Duane Allman's Guitars and GearPublished : - Author : Dan Kopilovic
Summary of Duane Allman’s Gear
What guitar did Duane Allman play?
Duane’s generally played a Gibson Les Paul guitar. His main guitar in the early Allman Brothers Band days was a 1957 Gibson Les Paul Goldtop. This guitar he later exchanged with Stone Balloon’s guitarist Rick Stine for a 1959 cherry Sunburst model. Duane’s only request at the time was that he keep the pickups from his old Goldtop.
In his later years, Duane played a Tobacco burst Les Paul Standard, nicknamed ‘Hot Lanta’. This particular guitar he acquired through ZZ Top’s Billy Gibbons.
Aside from all the Les Pauls, Duane also played a few Fenders. He had at least four different Stratocasters. Most notable is the one from the mid to late 1960s which he played while working as a session guitarist. He owned at least one Telecaster, which he used while playing with the Allman Joys around 1966. Also, a 1961 Gibson SG, which he used on “Statesboro Blues”. Duane’s first electric guitar was also a Gibson – a Les Paul Jr. finished in red.
As far as acoustic guitars, although Duane was not seen often playing one, he did own quite a few. The most notable are the 1930s National Duolian and a Dobro Wood-body, which he was most often photographed playing. Also worth mentioning is the 1940s Kalamazoo KGN-12, which Allman was photographed playing in his hotel room on October 7, 1970. Last is the 1960s Gibson Heritage. According to Galadrielle Allman, he bought this guitar together with his Les Paul Goldtop and a Marshall amp sometime in early to mid-1969.
Duane Allman’s Amp rig
Duane used two 50-watt Marshall bass head amps connected with three Y-Cables. This setup enabled him to use both of the HI inputs of both the channels of his Marshalls. On occasions, he was also seen using a Marshall Lead 50w Model 1987 Tremolo in combination with these two. For cabinets, he relied on a Marshall 4×12 loaded with JBL D120F speakers. Occasionally, he did experiments with Cerwin-Vega ER-123 speakers.
What kind of slide did Duane Allman use?
Duane Allman used Coricidin bottles as guitar slides. These were medicine bottles sold by Schering Corporation with Coricidin or Coricidin D tablets.
As a fun fact, it is worth mentioning that Duane often put the strings through the inside of the stop-bar tailpiece to the outside and wrapped them back over the stop-bar tailpiece. This allowed him to dampen the strings with the palm of his right hand when playing slide.
He was also left-handed but played right-handed, and he usually played without a pick when playing slide.
What kind of guitar strings did Duane Allman use?
Duane Allman used the Fender Rock N’ Roll 150 Strings – which is an old set that is no longer in production. It featured following gauges – .010, .013, .015, .026, .032, .038.
List of Guitars, Amps, Effects, and Accessories used by Duane Allman
Duane Allman's Electric Guitars
1959 Gibson Les Paul Jr.Continue Reading 1961
This was Duane’s first-ever electric guitar. He mentioned it in a letter to a friend dated July 1961, and according to Galadrielle Allman [Galadrielle Allman: Please Be With Me, p. 65], Duane paid for the Gibson electric himself by selling the parts of the motorbike that he had driven into the ground. According to some other sources, the guitar was purchased by his mother.
Duane used this guitar from 1961 to around 1964/65, when he allegedly pawned it. Some years later Delaney Bramlett walked into a pawnshop and randomly purchased a red Les Paul Jr. When he showed it to Duane, he supposedly recognized the guitar as his own by a gouge/scratch on the back of the body. There is, of course, no way of actually confirming this, and many aspects of this story seem way to random to be true, but that’s what happened at least according to Delaney.
Well, I went down and there stood this little red – it’s a Les Paul Jr., sittin’ there. It’s all scrubby-looking’, you know? […] So I took it back to the hotel. […] I walked in with that little red guitar and he said, “Where’d you get that?” I said, “I found it in a hock shop.” He said, “Well, boy, that really looks familiar to me! […] Would you look on the back of it? […] Is there a gouge there, looks like a big ol’ thumb gouge?” And I raised it up and looked at it and said, “Yeah.” (Duane:) “That’s where I hocked that bastard […] We were comin’ through (laughs) here, and I was broke and I wanted to get high and I wanted to get drunk, but I didn’t have no money, and so I hocked that sonofabitch!” And then he says, “That was the first guitar my momma gave me”.
Delaney later sold the guitar to a San Francisco guitar collector, after which it changed hands again and ended up with Kunio Kishida, a collector/musician from Japan. The guitar now often resides at The Big House Museum in Macon, GA where it can be seen on display.
1950s/60s Gibson ES-330Continue Reading 1963
According to Jim Matherley, who came into contact with Duane in Florida in the early 60s, around 1963/64 Duane owned a Gibson ES-330 with a dot inlays fretboard. Unfortunately – the rest of the specs are unknown, so consider the side image only a placeholder.
I had a (ES) 345 he wanted. He would’ve given anything for that guitar. In fact, I let him borrow it on a couple occasions. He had a 330, an old dot (neck). Of course, the 345 had the varitone switch, and Lee took that off of my guitar and copied it on one of his.
As there doesn’t seem to be any other info regarding this guitar, if you happen to know anything, be sure to post it in the comments.
1956/57 Fender StratocasterContinue Reading 1964
Duane used this guitar from around 1964/1965, and it was most likely the first Stratocaster that he ever owned. The guitar’s previous owner, Lee Hazen, gave an interview to Vintage Guitar Magazine in 1997 explaining how the guitar found it’s way to Duane:
I traded it off to a fellow in Sanford [Florida] who had a guitar shop. I think his name was Jimmy Jewell, and Duane ended up with it. I think that was somewhere around 1964 or ‘65. I don’t know why I did it. I bought it in 1959, right after I graduated from high school.
Dave Kyle: Remembering Duane Allman, Vintage Guitar Magazine’, January 1997, Vol. 11 No. 4) – the full interview is available over at DuaneAllman.info
In the same interview, Lee noted that the guitar was a sunburst model modified with a rotary pickup switch with eleven positions, each connected to eleven different capacitors in the tone control circuit. The pickup selector switch was also modified to five positions, and additional three switches were installed for phase switching allowing for any combination of the three pickups in any combination of phase.
