtops are pretty rare these days anywhere, but lefty versions are even harder to come by. 

You can see Paul playing the lefty Goldtop at 0:33 in this video of Once Upon A Long Ago (1987).

Besides being a real treat on the eyes, Goldtop Les Pauls are known for their superior build and sound quality. They typically use two beefy vintage humbuckers, which produce a rich and smooth electronic tone.

Their dimensions and fretboard are also super slick to play, making it easy to bust out some impressive solos with ease. 

If you fancy playing one of these, check out this classic Gibson Les Paul Standard '50s Gold Top.

Or, for a more authentic Paul vibe, take a look at this Left-handed Gold Top.

7. 1960 Gibson Les Paul Standard

It's common knowledge that Paul was a huge fan of Les Paul's guitars. In this Interview with Paul McCartney About Les Paul Guitars, Paul explains how beautiful he thinks Les’s guitars are, thanks to his technical knowledge.

Paul was in love with both the feel and tone of the guitar and became such a close supporter of the style that Gibson helped to develop Paul’s custom left-handed LP. 

Les Pauls lend themself well to Paul’s playing style, thanks to the warmth, thickness, and versatility of their sound. Because Paul sits somewhere between rhythm and lead playing, he needs a guitar that can handle both types of tones. Something that Les Paul is perfect for. 

Les Paul and Paul McCartney.

When you need a thicker, fuller rhythm sound, you can switch to the neck pickup (or use both pickups) for a fat, humbucking sound. Then, when you need something a bit more bright and piercing, you can switch to the bridge position to capture the most twang and snap possible. 

There is a huge variety of Les Paul models in the Gibson range; however, the most authentic to Paul’s style is one of the 60s versions. Something like this Gibson Les Paul Standard '60s would be a great place to start.

That said, one of the earlier Gibson Les Paul Standard '50s models is ideal if you want something with more of a vintage effect. 

If you’re on a budget, don’t worry, as you don’t need to spend thousands of dollars to buy a Les Paul. You can get a more affordable Epiphone Les Paul if you want to get down with this style for less funds.

This Epiphone 1959 Les Paul Standard is a great place to start for players on a tighter budget. Alternatively, the Epiphone Les Paul Standard '60s is another strong choice. 

8. Rickenbacker 360/12 12-String Electric Guitar

Rickenbacker is another guitar brand that has a long history with The Beatles, being one of Lennon's favorite models to play.

While Paul didn’t often play Rickenbackers during his time with The Beatles, he has been seen playing them multiple times in his solo career. 

One notable example is his Rickenbacker 360/12, which is a unique 12-string electric guitar. These have an iconic, bright, resonant, and often angelic tone which is loved across the alternative music scene. 

You can see this guitar in Paul’s rack during the music video for Queenie Eye

These Rickenbackers are a joy to play and have such a fun and bright tone that you will find endless inspiration in their vibration. This Rickenbacker 360/12 is a great choice for anyone on the hunt for this type of guitar. 

But you should also check out the full range of Rickenbacker 12-String Guitars, as there are a lot of awesome models. 

9. Paul McCartney's Custom Painted Gibson Les Paul

As you know, Paul was a huge fan of Les Paul, which is why Gibson partnered with him to create this unique painted Paul.

It uses a classic Les Paul body shape but is painted with a beautiful colorful pattern of a joyous crowd - probably inspired by the millions of people who have been treated to Paul’s tones over the years. 

These guitars are pretty rare and were only made as a limited run for mainstream markets, so you’ll only be able to find them second-hand. 

That said, if you are looking to play with the tone of this guitar, you can find a close match in any Les Paul Deluxe, which is the underlying model of this guitar. These have all the versatility of the Les Paul pickups and tone while opting for a flatter top and a slightly more streamlined body. 

10. Höfner 500/1 Bass

Ok, I know this is technically a bass guitar, but how could I write an article about the instruments that Paul McCartney plays and not mention his Hofner bass?

No other instrument is more closely related to Paul than the Hofner bass; it's a truly iconic pairing. He played the Hofner bass on a huge selection of The Beatles’ discography ever since Paul picked it up in the early 60s.

You can see it in early classics such as I Want To Hold Your Hand and Twist & Shout

This unique violin-shaped bass guitar has a warm and deep tone, with extra punchy transients, and was a driving force in the way Paul wrote his basslines. 

The original 60s-era Hofner 500 bass guitars are pretty hard to come by these days - obviously being snapped up by collectors. Although you will occasionally see them on second-hand markets. 

Fortunately, they are still being produced, albeit without the vintage glory. Pick on up here.


This concludes the list of Paul McCartney’s iconic guitar collection. It’s interesting to think how much influence each of these guitars might have had on the way Paul wrote some of the most famous guitar lines of all time.

It’s even more interesting to think how his musical output went on to influence thousands of musicians throughout history! Perhaps you can be as influential as Paul one day…

Overall, I think my favorite guitar on this list is the Epiphone Casino, as this is one guitar that is closely related to Paul and The Beatles.

Alternatively, I think Les Paul guitars have a really interesting history with Paul and the band, so these are another top choice if you want the McCartney sound.

The Gibson Les Paul Standard '60s will give you an authentic 60s McCartney tone. 

Interested in more guitars? Shop now and experience the iconic sound of the best Epiphone Les Pauls!

Photo by Harry Durrant/Getty Images

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