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Paul McCartney was in talks with Gibson to make a signature Epiphone Casino

Paul McCartney, performing live onstage with Wings, playing Epiphone Casino guitar
(Image credit: David Redfern/Redferns)

Back in 2004, Paul McCartney teamed up with Gibson for the creation of a signature edition replica of his 1964 Epiphone Texan acoustic guitar, the instrument he immortalized when he used it to perform the Beatles' Yesterday on the Ed Sullivan Show.

But that Texan isn’t the only instrument Macca has considered replicating.

In a new interview with MusicRadar, Paul’s technical manager, Keith Smith, talked about an electric guitar that was in consideration at one point.

“A few years ago Gibson wanted him to do a signature version of his ’64 Epiphone Casino,” Smith said. “We ummed and ahhed, and it didn’t really take off. We saw that everyone sort of has a signature model, and to Paul it didn’t really seem that important.”

While that guitar never came to fruition, Paul had plenty of great instruments to play around with during the recording of his new one-man-band album, McCartney III.

When it came to electric guitars, Smith said there were three main ones in the studio. “For a really straightforward rock ’n’ roll sound he’s got a ’57 Gibson Les Paul Goldtop which is always his go-to chord-y rock sound. It’s PAFs in that, and it’s all original as far as I know. He got it before my time, but that’s his big rock sound through his AC30.” 

Paul also made use of a ’54 Tele, which was “used on quite a few tracks,” Smith said. “But in Paul’s mind a Tele is a really nice clean, sparkly, almost country sound. He’ll say ‘I want something really clean… let’s try a Tele.’ It’s a real favorite of his at the moment because he hasn’t had it very long. It’s a mint condition, 1954 lefty which is rare as hen’s teeth.

“He’s had it three or four years now and he’s really enjoying playing it at the moment. It just sounds beautiful, I’ve got a great little pedalboard that I built that he’s not that interested in! He sticks the guitar straight into the AC30 and gets the sound, that’s how he’s always done it and I think that’s how he’ll always do it.”

The third guitar, meanwhile, came about via the aborted ’64 Epi Casino project. “To demonstrate the quality of the guitar that they’d make for him [Gibson] sent a really nice 330 from the Custom Shop,” Smith said. “It’s only about seven or eight years old, and I dug that one out. 

"I’m always going through Paul’s guitar collection and restringing, checking, repairing and making sure they’re all up to scratch. Paul likes to be able to take a guitar out and play it without too much fuss. So we sort of rediscovered this 330, it’s just a really great sounding guitar.”

On the acoustic side, meanwhile, Smith went on to say that McCartney's “main acoustic is his Martin D-28 which he’s had for about 30 years. He’s used that for everything, recording, live. We’ve got a couple, we’ve just got a new-ish one and he’s got an older one, a ’64 D-28 that lives at home with him.

“He’s got a nice collection of acoustics – one of the other ones that he uses a little bit is the Blueridge. When he goes to the office in London, he often goes for a little walk past Hobgoblin Guitars and they often have left-handed guitars in there.

“I think that’s where he first got a Blueridge – he just went in and saw this really nice Blueridge and bought it. It’s been in his office ever since. We were in Japan a couple of years ago and this guitar just turned up from Blueridge – they’re a Japanese company. So we’ve had that for a long time now.”

Throughout the rest of the incredibly detailed piece, Smith and engineer Steve Orchard take a deep dive into all the gear used on McCartney III, from guitar pedals, mics and recording gear to pianos, basses, drum kits and more. To get the full scoop, head to MusicRadar.

Richard Bienstock

Rich is the co-author of the best-selling Nöthin' But a Good Time: The Uncensored History of the '80s Hard Rock Explosion. He is also a recording and performing musician, and a former editor of Guitar World magazine and executive editor of Guitar Aficionado magazine. He has authored several additional books, among them Kurt Cobain: Montage of Heck, the companion to the documentary of the same name.