John Lennon's musical instruments
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John Lennon played various guitars with The Beatles and during his solo career, most notably the Rickenbacker (four variants thereof) and Epiphone Casino, along with various Gibson and Fender guitars.
His other instrument of choice was the piano, on which he also composed many songs. For instance, Lennon's jamming on a piano together with Paul McCartney led to creation of "I Want to Hold Your Hand" in 1963.
We wrote a lot of stuff together, one on one, eyeball to eyeball. Like in 'I Want to Hold Your Hand,' I remember when we got the chord that made the song. We were in Jane Asher's house, downstairs in the cellar playing on the piano at the same time. And we had, 'Oh you-u-u/ got that something...' And Paul hits this chord [B minor] and I turn to him and say, 'That's it!' I said, 'Do that again!' In those days, we really used to absolutely write like that—both playing into each other's noses.
But Lennon's musicianship went far beyond guitar and piano. Julia Lennon was John's mother and her banjo was the first instrument that John Lennon learned to play before he switched to guitar: 'sitting there with endless patience until I managed to work out all the chords'. According to John, it was Julia who turned him onto rock 'n’ roll and actively encouraged him to pursue his musical ambitions. After Julia's untimely death in 1958 the instrument was never seen again and its whereabouts remain a mystery.
Lennon also played keyboards besides piano (electric piano, Hammond organ, harmonium, Mellotron, harpsichord, clavioline), saxophone, harmonica, six-string bass guitar (either he or George Harrison, when McCartney was playing piano or guitar), and some percussion (in the studio).
Rickenbacker makes several "Lennon" model electric guitars, Gibson makes a limited-edition replica of his J-160E and an "inspired by" John Lennon Les Paul replicating the modified Junior. Epiphone also makes two "Lennon" edition guitars; the EJ-160e and the Inspired by John Lennon Casino
Lennon composed his biggest solo hit "Imagine" on a Steinway upright piano. In 2000, this piano was bought by George Michael at an auction for £1.45 million. Later, the piano was on charity tour called the Imagine Piano Peace Project.
Lennon used a variety of sound sources for his songs, such as radios, sound effect records, resonators, and even his own heartbeat. He recorded his, Ono's and their baby's heartbeat for sounds on the Wedding Album and Unfinished Music No. 2: Life with the Lions.
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- Rickenbacker 325 (four models):
- His original 1958 model, modified with Bigsby vibrato and nonstandard control knobs, nicknamed "Hamburg."
- A 1964 six-string model, serial number DB122, nicknamed "Miami."
- A twelve-string model (similar to DB122), with a trapeze tail piece. Only used a few times in the studio. John used it at home for songwriting purposes.
- A Rose, Morris model 1966, finished in Rickenbacker's Fireglo finish, and with a standard sound f hole. Used after John's second Rickenbacker had some damage. John used it for home studio use and it was given to Ringo sometime later on.
- Epiphone Casino (In 1968 Lennon had his sunburst Casino professionally stripped of its paint, removed the pickguard and changed the tuning machines to gold Grovers)
- A twelve-string Framus Hootenanny acoustic used during the ‘’Beatles for Sale’’, Help! and Rubber Soul sessions and used on "Polythene Pam".
- Gibson Les Paul Jr. which was modified with the addition of a Charlie Christian pick-up
- Gibson J-160E Acoustic-electric guitar
- 1962 Fender Stratocaster finish in Sonic Blue used from 1965–68.
- Fender The STRAT: candy apple red “Strat” with 22 carat gold electroplated brass hardware bought in 1980
- Fender Telecaster
- Höfner Senator: according to George Harrison it was bought in 1960 and used for his songwriting purposes. Later given to roadie Mal Evans.
- Guild Starfire XII: Given to him by Guild in August 1966, never saw studio usage. Most likely used for his home studio, somehow it got to Yoko Ono's second husband Anthony Cox. Currently on display at the Hard Rock Cafe in Honolulu, Hawaii.
- Gretsch 6120: (used on the Revolver sessions), used for songwriting purposes at his home studio but has been in Lennon's cousin David Birch's hands since 1967. Currently on display at the Rock 'n' Roll Hall of Fame.
- A 1965 Martin D-28 (bought in early 1967 and taken to India in February 1968)
- An Ovation acoustic
- A custom Yamaha acoustic given to him by wife Yoko Ono
- Höfner Club guitar, used after his Gallotone Champion suffered some damage.
- Gibson Les Paul 25/50 (given to Julian in 1978)
- Fender Bass VI
- Vox Guitorgan, John had received it as a gift from Dick Denny, the inventor of the instrument. John eventually gave the guitar along with his Höfner Senator to road manager and friend Mal Evans. It was later auctioned.
- Sardonyx: a very rare semi-custom guitar built by Jeff Levin with custom electronics by Ken Schaffer. Lennon played the Sardonyx on Double Fantasy and used it in session the day he was killed.
- Various Vox amplifiers, such as the AC-30 and the Super Beatle
- Various Fender amplifiers, such as the Deluxe Reverb and the Twin Reverb
- Marshall amplifiers
- Vox Tone Bender
- Dallas Arbiter Fuzz Face pedal (during the Let It Be Sessions)
- Gibson Maestro Fuzz pedal
- Vox Wah pedal
- Steinway upright piano model Z
- Bechstein D-280 concert grand piano
- Rhodes, Wurlitzer and Hohner Pianet pianos
- Mellotron (the MK II model was used only at Lennon's home and is now residing at Interscope Records)
- Moog synthesizer used during Abbey Road.
- Sequential Circuits Prophet-5 used during Double Fantasy
- Vox Continental used at Shea Stadium and in the studio. Broke after Shea Stadium. Several other singular and dual manual Continentals were seen in the studio and at John's home from 1966–70.
- Hammond organ
- Various Hohner diatonic, chromatic, chord and bass harmonicas
- AKG K240 Sextett
- The Beatles Ultimate Experience. Retrieved September 1, 2004.
- Baird, Julia (1988). Imagine This. London: Hodder & Staughton. p. 89. ISBN 9780340839249.
- "Index". Juliasbanjo.com. Retrieved 21 September 2012.
- "John Lennon J-160E Peace". Gibson Musical Instruments. Archived from the original on 1 May 2008. Retrieved 26 February 2008.
- Bosso, Joe (17 August 2007). "A Look at Gibson's John Lennon Les Paul Junior". Gibson Musical Instruments. Archived from the original on 13 January 2009. Retrieved 18 February 2008.
- Mittleman, Kelly S. "Antiques and the Arts Online – Pop Singer Buys John Lennon's Piano at the Hard Rock Cafe". Antiquesandthearts.com. Archived from the original on 8 December 2012. Retrieved 21 September 2012.
- "ENTERTAINMENT | George Michael buys Lennon's piano". BBC News. 18 October 2000. Retrieved 21 September 2012.
- "George Michael buys Lennon's piano". BBC News. 18 October 2000. Retrieved 21 September 2012.
- "Imagine: Lennon's piano on a peace tour". the Guardian. 16 April 2007. Retrieved 14 December 2020.
- See http://tilonlysilenceremains.com/the-beatles-guitars-johns-guitars/ for photos and references; accessed 5 January 2016
- "Epiphone Musical Instruments". Epiphone.com. Archived from the original on 2 January 2010. Retrieved 21 September 2012.
- As seen for example on "The Long and Winding Road" in "Let it Be" film
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