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Andy Babiuk talks Beatles Gear with AudioFanzine!

Author of Beatles Gear – The Ultimate Edition, Andy Babiuk, was interviewed by AudioFanzine, an online magazine with content and services in the fields of audio and musical instruments.   Here’s a sample of the interview.  Click on the link at the bottom to read the entire interview at AudioFanzine!

00333744Babiuk’s book, published by Backbeat Books, is a coffee-table style tome full of information, anecdotes, and tons of photos. This is the second edition of the book, significantly expanded from the original, which was published in Britain in 2001.

“I worked directly with Olivia Harrison and with Ringo,” says Babiuk about his research for the new edition, “and McCartney’s been really cool, and Yoko was great.” His other sources included the late George Martin, Geoff Emerick the late Neil Aspinall, and many others.

Babiuk owns a boutique guitar store called Fab Gear in Rochester, NY, and has played for a long time in The Chesterfield Kings, which he says was largely inspired by bands of the British Invasion era.

I really liked the way that the book weaves in the band’s history along with the gear info.

Thank you. I wanted it to be a story about the Beatles from their perspective as musicians. You’ve got to tell the story of the band, you can’t just make it a list of things. And also, I was very happy that we were able to put the album covers in. Because it’s another way to give perspective of what was happening and what was being used during different phases of the band. We all remember those records and the covers, and that helps tell the timeline of where you’re at.

Some of the band’s early instrument choices were influenced by how difficult it was to get American brands in England, right? For instance, Paul’s choice of the Hofner bass.

Well the Hofner was more because they were in Germany. You’ve got to remember the mentality and the age of these guys when this was happening. McCartney was a teenager. He was either going to be out of high school and into some sort of art college or something, or he was going to go with his buddies and drink beer and pick up chicks and play music all day in Germany for months at a time. “Screw it, man, let’s go have a party!” That was the mentality. But along with that, they didn’t have any money. They were all living in a room together with a candle. It was wacky. Hofner was a German company. They were in the center of Hamburg. There were a lot of music stores there. So the Beatles were actually able to access and look at instruments that were available. The “violin” bass was unique because it was symmetrical. And McCartney said this himself. Most basses, like Fenders and others, are asymmetrical.

Oh right, because he needed to flip it over to play it lefty.

He saw it and said, “Gee, you could flip this over it would be the same.” I’ll guarantee you this, and everybody from that time period told me this, you could never, ever walk into a music store and see a left-handed instrument. It was just never going to happen. So McCartney was thinking, “Hmm, I’m in Germany, this is a German company. Can they build one and put the electronics on the other side?” The guy said “sure.” He was just trying to make a sale. He called up Hofner, “Hey, we’ve got a sale for a lefty, can you build one” “Sure.” And there you go, it’s as simple as that. And plus, it wasn’t expensive. It was a German-made bass, and they weren’t really sought after. Nobody played them.

And yet Paul ended up sticking with the Hofner for the most part, right?

Yeah, he did. And I think a lot of it has to do with that it was lightweight. He told me that. It doesn’t weigh anything. You can have it on your shoulder for two or three hours and it’s not pulling on you, it doesn’t weigh anything. And the other thing, too, if you’re a guitarist you’ll relate to this, when you have an instrument that you’re really familiar with, you tend to like to play it, because you know everything about it. You don’t have to look at the neck and you know exactly where the fifth fret is. You can just feel it.

Read the whole article HERE.

Harmony Central reviews Beatles Gear The Ultimate Edition

Beatles Gear The Ultimate Edition, written by Andy Babiuk, was recently reviewed by Harmony Central! Chris Loeffler, a multi-instrumentalist and the Content Strategist of Harmony Central, provides us with his expert review of the book and what readers should expect out of it. Read the review below!

00333744The Beatles are, without a doubt, the greatest Rock and Roll band of all time, and in 10 brief years created dozens of musical paths later bands would journey down in an effort to define the meaning of Rock. While some of their Brit contemporaries are still carrying on 50 years later, the Beatles continue to capture the minds and hearts of generations of music lovers new and old despite having not performed together for over 45 years. One of the benefits of being pioneers of a sound is the sheer amount of gear and sonic experimentation to which they had access, and it fell upon Andy Babiuk to seek information from sources near and far to put forth what he considers the ultimate catalog of the gear used to create the legendary recordings of the Beatles. Let’s look at this revised and expanded new edition of Beatles Gear: Ultimate Edition, published by Backbeat Books.

