Jack White’s Guitars and Gear

Bio: Jack White was born under the name of John Anthony Gillis, in Detroit, Michigan on July 9, 1975. He was raised up in a lower-class catholic family as a youngest of ten children.
Jack’s first instrument were drums, which he started playing around the age of six. As a teenager he became familiar with the blues, and early rock. At 15 he formed a band with Brian Muldoon – his next door neighbor, who already played drums so Jack decided to learn the guitar. They named themselves The Upholsterers and released an album called “Makers of High Grade Suites”. After the band split up in 1997  Jack decided to form his own band, called The White Stripes. It consisted of him as a guitarist and singer, and his (at the time) wife Meg White on the drums. The couple was married from 1996 to 2000, and Jack kept his wife’s last name.

Their debut album was released in 1999 by a small Detrot label company, and a year later they released their second album ” De Stijl”, which became a huge success, and made the band popular worldwide. They released four more albums, with their last one – “Icky Thump” being released in 2007.

As for Jack, he’s been involved in many other projects, including writing music for movies, occasional acting, and playing with different bands. His guitar playing is quite unique and has been praised by both old-school and new-age guitarists. He is ranked #70 on Rolling Stone’s list of The 100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time.

Jack White’s Electric Guitars:

1964 Montgomery Ward JB Hutto Airline

1964 JB Hutto Montgomery Airline This has been Jack’s main guitar with the White Stripes. The guitar was made by Valco, a company that is better known for making National and Supro guitars before it’s demise in 1968.

It has a hollow Res-O-Glas fiberglass body, two Valco single coil pickups (even though they look like humbuckers), and an non-adjustable steel reinforced neck (no truss rod).

Jack also has a white model which was given to him by a fan. We recommend reading a story told by the guy himself at: Jack White Airline Story by KNARF003.

1950s Kay Archtop

Kay Archtop Jack Black This is Jack’s main slide guitar, used on songs like “Seven Nation Army”, “Death Letter” and “Stop Breaking Down.” He keeps it tuned to open A.

The guitar is originally a tobacco sunburst, but it was covered in kraft paper in 2001 – supposedly to stop the feedback, though it may be just for the aesthetic reasons. As of the specs, it features a single DeArmond pickup with no controls but a on/off switch, spruce top, maple sides and back, and a floating rosewood bridge.

1970s Crestwood Astral II

Crestwood Astral II Jack White This is Jack’s third guitar which was part of his usual setup with the White Stripes, and it dates way back to the 1997. He used it for very early stuff like “Let’s Build A Home” and “I Fought Piranhas”, and he keeps it tuned to open E for slide playing.

This guitar is a Japanese made model, and it features a ply-wood hollow body,two single-coil pickups and a tremolo bridge.

1960s Harmony H73

Harmony H73 Jack White Not much is known about this guitar. Supposedly there are pictures of it, but I couldn’t find any myself. Nonetheless I decided to leave it on the list until I investigate this a little further.

1963 Airline Res-O-Glass

1963 Airline Res-O-Glass This is Jack’s second, less known Airline guitar, which can be seen in the very early promo photos. He supposedly used it before acquiring the well known JB Huttom model.

It shares the same basic specs with the JB, with the exception of the short-scaled neck.

1957 Gretsch White Penguin

Gretsch White Penguin Jack bought this guitar in 2007 in Nashville, around the time of recording the “Icky Thump” album. He said that it took him a while to make up the decision, but finally, persuaded by his friends, he went and picked up the guitar.

When asked how this guitar compared with the Airline he said that “It feels like it’s in the same department. It’s a very strange instrument. It’s more like a machine. The knobs are so clunky. Pickups don’t really sound like that nowadays—guitars don’t really sound like that.” Read full interview here: Jack White Mega Sonic On The Sounds That Drive The White Stripes

Gretsch Anniversary Jr “The Green Machine”

Triple Green Machine This guitar started out as a standard Gretsch model which Jack gave to a guitar luthier Randy Parsons for a couple of modification.  He made it a double cutaway instead of a single, installed a Bigsby tremolo, put in a mute system which comes up and dampens the strings, and a mini Theremin which activates upon lifting a wrist away from the bridge. But perhaps the most unusual feature was the Shure Green Bullet microphone at the bottom of the guitar. Randy made it so you can pull it out, and it would retract it self back, which was done using a vacuum cleaner retractor cord.

