Mark Knopfler’s Guitars and Gear
Mark Freuder Knopfler was born on 12 August 1949 in Glasgow, Scotland to an English mother and Hungarian Jewish father. Mark’s first guitar was a £50 twin-pick-up Höfner Super Solid.During the 1960s, he formed and joined schoolboy bands and listened to singers like Elvis Presley and guitarists Chet Atkins, Scotty Moore, B.B King, Django Reinhardt, Hank Marvin, and James Burton.
He formed Dire Straits in 1977 together with his brothers David Knopfler, and friends John Illsley, and Pick Withers. In 1977, Dire Straits recorded a five-song demo tape which included their future hit single, “Sultans of Swing”, as well as “Water of Love”, “Down to the Waterline”, “Wild West End” and David Knopfler’s “Sacred Loving”.
As a member of Dire Straits, and as a solo artist, Mark sold over 120 million records worldwide, and has won 4 Grammy Awards. He is ranked 27th on Rolling Stone’s list of the 100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time.
Mark Knopfler’s Electric Guitars: link here
1962 Hofner Super Solid V2 link here
Mark’s father bought this guitar for him in 1964 for 50£ when Mark was just 15 years old. It was his first guitar, and at that time he couldn’t afford an amplifier so he played it through a family radio instead.
Mark’s Hofner was made in 1962, and it features red finish, celluloid strip fretboard inlays, and two type 510 “Diamond Logo” pickups. Even though it’s been more than 50 years since Mark got this guitar, he still owns it and takes a special care of it.
1961 Fender Stratocaster link here
This Stratocaster was bought sometime prior to Dire Straits first album released in 1978. It was Mark’s first Fender Stratocaster, most likely used on the demo tape of “Sultans of Swing” and quite possibly on the album version as well.
When Mark bought the guitar the original paint was stripped down, so Mark had it repainted in red to replicate his dream guitar – Hank Marvin’s red Strat.
Mark used this guitar on the recording of the album, and as a spare for his maple necked Strat. Towards 1979 he started using this guitar more than the maple Strat, but in mid 80s he decided it was better to keep the guitar safe at his house for obvious sentimental reasons.
1962 Fender Stratocaster link here
This was Mark’s second Fender Stratocaster, acquired sometime in mid to late 70s. It is believed that the guitar itself was made sometime in the early 60s, and that it was actually a Japanese copy featuring maple neck which wasn’t typical for that time period on American Stratocasters.
This guitar has been a subject of many theorycrafting and people trying to figure out it’s origins. Ingo Raven at mk-guitar.com is probably most on point. He think that although some of the parts on the guitar might be Japanese, that’s not necessarily the case for the guitar as a whole. He notes that some parts seem to have been changed and gathered from different sources, hinting at a possible Part-caster. (Read the full story on mk-guitar.com)
Mark’s maple Strat was taken apart in 1982 by John Suhr, who then noticed all these irregularities and replaced the original neck with a Schecter one-piece maple neck. Soon after that, perhaps because finding out that his Strat wasn’t genuine, Mark stopped playing it altogether and moved onto Schecters and other guitars.
This guitar was allegedly sold at an auction for charity cause, although we haven’t been able to find an official listing for it.
1969 Fender Telecaster Thinline link here
This guitar actually belonged to David Knopfler, but Mark used it himself as a slide guitar for “Water of Love” in the early days.
The guitar was originally a Telecaster Thinline with body cavities, later modified by Mark’s friend Steve Phillips who filled in the f-holes and painted the whole thing black. It had two standard Telecaster single-coil pickups and a mahogany body.
1980 Schecter Stratocaster Red link here
This guitar was purchased sometime in early 80s at Rudy Music Stop in New York among couple of other more Schecters. At the time Mark was looking for a guitar to replace his ’62 Stratocaster, and apparently he was impressed with a Schecter guitar that his girlfriend owned at the time.
Mark’s red Schecter was originally equipped with three black Schecter F500T pickups, but it seems that after few months Mark had them replaced with Seymour Duncans with white plastic covers. There’s of course a possibility that he owned two different red Schecter at that time, one of which had the original black pickups – but that’s just pure speculation.
