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Hear Keith Richards' Isolated Guitar from "Gimme Shelter"

Keith Richards performs with the Rolling Stones at London's Twickenham Stadium in 2006

Keith Richards performs with the Rolling Stones at London's Twickenham Stadium in 2006 (Image credit: MJ Kim/Getty Images)

Keith Richards is known for his blues-based, Chuck Berry-inspired playing style—which is why his playing on the Rolling Stones' "Gimme Shelter" is such an eye-opener. At the time, Richards' freaky, tremolo-drenched riff sounded like something straight out of the future—or at least a very chilling alternate present.

And then there's the sound of the guitar itself. Simply put, it's clearly not a Tele. It's not a Les Paul. It's not an Epiphone Casino. It's a Maton EG240 Supreme (opens in new tab).

The song was recorded almost 50 years ago, so it's understandable that Richards has forgotten the name of the person who once owned the Australian-made axe, but he does (or at least did) remember that the previous owner stayed with him at his London apartment for a little while.

"He crashed out for a couple of days and suddenly left in a hurry, leaving that guitar behind," he told Guitar World (hey, that's us!) in 2002. "You know, 'Take care of it for me.' I certainly did." Or did he?

"It had been all revarnished and painted out, but it sounded great," Richards said. "It made a great record. And on the very last note of 'Gimme Shelter' the whole neck fell off. You can hear it on the original take."

Keith played the Maton throughout the Let It Bleed sessions in early 1969—especially on "Midnight Rambler" and "Gimme Shelter." You can hear the axe in all its isolated glory below. We've also included a particularly impressive outtake from the "Gimme Shelter" sessions. Enjoy!

Damian Fanelli | damian@guitarworld.com | @damianfanelligw

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Damian is Editor-in-Chief of Guitar World magazine. In past lives, he was GW’s managing editor and online managing editor. He's written liner notes for major-label releases, including Stevie Ray Vaughan's 'The Complete Epic Recordings Collection' (Sony Legacy) and has interviewed everyone from Yngwie Malmsteen to Kevin Bacon (with a few memorable Eric Clapton chats thrown into the mix). Damian, a former member of Brooklyn's The Gas House Gorillas (opens in new tab), was the sole guitarist in Mister Neutron (opens in new tab), a trio that toured the U.S. and released three albums (opens in new tab). He now plays in two NYC-area bands.