Jack used this guitar occasionally live with the Raconteurs, and it can be seen in the “It Might Get Lou” documentary.

“Triple Jet” Copper Guitar

Jack White's Copper Guitar This guitar was also built by Randy Parson, and it’s basically all made from copper. The initial idea Jack had in mind for this guitar was to just paint it, but Randy suggested making one from scratch out of copper. He also added the third pickup, and installed an MXR Micro Amp inside the guitar.

This was Jack main guitar with the Raconteurs, and the whole equipment he was using with them – including microphones and pedals – were made out of copper.

Gretsch Jupiter Thunderbird

Gretsch Jupiter Thunderbird Jack played this guitar on the “Another Way To Die” video. He keeps it pretty much in the factory condition.

Gibson SG

Gibson SG White model with a Bigsby b5 tremolo tailpiece. Jack used it briefly in the early years, and it hasn’t been seen since.

DiPinto Mach 4

DiPinto Mach 4 Jack purchased a blue Mach IV from Chris DiPinto in 2001 as a gift for Marcie Bolan from the Von Bondies. About a year later Chris presented a Red one to him at The Trocadero in Philadelphia. In Chris’ own words: “He (Jack) was very upset about the poor crowd reaction that night (philly spectators are always “too cool for school”), but I think the new guitar lighten his spirits!!”

If you wanna know more about DiPinto guitar please visit their website at www.dipintoguitars.com

Fender Highway One Telecaster

Fender Telecaster This is something more recent. Jack has been playing this Telecaster since the recording of Blunderbuss album in 2012, and he continued using it for the following tour.

All the hardware is coated in white paint, including the added Bigsby tremolo. More recently, Jack removed the bridge pickup and replaced it with a T.V. Jones Filtertron.

Jack White’s Acoustic Guitars:

Gretsch Rancher Falcon “Rita”

Gretsch Acoustic Custom acoustic guitar used on the Icky Thump tour. It features a double custom shaped pickguard, and a cutaway body.

“They are great for live use, because they produce more bass than anything else, and I like a lot of bass in an acoustic guitar.” Jack White on Gretsch Ranchers

1915 Gibson L-1

Gibson L-1 His second favorite acoustic guitar is a vintage Gibson L-1. He uses it live quite often, but it’s perhaps best known from the Saturday Night Live show, where Jack performed “Love Interruption”

Jack White’s Guitar Amps:

1960s Sears Silvertone 1485 Six Ten

Silvertone 1485 Six Ten This was Jack’s main amp with the White Stripes. He has one head with two Sears Silvertone 6×10″ cabinets with Jensen speakers.

Even though this amps has a reverb, Jack never uses it – he prefers the reverb on the Fender.

1960s Fender Twin Reverb “Blackface”

Fender Twin Reverb RI This is his main amp in the more recent days. He particularly likes the reverb on it, and play and records with it on most of the newer records (with Dead Weather).

1970s Fender Twin Reverb “Silverface”

Fender Twin Reverb Silverface Jack’s second Twin Reverb. He plays it parallel with the Blackface, or whenever he needs another amp.

Sonic Machine Factory 15W

Sonic Machine Factory 15W Jack has two of these, and he carries them around for smaller shows.

Jack White’s Guitar Effects:

– Electro Harmonix Big Muff Pi
Pretty much his main pedal, and has been since the very early days.

– Digitech Whammy WH-4
His #2 effect. Can be heard on many songs, including “Seven Nation Army”.

– Electro-Harmonix Poly Octave Generator (POG)
First time he used this effect was on “Blue Orchid.” He still uses it for the newer stuff.

– MXR Micro Amp
Used for sound boost.

Jack White’s Guitar Strings:

Jack is one of the rare people who has no string preferences. He says that he likes to leave this decision to his guitar tech.

Jack White’s Guitar Picks:

Jack usually finger-picks, but when he need a pick he usually goes for a heavy gauge. He’s currently using custom made picks from Dunlop.

Contributors: Sebastian