Again in the same interview, Sylvan Wells – former member of The Nightcrawlers and Duane’s high-school friend, confirmed that Allman did indeed own a modified Stratocaster.
1960s Gibson ES-335Continue Reading
Based on photos available, Duane played this guitar in one of his earliest bands called The Escorts, which on one occasion opened for The Beach Boys in 1965.
He continued using the guitar with the Allman Joys until 1966, before switching to a 1954 Fender Telecaster that he used with Hour Glass until 1967. The Telecaster might’ve been swapped directly for this ES-335, but this is only guesswork.
Duane’s ES-335 featured a cherry red finish, block inlays, and a Bigsby tremolo- and it doesn’t seem to have been modified in any way.21965
1950s Fender TelecasterContinue Reading 1966
Duane acquired this Telecaster while playing with the Allman Joys around 1966, and it remained his main guitar with the Hour Glass until 1967.
The most interesting part about this guitar is that it had a maple Stratocaster neck installed on it, most likely dating somewhere between 1954 and 1958 – at least based on the small headstock shape. It also originally featured a black pickguard but it was replaced with a white one at some point by Duane.
Another custom thing on this guitar was a fuzz/distortion box which was connected to two broom holders, which were screwed onto the body. The exact model of this box was most likely a Vox V8161 or V816.
1966 Fender Coronado IIContinue Reading
Duane allegedly owned a 1966 Fender Coronado II early on in his career. The guitar was apparently for sale on eBay in 2006 with letters tracking it back through various owners to a Macon Music Store where Duane supposedly traded it in for a Les Paul Jr in the late ’60s. However, even if Duane did own this guitar at one time, there is no evidence that he ever actually used it – not a single photo or a video has been found that would place this guitar in Duane’s hands.
Be that as it may, according to the info and the photo of the guitar that appeared on eBay, Duane’s alleged 1966 Fender Coronado II had a sunburst finish, a tremolo bridge, and most interestingly – a humbucking pickup in the neck position instead of the standard single-coil that was installed in these guitars from the factory.
This means that the guitar was modified at some point, but not before the early 70s – meaning only after it had already left Duane’s hands. This can be concluded from the observation that the neck pickup resembles a Fender Wide Range humbucker, which was designed by Seth Lover for Fender in the early 1970s.21967
1957 Fender Telecaster (Pete Carr)Continue Reading 1967
Duane used another Telecaster around 1967/68 that belonged to Pete Carr, the bass player in the Hour Glass. The guitar was initially purchased from Sylvan Wells, a friend of Pete and of Duane (Sylvan is now an attorney and a luthier).
Allman had the guitar set up for the slide and reportedly used it to practice the craft of slide guitar even while his bandmates hated what he was doing at that time.
He used this very guitar to play the first renditions of Statesboro Blues live on stage with Hour Glass in 1968, and therefore the guitar is of special importance both in Duane’s personal history and in the history of Blues Rock slide guitar itself.
1960s Coral Electric SitarContinue Reading 1967
Duane used an electric sitar with Hour Glass on the cover of the Beatles track Norwegian Wood (This Bird Has Flown) which appeared on the band’s second album, and at the Muscle Shoals studios with King Kurtis on the track Games People Play.
According to Anathalee G. Sandlin (Johnny Sandlin’s wife and author of the book “A Never-Ending Groove“), Duane received the sitar from Liberty Records – the band’s record label:
Johnny said when the Coral sitars came out someone gave one to Liberty who in turn gave it to Duane. That’s how he got the first sitar he played.
bigann – Hittin’ The Web with the Allman Brothers Band Forum
1950s Gibson Les Paul GoldtopContinue Reading
Duane was on occasions seen playing a late fifties Gibson Les Paul Goldtop around the time he played with the Hour Glass [See Photo]. The guitar was allegedly borrowed back in 1967 from Tommy “Crash” Compton, who was a friend of Johnny Sandlin. Duane never gave the guitar back and Gregg’s Wurlitzer piano was eventually traded for it.
Duane had borrowed a ’59 gold top Les Paul (note – the Goldtop model was produced only until 1958) from Tommy Compton, who still lives in Decatur, and he didn’t want to give it back to Tommy. And Tommy definitely wanted it back.
Eventually, it worked around to Gregg trading the Wurlitzer for the guitar. The guitar was worth more than the piano but Tommy had a use for it and was trying to keep Duane from getting busted because Tommy’s dad was ready to go after Duane to get the guitar back. So, the piano was sent back to Decatur and Duane kept the guitar. Of course, that guitar would be worth a fortune now, certainly more than the piano is worth.
To avoid any confusion, it is perhaps important to note that this is not the same Goldtop that Duane used later on with the Allman Brothers Band since according to Galadrielle Allman [Please Be With Me, p. 182], Duane bought the second Goldtop in early to mid-1969. Also, the first Goldtop had both pickup covers and toggle switch ring, all of which were missing on the second one.
What’s particularly mystifying about this guitar is what happened to it since the days of Hour Glass. In April of 1968, Duane started using a mid to late 60s Fender Stratocaster, so it is possible that this guitar ended up being traded for that one. If so, Duane traded a guitar that was not his and this could be a good reason that Gregg’s Wurlitzer eventually had to be traded for Tommy’s Goldtop.11967
1961 Fender StratocasterContinue Reading 1968
This Stratocaster was previously owned by Johnny D. Wyker, who mentioned it in an interview with Swampland.com. According to him, Duane got it from him in late 1968 for some hash.
You can believe me when I tell you that that Strat used to be my guitar back in about 1966 or ’67’….me and Duane and Eddie Hinton were sharin’ a small garage apartment in Sheffield, Alabama…later, Duane asked Eddie to sing with what turned out to be The Allman Brothers Band.
