7 Famous Billboard Songs – Which Guitars Were Used?
The guitar is arguably one of the essential parts of a band. Whether the musical instrument is used to play a solo, strum with the rhythm, or play the bass, the tune makes the song more engaging and addicting to their listeners. Many guitarists can showcase their musical talents while adding solo parts. Seeing particularly skilled guitarists is one of the many reasons why people love concerts.
The music that a guitarist creates on the top 100 Billboard songs has become ingrained in our brain. Just a few riffs from a popular song can cause our ears to perk up as we instantly recognize it. But in the top 100 Billboard songs, what guitars were used? We will discuss some of the songs that changed the music industry, and what guitar was used to create the legendary notes.
1. Shallow by Lady Gaga and Bradley Cooper
“A Star is Born” shot unexpectedly to stardom when it combined the considerable talents of Bradley Cooper and Lady Gaga. The movie marked a ton of “firsts” for Bradley Cooper. It was his directorial debut, and it was also the first time he ever played guitar. While that might be surprising to some, it quickly became apparent that he knew his way around the guitar in the hit song, Shallow.
For this song, Cooper played a Gibson J-45. As one of Gibson’s best-selling acoustics of all time, it was first introduced in 1942. As we heard in the movie, the J-45 become world-famous due to its full expression, warm bass, and excellent projection.
Guitar used: Gibson J-45
2. Before They Make Me Run by the Rolling Stones
Keith Richards, the guitarist of the Rolling Stone, wielded the Micawber, which was a 1950s Telecaster. This guitar quickly became his most famous guitar and became the stuff of legends. Eric Clapton gave Richards this guitar for his 27th birthday, right before the Rolling Stones were beginning to work on Exile on Main Street. He then used to record Before They Make Me Run, as well as many other songs.
Richards modified the guitar to fit his playing style and needs better. Some of these changes included replacing the single-coil pickup in the neck position with a ‘50s Gibson PAF humbucker which adding a little extra bite and growl. He also turned the humbucker backward, which made the magnet poles face the tail end of the guitar. Even though so many years have passed, Richards still uses Micawber both in the studio and on stage.
Guitar used: Micawber
3. Like A Hurricane by Neil Young
Most of Neil Young’s music was recorded on “Old Black” which was a 1953 Gibson Les Paul Goldtop, painted black. Young got the electric guitar through a trade with a one-time Buffalo Springfield collaborator named Jim Messina. In return, Messina receives an orange Gretsch 6120 Chet Atkins guitars. Neil Young went on to record Like A Hurricane with Old Black.
Young did customize it considerably to make it work better for his needs. Some of the changes that were made to the guitar include an upgraded Gretch Dynasonic single-coil pick that was originally replaced with a humbucker pickup from a Gibson Firebird. Now, Old Black has considerable wear and tear. After years of use, most of the black paint has been worn away or removed from the mahogany neck.
Guitar used: Gibson Les Paul Goldtop
4. Born to Run by Bruce Springsteen
The cover art for Bruce Springsteen’s third studio album, Born to Run, has become one of the most iconic cover photos of all time. It shows Springsteen leaning against saxophonist Clarence Clemons holding a Fender Telecaster with an Esquire neck. With an unassuming look, the Fender Esquire has a transparent butterscotch blonde finish and a black pickguard. The model was produced in the 1950s and proved itself to be a versatile instrument. It underwent significant modifications so that “The Boss” could perform it at concerts and record his epic music, including the Billboard Top 100 hit, Born To Run.
Guitar used: Fender Telecaster
5. Stairway to Heaven by Led Zeppelin
Jimmy Page popularized the Gibson EDS-1275, which was a double-neck Gibson electric guitar. It weighed an astounding 13 pounds (5.9 kg) and made an appearance in Stairway to Heaven. Using this double-neck meant that Page didn’t have to switch guitars in the middle of the song. The bottom six-string neck was used for the intro and first verse.
During the guitar solo, he would switch between the 6-string neck and 12-string neck, and then he would finish the song on the 12-string neck.
Guitar used: Gibson EDS-1275
6. Let It Be by the Beatles
One of the most iconic songs of all time is Let It Be by the Beatles. To help produce this unforgettable song, Paul McCartney used the Hofner “Violin” Bass. He used this type of guitar a lot in the beginning days of their fame because he liked the way it looked. The bass was symmetrically shaped, which he believed made playing the guitar “less daft.” He would rely more on the Rickenbacker in his later years.
The Hofner Violin Bass guitar was created in the 1950s by Walter Hofner. He wanted to create a double bass guitar that would appeal to players who didn’t want to carry around such a heavy instrument. Therefore, he produced a bass that has a style and shape that is similar to a classical stringed instrument without the weight.
However, for Let It Be, McCartney went back to the Hofner because they were attempting to go back to their roots. Now, McCartney uses the Hofner Violin Bass because it has defined his stage image, and it is what the fans want to see him playing.
Guitar used: Hofner ‘Violin’ Bass
7. Jump by Van Halen
Van Halen’s guitarist is famous for creating his own customized ax. He did this by combining the sound of a Gibson with a Fender appearance. This electric guitar became one of the most recognizable instruments of its time because of its Pollock-like paintwork, which was red, with crisscrossing black and white stripes. He used Frankenstrat to record and play many of his legendary songs, including Jump.
The electric guitar name got its inspiration from Frankenstein, the doctor who combined body parts to create a monster. Van Halen created Frankenstrat to combine the sound of a Gibson guitar with the physical design and tremolo bar of a Fender Stratocaster. The body of the guitar is a Northern Ash Stratocaster, with pickup routing that was customized to fit a Gibson PAF humbucking bridge pickup. With six strings, it was able to create a sound that was unique to Van Halen and his style of playing.
The original Frankenstrat can now be found in the New York Metropolitan Museum of Art in the Play It Loud — Instruments of Rock and Roll exhibit.
Guitar used: Frankenstrat