This gear list is currently being worked on. Expect some spelling mistakes and factual errors while we work toward finishing it up. For any suggestions, feedback, info, please use the contact form at the bottom of this page.
Ed Sheeran was born February 17th, 1991 in Halifax, West Yorkshire. He attended the Academy of Contemporary Music in Guildford, Surrey, as an undergraduate from the age of 18 in autumn 2009. In early 2011, Sheeran independently released the extended play, No. 5 Collaborations Project. After signing with Asylum Records, his debut album, + , was released on 9 September 2011 and has since been certified seven-times platinum in the UK. His second studio album, x, was released on 23 June 2014. It peaked at number one in the UK and the US. His single from x, “Thinking Out Loud”, earned him two Grammy Awards at the 2016 ceremony: Song of the Year and Best Pop Solo Performance. Sheeran’s third album, ÷, was released in March 2017. The album debuted at number one in the UK, the US and other major markets. The first two singles from the album, “Shape of You” and “Castle on the Hill”, were released in January 2017 and broke records in a number of countries, including the UK, Australia and Germany, by debuting in the top two positions of the charts.
Ed was seen performing with this guitar at the beginning of his career back in 2004/05. Some photos of him with the guitar date back to his street performing days, when he was around 13 years old. Alo, based purely on the time frame of when all this happen, the Dean was likely used on Ed’s first independently released collection of work, Spinning Man.
The guitar is made by a company called Dean, more famous perhaps for its electric models such as the ML Series – played by late Pantera’s guitarist, Dimebag Darell.
Ed’s guitar featured a single cutout design, which allows for the fingers reach the higher frets on the neck more easier. The top was made out of spruce, while the back and side were made out of mahogany. By the looks of it, the guitar had no modification done to it (such as markings, custom microphone..).
The Dean Performer E guitar also featured a 25.25″ (25 1/4″) scale length neck. This is considerably more than the 23” scale length neck that is used on Ed’s current signature guitar model made by Martin. If you’re unfamiliar with the terminology, a scale lenght is basically a distance from the nut of your guitar to the bridge’s saddle (the place where the strings are anchored). Shorter scale length means less string tension and therefore warmer sound (this also depends on so many other factors).
This guitar was used in the early days, starting with circa 2007. Next to beeing seen during an interview with BalconyTV (linked below), the Martin Backpacker was also seen during inn 2008, during Ed’s audition for the ITV series, Britannia High.
Martin Backpacker is a rather unusual guitar, in the sense that it doesn’t really follow the usual established design language that the great majority of acoustic guitars do. The Backpacker was originally designed by a guitar luthier Robert McAnally’s, and was spotted by Chris Martin (Martin Guitars chairman and CEO, also the great-great-great-grandson of the founder of the company) at the Philadelphia Folk Festival in the early 90s. Shortly after, Martin took over the production, and first Backpacker guitars were available for purchase by 1992/93. [Martin Guitars: A History]
This original design of the Backpacker by McAnally was kept until around 2002, when Martin decided to introduce some design changes. They abandoned the old neck-through-body, made from a single piece of mahogany, and moved onto a slightly larger body with a glued-on neck, and a larger headstock. Ed’s guitar is most certainly a newer version of the Backpacker, meaning that it was likely bought brand new or slightly used since it couldn’t have been made earlier than 2002.
It seems that Ed stopped using the Martin Backpacker towards 2008, and started using his first Martin LX1E – a guitar that he toured beginning with 2009. But even thought the Backpacker didn’t see much stage light from that point on, it still remained in Ed’s possesion, and can be seen on a photo posted on Sheeran’s Instagram profile on September 27, 2013.
This guitar was also seen on few occasions in 2008, for instance at the Maverick Festival and at Christ Church, Gipsy Hill on August 28. [Ed Sheeran Performing during Freedom of Expression at Christ Church, Gipsy Hill on 28th August 2008]
Unfortunately, we haven’t been able to identify the exact brand and model of the guitar thus far. If you happen to know anything more about the guitar from the photo shown below, please be sure to let us know via contact form at the bottom of this page. It does resemble something like a Bedell HGM-28, but the logo doesn’t quite match, nor does the bridge shape for that matter.
We assume this is the first Martin LX1E that Ed ever purchased – a guitar the he would ultimately became known for, and would even eventually develop his own custom model after. He started using this guitar in early 2009, so it is likely that it was purchased around that time [Ed Sheeran on 4th April 2009, The Seckford Theatre, Woodbridge, Suffolk]
Already by early 2009 Ed applied a paw sticker to the guitar, which seems to have been a sort of a symbol of his in the early days. As a matter of fact, the first tattoo that he ever did was one identical to the sticker, and the cover of the first album that he ever recorded also featured a similar design. In the video below you can hear him explaining the origins of this symbol, and how it essentially started very casualty – Ed finding it among the prints of an artist that was staying at his parent’s place, and it sort of just grew on from there.