Me and Duane were sitting around one night, smoking Duane’s hashish and he was playing my Strat – I mean really playing it making magic, he was getting sounds out my guitar that was blowing my mind. It was easy for me to see that Duane had found his Muse and seen his musical matrix, and I was real high and spiritual. Anyway, Duane was smoking on that Strat and I was smoking his hash, and I made an offer to trade him my Strat for the rest of his hash….probably about a 1/2 ounce.
Please note that Johnny D. Wyker is off by one or two years. Duane shared a garage apartment in Sheffield, AL with Johhny Wyker and Eddie Hinton in late 1968 (October – December). During that period, Johnny drove Duane to sessions at FAME in Muscle Shoals because Duane did not have a car at that time. In early 1969 (January – February), Duane moved to the Stokes Cottage on Wilson Lake and bought a car of his own from Rick Hall (owner of FAME).
Duane gave this Stratocaster to Delaney Bramlett in 1970. He would allegedly often show up with the guitar, which Delaney loved to play when he would jam with Delaney and Bonnie. It was part of the band’s arsenal, sometimes also played by Dickey Betts, as late as February 1970.
1960s Fender StratocasterContinue Reading
Duane used this guitar while working as a session guitarist at Quinvy Recording Studio, Sheffield, FAME Recording Studios, Muscle Shoals, Fred Be(a)vis Recording Studio, later renamed Muscle Shoals Sound Studio, Sheffield and Atlantic Recording Studios in Manhattan – collaborating with artists such as Wilson Pickett, King Curtis, and Aretha Franklin.
The guitar was most likely a direct successor/replacement of the Fender Telecaster that Duane played in Allman Joys and Hour Glass. First photos of Duane with this Stratocaster date back to around April of 1968, when Hour Glass was doing their short mid-west “Power of Love” tour, which is also around the same time when he stopped using his Fender Telecaster with a Stratocaster neck fitted on it.11968
1954 Fender StratocasterContinue Reading 1968
Duane allegedly used this guitar during the time he worked as a session guitarist, although there’s not a single photograph or a video recording of Duane playing this particular guitar.
Basically, the only “proof” that Duane ever played it comes from the Hard Rock Cafe, where the guitar was exhibited a few times. But even the poster shown in the case where the guitar is kept on display is of a completely different Stratocaster (Duane’s 1966 rosewood Strat).
Be that as it may, the guitar is actually quite unique and significant on its own, as it is one of the earliest Strats ever made featuring the serial number #0019.
1963 Gibson FirebirdContinue Reading
The guitar was recently featured in a video by the Songbirds Foundation (displayed below), but not much of the history behind it was disclosed. We only learn that it was purchased around the time that Duane worked on Wilson Pickett’s “Hey Jude” album at FAME Studios in Muscle Shoals (November 1968).
This also goes along with what Duane Betts said on Facebook, that Duane acquired this guitar from Wilson Pickett’s guitar player. [Duane Betts, Facebook]
If you happen to have any other information regarding this Firebird, be sure to either leave a comment below or get in touch via email.31968
1957 Gibson Les Paul GoldtopContinue Reading
This was Duane’s main guitar during the first year of the Allman Brothers Band. Duane purchased it in early to mid-1969, most likely from Lipham Music Shop in Gainsville, Florida, – which is the place where he and the rest of the band often got their instruments at that time.
The guitar is first mentioned in a letter featured in Galadrielle’s book [Please Be With Me, p. 182] dated May 16, 1969. The letter was written by Duane as a reply to Holly Barr, Ralph Barr’s wife (Ralph Barr was a guitar player for the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band). In the said letter, Allman mentions buying a Marshall amp, together with a Gibson Les Paul Gold Top and a Gibson Heritage acoustic, but he does not specify the exact date of purchase. Just recently this letter was sold through Bonhams (see cite link below).
Dearest Polly, I got a Les Paul of my very own…Gregg’s here gigging with me and I got about the greatest band I ever did hear together and a Marshall amp and two drummers and I quit taking speed and I have been going swimming nekkid in the creek…The name of the band is the Allman Bros…
This Les Paul featured a gold-top finish, two PAF pickups with no covers, no pickguard, and no toggle switch ring (poker chip).51969
1959 Gibson ES-335Continue Reading
There’s a photo of Duane playing a sunburst Gibson ES-335 with the pickguard and pickup covers removed dating back to June 13, 1970. Although the guitar’s origins are still a mystery, there are two versions of what happened to it after Duane’s death.
The first one is that the guitar ended up with Dickey Betts. Dickey allegedly later gave it to Eddy Shaver, who was his student at some point. After Eddy’s death in 2000, the guitar ended up with Willie Nelson, who supposedly keeps it locked up in his safe.11970
1950s Gibson Les Paul Jr.Continue Reading
If you’ve read our write-up on Duane’s alleged Fender Coronado II, and if that story is to be believed, this was possibly the guitar that Duane traded for the Fender at some point. Be that as it may, contrary to the mystic Coronado, the Les Paul Jr can actually be placed in Duane’s hands, as he used it most famously at the Love Valley Festival in 1970. It is likely that he used this guitar as a backup that came into play on rare occasions just in 1970 – if a string broke on his Les Paul Goldtop.
At this moment, we don’t know anything more about this particular Les Paul Jr., aside from what can be concluded from the footage of Duane playing it during Whipping Post on July 17th, 1970. The guitar appears to be finished in what is commonly known as “TV” yellow color, and it appears to have two control knobs – and therefore only a single pickup.21970
1968 Fender Rosewood Telecaster (Prototype)Continue Reading 1970
Duane was seen playing this guitar briefly during a gig played at the Schaefer Music Festival on August 5, 1970. At that time the guitar belonged to Delaney Bramlett who previously got it from George Harrison in 1969. It was the guitar that George used in the Let it Be movie, and during the Abbey Road studio sessions.
Bramlett owned the guitar until 2003, or two years after George died. It was then put on an auction, and was purchased by Harrison’s widow, Olivia, for more than $470,000.
