Derek Trucks’ Guitars and Gear

Derek Trucks was born on June 8th, 1979 in Jacksonville, Florida. Derek Trucks is an American guitarist, songwriter and founder of the Grammy Award-winning Derek Trucks Band. He became an official member of The Allman Brothers Band in 1999 and formed the Tedeschi Trucks Band in 2010 with his wife Susan Tedeschi. His musical style encompasses several genres and he has twice appeared on Rolling Stone’s list of 100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time.

Derek is mostly known for playing Gibson SG guitars. His favorite one is a ’61 Reissue model which was recently made into his official signature model, but he also uses a couple of vintage ones. As for amps, Trucks relies heavily on a pair of vintage Fender Super Reverbs, although recently he’s been rolling with a couple of Alessandro 1/2AZZ heads. While playing he usually keeps his guitar tuned to open E, always plays through the neck pickup, and uses his own signature Dunlop DT01 slide.

Derek Trucks’ Electric Guitars:

1990 Gibson SG ’62 Reissue

 Derek Trucks Gibson SG First Derek received this guitar around 1990 from his parents who bought it at Paulus Music in Jacksonville, Florida (The SG Guitar Book, Tony Bacon, p. 108).

By 1991 he removed the pickup cover on the neck pickup (or replaced it altogether, which is somewhat less likely), and by 1993 he removed the pickguard. Prior to this, Derek had the pickguard signed with white marker by B.B.King, so he possibly removed it from the guitar in order to preserve that signature. Also by this time he had the guitar signed by several people that he toured with, as can be seen on Derek’s “Layla” jam from July 4th 1993.

Trucks used this guitar as his main from the point he received it in 1990, up until it suffered a headstock break around 1999 (The SG Guitar Book, Tony Bacon, p. 109).

1990s Gibson SG Standard

Gibson SG Standard Batwing This guitar became Derek’s main after his old SG suffered a headstock break. The first public appearance of Derek with this guitar seems to be at a gig played on the night of his twentieth birthday on June 9th, 1999.

The guitar was most likely a late 90s SG Standard with both of the pickup covers removed, and featuring large “batwing” pickguard. For some reason, Derek used it relatively briefly from 1999 to around 2002, before moving on to a ’61 SG reissue.

2000 Gibson SG ’61 Reisse

Gibson Derek Truck SG 1961 Reissue Derek acquired this guitar sometime in the early 2000s, and it quickly became his main axe to be used for the next decade or so. We unfortunately couldn’t find any info on the story of how Trucks actually acquired the guitar, so if you happen to know anything please be sure to send us a message.

Normally when I find one instrument I try to stick with it, just so I don’t have to think about it. The instrument becomes the second nature, and you can focus on other things. – Musician’s Friend interview with Derek Trucks

The guitar originally had a tremolo tailpiece that was replaced with stop-tailpiece, but Derek liked the look of Gibson Maestro Vibrola plate so he kept it as a counter-weight. He also had the pickguard removed due to fact that he doesn’t actually use a pick while playing, and possibly for aesthetic reasons. Except for that, the guitar is pretty much stock with two ’57 Classic humbucker pickups, solid mahogany body and rosewood fingerboard.

Derek used this guitar as his main up until around 2011, and it can be seen and heard on nearly all major gigs and albums spanning from early 2000s up to that point including the Crossroads Festival in 2010, Live album recorded at Georgia Theatre, and the Tedeschi Trucks Band’s three studio albums (although far from exclusively). Similar to Derek’s first SG, this guitar is also filled with signatures of the people Derek toured with over the years. He used the guitar

2011 Gibson SG Dickey Betts LE

Dickey Betts Gibson SG Derek acquired one of Dickey Betts limited edition SGs in 2011 – however, Galadrielle Allman (Duane Allman‘s daughter) had received an Artist Proof #4 of this model and Derek liked that one better so she ended up giving it to him (The SG Guitar Book, Tony Bacon, p. 109). This guitar (the Artist Proof #4) eventually ended up replacing the ’61 Reissue SG as Derek’s main axe in 2012 and he used it ever since, even preferring it over his own signature model.

The guitar is based on a 1961 Gibson SG that belonged to Dickey Betts but was at one point played by Duane Allman, who was obviously one of Derek’s main influences. It features aged cherry red finish on a mahogany body, a glued-in mahogany neck with a rosewood fingerboard with 22 banjo frets, ABR-1 Tune-o-matic bridge, and two “Custom Bucker” pickups with Alnico III magnets.