This guitar was used from 1980 to around 1987 when Mark switched to Pensa-Suhr guitars, although he did pick it up occasionally in the 90s. It was seen at couple of most memorable Dire Straits concert, including Alchemy Live in 1983 and Live Aid in 1985.
1980 Schecter Stratocaster Sunburst link here
This was Mark’s second most used Schecter during the 80s. There were actually two nearly identical sunburst Schecters, one of which was stolen in the early 80s, and the other one becoming its replacement.
Both guitars were finished in sunburst, and featured brass pickguard, one-piece maple neck, and three Schecter F500T pickups. The first Schecter which was stolen had dot inlays on the neck, and the jack socket was on the front of the body, while the second one had no inlays and the jack plate was on the side.
Mark used the first Schecter on Making Movies album in 1980 after which it was stolen, and he used the second one up until around 1986 next to his red Schecter main just for the song “Tunnel of Love”. He ended up selling that guitar at an auction in 2004 and donated all the profits to Eric Clapton’s Crossroads Centre in Antigua.
1984 Schecter Telecaster link here
Mark bought this guitar in the 80s and first used it on the soundtrack album “Cal” released in 1984. After that he used it in the “Walk of Life” video, and kept using it from the point on while playing that same song live.
Mark’s Schecter Telecaster features red finish with white plastic binding over the top edge of the body. The pickup in it are Schecter F500Ts, and the neck has no visible inlays.
He still owns this guitar and plays it live occasionally.
1983 Gibson Les Paul Standard link here
Mark used an 80s Les Paul Standard on the recording of Brothers in Arms album in 1985, which he bought from Rudy Pensa circa 1984.
There’s some confusion surrounding this guitar, about whether it’s a 70s or 80s Les Paul. Apparently the serial number of the guitar is #90006, which would place the guitar among the first batch of ’59 Les Paul Flametop reissues made in 1983. So Mark was likely misquoted or made a lapsus in saying he bought the guitar in the 70s, since most clues point towards 80s.
Be that as it may, Mark’s BiA Les Paul was made during the Norlin era – which is often characterized by decreasing product quality. It featured one piece mahogany body with two-piece flamed maple top in cherry sunburst, nickel hardware, and most likely two Gibson “Shaw” humbuckers. The switch was allegedly modified so that the middle would connect the pickups out of phase.
1985 Schecter Stratocaster link here
Mark acquired this guitar sometime in 1985. It was put together by John Suhr who at the time worked at Rudy’s Music Stop in New York City doing mostly just guitar repairs.
The guitar featured white finish on Schecter-made Stratocaster-style body, and a Schecter neck – shaped and styled after an original 1961 Fender Stratocaster neck. Suhr used Dunlop 6110 frets, but shaped the fretboard ot a 10 inch radius 9 when compared to a 7.25 on the original 61 Strat.
He fitted the guitar with a tortoise shell pickguard, and installed three Seymour Duncan Alnico pickups, and used an original Fender vintage-style tremolo bridge. The headstock was also decorated with a Fender decal, which confused many people into thinking that this was an original Fender.
Mark used this guitar occasionally during the BiA tour in 1985/86, and kept using it during the On Every Street tour in the 90s. It was also seen couple of times on his more recent solo tours.
1984/85 Steinberger GL2 Standard link here
Mark played this guitar occasionally on the song “Money For Nothing” during the later part of Brothers in Arms tour in 1986.
Mark’s GL2 is finished in black, and features one piece composite body/neck, EMG 60 humbucker in the bridge and EMG 81 in the neck. It is also equipped with a TransTrem vibrato system, which was a pretty big deal back in the day, and allowed entire chords to have their pitch bent without causing the strings to go out of tune with each other.
1988 Pensa-Suhr Custom link here
In 1987 Mark met with Rudy Pensa at a small coffee shop called “Prince’s” in New York. The two discussed about a possible project – a guitar which would be a sort of a crossover between a Stratocaster and a Les Paul. They agreed on the details, and drew a first sketch of this guitar on a napkin they found on the table.