1968 Gibson Les Paul CustomContinue Reading 1970
This Les Paul Custom (serial number 537837) recently appeared on an auction at JuliensLive.com, eventually selling for around $50,000. According to the official statement on the website, it was owned by Duane Allman and later his brother Gregg after Duane’s untimely death. In 1993 it was acquired by Larry English, former executive vice president, and director of Gibson Guitar.
The guitar is signed with a gold marker on the front of the body by Gregg Allman, and the back of the body reads “Donna I Love U” carved into the body by Duane. The pickup covers on both of the pickups are removed, and the neck pickup seems to be replaced – based on the presumption that both pickups should be black on a stock 1968 Les Paul Custom. The control knobs on the guitar are also not original as the three of them are reflector knobs, and the one remaining is a top hat bell knob.
As far as putting the guitar in Duane’s hands retrospectively, there’s only one photo known of Duane holding a Gibson Les Paul Custom dating back to circa 1970. That guitar, however, seems to be completely stock and doesn’t look anything like the 1968 Les Paul Custom sold on the auction, but of course, there is a possibility that the mods occurred during this forty-plus years period after Duane had it.
1959 Gibson Les Paul StandardContinue Reading
Duane traded this guitar in September 1970 with Stone Balloon’s guitarist Rick Stine for his Goldtop, a Marshall head, and $200 on top of that. His only condition was that he keeps the original PAF pickups from the Goldtop.[Duane Allman: Memories from his Friend, Joe Marshall]
The guitar featured plaint-top cherry sunburst finish, and no pickguard (as was preferred by Duane on all of his Les Pauls), but it did have both of the pickup covers. This comes as a surprise knowing that Duane’s Goldtop didn’t feature pickup covers, and the pickups on this guitar were taken directly from the Goldtop as part of the deal made between Duane and Rick Stine. It’s possible that Duane simply added them himself after swapping the pickups, but this certainly brings an element of confusion into the subject. It is also possible that the pickups were swapped from Duane second Goldtop which did have pickup covers, but that’s just a mere possibility.61970
1961 Gibson SG/Les PaulContinue Reading
Duane occasionally used a 1961 Gibson SG (serial number 15263 [Randy Poe, Skydog, p. 292]) finished in cherry red which he got from Dickey Betts – who himself played it in the early days of the Allman Brothers. Most notably, he played this guitar on Statesboro Blues.
What happened back then was I had this SG when we started the band, and then I got a Les Paul, my ’57, and when Duane wanted to play slide he would have to re-tune his one guitar every f**** time. And I got tired of it and said, “Here, take this guitar and tune it, and leave it tuned!” and gave him my SG. He loved that guitar.
The guitar was most likely bought in early 1970, as one of our readers pointed out that he himself was interested in the same SG before Allmans came to the Lipham Music in Gainesville and picked it up.
I moved to Ocala FL in Oct. ’69 to join the slowly crumbling Royal Guardsmen. The band traded with Lipham Music in Gainesville. On a trip to pick up some repairs in early ’70, a beautiful SG caught my eye so I picked it up and played it for about 30 minutes or so. I discussed the price and came to a deal wherein I would trade in my new issue Les Paul and 100 dollars. The sales guy put the guitar back in the layaway room until my return the next week. The following Monday we went back my Les Paul and cash in hand, and the sales guy said: “Uh…Duane and they came in Saturday. Duane played the SG, and uh well they bought it” […] I was pissed at Duane and them for quite a while. Even after I learned about the Allmans.
Chuck Emery – sent via email261971
1950s Gibson Les Paul Standard "Hot Lanta"Continue Reading
This is the guitar that Duane was most often pictured within the last couple of months of his life. He got this Les Paul in mid-1971 from Kurt Linhof – a guitar dealer and collector whom he met through Billy Gibbons of ZZ-Top.
ZZ Top was opening for the Allman Brothers. Billy introduced Kurt to Duane as,” If anybody can find you a guitar this man can!” Well…. and he did find Duane a guitar! And what a guitar. Duane was looking for a Tobacco Burst. Duane’s terms were, “I’ll pay you the cost of the guitar plus half…plus half of that!… plus half of that! !…plus half of that ! ! !” it became a running joke. The rest of the Allmans gave Kurt a shopping list of gear they were looking for.
When Kurt found and first acquired the Les Paul, it already had a replacement headstock/peghead on it because the original had been broken off and the owner had it fixed. Because of that, accurate dating of Duane’s Les Paul becomes almost impossible [Randy Poe, Skydog, p. 296]. Pots and switches were checked, but that turned up no proof either. Linhof himself stated that he thinks that the guitar might be a ’59, but having never seen the original neck and headstock, he couldn’t say what the build year was for sure. Also important to mention is the fact that the pickups were switched from their original positions:11971
Duane Allman's Acoustic Guitars
1960s Gibson J-45Continue Reading 1967
This guitar didn’t actually belong to Duane but to his brother Gregg. But due to the historical importance, it’s probably for the best for it to be included in this list.
As the story goes, Duane gave this Gibson J-45 acoustic guitar to Gregg after trading it for his Telecaster that he played at the time. To learn more about the Telecaster, please visit the page about Duane Allman’s 1950s Fender Telecaster.
He [Duane] traded his main road-ax – a ’56 Telecaster body with a ’53 hogback Stratocaster neck, with some kind of crazy booster on the side – for a Gibson J-45. I couldn’t believe he did that for me because he loved that guitar, but he had seen legitimate signs of a successful songwriter in me, and he knew I needed a boost.
Gregg Allman: Organic Acoustic, Guitar World Acoustic, p.84; Alan Paul, One Way Out, p. 78
Since it would be interesting to see Gregg with the guitar that his brother bought him, we’ve looked around for photos of him with anything that would resemble a vintage J-45, but unfortunately couldn’t find any. If you happen to find anything yourself, please be sure to leave a comment.
1960s Gibson HeritageContinue Reading 1969
According to Galadrielle Allman [Galadrielle Allman, Please Be With Me, p. 182] Duane bought this guitar together with his Les Paul Goldtop and a Marshall amp, probably sometime in early to mid-1969 (the exact date of purchase is unknown). The guitar is mentioned in a letter that Duane sent to Holly Barr, Ralph Barr’s wife (Ralph Barr was guitar player for the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band). This same letter was recently auctioned at Bonham’s – see Duane Allman: A three-page letter and envelope.