Just recently Derek seemed to have replaced the two volume controls knobs with black top hat knobs similar to those fitted on newer Gibson Les Paul Specials (although the top seems to concave), but except that nothing else looks like it has been played with. Also please note that since the guitar is a direct replica of Dickey Betts 1961 SG, it too features a couple of screw holes on the left end of the body which were originally holding a Gibson sideways Vibrola on Dickey’s SG.

Gibson SG Derek Trucks Signature Model

Gibson Derek Truck SG 1961 Reissue Since he retired his 2000 SG Reissue guitar and switched to the Dickey Betts SG as his main axe, Derek started using a couple guitars from his own signature line as backups. Even though the model is a direct replica of the 2000 Reissue model, these newer guitar are easily distinguished from the original since they have no signatures on the body (note that the original is filled with them).

Derek Truck Signature model features two PAF 57 Classic humbuckers (Alnico II magnets, 42 American Wire Gauge enamel-coated wire, wax potted), 500 k pots for both volume and tone for each pickup, early style “no wire” ABR-1 Tune-O-Matic tailpiece, and no pickguard (Paul Balmer, Gibson SG Manual, p. 181).

1961 Gibson SG Standard

1961 Gibson SG Derek has said on couple of occasions (VintageGuitar October 2013 issue) that he owns a vintage 1961 Gibson SG, but mostly keeps it safe in the studio. Unfortunately, not much else can be said about the guitar, so if you have any info about when specifically Derek used or how he got it, please be sure to contact us.

Washburn Custom E300

Washburn E300 Derek used this Washburn guitar live on few occasions, and it can be heard on “Joyful Noise” released in 2002.

The guitar has two Seymour Duncan pickups, rosewood fingerboard with solar inlays, Tune-o-matic bridge, and Grover tuners.

PRS McCarty

PRS McCarty Played live in the earlier years.

Gibson Les Paul

Gibson Les Paul Sunburst Played live occasionally in the past couple of years. In 2015 Derek removed the pickguard, but except that the guitar seems pretty much stock.

We couldn’t find anything about the guitars origins or the year of production, so if you know more please send us a message using the form below the article.

1965 Firebird V

Gibson Firebird Custom Aged Derek acquired this guitar from vintage gear dealer Ed Seelig in St. Louis, and used it on “Made Up Mind” and “Whiskey Legs” from Tedeschi Trucks Band 2103 album. For that occasion, the guitar was plugged into an old Ampeg B-12 bass amp.

For “Made Up Mind” I used an old Ampeg V-12 bass amp quite a bit. Also a 1965 Firebird V I got from Ed Seelig that turned out to be an amazing guitar. Plugging it into that old bass amp, I was able to fully dig into the low end and it never gave up on me. Jim Scott (who produced the album with Trucks) is really honest about what he’s hearing. So we would pick a song to record and start looking for guitar sounds, and I would plug in and he’d immediately say “that’s good,” or “kind of boring. Next.” When I plugged the Firebird into the Ampeg, his reaction was immediate: “That’s a sound I want to hear over and over.” – Derek Trucks on “Made Up Mind”

Supro Belmont

Supro Belmont The guitar is probably late 50s model. Derek uses it live sometimes (see: The Derek Trucks Band – “Down in the Flood” Mountain Jam 05.31.09)

Silvertone 1449

Silvertone 1449 Derek was seen playing this Silvertone on a few occasions. He would usually plug it in his small Fender combo.

Derek Trucks’ Acoustic Guitars:

1932 Gibson L-00

Gibson L-00 This seems to be Derek’s favorite acoustic. He played it on many occasions (see “Back Where I Started” at WNRN).

He sometimes puts the DeArmond 210 soundhole pickup on it.

Martin D-28

Martin D-28 Played couple of times with Susan. (see: Derek and Susan “Rollin and Tumblin” at the White House)

National Triolian

National Triolian 14 fret Derek played a couple of Nationals on stage, most notably the walnut-burst colored Triolian vintage model.“Come See About Me”

He also has the Bukka White’s National, which he played on “Out Of The Madness”.

Derek Trucks’ Guitar Amps:

– Fender Super 60
Used in the very early days, circa 1990.

