Guitars Used At the Beatles Rooftop Concert
In case you were wondering, here is the list of guitars used by the Beatles during the Rooftop Concert (Get Back Sessions) and/or the Let It Be album:
- 1965 Epiphone E230TD Casino (Rooftop Concert)
- Gibson J160E
- Martin D28
- Fender Bass VI
- Hawaiian Steel
- Gibson J200
- Hofner 500/1 (Rooftop Concert)
- Martin D28
- Rickenbacker 4001
- Gibson J200
- Fender Telecaster – Let It Be & Rooftop Concert (serial number 235594 sold at auction)
- 1957 (Gibson) Les Paul Standard (the Lucy guitar)
- Fender Bass VI (Let It Be album)
The Epiphone Casino was first introduced to the Beatles by Paul McCartney in late 1964 for studio work and is still used by Paul today, particularly while touring. The original guitar was restrung by Paul so he could play it left handed – yes this is the famous restrung guitar! Several months later both John Lennon and George Harrison purchased one of their own. Note: John’s was the only Casino not to have a Bigsby tremelo arm, presumably because he didn’t use or like them. The tremolo arm was removed shortly after the Beatles’ last tour in 1966.
While Paul still uses his Epiphone Casino for touring, the other two Beatles stopped using theirs long ago. Paul has made statements to the effect that “if he could only have one Electric guitar it would be the Casino.”
John further customized Epiphone Casino by sanding it down, as did George. The last album that John would use the Casino was on the Imagine album, complaining that it was getting harder to hold down a chord on it. While still a Beatle, George seemed to have stopped using his in 1967.
Paul used his iconic Hofner 500/1 for the Beatles Rooftop Concert, but would not use it again for any live gigs for 20 years.
Here is the story behind George Harrison’s Fender Telecaster:
While filming “Let It Be,” George acquired a beautiful, custom made Fender Rosewood Telecaster, a prototype for Fender’s new line of Telecasters and Stratocasters. The first Telecaster went to George and the first Stratocaster went to Jimi Hendrix.
According to the book Beatles Gear, (Andy Babiuk, Backbeat Books, 2002) in 1968, Phillip Kubicki, a young, talented guitar maker, was told by his boss, Roger Rossmeisl, that Fender would be making the guitars.
Kubicki recalls that, “For me, this was about as exciting as things could get. The Beatles and Hendrix were at their peak and were a big part of the times.” Rossmeisl decided that a safe course would be to produce two prototypes each of the Rosewood Telecaster and the Rosewood Stratocaster and then select the best to give to the star musicians. The bodies for the guitars were made with a thin layer of maple sandwiched between a solid rosewood top and back. “I spent hours sanding the bodies to perfection,” recalls a misty eyed Kubicki. “Eventually, a clear polyurethane finish was applied and allowed to dry, and we selected the two best bodies and necks for Harrison and Hendrix.” Kubicki says that Harrison’s telecaster became a priority because Fender knew it was required for an album that The Beatles were working on. The guitar was carefully and painstakingly finished, set up, checked and carefully rubbed with a fine cloth until it became highlighted. The second body and neck were stored in Fender’s R & D department.
Kubikci followed the guitar’s history and, according to the book reported that George’s guitar was flown to England-in its own seat-accompanied by a courier, and hand-delivered to the Apple offices in December 1968. “I remember when I saw the guitar for the first time in the Let It Be film,” smiles Kubicki. “I was so thrilled I almost jumped out of my seat.” Also, according to Beatles Gear, “A myth has circulated for years that Harrison and John Lennon each received a Rosewood Telecaster, but Lennon certainly never had one. Harrison’s Telecaster bore the serial number 235594.
George played the Rosewood Telecaster in the Get Back recording sessions and was chosen by him to play the rooftop final performance on January 30, 1969. This performance was the film’s final climax—the band’s celebrated final live public performance atop Apple’s roof. The group played ‘Get Back’, ‘Don’t Let Me Down’, ‘I’ve Got A Feeling’, ‘The One After 909’ and ‘Dig A Pony’. The next day, another performance was staged, this time in the Apple basement studio. With the cameras rolling, they performed and recorded ‘The Long And Winding Road’, and ‘Let It Be’, with Harrison using his Rosewood Telecaster. Shortly thereafter, the band would go their separate ways forever.
“Guitars Used At the Beatles Rooftop Concert” was written by Brenne Meirowitz. Copyright Brenne Meirowitz 2014. All RIghts Reserved.