Duane was seen with the guitar on two photos in total – although it is impossible to confirm whether this is actually one exact same J-45 or two of them.
One of the photos was taken sometime in early October 1971 in California by Jim Marshall, with John Hammond on the J-45 and Duane on his Dobro, while the other one is of Duane alone holding the J-45 from around the period he worked as a session musician (probably early 1969).
1930s National DuolianContinue Reading 1969
Duane was photographed playing this guitar in the late 60s/early 70s, but according to Gregg Allman, he owned another one – both of which ended up with Gregg after Duane’s death. He later gave one of them to Eric Clapton and the other one to Ronnie Wood. [Gregg Allman: Organic Acoustic, Guitar World Acoustic, p.84][Alan Paul, One Way Out, p. 78]
Based on Chris Darrow’s recollection, it is possible to track down when exactly Duane purchased the first of the two guitars. In August of 1969 ABB was in New York City doing some concerts at Ungano’s and recording their first album. Also in NYC were Linda Ronstadt and the Corvettes (the Corvettes was her backing band at the time) participating in the “Music From Free Creek” project. They stayed at the Chelsea Hotel. Duane bought his first National resonator guitar and contacted Chris Darrow and Bernie Leadon.
(Chris Darrow:) Duane and I kept in touch over time and after I had left the Dirt Band I began to tour with Linda Ronstadt, John Stewart, and Hoyt Axton. While in Linda’s band I usually roomed with Bernie Leadon. While spending a few months in the New York area, we were living at the Chelsea Hotel on 22nd street.
One day I got an exciting call on the phone. It was Duane Allman and he had just gotten his first National resonator guitar and he had to show it to us. He had gotten it at Manny’s Music, as I recall, and he was bursting with enthusiasm. Both Bernie and I were Dobro players and we all ended up sitting around with him taking turns and talking about tunings and technique. Duane was a natural slide player and learned to play real fast. He used a glass Coricidin bottle as a slide for his playing.
1930s Dobro Wood-bodyContinue Reading
Duane bought this guitar in 1969 from George Gruhn (GTR, Fourth Avenue, Nashville) for $350. The guitar was made by a Chicago-based company called Regal, which manufactured resonator guitars licensed by Dobro.
I remember selling a Dobro to Duane Allman in 1969. At that time, a fancy Dobro was only $350. And Duane paid me at the rate of $50 every other week. Music was not a lucrative career for him at that time. The part of his career where he had any money was very brief.
Unfortunately, it seems very hard to figure out the exact model of the guitar. Based on the photos available, it seems that Duane’s guitar features gold-plated hardware and custom inlays, which would indicate that it belongs among the top-of-the-line models 200/205/206. However, none of the commercially available models from around this period match the guitar exactly, so there’s a possibility that Duane’s guitar was a custom model.51969
1960s Gibson DoveContinue Reading 1969
Duane was seen with this guitar on a photo of him sleeping right next to it, taken at a hotel room sometime in the late 60s or early 70s. That photo is the only instance where Duane was pictured with the guitar, so it can’t be said for sure that it was he himself who owned it.
This particular Gibson acoustic is easily identifiable by the white dove on the pickguard, which is of course where it got its name. The model was introduced in 1962, and it was Gibson’s second square-shouldered dreadnought acoustic guitar, after the introduction of the Gibson Hummingbird in 1960. It featured a solid spruce top and solid maple back and sides and the guitar was originally available in two finishes – sunburst and natural (Duane’s being the latter).
Duane’s guitar seems to have featured a Tune-o-Matic bridge, which was only available on models made before 1968 – so that gives us somewhat of an idea on when his guitar was made.
1940s Kalamazoo KG-12Continue Reading 1970
Duane was photographed playing this guitar on October 7, 1970, the day before the Berry College show in Rome, Georgia. The photograph was taken by Stephen Paley, and Duane is seen sitting on a bed of a hotel room, likely in Florida the day before the show. Unfortunately, aside from those photos, the guitar is practically a mystery.
From the looks of it, it appears to be a vintage Kalamazoo, model KG-12, but there doesn’t seem to be any background story behind it. It could’ve been something Duane picked up while on the road or something he borrowed.
One interesting thing to note – the guitar looks pretty dark-colored on the image above, similar in color to something like a Martin 00-15 which is of course a mahogany-body guitar. Based on sources online, every Kalamazoo KG-12 is either a clear finish on spruce (very light in color) or a dark sunburst. Duane’s guitar looks like flat dark color, which is a bit of a mystery by itself.
Gibson Archtop AcousticContinue Reading 1970
According to Gregg Allman, Duane owned an old Gibson acoustic. Based on Gregg’s statement, this guitar had an oval hole and was an archtop. Unfortunately, beyond these two pieces of information, the guitar is a mystery.
Duane also had an old Gibson acoustic with an oval hole and an arch-top. I’ve got that one. Dickey has Duane’s National in his living room.
Interestingly, in a different interview, Gregg refers to what seems to be the same guitar but also mentions a Gibson J-200 – while not being perfectly clear whether he’s talking about one single, or two different guitars this time.
And my brother had an old Gibson, 1929 J-200, an oval hole and with an archtop – I’ve got that one.
Martin D-18Continue Reading 1970
According to Gregg Allman, Duane oned a Martin D-18 that looked “very dark – sort of dark mahogany color”. [Gregg Allman: Organic Acoustic, Guitar World Acoustic, p.84] [Alan Paul, One Way Out, p. 79]
Unfortunately, since that is the only time that this guitar has ever been mentioned by anyone, there’s really nothing else to be said about it. It is unknown whether Duane actually used it, how long he had it, or what happened to it after he died.
If you happen to know more, as always – leave a comment below.
Duane Allman's Amps
Fender ChampContinue Reading
Most likely the amp was used during the Layla studio sessions with Eric Clapton in late 1970.