Read the review in its entirety over at Harmony Central!

Andy Babiuk speaks with Music Radar about “Beatles Gear”

Andy Babiuk, author of Beatles Gear – The Ultimate Edition, spoke with Music Radar about his book and how he came about certain instruments.

00333744The original Beatles Gear book was published back in 2001 and, over the past decade-and-a-half, it’s become the go-to bible for anyone with an interest in the extensive equipment the Fab Four dabbled with during their incredible albeit brief career.

The new expanded Ultimate Edition, which has recently hit the shops, provides fascinating new interviews, 650 new and previously unpublished photos and a slew of surprising recent gear-related discoveries that author Andy Babiuk has helped uncover.

One astounding addition to Beatles Gear is the inclusion of John Lennon’s original 1962 Gibson J-160E acoustic, which had been lost for over 50 years. This was the guitar that Lennon wrote many of The Beatles’ early hits on before it was stolen in December 1963 at the Astoria Cinema in Finsbury Park, London.

“This one happened last summer when a guy contacted me on the phone,” explains Andy, “I get a lot of people calling and emailing with stuff but 99% of the time, it’s nothing or just nonsense.

“Anyway, this guy said, ‘My friend’s got John Lennon’s J-160E’. So I was like, ‘Hey, right, okay… well, send me the picture’ and sure enough, he sends the picture and I’m like, ‘Wow, I’ve got to talk to this guy!’

“The grain looked similar. It belonged to some guy in San Diego who bought it for 175 bucks after he got out of Vietnam in ’69 or something. It was just his personal guitar ever since. When I examined it personally, the grain was an exact match: it was John Lennon’s J-160E.

“No-one knows how it made it out of England and made it to Southern California but that’s just one of the wacky stories that are in this book.” [NB. Since we chatted to Andy, the guitar sold for a staggering $2.4 million at auction.]

Read the entire article over Music Radar!

Andy Babiuk on Tell Me Everything with John Fugelsang!

Author of Beatles Gear, Andy Babiuk, was on Tell Me Everything with John Fugelsang! They spoke about Andy’s extensive Beatle’s knowledge and about his book, Beatles Gear – The Ultimate Edition. Click on the link below to listen to the full podcast, and let us know what you think!


00333744With Beatles Gear: The Ultimate Edition – All The Fab Four’s Instruments From Stage to Studio, Andy Babiuk has written one of the most influential Beatles books yet.

Babiuk was not only given exclusive access to band members and their most inner circles, but was also granted access to the Beatles musical equipment, (as he was for his research for his book, Rolling Stones Gear, 2014). As a result, Babiuk discovered and writes about some of the most intricate details about the Beatles’ lives, their history, music and tools of the trade.

The 500-plus page Beatles Gear: The Ultimate Edition includes many previously unseen photographs, a cache of rare memorabilia, and a unique collection of specially photographed authentic Beatles instruments. Shown in luscious quality throughout the book are 43 of the group’s original instruments, many still owned by ex-members of the Beatles or their heirs, from George’s psychedelic Strat to John’s “Bed In” Gibson, and Ringo’s roof top Ludwig kit to Paul’s Hofner violin bass.

Coming This Fall — Beatles Gear: The Ultimate Edition!

It’s the ultimate book for Beatles fans, and it’s coming this fall from Backbeat Books!  Beatles Gear: The Ultimate Edition is a revised and greatly expanded version of Andy Babiuk’s best-selling guide to the instruments and equipment the Fab Four used on stage and in the studio. Can’t wait until fall? Check out a sneak peek of the book only on ISSUU

In 2001, Andy Babiuk wrote Beatles Gear, the first book to tell the full story of how the Beatles made their music, detailing exactly which guitars, drums, amplifiers, and keyboards the Beatles used at the key points of their relatively brief but entirely revolutionary career, from the formation of the Quarrymen skiffle group in the 1950s to the dissolution of the Beatles in 1970.

