Eric Johnson’s Guitars and Gear

 Short bio: Eric Johnson was born on August 17, 1954 in Austin, Texas.  he started learning the guitar at age 11, mainly influenced by a friend of his brother whi came over with a guitar, and started playing.  At the age of 15, he joined his first professional band—Mariani, a psychedelic rock group. In 1968, Johnson and the group recorded a demo, which was produced on very limited number of copies. He was also member of the band called Electromagnets from 1974 to 1977. After that he started playing at local bards, and doing some gigs as a studio guitarist for artists such as Cat Stevens and Carole King. 1984 he was signed with Warner Bros. Records, and as a result, he released his major-label debut, “Tones”.

Eric released total of 10 solo albums. He is considered as one of the most most respected guitar players, and his single, “Cliffs Of Dover”, won the 1991 Grammy Award for Best Rock Instrumental Performance.

Eric Johnson’s Electric Guitars:

1957 Fender Stratocaster

1957 Fender Stratocaster This is his favorite model of the Stratocaster, upon which his signature line was modeled.

Eric used to have couple of 1957 Stratocaster, but now he’s left with only one. One of his previous 57s had a Saymour Duncan Antiquity pickups in the middle and bridge slot, instead of the stock ones, and his current one has the DiMarzio HS-2 in the bridge.

1954 Fender Stratocaster

Fender Stratocaster Vintage Maple This guitar was featured on the cover of the 1986 issue of Guitar Player magazine. It was stock, except that the original bridge pickup was replaced with the DiMarzio HS-2.

Eric ended up selling it, like most of his vintage Strats, but he always talk highly of this particular guitar, and wishes he’d kept it.

Fender Stratocaster Eric Johnson Prototype

Eric Johnson Stratocaster First Model First guitar – prototype – that came out as a result of collaboration of Fender and Eric Johnson, on his signature model.

Eric still plays it, and it’s one of his favorite guitar. The guitar has two original pickups, and the DiMarzio HS-1 in the bridge.

Fender Stratocaster Eric Johnson Signature

Fender Stratocaster Eric Johnson Signature Eric regularly uses his own signature model from Fender.

This guitar is fitted with three custom wound single-coil pickups, and it has a soft “V” shaped maple neck with 12″ radius.

Fender Stratocaster Eric Johnson Signature (Rosewood)

Fender Stratocaster Eric Johnson Signature Rosewood Fender also built a rosewood version of the Eric Johnson signature model. This guitar is based on Eric’s favorite 1962 Fender Stratocaster, but features some big changes.

The guitar has three custom wound pickups, which are based on ones used on the maple model, but they are re-worked to Eric’s suggestion to sound a little bit better with the rosewood fretboard. The rosewood neck has a 12″ radius, and white binding, which is quite unusual for a Stratocaster. Eric rosewood strat comes in four colors: dakota red, tropical turquoise (light blue), palomino metalic (brownish) and aqua firemist (dark blue).

He also has a specially made model of this guitar with the Super-Vee tremolo system.

1958 Fender Stratocaster “Faye”

Fender Statocaster Black Maple Vintage 1958 This is one of the first Fenders Eric ever bought. He had it since he was kid, but it was stolen in 1982, together with 4 or 5 other guitars out of Eric’s apartment in Austin, TX.
24 years later Eric saw it in a music store, and bought it back.

1962 Fender Stratocaster

1962 Fender Stratocaster Completely stock, 3-tone sunburst finish, and a rosewood neck. This guitar was used as a for Eric Johnson signature Stratocaster with rosewood neck.

Eric ended up selling this guitar for $90,000.

1964 Gibson ES-335

Cherry Red ES-335 This Eric’s favorite Gibson guitar. He bought it on the tour with BB King in 1996, in a guitar shop Gruhn Guitars in Nashville.

The guitar has a cherry red finish, and a stop tailpiece.

Gibson Les Paul

Gibson Les Paul Sunburst Eric uses a couple of different Les Pauls. One of his most recent ones is a cherry burst standard model – and from the looks of it, pretty new (post 2000).

He used to play a 1959 model in the early 1980s, that says “Buddy” on the pickguard.

1963 Gibson SG

GIbson SG Custom Red He uses this guitar live often when he need to go for the Gibson tone.

Eric Johnson’s Acoustic Guitars:

Martin D-45

Martin d-45 This is Eric’s favorite guitar. He got it as a gift from his father helped him recover after some of his guitar were stolen in 1982.

The guitar is a copy of pre-war series of D-45 guitars, and features scalloped bracing and snow-flake inlays.

Martin MC-40 Eric Johnson

Martin MC-40 This is a guitar Eric designed with the help from Dick Boak from Martin guitars. It seems to be his favorite go-to guitar, and he uses it live quite often. 2004 Is has a 0000 style body cutaway body, and features inlays inspired by the planets in the solar system.

Although he previously used the Fishman KK inducer pickup on his signature Martin, in the most recent days Eric has switched to the Barbera Soloist Saddle Pickup on this guitar.

The Barbera Soloist saddle pickup is the most natural and pleasing sounding acoustic guitar pickup I have heard. I’m enjoying using it in my Martin guitar. [Barbera Transducer Systems with Eric Johnson – Facebook]

PRS Angelus Cutaway

PRS Angelus Cutaway This guitar can be described as a “sweet spot” between a classical nylon guitar, and steel-string acoustic guitar.

Eric talks highly of it, and he’s been using it since it was released.

Eric Johnson’s Guitar Amps:

Clean tone:

Fender Twin Reverb Piggy-back
Eric usually plays two amps through a Marshall 4×12 100W stereo cabinet with JBL speakers. He’s also been using 2x Twin Reverb combos

Lead tone:

– 1969 Marshall Super Bass 100W or Marshall 50W Plexi
He’s playing it only through one Marshall 4×12 cabinet wired at 8ohms

Dirty Rhythm tone:

– Marshall 50W Plexi
Also played through a single cabinet. He’s also been using the Fulton-Webb 100W head.


Fishman Loudbox Performer
– Eric acoustic amp runs in stereo, with K&K Sound Pure transducer and Fishman Piezo pickup. He also adds the MXR Bass Compressor to the loop.

Eric Johnson’s Guitar Effects:

– Echoplex EP-3
– Electro-Harmonix Deluxe Memory Man
– Ibanez Tube Screamer TS-808 (used mainly for playing power chords)
– ToadWorks Barracuda Flanger
– Dunlop Fuzz Face
– Boss DD-2 (used for the dirty rhythm sound)
– B.K Butler Tube Driver (lead sound)
– Dunlop Cry Baby Wah
– TC Electronic Stereo Chorus / Flanger
– MXR Digital Delay (rack)

Eric Johnson’s Guitar Strings:

– GHS Eric Johnson Nickel Rockers (.010 .013 .018 .026 .038 .050)

Eric Johnson’s Guitar Picks:

– Dunlop Eric Johnson Classic Jazz III

Contributors: denglanders, xmoniker, polytonez