Tom Dowd, who produced the album, gave different reports on what exact model of the amp was used for the recording. There’s mention of Fender Blackface Vibro-Champs, Princetons, and Deluxes, and even some unknown Gibson combo. Howard Albert however who worked as an engineer on the album gave a pretty clear statement regarding the amps:
If you looked through the control-room glass, the piano was to the left, and on top of the piano, which had the lid closed, were our [Fender Tweed] Champ amps that Eric and Duane both used.
What’s most likely is that Eric himself primarily used a Tweed Champ which was used extensively on the album, and Duane played through a Champ that could have been his, or as Howard stated – locally hired or belonged to Criteria studio.41970
1960s Fender Deluxe BlackfaceContinue Reading 1965
Duane was seen using this amp on the photographs taken of Allman Joys performing at a High School graduation at Seabreeze, Daytona, sometime in 1965. Chronologically looking, this is the first amp that Duane was ever seen performing with, although it doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s his first amp altogether.
This version of the Fender Deluxe amp was built from around 1964 to 1967, which means that Duane possibly bought it brand new (if it even belonged to him personally). The amp had 22W of power, a single 12-inch speaker, and was fitted with 6V6GT tubes. It is important to note that Duane used the non-reverb version of the Deluxe, and used a separate unit – a Premier Reverberation 90 box, to achieve the reverb effect.
Vox Super BeatleContinue Reading 1967
According to some sources, Duane used this amp in the Hour Glass era (1967/1968). However, there don’t seem to be any photos of him actually using the amp. As we’ll discuss a few paragraphs below, it seems that even though the band traveled with several of these amps, Duane himself preferred not to use it.
What could’ve also potentially started this whole rumor of Duane using a Vox Super Beatle is a photo of Duane and Bob Keller (band’s bassist at the time) singing through a microphone together on stage, dating some time to 1967 [Hour Glass – Duane and Keller]. In the photo, Keller’s amp can clearly be seen as a Fender Bassman Blackface, but unfortunately, Duane’s amp is hidden right behind him. We do, however, see that the amp is plugged into a Vox cabinet, identical to what a Vox Super Beatle would come with from the factory.
What is most likely the correct version of the story comes from the late Larry Steele, a Jacksonville local who later served as stage manager and as co-writer for the band .38 Special. Larry recalled in an article on his website meeting The Hour Glass at the Comic Book Club on July 12, 1968., as they were loading out the gear and setting up the stage. A guitar player himself, Steele vividly remembers seeing a few Vox Super Beatles but also finding out that Duane didn’t use any of them.
Fender Bassman TweedContinue Reading 1968
According to few sources, Duane used this amp around the Hour Glass era (1967/68). The first of these sources is Johnny Sandlin, who recalled owning a Fender Bassman at the time he toured with the Hour Glass and lending it to Duane.
I had an old Fender Bassman amp with four 10-inch speakers that Duane really liked, so we took it out to California with us. As loud as we were playing at the time, the speakers in the amp were not quite loud enough, so we put JBL speakers in it.
Regarding the speakers, as stock, the amp was loaded with Jensen Alnico P10R/P10Q speakers – depending on the year of manufacture. The JBLs then went in as a replacement were likely D-110Fs. As a fun fact – given that Duane later used D120-Fs in his Marshall cabinets, and D130-Fs in his Fender Showman, it seems that he went through all of the speakers that Fender was using at the time in their cabinets (further on the subject at: Loud and Clear: The Story of JBL & Fender)
The second source on Duane using this Fender Bassman Tweed is Larry Steele, a Jacksonville local who later served as stage manager and as co-writer for the band .38 Special.
1960s Fender Twin Reverb BlackfaceThis amp was seen on photos taken during the Muscle Shoals era (late 1968), so it is possible that it didn’t belong to Duane but to the FAME studios. Nonetheless, he did still use the amp, so it deserves to be mentioned here. Please note that although the photo below only shows the amp partially, […]Continue Reading 1968
1968 Fender Silverface Bassman (Head)Continue Reading
Used in the early days on the Allman Brothers Band. Duane purchased this Fender Bassman in early 1969 from Lipham Music Company in Florida and used it for a brief period before it became Dickey’s backup amp. [Willie Perkins: The Allman Brothers Band Classic Memorabilia, pp. 6 – 7]
The amp was also used by Duane later on, on September 23rd, 1970 at the Fillmore East. It is visible from the 3:56 to 4: 00-minute mark in the video below (the amp sitting on top of the tall speaker, behind the drummer),
The Fender Bassman that Duane used was a model made in 1968, featuring 2 x 6L6GC tubes. The Silverface amps altogether were introduced in 1968, by Fender’s new owner – CBS, and made until 1981. Compared to their predecessors, Blackface amps, Silverfaces (named after the silver metal control panels) are nowadays considered to be of lesser quality. Some people, however, do actually prefer them, so it all seems to be just the old “everything was better before CBS”.21969
Fender Showman Blackface (Head)Continue Reading 1969
Duane used a number of different Fender Showman Blackface amps in the early days of ABB. [Willie Perkins: The Allman Brothers Band Classic Memorabilia, pp. 4 – 7]
A few of these amps can now be seen at The Big House Museum, and not all were used exclusively just by Duane (one of the amps available for viewing, for instance, was used by Berry Oakley). On page 5 of Memorabilia by Willie Perkins, it is also stated that Ron Blair, as a member of Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, later owned and used one of these amps.
1966 Fender Twin Reverb SilverfaceContinue Reading
In early to mid-1969, ABB purchased a Blackface Fender Twin Reverb with two JBL speakers at Lipham Music Shop in Gainsville, Florida for $605,00 [Willie Perkins & Jack Weston, Memorabilia, p. 5].
Based on the serial number (PA 1045), the amp was made in January 1966. [Fender Tube Amplifier/Amp/Serial Number, Date – Dating, Speaker code & Tube Information] Also, according to Don Butler, the Twin had the output section rewired at some point to be cathode biased.
