The Three Guitars You Didn’t Know Chuck Berry Loved Most

For most of his career, famed guitar player and songwriter Chuck Berry was a Gibson man. But he also dabbled in other brands and styles as well. Below, we will dive into the three guitars that Berry loved most, along with a few others he enjoyed playing.

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For Berry, who John Lennon said was synonymous with rock ‘n’ roll, music was a lifestyle and salvation. His song “Johnny B. Goode” is currently etched on the Golden Record on the Voyager satellites charging through the literal cosmos.

He’s celestial.

And these are the instruments that helped make him so.

1. Early: 1957 Gibson ES-350T

A hollow-body electric guitar, made before the days when Fender created the more classic-looking electric we know nowadays, this instrument employed Gibson’s new P.A.F. humbucker pickups and hummed almost as much as it rolled.

This is the guitar Berry used in many of his early recordings with Chess Records, including “Johnny B. Goode,” which was recorded in 1955 (though released in 1958). It’s a guitar that Eric Clapton once purchased just to impress Berry for a live performance in the ’80s. Below you can see a picture of a young Berry playing the guitar.

2. Middle: Cherry Red Gibson ES-355

At the height of his fame, Berry played this iconic cherry red electric, also from Gibson. The guitar was issued in 1958, the same year “Johnny B. Goode” and “Sweet Little Sixteen” were released and that’s when Berry began to play this instrument. It became his signature model until his death. See below a photo of Berry playing his favorite. The Chuck Berry 1970s ES-355 is available now.

3. Later: BB King Gibson Lucille Signature

Later in his life, while Berry still played his ES-355, he also became fond of the BB King Gibson Lucille signature. The make offered a thick, bright sound perfect for soloing or filling a lot of space with chunking chords. The guitar’s face doesn’t include any f-holes, a design that King requested to reduce any possibility of feedback. According to the product description, the guitar also has “a six-position Varitone switch, a pair of Alnico Classic PRO humbucking pickups wired to CTS potentiometers, and stereo and mono output jacks.” Fit for a king, or two.

Photo by Don Paulsen/Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

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