How To…sound like the Beatles!
To mark the start of the Beatle Week (22nd Aug-28th), here’s a quick look at some gear the Beatles used…and what you can buy online.
The Beatles used a wide variety of gear, which more or less changed according to each “Beatles Era”. Of course, due to their popularity, The Beatles were responsible for popularizing many brands such as Gretsch, Vox and Rickenbacker.
The Cavern Club/ Early Years
In the early days, the Beatles used almost exclusively Vox Amps, both the AC-15 and AC-30, which are the obvious choices if you want to have the classic beatles sound. You can’t go wrong: get an AC30 and either a Gretsch Country Gentleman or a Rickenbacker guitar (such as the 330 Jetglo or 360 Fireglo)
If you want a similar sound but spend less, here’s some good suggestions: the VOX AD50VT-212 is a good choice for those looking for Vox tone on a budget, and Italia have just released some cool new guitars, of which the Rimini Standard is a fantastic looking Rickenbacker-a-like. Another great little Vox amp is the Vox DA20-CL, which has a great “AC-30 look”, for a fraction of the price. With two speakers and 20-Watts, this amp is pretty good for practices or small gigs…
Epiphone has also some truly wonderful John Lennon and Paul McCartney signature acoustic guitars: The John Lennon J-160E is a great copy of the J-160E that John used in so many classic beatles recordings (and gigs).
The Paul McCartney Texan is a faithful copy of the acoustic Paul used for “Yesterday”.
Let’s not forget Ringo, though! The Ludwig ”Fab 4” Complete 4 Pc. is a good, affordable kit for the Ringo-loving drummers.
Those more interested in the Fab Four later days can also find plenty of interesting gear.
Guitars? Well…there’s plenty to choose from: George used a Gibson SG on “Revolver”, a Fender Stratocaster, Gibson Les Paul and finally a Fender Telecaster for the Let It Be Sessions. Several models of all those guitars are available.
Both Lennon and George were never too far away from a semi-acoustic guitar though, and the most notable was certainly the Epiphone Casino the classic Hollowbody guitar with hot P-90 pickups. John Lennon signature models are available.
George also played a ES-345 for a while, so you’ll probably do fine with any good semi-acoustic such as the Epiphone Dot.
Two important effects to reproduce Beatles sounds from this era should be mentioned: get a good fuzz for solos (since the Vox Tonebender has been discontinued long ago, get a Boss FZ-5) and some sort of Leslie Rotating Speaker cabinet simulator – the best one is the Hughes & Kettner Rotosphere, but a good Chorus pedal should do, such as the Boss CE-20 or the Electro-Harmonix Polychorus.
Bass players will have to, of course, go for the Rickenbacker 4003 bass, widely used during the Beatles psychedelic days.
Well…if you wanted to sound like the Beatles, there’s no excuse now – just go for it!
If you want to know what’s going on in Liverpool during the Beatles Week, read this article on the Dolphin Music website.