As far as using the amp live, in pictures from 1969, Duane was seen splitting the signal of his guitar between the Twin and his Marshall head with a Y-cable going into the Vibrato input on the Twin.61969
Marshall Lead 50w Model 1987 TremoloContinue Reading
According to Galadrielle Allman’s book Please Be With Me (p. 182 – letter from Duane to Holly Barr, Ralph Barr’s wife (Ralph Barr was guitar player for the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band)), Duane bought this Marshall amp probably sometime in early to mid-1969 (the exact date is not mentioned in the letter), together with a Gibson Les Paul Gold Top and a Gibson Heritage acoustic.
Dearest Polly, I got a Les Paul of my very own…Gregg’s here gigging with me and I got about the greatest band I ever did hear together and a Marshall amp and two drummers and I quit taking speed and I have been going swimming nekkid in the creek…The name of the band is the Allman Bros…
The amp remained in his possession until his death, and he was sometimes seen using it in combination with a Marshall Bass 50w Model 1986 that he acquired sometime later in his career. This particular amp is currently on display at The Big House in Macon.41969
Marshall Bass 50w Model 1986Continue Reading
Used towards the later part of his career. For the most part, he had two 50 watt bass heads with three Y-Cables so he could use both of the HI-inputs of both the channels of both his Marshalls. The heads were played through two half-open back cabinets fitted with JBL D-120F speakers, although on occasions he would also play through a (Cerwin) Vega P.A. system [Richard Albero, Guitar Player magazine, May/June 1973] (please note that Cerwin-Vega company was renamed a couple of times. In 1972, after Duane’s passing, it became Cerwin-Vega. From 1967 to 1972 it was called Vega Laboratories, Inc.).
Allman Brothers Band initially bought four Marshall cabinets and sixteen JBL speakers in early 1969 [Willie Perkins: Memorabilia, p. 5], which suggests that Duane and Dickey both used two Marshall cabinets with four JBL speakers per cabinet. One of the slanted cabinets was pictured from behind, clearly showing four grey basket JBL D120F speakers (note that orange basket JBL D120F was manufactured by JBL for Fender).
The cabinet that Duane had right below one of his Marshall amps was a model 1935 with the “Bass” logo in the lefthand top corner on the grey basketweave grill cloth (aka Salt and Pepper grill cloth).31969
Pignose PrototypeContinue Reading 1970
According to Bobby Whitlock, Richard Edlund gave one of the prototypes to Eric and one to Duane during the Layla sessions in 1970. [Bobby Whitlock: A Rock ‘n’ Roll Autobiography, p. 92].
The Pignose amplifier is considered to be the first portable electric guitar amplifier. It’s a five-watt battery-powered miniature amplifier with one five-inch speaker. Richard Edlund gave the prototype version of the amp to a number of the popular guitarists of the era, but the actual commercial version was made available only in 1973 when it debuted publicly at the NAMM Convention in Chicago.
Interestingly, the amp is still available today, and it’s considered by many to be a good practice amp. Although identical in looks, the new version differentiates greatly from the vintage models that Duane and the others had a chance to try out in the early 70s.
Duane Allman's Effects
Premier Reverberation 90Continue Reading 1965
This reverb unit was seen on the photographs taken of Allman Joys performing at a High School graduation at Seabreeze, Daytona, sometime in 1965.
At that time, Duane was playing a cherry red Gibson ES-335, and it seems that the reverb unit went straight into a Fender Deluxe Blackface combo amp. Important to note here is that the Fender Deluxe amp (or the version that Duane had) didn’t have a reverb effect built in (only Tremolo), so it would make sense that he had to use a stand-alone unit.
1960s Fender Reverb UnitContinue Reading 1966
Duane was seen using this reverb unit on a photo taken sometime in 1966 in Pensacola, Florida, of the band supporting a local vocal group “Sandpipers”. It’s possible that he purchased the Fender Reverb as a direct replacement/upgrade for the Premier Reverberation 90 that he was seen using in 1965.
Vox V8161 Fuzz BoxContinue Reading
Duane used a Vox fuzz box on his 1950s Fender Telecaster in 1966/1967. The unit was attached directly to the guitar by two broom holders, which were screwed onto the body.
The version of the Vox booster that Duane used was most likely a V8161 model with the rotating guitar jack on the bottom. You can see photos and the schematic of the Vox V8161 over at the Vox Showroom website. But, based on a forum post about the V8161 schematic made by user “vintagekiki”, some of the details on the schematic images are wrong. The Q1 and Q2 are 2N2924 transistors, and the R2 in the schematic should have a value of 150R (ohm), instead of 150k.41966
Dallas Arbiter Fuzz FaceContinue Reading 1969
Used during early session work, around late 1968/early 1969 (Muscle Shoals era). Duane allegedly powered it with old 9V carbon-zinc batteries because he argued that they made a special sound.
Also, just to point out – around the Muscle Shoals era Duane mostly seemed to have played a Fender Stratocaster, and used various Fender amps sitting around the FAME / Atlantic Recording Studios. To our knowledge, he never used a Fuzz Face with his Les Paul / Marshall set up, so perhaps he felt that Strat needed a little bit of extra push.
Duane Allman's Strings
Fender Rock N' Roll 150Continue Reading
Based on Johnny Sandlin’s recollection, these are likely strings that Duane used on his guitars, except for those he used for slide (he had flat-wounds on them). [Anathalee G. “BigAnn” Sandlin, Allman Brothers Band forums]
He liked to leave the strings uncut and curl them up at the tuning pegs. Proof of this can be found in many photos, as well as from the recollection of people close to him.
Well, he broke a string that first night [December 01, 1970 at Curtis Hixon Hall, Tampa, Florida], and I [Tuffy Phillips] took his guitar from him, and then Eric’s tech took it from me. He replaced the string and quick, cut the tops of the strings off at the headstock, and you know that’s not what Duane liked. He liked to leave his strings long and curled up.
The Fender 150 referred to a complete set sold at the time (late sixties early seventies). In Fender Catalogs From 1953 to 1979 (specifically from 1968) you’ll find the information that Fender branded the set as “Spanish Guitar light gauge Rock ‘N’ Roll”, and that the set included the following strings:31967
Fender Flatwound 505 Strings (Slide)Continue Reading
According to Johnny Sandlin, Duane used flat-wound strings when playing slide.
