Beatles Gear on Let it Be.

Let it Be was the first Unplugged album. It was a “Back to basics” album, so the Beatles gear they used was pretty standard stuff as well.

Even though Let It Be didn’t make it on my list of Top 3 Must Have Beatles Albums. , it still has its moments as any Beatles album does. (Incidentally, that post was featured in last month’s Beatles Carnival – Everything About the Beatles)

Gone were the instruments of psychedelia – the Sitar, the moog, wah-wah pedal and harpsichord. In fact, in the original recordings, there weren’t even orchestral sections. Those were added later by Phil Specter, prompting Lennon to say:

“He was given the shittiest load of badly-recorded shit with a lousy feeling to it ever, and he made something of it.”

I have to agree that Let it Be is not the best Beatles’ effort, but I think it was an awesome idea.

Paul is credited for setting the direction of the band after the exhausting double LP known as The White Album. Let It Be was intended to be a stripped down album with no overdubs and studio wizardry. Just The Beatles and their instruments. So, enough about the album, let’s check out the Beatles gear, specifically guitars, bass and amplifiers.

Beatles-gear-let-it-be-rooftop-concert

Beatles Gear used on Let it Be

Electric Guitars

The slide solo on “For You Blue” was played by John Lennon on a Hofner Hawaiian Standard slide guitar:

Throughout the Let It Be recordings, George Harrison is often seen playing his custom-made rosewood Fender Telecaster, having given his 1957 Gibson Les Paul Standard (named “Lucy”) away. Lucy was originally given to him by Eric Clapton and was featured in the “Revolution” promo film.

For You Blue aside, Lennon is rarely seen without his Epiphone Casino throughout most of the sessions.

Acoustic Guitars

By the time of Let it Be, Harrison and Lennon usually shared Harrison’s Gibson J-200 , and McCartney played his Martin D-28 on “Two of Us.”

Bass Guitars

Since the band was trying to skip the overdubs and favor a more live sound, Harrison and Lennon would take turns on bass when McCartney was playing lead or rhythm guitar, and the bass they usually played was the Fender Bass VI, a six-string bass (Harrison uses it on “Two of Us“; Lennon can be seen playing it on “Dig It.”)

When McCartney was on bass, he used his 1963 Hofner 500/1 exclusively.

Amplifiers

In the early days, The Beatles predominantly used Vox Amplifiers. So much so, that Vox became known as “Beatles Amps.” That changed by the Let It Be sessions, and Fender was the primary Beatles gear provided.

Harrison and Lennon played through a 85-watt “silverface” Twin amps with vibrato circuits and reverb while McCartney used a 50-watt silverface Bassman head and tall Bassman cabinet (Harrison and Lennon also played through the Bassman rig when using the Fender Bass VI).

For more details, facts and back story on the Let It Be sessions and Beatles gear, check out the Guide to the Songs and Instruments Featured on The Beatles’ ‘Let It Be’ Album from Guitar World.

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Comments
  • Jim Liston September 26, 2012 at 5:51 pm

    When I was a kid my band had a VOX amp that we used to start the beginning of the “Wipeout” drum solo. It had a spring reverb inside of it, and if you beat on the top you would get that great sound that sounds like…an electric spring vibrating!
    Thanks for the interesting article, Mike!
    Jim

    • Mike October 2, 2012 at 5:00 pm

      HA! That’s a great story Jim!

      I know a lot of amplifier makers are now adding stabilizers to prevent that unintended (by the manufacturer) vibration. Of course, they’re also making guitars that tune and play themselves, so I guess the future of music is pretty bleak. 😉

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