The guitar was finished sometime in early 1988, and it was completely built by John Suhr who worked at Pensa music shop at the time. This particular model was supposedly something that John worked out prior to Rudy and Mark ever meeting, and the guitar was only modified to fit Mark’s needs and wishes following the input Rudy took from Mark during the infamous meeting at a coffee shop.
John used mahogany as a basis for the body, one-piece carved maple as a top, and brazilian rosewood as a fretboard material. The guitar was equipped with EMG 81 in the bridge, and EMG SA in the middle and neck position – all mounted from the back. This was all controlled with two knobs – a regular volume knob, and a EMG SPC push/pull knob which added the gain boost. Tuners on it were Sperzels, and a Floyd Rose locking tremolo was installed – although Mark didn’t use it that much.
This guitar is perhaps best known for its appearance on Nelson Mandela 70th birthday concert played in June 1988. Fun trivia about this gig is that Dire Straits were allowed to play under one condition – the band needed to rehearse for the event because they haven’t been on tour for some time and had even disbanded temporarily. So the first time Mark ever picked up this guitar was at the rehearsal event at Hammersmith Odeon on June 8th 1988.
This guitar was one of Mark’s main in the late 80s and early 90s – used extensively during the On Every Street tour. Since then Mark grew accustomed to fatter necks of his Gibson Les Pauls, and eventually stopped using this guitar altogether.
1987 Pensa-Suhr Prototype link here
This guitar actually came before previously mentioned Pensa-Suhr, as Mark was seen using it during the studio session of “Let it be” with Ferry Aid ensemble group, brought together in 1987.
The guitar does share a lot of similarities with the orange guitar, so it is highly possible that this model was used as a building ground. Main difference between the two, beside the obvious one like the color, is the fact that his guitar features flat top and front-mounted humbucker. It also has only one knob, so that means that the EMG SPC gain boost wasn’t a feature on the black one.
Mark used this guitar as a guest guitarist on Eric Clapton’s 1987 tour, and later on Vic and Ray 1996, and 1999 tour with Notting Hillbillies.
1954 Fender Stratocaster link here
|His third Strat. the “Jurassic Strat” as he calls it. Mark uses really heavy strings on this guitar, probably to replicate the sound of Hank Marvin, one of his early idols which got him to play a Strat.|
1958 Gibson Les Paul link here
Purchased sometime in the mid 90s. It is completely stock, except for the frets which were replaced with ’59-style bigger ones. “I’m not a fan of skinny little frets. So that combination – fat neck, big frets – to me is killer. ” M.K.
Here’s Marks’s opinion on Les Pauls from an interview posted on Gibson’s website: “I’d wanted a Les Paul really badly since I was a kid, but I’m afraid it was always out of the price range. I knew about Strats since I was very small, but I got more aware of the Les Paul through becoming a blues fan in my early teens. “
1959 Gibson Les Paul link here
|So called “Holy Grail” Les Paul. Mark bought this guitar in 1995 or 1996, and used it on tours as a back-up guitar for his ’58.|
1959 Gibson ES-335 link here
|This seems to be one of his favorite guitars as he said in one of the interviews: “I have a very nice ’59 Les Paul too, which is very similar to the ’58, and a couple of other 335s, but there’s just something about my ’58 Les Paul and ’59 335. “|
1960s Gibson SG Custom link here
Played during the “Love Over Gold” tour in 1982/83, and on the studio recording of the song “Two Young Lovers”. It is also possible that he used the guitar on some other songs from the ExtendedancEPlay EP.
The model appears to be from early 60s, featuring white body finish, black “bat-wing” pickguard, and three pickups.
1954 Fender Telecaster link here
This guitar is one of the Mark’s favorites. Serial number 4545, this Telecaster features one piece maple neck, ash body with Butterscotch Blonde finish, 2 chrome knobs, 3 position toggle switch, 3 paired adjustable bridge saddles and is strung with .010 strings.