00333744The book was lauded by fans and critics alike: The Chicago Tribune said it “may be the ultimate specialized study of the Beatles’ equipment.” Library Journal proclaimed it “A fresh, highly readable perspective on the group’s well-documented history.” And, the San Jose Mercury-News called it “the ultimate Beatles fanatic book.”

Fifteen years later, Babiuk once again turns his keen eye to the Fab Four with Beatles Gear – The Ultimate Edition (November 2015, Backbeat Books, $60). Double size of the original and featuring 625 additional photographs, all-new edition provides fresh insights into Beatles history, exploding myths and uncovering dozens of new stories along the way. John, Paul, George and Ringo’s moves from cheap early instruments to the pick of 1960s technology are carefully and entertainingly documented in an easy-to-read narrative, fully illustrated with many previously unseen photographs, a cache of rare memorabilia, and a unique collection of specially photographed actual Beatle instruments.

Here’s a sneak preview of Beatles Gear: The Ultimate Edition.

Happy birthday, Mick Taylor!

Tomorrow is Mick Taylor’s 66th birthday! Mick Taylor played guitar with the Rolling Stones from 1969-1974. In honor of his birthday, here is an excerpt from Rolling Stones Gear: All the Stones’ Instruments from Stage to Studio by Andy Babiuk and Greg Prevost:



“Honky Tonk Women,” “Country Honk,” and “Live With Me” were recorded between May 12 and June 12, with the emphasis put on the completion of “Honky Tonk Women” as an immediate single release. During the May 31 session, both “Honky Tonk Women” and “Live With Me” were being worked on when ex-John Mayall & the Bluesbreakers’ guitarist Mick Taylor was brought in for a dry run on Mick Jagger’s invitation. By the end of the session, it had been decided that Taylor would be Brian’s [Jones] replacement. Asked why he was chosen, Taylor recalled: “I think probably because John Mayall recommended me. They’d known John Mayall since the early days, and they were both blues bands when they started out. But Ian Stewart recommended me as well, and that’s how it came about. It came about very quickly. I’d been in LA with John Mayall, and towards the end of the tour, he announced he was going to change his band and use a different lineup without a drummer. He was going to have an acoustic guitar player, a saxophone player, and it was all going to be a little bit experimental, so that particular band split up, and I got back to London, and, after a couple of days, I was thinking about forming my own band, but I got this phone call, from John Mayall actually at first, saying he thought the Stones were interested [in] me possibly doing some session work. So, I went down to Olympic Studios, played with them one night, and we hit it off almost instantly, and they asked me to join. And that was it.”

Michael Kevin Taylor, born on January 17, 1949 was a fourteen-year-old schoolboy in Hatfield, twenty miles north of London, when the Stones’ first single, “Come On,” was released in 1963. Taylor started listening to records and playing guitar steadily at an early age, and, with the exception of a few chords his uncle showed him, was self-taught. “I was about ten years old [when I started],” he recalled. “My uncle was in the army, stationed in Germany. There were lots of American bases there; Mick_Taylor2there still are. I think he got his interest in music from listening to American music there, R&B and blues, things like that. He brought back a guitar with him. That was where my interest in the guitar started.” He continued, “As my interest in the guitar developed, my interest in blues music in general developed. By the time I was fourteen or fifteen, I was into the blues, and I was buying blues records, as many as I could get ahold of.” In 1964, Taylor joined his first band the Juniors, who ultimately evolved into the Gods and included Greg Lake (later of Emerson, Lake, and Palmer) and Ken Hensley (later of Uriah Heep). The Gods’ potential went unrealized, however, as Taylor explained: “Nothing happened. We didn’t make any records, didn’t have any management, and didn’t do any gigs.” When he was sixteen, Taylor happened to jam with John Mayall at a Bluesbreakers’ gig, sitting in for Eric Clapton, and, a little more than a year later, Mayall asked him to join his band, replacing Peter Green (Clapton’s replacement), who’d left with Mick Fleetwood and John McVie to form his own band, Peter Green’s Fleetwood Mac. Taylor commented, “One minute I was playing with local musicians in Hatfield, and the next minute touring America with Mayall” During his two years with the Bluesbreakers, Taylor appeared on Crusade, Bare Wires, Blues From Laurel Canyon, and both Diary of a Band albums.