Johnny said he’s pretty sure Duane raised the action on the SG he played. He also belives [sic] he used flat wound strings on it too.
December 03, 2006 Post at ABB Forum by Anathalee “BigAnn” Sandlin at 04:24 PM
The strings are ones from the Hourglass years. Johnny remembers being in the music store with Duane when he would buy them and was surprised he used the lighter weight strings. Johnny said it was what was on his Strat and that, at least in the beginning, he used the same strings for the slide only he used flat wound for slide.
January 28, 2007 Post at ABB Forum by Anathalee “BigAnn” Sandlin
Based on the time period when Duane started playing slide, and the fact that he preferred light gauge strings, he most likely used Fender’s No. 505 Set (see Fender 1968 Season Catalog). The gauges were as follows:41967
Duane Allman's Accessories
351-shape Celluloid Guitar PickContinue Reading
On most occasions, Duane was seen using either plain white or celluloid picks (zoom in on the photo below). Although it’s hard to tell from the photos, these seem to be standard 351-shape picks.
This is also confirmed by an AllmanBrotherBand.com forum user by the name of “Goliath”, who mentioned that he has seen an actual Duane guitar pick and that it was a Fender Heavy.
When Jai [ i.e. Jaimoe ] lived with me he gave me a pick that he says was Duane’s. I have no reason to doubt him. It is a Fender Heavy.
Historical Members of the Allman Brothers Band > Duane Allman > Duane’s String gauges???41968
Ace 1313 Guitar StrapContinue Reading 1968
Duane was seen using this guitar strap on his 1960s Fender Stratocaster. Chronologically looking, the first time he was seen using it would be on the photos taken in April 1968 in Cleveland at WEWS-TV (“Upbeat” TV Show ). The strap can be also seen on the photos taken on August 10, 1968, in St. Louis, MO (Forest Park Pavilion), and on the photos taken by Stephen Paley at Atlantic Recording Studios in January 1969 (embedded below).
Similar straps are nowadays sold by D’Andrea (see D’Andrea Ace Vintage Reissue Guitar Strap – Stained Glass) although Duane seemed to have used a different color variant (with red squares on the outside instead of blue).
Coricidin Bottle (Slide)Continue Reading
According to Galadrielle Allman [Please Be With Me, p. 103], Duane initially used a water glass to learn to play slide. At the time Duane lived in Los Angeles, sharing an apartment with Pete Carr on Yucca Street. [Johnny Sandlin: Anathalee G. Sandlin, A Never-Ending Groove, p. 56.]
According to Johnny D. Wyker, he settled on using a Coricidin bottle around the time he lived in Muscle Shoals, circa late 1968.
I went to several drug stores with Duane in The Shoals and we’d ask the pharmacist if Duane could look through his empty bottles and we’d sit on the floor and dig through the boxes and Duane would try out different bottles as a slide. He finally settled on the Coricidan(sp) bottle.51968
Ace Crossroads Guitar Strap
Ring Guitar Strap by ZeboContinue Reading
On his 1957 Gibson Les Paul Goldtop, Duane used a Ring Strap made by Zebo of Zebo’s Leathers of Sarasota, FL. After his death, the strap ended up with Berry Oakley, and sometime later with Larry Brantley.
After Duane was killed in a motorcycle wreck on Hillcrest Avenue in October 1971, bass player Berry Oakley wore the strap as a tribute. Brantley was introduced to Oakley in 1972 and joined the band as a roadie. He first helped with the sound system, then was responsible for handling the guitar and bass equipment. A few months after Brantley came aboard, Oakley was killed in a motorcycle accident. It happened on Napier Avenue, just a half-mile from where Duane was killed and occurred one year and 13 days after Allman’s death. They were both 24 years old. They are buried side by side in Macon’s Rose Hill Cemetery.
The original guitar strap was sold by Larry Brantley on auction on eBay on March 3, 2003, for $15,000. The person who bought it was one Michael Pearce, but to our knowledge, the current owner is the same person who owns Duane’s 1959 Gibson Les Paul Jr. – Kunio Kishida.11969
Ace Greenwich Guitar StrapContinue Reading
Duane was seen using this guitar strap most notably during Atlanta Pop Festival in July 1970. At that time he played a Gibson Les Paul Goldtop, which is believed to be his third one in total.
This same strap was also seen on some earlier photos, taken in Jacksonville in spring 1969. It was used on another Goldtop, which differed from the Atlanta one by the “poker chip” – the white plastic cover around the toggle switch. This earlier Goldtop didn’t have one, while the Atlanta Pop Goldtop did.11969
Cordova Guitar StrapContinue Reading 1970
Duane was seen using this strap on a photo taken of him on June 13, 1970, in Atlanta. The guitar strap was a Wabash Cordova, which was sold by David Wexler & Co. Possibly, Wabash was a brand of David Wexler & Co, but the strap could have been manufactured by ACE on special order.
As a fun trivia – a guitar strap identical to this one, with the same design, was most famously used by Johhny Cash, at San Quentin State Prison on February 24, 1969.
Ace "Snowflake" Guitar StrapContinue Reading 1970
Duane was seen using this guitar strap in December 1970, on one of his Gibson Les Paul Goldtops. The footage is black and white, so it’s hard to tell the color, but the strap seems to have three different shades/colors, so likely it was the black/red/white one.
Mountain Guitar Strap by Zebo, John MeeksContinue Reading
There are two version of the story of how this strap came to be. The one is that the strap was custom-made by Zebo (of Zebo’s Leathers of Sarasota, FL, and the same person who made Duane’s Ring Strap) and that the design was done by Kim Hoover.
However, based on the information from The Allman Brothers Band Classic Memorabilia, 1969-1976 (p. 165.), the strap was a gift to Duane from his girlfriend, Dixie Meadows. According to that story, the mountain strap was made by Phil Thomas at Jim Cole’s Leather shop in Atlanta, Georgia (thanks Bob Flowers, Ingemar).31971
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