Mark used this guitar on “A Night In Summer Long Ago” (1996), “Boom Like That” (2004), “Border Reiver” and “So Far From The Clyde” (2009).
1957 Gretsch 6120 Chet Atkins Hollowbody link here
|This guitar was used on 5:15 am, Back to Tupelo, Summer of Love, The Fizzy and the Still, Punish the Monkey, In The Sky and Hard Shoulder.|
Fender Stratocaster Mark Knopfler Signature link here
This guitar was introduced in 2003, and Mark has been using it on and off mainly while on tours.
The model was obviously built to Mark’s specs, and it features ash body, Indian rosewood fingerboard, C profile neck with 7.25″ radius, and three Custom Shop Texas Special single-coil pickups.
Mark Knopfler Signature model was discontinued in 2013.
Mark Knopfler’s Acoustic Guitars: link here
National Tricone link here
Mark bought this guitar sometime in late 60s or early 70s at Exchange and Mart in Wales. He didn’t have a car to drive there, nor the money to actually afford the guitar, but he borrowed both and drove all the way to Wales to buy it.
He played this guitar Steve Phillips in The Duolian String Pickers band, before buying Steve’s Duolian.
1937 National Duolian Resonator link here
Mark bought this guitar in 1978 from Steve Phillips, with whom he met in 1969 working as a journalist for The Yorkshire Evening Post. Eventually the two became close and started playing together in local pubs under a stage name “The Duolian String Pickers”.
Martin 000-40S link here
|Martin guitars makes a custom model 000-40S Mark Knopfler. It has a solid Italian alpine spruce top and mahogany body. Mark uses it himself.|
Martin HD-40MK link here
|Another custom model from Martin with D-14 style mahagony body.|
1938 Gibson Advanced Jumbo link here
|Mark used this guitar on “Before Gas & TV” and “Remembrance Day”. It was built sometime between 1937 and 1939.|
1953 Gibson Southern Jumbo link here
|This guitar was used by Richard Bennett on Don’t Crash the Ambulance, Donegan’s Gone, The Trawlerman’s Song, Border Reiver, Hard Shoulder, Cleaning My Gun.|
2008 Monteleone Custom link here
|This Monteleone was made for Mark by John Monteleone, guitar builder from New York. Mark used it for recording “Monteleone” on the “Get Lucky” album. He often referred this guitar as one of the most beautiful guitars he ever held in his hands.
The guitar is named after Mark’s eldest daughter Isabella.
Mark Knopfler’s Guitar Amps: link here
– Crate VC5212
– Crate 2×12 cabinet
– Fender Concert
– Fender Vibrolux
Used on Sultans of Swing.
– Fender Twin Reverb
– Jim Kelley combo
– Jim Kelley heads
– Marshall JTM45
Used on Brothers in Arms and Money for Nothing.
– Marshall 4×12 cabinet
– Mesa Boogie heads
– Music Man HD 130
– Soldano SLO 100
– Reinhardt amp heads
– Roland Jazz Chorus
– Tone King Imperial
– Vox AC30
Mark Knopfler’s Guitar Effects: link here
– Alesis Quadraverb
– Boss BF-2 Flanger
– Boss CE-2 Chorus
– Boss CE-300 Chorus
– Boss CS-2 Compressor
– Boss DM-2 Delay
– Boss OC-2 Octaver
– Boss PH-2 Phaser
– DeltaLab Digital Delay
– Dunlop Cry Baby
Mark used it on Money for Nothing, having it in a fixed position
– Ibanez UE 303 Multi Effect
– Lexicon MX300 Reverb
– Master Room Reverb
– Mic-Mix Dyna-Flanger
– MXR Analog Delay
– MXR Micro Amp
– Roland Graphic Equalizer
– Roland SRE 555 Chorus/Echo
– Yamaha REV 5
– Zoom Multieffect 9010
Mark Knopfler’s Guitar Strings: link here
– D’Addario EXL 120 9-42
– Dean Markley Custom Light Acoustic
– D’Addario EJ15/3D (on the National Style O)