After the Let It Bleed album was released, Keith explained the evolution of “Honky Tonk Women” this way: “Last Christmas, Mick and I flew out to Brazil and stayed on a ranch. It was just like Arizona, and, somehow, we got into cowboy songs. I wrote ‘Honky Tonk Women’ then, and it was a sort of Hank Williams tune. Back in London, we worked on it – trying to make it sound funkier with my guitar – and eventually we got the sound that was the single. It just knocked us out . . . we thought, ‘Wow, that has to be a single.’ But I never thought it would work the way it did. It was a bit like ‘Satisfaction’ in that it transcended all tastes. Some of our records are more for America, some are more suited for England, but ‘Honky Tonk Women’ was for everyone. Actually, you can hear the complete, Hank Williams-like version of the song [‘Country Honk’] on the Let It Bleed album.” He elaborated: “That was how it was originally written. All I had was a little guitar I bought off some guy in Rio. A beautiful little Dobro thing. And we were on the veranda and there were gauchos. We were in deep country. And that was the way it was written. The next day we polished it up.”

Taylor picked up the story: “Well, I definitely added something to ‘Honky Tonk Women,’ but it was more or less complete by lot0108-1-980x400the time I arrived and did my overdubs. They had already laid down the backing track, but it was very rough and incomplete. I added some guitars to it. But I didn’t play the riffs that start ‘Honky Tonk Women’; that’s Keith playing. I played the country kind of influence and the rock licks between the verses. My part on ‘Country Honk’ wasn’t on a regular guitar; it was one of those cheap little Selmer Hawaiian guitars, which I played on my lap.” Taylor owned and used the Selmer lap-steel during his stay with John Mayall, explaining, “I found that guitar in London for about $40. I wish I still had it; I used that guitar in regular tuning.”

Win a Martin D18 Acoustic

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Guitar Player and Rolling Stones Gear have teamed up to give you a chance to Win the Brands of the Rolling Stones! Now you can own some of the major brands of equipment the Rolling Stones played including Fender, Martin, Framus, Zemaitis, Gretsch, and Vox in this exciting new sweepstakes! They are also giving away the new book Rolling Stones Gear: All the Stones’ Instruments from Stage to Studio by Andy Babiuk and Greg Prevost.

And to wrap up this amazing contest, we present this gorgeous D18 Martin acoustic! The contest ends this Friday, so if you haven’t entered yet now is your chance. Don’t pass up this opportunity to win the brands of the Rolling Stones!


Win Charlie Watts’ Gretsch Drum Kit

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Guitar Player and Rolling Stones Gear have teamed up to give you a chance to Win the Brands of the Rolling Stones! Now you can own some of the major brands of equipment the Rolling Stones played including Fender, Martin, Framus, Zemaitis, Gretsch, and Vox in this exciting new sweepstakes! They are also giving away the new book Rolling Stones Gear: All the Stones’ Instruments from Stage to Studio by Andy Babiuk and Greg Prevost. If nothing else, enter to win a set of gorgeous Gretsch drums just like Charlie used to love! Read below for an excerpt about the kit from Rolling Stones Gear. 