– 1960s Fender Super Reverb Blackface
This is Derek’s main live amp used with the Derek Trucks Band and the Tedeschi Trucks Band. His main amp is a 1965 model usually fitted with four Pyle Driver MW-1040 speakers made in 1980, although Trucks started experimenting with various speaker recently:

Sometime we use two Webers up top and two Tone Tubbys on the bottom. Sometimes we use Pyle Drivers. We use whatever combination sounds best in the room that night. It’s been changing so much because I’ve been blowing an amp a night for whatever reason. – Derek Trucks (Ball & Chain, Derek Trucks and Susan Tedeschi’s Blues Union)

According to a post made by Derek’s guitar tech in 2005, his main amp is modified with a ground lift switch on the tremelo circuit, which gives a bit of extra output on the Vibrato channel, and he runs the Normal channel with no tube installed, for another slight gain increase on the Vibrato channel (for the complete list of components, please read the original post). This amp is fitted with custom speaker made by Ted Weber, called the DT-10 V1.1.

Next to this ’65 Super Reverb Derek runs another Super Reverb from 1966 connected to the ’65 through it’s line output going into a Behringer volume pedal, the output of which is plugged into the
Vibrato channel input on his ’66. Derek uses the volume pedal to add in as much of the ’66 as is necessary to produce his feedback effects. This amp features same tweaks as the main, all of which can be found on the original post by Derek’s guitar tech.

Just recently (circa 2012), Derek added a third Super Reverb to his live gig, this time a custom-built head by Jeff Bakos

– Ampeg B-12
Used during the studio recording of the album “Made Up Mind” for the title song (played with a Gibson SG), and on “Whiskey Leg” (played with a Firebird) (VintageGuitar.com – Susan Tedeschi and Derek Trucks. Minds Made Up).

– Fender Super Six
Used live with the Allman Brothers Band. According to a post made online by Derek’s guitar tech, both of the amps used by Derek were completely custom-built and featured a switch that allows Derek to select between a stock Fender fullwave diode rectifier circuit and a “saggy” rectifier circuit which emulates a tube.

– PRS Amps
Derek used PRS amps live with the Allman Brothers Band. He used model HXDA (GuitarWorld Gear Rundown), as well as Blue Sierra and Original Sewell models (if you happen to know specifics on when and how each amp was used, please be sure to contact us). His PRS amps are played through Randall 4×12 cabinet fitted with Custom Eminence speakers.

– Alessandro 1/2AZZ
Used with the Allman Brothers Band, and more recently with the Tedeschi Trucks Band as part of his main live rig. In 2015, Derek seemed to have ocassionally abandoned his usual live rig consisting of couple of Fender Super Reverbs and opted for two Alessandro 1/2AZZ amps instead (Tedeschi Trucks Band Orpheum Theatre – Madison, WI, USA 2015).

– 1963 Fender Unit Reverb
Used with the Allman Brothers Band from circa 2012.

– 1963 Fender Deluxe Reverb
Used only in the studio (more specific info needed).

– 1964 Fender Vibrolux
Used only in the studio (more specific info needed).

– 1960s Fender Princeton
Used in the studio sometimes for the dirty tones.

– 1969 Marshall Bass 50w Model 1986
This amp originally belonged to Duane Allman, and was used on the At Fillmore East live recordings. As pictures show, the amp was serviced and modded by “Dennis Electronics”, a New Jersey-based company owned by Dennis Kager, most likely after Duane’s death. Derek used this amp on the solo for the song “Idle Wind” from the album “Made Up Mind” released in 2013, and Susan used it on “Whiskey Legs”. He now occasionally uses the amp as part of his live rig, coupled with the Alessandro 1/2AZZ.

Derek Trucks’ Guitar Effects:

Derek does not use any effects except for the reverb build into the Fender Super combo amp. Literally the only pedal he has on his pedalboard is a TC Electronic PolyTune tuner (previosly he used a Peterson StroboStomp) and occasionally a A/B switch.

Derek Trucks’ Guitar Strings:

Derek uses DR Strings Pure Blues (.011, .014, .017, .026, .036, and .046.)

Derek Trucks’ Guitar Accessories:

Initially Derek started on metal slides, but in the 90s switched to a Coricidin bottles after receiving one from one of Allman Brother roadies (MUSICMAKERS – Derek Trucks). Eventually he moved on to a Dunlop Blues Bottle, and just recently started using his own signature line from Dunlop branded as DT01 Derek Trucks Signature Slide.

Contributors: Ingemar