In 2011 Ed also shared on his Twitter account some info about the meaning of the paw, saying simply it’s just “tiger blood” – likely referencing Charlie Sheen’s infamous interview.
People ask me what the significance in the paw print is. I don’t have an answer so I tell them it’s tiger blood. They don’t get it. [Ed Sheeran’s personal Twitter]
It seems that the guitar remained with only the paw sticker up until around mid 2010. Around the time that Ed moved to the US (April 2010), two more stickers appeared on the guitar, both white and both seemingly featuring hand drawings most likely done by Ed himself. One of the earliest shows featuring the guitar with these two newly added stickers is the famous Station Session filmed on June 10th, 2010.
It is also important to note that by the time he arrived to the US, Ed also started using another mini Martin with a paw sticker on it. That guitar, nicknamed “Nigel” will be talked about in the section below. It is however important to differentiate the two, which is obviously very easy to do if you know that Nigel had only the paw sticker, while Cyril had additional two white stickers.
Although we couldn’t find any official word on this, it is obvious from the photos that this guitar was fitted with a Fishman Mini Q Preamp, located just below the strap button on the bottom of the guitar. This particular pickup model seems to have been fitted on LX1Es made prior to 2010/2011, so the popular belief that this was an LX1 Martin (without the E at the end) is possibly untrue. The newer models of the LX1E model have a control panel on the top side of the guitar, which the older models obviously lack, so that might be the source of the confusion.
Ed used Cyril extensively from 2008 to 2010, rotating between it and the Nigel. By March 2011 however, Cyril seems to have been retired – which is understandable considering the sentimental value and all the beating it had gone through.
As far as studio usage, it is likely that the guitar was used to at least some extend of the recordings prior to “+” album, since it basically had to be either Cyril or Nigel on those songs. If you happen to come across a quote from Ed saying which guitar he used specifically in studio around this time, please be sure to forward it to us.
Ed started using this guitar around the same time he moved to the US, or early to mid 2010. The guitar is nearly identical to Ed’s first mini Martin, Cyril, except that the paw sticker is somewhat smaller, and placed at a slightly different angle.
The guitar was used parallel with the Cyril, Ed’s first mini Martin, through 2010. In contrast to Cyril however, which was retired in March 2011, Nigel continued being used on tour until around late 2012. It is important to note that at this point he had more than a few good guitars to choose from, but for some reason he kept going back to the Nigel – which by that time became heavily worn out (see photo above). Perhaps it was his favorite, or perhaps it just happened to be around.
By 2013 however, Nigel also went into retirement, and Ed started using a few “+” themed guitars – to go along his newly released album.
Ed started using this guitar on tour in March 2011, alongside Nigel – his second mini Martin that became quite worn out by that point, making it easy to distinguish them from each other.
My old guitar is called Nigel. This new guitar is called Lloyd. Welcome him into the family [Ed Sheeran on Twitter]
Llyod however mostly seemed to have served the purpose of a backup guitar, and didn’t see much stage light at all. Throughout 2011 Nigel was Ed’s main go-to guitar, and by 2012 he switched to couple of “+” themed guitars. What happened to Llyod is unknown, but it is likely still sitting somewhere among his old guitars.
Felix is the chronologically looking last of the paw-themed mini Martins, first used sometime in 2011, and the first of the newer version of the LX1E Martin. This newer version no longer featured the Fishman Mini Q Preamp on the back, but a Fishman Isys T – which has a control panel on the top side of the guitar.
This guitar can be easily distinguished from the others by the lines drawn on the rosette (or the edge near the soundhole), which no other guitar of Ed’s has.
At some point in 2012, during the “+” tour, Felix was decorated with a tiny plus sticker placed just above the bridge. It seems that Felix and Nigel were carried on tour
This guitar was seen during the BBC Live Lounge gig played on 21 August 2012, featuring Devlin, Ed Sheeran and Labrinth. There doesn’t seem to be a video recording of the part when he actually used this guitar, but there are some photos available over on the BBC website [DEVLIN & ED SHEERAN – BBC.co.uk]
This is the first non-Martin mini guitar that Ed played, so there is a possibility that he considered making a switch from Martin at some point, or perhaps he was simply just exploring other options.
Since Ed obviously named the guitar (Jasper) it is likely that he used it at least to some extent around this period. We however haven’t been able to find any other photos or videos of him with the guitar, so if you happen to stumble upon any, be sure to forward it to us.
This guitar was first seen sometime in mid to late 2012, at that time only styling a name “Trevor” written on the usual location. [Ed Sheeran performs at Rock En Seine Festival 10th Anniversary on August 25, 2012 in Paris, France. (Photo by David Wolff – Patrick/Redferns via Getty Images)] By September 2012 (see Ed’s performance at the Apple Music Festival for reference), a “+” sticker was added on lower portion of the body, thus making Trevor the first plus-themed guitar.