Charlie used his 1950s maple Gretsch kit and included an Italian UFIP 18-inch Chinese cymbal. Later, when UFIP was Gretsch RollingStonesDrumsGerman-owned, Richard King (who supplied Charlie with a lot of his gear) remarked: “[Charlie] did accept an endorsement from an Italian cymbal company UFIP. He likes their 18-inch China crash cymbal, and when the new German owner sent Charlie sixty to try out, only two were up to his standards.” Charlie later revealed: “I play a UFIP cymbal. I play it the Chinese way, with the edges up. I like them because they’re very trashy. They do tend to crack, and I can only drill them so much before they lose the sound and go dead. I’ve kept them all though, for thirty years.” Charlie, not a man of many changes, shed further light on his cymbals, a setup that has remained steady throughout the years: “John DeChristopher at 
Zildjian is always sending me cymbals. He’s a
lovely guy, but I never use them right away! I 
choose the ones I like, put them away, and let
 them marinate. For me, finding a cymbal is about
going into a second-hand shop and digging. I 
prefer one of Shelly Manne’s old cymbals to ten 
new ones. Even a guy in a dance band or a club;
 HIS cymbals get a sound and a look about them.
I don’t like new drums either, and I HATE new
shoes.” He continued: “I like things that are 
well made, like Zildjians, but that are fifty years
old. I use an old 18-inch flat ride, and I’m scared
 stiff it’s going to go. They’ve sent me new ones, but they’re never as good. I found it in Paris in ’70- something with Chuch Magee. We were bombed out of our ’eads at the time, but I’ve never stopped using it. I’ve used it in a piano trio, and I’ve used it behind Keith, and it’s fabulous. It’s a beautiful cymbal to record with.” Concerning Charlie’s stage sound, Benji Lefevre, the front-of-the-house soundman/sound engineer for the tour, commented: “Charlie tunes it his way, and it just produces the Charlie Watts sound, so I don’t mess with it. He does, however, have a very light jazzy bass drum technique, which enables me to use delicate high quality microphones on it.”

Win Keith Richards’ Fender Telecaster

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Guitar Player and Rolling Stones Gear have teamed up to give you a chance to Win the Brands of the Rolling Stones! Now you can own some of the major brands of equipment the Rolling Stones played including Fender, Martin, Framus, Zemaitis, Gretsch, and Vox in this exciting new sweepstakes! They are also giving away the new book Rolling Stones Gear: All the Stones’ Instruments from Stage to Studio by Andy Babiuk and Greg Prevost. Check out this vintage ’52 Fender Telecaster that YOU could own!


FenderKeith mainly used his collection of five-string Teles, but also had on hand his 999 blond ’59 Tele (strung as a six-string), the single-cutaway ’57 sunburst Les Paul Junior, a single-cutaway Les Paul TV Junior, a single-cutaway Les Paul TV Special, the ’58 Mary Kaye Strat, a custom-made all-black Tele- style guitar with black P-90 pickups, a transparent black Tele-style Cobra by Tom Anderson, a reissue ’59 sunburst Gibson Les Paul, his acoustic Gibson L-1, an Ovation Adamas acoustic six-string, and a number of Martins. As on previous tours, Keith’s tunings and capo positions remained the same on all the constant numbers in the set. Another Fender Tele that was added to Keith’s five-string Tele collection was a 1952 butterscotch example with a black pickguard, which Keith nicknamed “George.” Unlike Micawber, Malcolm, and Sonny, whose neck pickups were replaced with humbuckers, George’s traditional Tele neck pickup was left alone. The guitar’s original bridge was replaced with an aftermarket bridge, and it was set up as a five string. The George Tele has become one of Keith’s go-to guitars for both stage and studio. Keith’s legendary guitars and their names hold a mystique of their own. Pierre explained: “I laugh when people tell me they spell Sonny with a ‘u’. It’s ‘Sonny’ because it’s named after Sonny Rollins, and Sonny Rollins is not spelled with a ‘u’, but I don’t sit there and tell everyone that. When I met Keith, he literally called all his Teles by their first names—Malcolm, Micawber, Sonny.” Pierre continued, revealing yet another new addition to Keith’s collection, “Gloria is a five-string 1954 Esquire that is totally beat up. It was a ‘parts’ guitar, a total beater with an Anderson pickup in the neck, and the reason for that is the low magnetic pull.”

Bill Wyman’s Vox Amplifier

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Guitar Player and Rolling Stones Gear have teamed up to give you a chance to Win the Brands of the Rolling Stones! Now you can own some of the major brands of equipment the Rolling Stones played including Fender, Martin, Framus, Zemaitis, Gretsch, and Vox in this exciting new sweepstakes! They are also giving away the new book Rolling Stones Gear: All the Stones’ Instruments from Stage to Studio by Andy Babiuk and Greg Prevost. Now you have a chance to win this top-notch Vox amp! Read this excerpt from the book about how the band used to worship these amps!

