The Beatles, Paul, Ringo, George, and John are the most iconic musicians of the 20th century. Despite being known to own eccentric pieces of gear, the Fab Four is interconnected with that one piece of guitar that Epiphone manufactured in the late 60s. It’s not a Gibson or a Rickenbacker, it was every man’s ideal starter guitar at the time: The Epiphone Casino.
Get Back …And Beyond
Peter Jackson’s 2021 documentary Get Back was a good retelling of The Beatles’ lore for everyone who wished they got born in the 60s. Because there was not any TV, Internet, and everyone’s mode of entertainment back then was the radio. The Beatles were viewed collectively last November in full context in the wide screen as a documentary and remastered for the modern audience.
What’s odd is that the Fab four always had eccentric pieces of gear with them, All the Fenders, The Gretsches, The Gibsons, the Rickenbackers, The Vox and Marshall Amplifiers, The Wurlitzers, and The Hofners. However, there is one singular guitar that made the Fab Four tick.
It’s the Epiphone affordable Semi-Hollow Guitar, the Epiphone Casino. The Kalamazoo, Michigan made, Epiphone Casino, or ES-230 was a starter guitar for the time. It costed 230 USD in comparison to the Gibson ES 330 which was more expensive and goes for 330 USD.
Three of the Fab Four bought these guitars. First was Paul, his model had a Bigsby tremolo system on it, and he converted the strings to play left-handed. Paul was infatuated with how Jimi Hendrix manipulated his hum-inducing Fender stratocaster. With his new discovery, the bass player bought a guitar with Jimi’s sound in mind, the store owner pointed him at the 230 USD Epiphone Casino.
Second was George who had the same model. Last was John who had the Archtop, tune-o-matic version weird enough, Lennon’s guitar had a black ring on the pickup selector unlike George and Paul’s.
There’s nothing special in this story yet, but notice how this pattern influenced their purchasing behavior for gear in their whole career. The Beatles performed live on TV with matching guitars. Well, except for their final performance.
The Fab Four’s Odd Purchasing Ritual
The Beatles had the knack for buying matching guitars. For one, the Beatles have ruled the world once every radio station has played them in the 60s. Not in an accurate manner, but they’ve made it into instant celebrity status. What changed? Their gear. Now, instead of buying cheap gear, they got endorsed.
By who, you ask? Lots of brands. Fender, Rickenbacker, Gretsch, and Gibson. All the great brands at the time were begging so The Beatles would endorse their products. Regardless, if it was a huge performance, they would always go-to the Epiphone Casino for their hit songs. It seems coincidental that the ace on the sleeve of the Four of the best songwriters in the world at that time were guitars named “Casino.”
The band recorded Revolver using the infamous Epiphone guitars. Additionally, every performance that the band made, it was with matching guitars. Matching Gretsches, matching Fenders, those Epiphones, and matching Rickenbackers.
No Guitar Stays the Same Through Time
Another example for their Gear Acquisition pattern is when they were communicating with Fender. John and George wanted two matching guitars. This is where they had two matching Stratocasters with them with the sonic blue color. The matching guitars did not last thoug,h because in the Fab Four’s Sargeant Pepper years they got into transcendental meditation and it altered their perspective on their overall look.
In addition to that, this started during their world tour. Specifically, this is what they had done in India. This led to the stripping of paint on the three Epiphone guitars. Also George getting into the Sitar and contemporary Indian music were instrumental in their psychedelic sound.
George repainted their stock sonic blue into a 70s psychedelic, rainbow color. Similar to how Eric Clapton and Jack Bruce of Cream painted their Gibson SG and Bruce’s Fender Bass VI. In 70s fashion, Eric Clapton named his SG “the Fool” and George Harrison named his strat “Rocky”
Even in the last performance of the Beatles in the Rooftop, John held onto his Epiphone guitar. All stripped and white.
Just like any good story, everything had to end, but the Fab Four’s careers continued to rise in effect. John had a band with Eric Clapton and his wife Yoko in the Plastic Ono Band. Paul formed Wings with his wife Linda. George formed Traveling Wilburys with Tom Petty, Roy Orbison, and Bob Dylan. Lastly, Ringo went solo, but collaborated with the other Traveling Wilburys members on his records.
Up until this day, Paul Mccartney still uses his Right-Handed Epiphone Casino Guitar upside down. Before Lennon died, his stripped “Revolution” Epiphone Casino was still in his possession, and George held to his Epiphone until he died of
Other Guitars that the Fab 4 used post-breakup were the All-Rosewood Fender Telecaster, the Rocky Stratocaster, several Gretsch Guitars and Electrics for George, the Fender Bass VI, A Gibson Les Paul from Eric Clapton which George named “Lucy”, and the infamous Hohner Bass that Paul used during his time with The Beatles.
The Beatles made an illustrious career that made these four best friends into household names. Half of them are not with us anymore, but sure that they held into their Epiphone Casinos until their last breaths as their secret weapon. It is important that everyone have their aces up their sleeve. in the Beatles’ case, it was this guitar.
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