One thing worth noting as far as the specs is that Trevor is actually a Martin LX1 and not a LX1E. This means that the guitar was shipped to Ed without a built-in pickup, so therefore he had to install one himself. This could potentially mean that Ed for some reason didn’t like the new version of the LX1E which since around 2012 came with a Fishman Isys T. By buying the non-E version of the guitar, it’s fairly simple for Ed to install a Fishman Mini Q Preamp on the back, which is indeed the pickup that this guitar is equipped with – based on photos.
This was indeed confirmed by Ed’s guitar tech Trevor Dawkins , in an interview he gave to Acoustic Guitar magazine. Original article is unfortunatly no longer available for some reason, but it can still be accessed through WayBackMachine.
Unfortunately, with the current Martin LX1Es, we’re unable to get the sounds that we need for Ed’s percussion loops, due to the additional hole for the new Fishman Isys electronics detracting even further from the sound of an already small-bodied guitar. To get around this problem, Martin managed to find us a number of the older Fishman Mini Q electronics, which they now retrofit into the regular LX1s for us. [Loop-the-Loop: Create your own Ed Sheeran sound]
Trevor was used from around August 2012 to early 2013. Based just on the wear visible on the body, it was definitely used extensively around this period, so much that already by December 2012 it slowly began landing it’s place as the main guitar of choice to another mini-Martin – nicknamed “James II”.
This was Ed’s main guitar for the first half of 2013, directly replacing Trevor – a guitar we talked about in the section above. The “II” in the name is likely referring to the possibility of there being a James I (the first), which in all likelihood is the guitar that Ed ended up breaking before he even got a chance to play it on stage. [Ed sitting next to his broken mini-Martin] As always, if you happen to know anything more regarding this story, please contact us.
Like Trevor, James II is also a Martin LX1 – meaning that the guitar came from the factory without a pickup. Based on photos, it was custom fitted with a Fishman Mini Q Preamp – the exact same model Ed used on his early mini-Martins like Cyril and Nigel.
As said, James II was Ed’s main guitar from around early to mid 2013. During this period it’s actually very hard to find an occasion on which he’s using anything by James II. By July that year however, a dark colored custom-made mini-Martin took James’ place as the main axe.
Murray is another mini-Martin seen occasionally in early to mid 2013. [Ed Sheeran performs at Y 100 radio station on April 10, 2013 in Miami, Florida. (Photo by Larry Marano/Getty Images)] The guitar likely served as a back-up for James II – Ed’s main guitar at the time.
This is the first mini-Martin designed in collaboration with Ed Sheeran. The guitar was revealed at the Summer NAMM (annual trade event for the music products industry) on July 11, 2013. Ed himself started using it right away, and it can be seen on numerous photos and videos from the Red tour (joined tour with Taylor Swift) – more precisely and dates between July and September 2013.
As the name suggests, the guitar is based largely on the LX1E model, but it has a few unique features which separate it from the standard model. Most obvious of course is the fact that the top of the body is now made of Sapele, a wood that is much darker in color than Sitka Spruce used on the standard LX1E. Interestingly enough, this wood is usually used on back and sides by the manufacturers, and is considered to be a poor-man’s mahogany – so wanting to keep the guitar’s cost low likely played a factory in choosing this particular wood (Ed’s model is only $40 more expensive than the standard model).
Aside from that, the LX1E Ed Sheeran Signature Edition has a “+” sign laser-etched in place where there would usually be a sticker on his older guitars, and a word “EACH” where there would usually be the guitar’s name. In case you’re wondering, EACH is actually abbreviation for East Anglia’s Children’s Hospices – an organization that supports families and cares for young children and young people with life-threatening conditions and provides services across several UK counties, including Suffolk, where Sheeran was raised. All of Sheeran’s royalties from every purchase of his Signature Martin go straight to this organization.
Lastly, when it comes to the custom stuff on this guitar, there’s another plus sign on the headstock in fluorescent orange, and “est. 1991” (Ed’s birth year) written bellow it – mimicking Martin’s “est. 1833”, or the year the company was established.
Even though the guitar was used extensively in the second half of 2013, it basically disappeared in 2014, as Ed started a few LX1 before moving on to a second version of his Signature guitar from Martin.
This guitar was seen occasionally in 2014, before Ed started using his second signature model from Martin. The guitar was seen at the Southside Festival 2014 in June, Pinkpop also in June, V Festival at Hylands Park in August – just to name a few.
There’s nothing particularly noteworthy about Chris – it was likely purchased to be used on tour, as Ed was obviously quite familiar with how LX1 played and perhaps he simply still preferred it over his own Signature Edition (mentioned in the section above this one).
Perhaps the most important thing about Chris is that this is the last guitar that Ed would ever put a name on. From now on, every guitar is nameless.
This guitar was most notably seen at The Voice All of the Stars with Christina Grimmie, which aired on May 13, 2014. It is one of the first X-themed guitars from Ed’s arsenal, and the first ones not the be a mini-Martin.
The rest of this list is currently being worked on.
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