Solid Senders

Bill Wyman officially joined the group on January 5. Apparently, Mick, Keith, and Brian had finally decided that Bill was in after what could best be described as a trial period. Bill explained: “They didn’t like me, but I had a good amplifier, and they were badly in need of amplifiers at that time! So, they kept me on. Later, when they were going to get rid of me, I think I clicked or something and I stayed. I must have just fitted in.” Ian Stewart later commented, “There is a certain amount of truth that Bill was taken on for his equipment, but Bill was very good.”

VoxAmpThe group immediately incorporated Bill’s amplifiers into the backline. While the Watkins Westminster, a 10-watt amp
that came with an 8-inch speaker,
two inputs, a volume control, and a
tone control that also acted as an on-
off switch, was a nice addition, the 
real prize was Bill’s Vox AC-30.

Keith, more impressed by this 
particular amp than he was with 
Bill, later commented: “Bill had
 amplifiers! Bill came fully equipped.
 A Vox AC-30 amplifier, which was 
beyond our means to possess. Built by Jennings in Dartford. We used to worship it. We used to look at it and get on our knees. To have an amplifier was crucial. First off, I just wanted to separate Bill from his amplifier. But that was before he started playing with Charlie.” Watkins, later WEM (Watkins Electric Music), was a London-based company started by Charlie Watkins that specialized in amplification.

The Vox AC-30 was considered the best and loudest guitar amplifier on the market in England at the time. Bill’s AC-30 was tan or beige, commonly referred to as “fawn-colored.” The official model name for the amp was the Vox AC-30/6 Twin Normal; “6” meaning six inputs, “Twin” meaning two speakers, and “Normal” meaning the guitar rather than bass version. The AC-30 was equipped with four EL84 power tubes, five pre-amp tubes, and a single GZ34 rectifier tube. Jim Elyea’s definitive book Vox Amplifiers The JMI Years states that: “Bill’s original ‘fawn’ AC-30 was built in approximately February 1962 and was purchased from the Art Nash Music Shop. Bill’s is a Normal model with a brownish copper panel with no Top Boost circuit. The two original leather handles have been replaced with newer Vox SBU handles. The amp is equipped with a pair of Celestion Blue T.530 12-inch speakers and has a sticker inside the amp indicating that the amp was serviced by Alan Pyne.”

The Vox factory was located in Dartford, where Mick and Keith
grew up, and the primary Vox amplifier showroom was the Jennings
 music shop on Charing Cross Road in central London. Jennings Musical
 Industries was established by Tom Jennings in 1958. In 1962, the
 operation further expanded its horizons with the introduction of Vox 
guitars The company’s Vox amplifiers were devised by JMI’s chief design
engineer, Dick Denney.. Denney, who was also the creator of the AC-30,
started the Vox amplifier line with a 15-watt unit. He then reasoned that
what musicians really needed was a twin-speaker amp with six inputs.
Denney remembered Tom Jennings’s reaction to the concept: “He said to
me, ‘Well, you do what you like Dick, but if it doesn’t work, your head’s
on the chopping block.’ As it turned out, the AC-30 became the jewel in
 Vox’s crown; it’s what put Vox on the map. I made the amp so that it
sounded good to me. It was old technology, and I think old technology
still prevails.” One of the design oddities of the AC-30 was the situation of its control panel at the back of the top of the cabinet. Denney explained that his fellow guitarists at the time often sat behind their amplifiers, which projected a reverb-type effect into the hall from the front and a “dry” sound from the open back. Wyman’s Vox AC-30 amplifier cost £105, about $300 then, the equivalent of about £1,340 ($1,870) today.

On January 14, 1963, Tony Chapman was fired at the end of a gig at the Flamingo Jazz Club in Soho, London. The January 14, 1963, entry in Keith’s diary reads simply, “Tony Sacked!” Bill Wyman remembered: “Tony was told that his services were no longer required. He was furious and said, ‘Come on, Bill, let’s go and start a new band.’ I told him I was staying with the Stones, and Tony just upped and left.”