Jeff Buckley’s Guitars, Amps, Effects in Chronological Order
Summary of Jeff’s Equipment
Most of us associate Jeff with a blonde Fender Telecaster, a guitar that he used for the majority of live performances and studio work. The guitar was a 1983 Toploader model, meaning that the strings didn’t go through the body like on most of the Telecasters. It was modified with a custom mirror pickguard, and with what was most likely a Seymour Duncan Hot Rails pickup, fitted in the bridge position.
Aside from this guitar, Jeff was also seen using a late 1970s Gibson Les Paul Custom – a guitar that is currently owned by The Rock & Roll Hall of Fame Museum. Also, he often used a Rickenbacker 360/12 “Fireglo”, and on a few occasions picked up a cheap Telecaster replica made by Series 10, decorated with flower patterns.
He played his electric guitars almost always through a Fender Vibroverb Reissue amplifier, and on occasions through a Mesa Boogie Dual Rectifier Trem-o-verb Combo (see Live in Chicago).
As far as acoustics, Jeff’s main guitars were the 1967 Guild F-50, often seen during live performances, and a vintage Gibson L-1.
Regarding effects, Jeff didn’t complicate things much at all. The one single notable effect that he used is the Alesis Quadraverb rack unit, which can be heard on “Hallelujah”. Apparently, throughout the song, Jeff used a slightly modified “Taj Mahal” Reverb effect preset on the Quadraverb.
Jeff Buckley Equipment Guide
Please note that this is just a quick basic guide for beginners. In reality, a lot of factors go into replicating someone’s sound, and it’s usually nearly impossible to achieve. To see the equipment that Jeff actually used himself, and all that went into it, refer to the chronological list below.
Since Jeff pretty much played a single electric guitar during his professional career, things are pretty simple. Grab yourself either an original Fender Telecaster or a Squier Classic Vibe 50s Telecaster (which is about half as cheap but still pretty good). Jeff’s guitar was finished in what’s known as “Butterscotch Blonde” color, and both of the guitars mentioned come in the said finish.
If you want to go “full Buckley” and do the things the right way, consider replacing the stock black pickguard with a chrome one made by Fender. If you want to go even further, install a Seymour Duncan Hot Rails pickup in the bridge position (requires opening up the guitar, so count on a trip to a professional).
Again, things are pretty simple. For most of the stuff, Jeff used a Fender Vibroverb amp, so consider getting one if the budget allows (they are pretty expensive). A cheap alternative would be something like a Fender Champion, which has a built-in reverb effect (a must-have if we’re talking about Jeff).
It’s unknown what exact model of strings Jeff used. Likely, they were medium gauges, so something like D’Addario EXL110 would do the job.
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Chronological list of Guitars, Amps, Effects, and Accessories used by Jeff Buckley
Les Paul (Copy)
When Jeff was around 13 or 14 years old, he received a Paul guitar as a birthday present from his mother and his stepfather. Then when he was about 14 (1980), for his birthday, he asked for [this part cuts of during the video, so it’s not positive that these are exact words] a guitar, […]
1980s Ovation Viper
This Ovation was used by Jeff sometime in the early to mid-80s. There’s a photo of him with the guitar, which seems to have been taken prior to his college days. According to Jeff’s friend, Jason Hamel, this guitar was purchased in 1982, as a replacement for Jeff’s old Les Paul knockoff. The Ovation Viper […]
Jeff was first seen using the guitar circa 1985. At that time he was in Los Angeles and playing in a band called Group Therapy. He continued using the guitar until around 1989 when he was seen playing it with The Wild Blue Yonder. [The Wild Blue Yonder 1989-1991] This guitar is, unfortunately, a mystery. The exact […]
1983 Fender Telecaster Toploader
This is without a doubt Jeff’s best-known guitar, but a little less known fact is that the guitar didn’t actually belong to him but to Janine Nichols, Arts at St. Ann’s Program Director, from whom he borrowed it in 1991. This happened just a couple of days after all of Jeff valuables were stolen from his apartment in Los Angeles, […]
Rickenbacker 360/12 Fireglo
This was Jeff’s second most used guitar, perhaps best known for occasionally being used to play ‘Last Goodbye’ live. There’s some debate on the exact model of this guitar, but the round edges on the body and neck inlays are all the clues you need to figure out it’s a 360 model. The guitar first appeared in mid to […]
Series 10 "Flower" Telecaster
According to a post made over at JBCommunity forums, Jeff got this guitar as a gift after a gig played in Lyon, France in October 1994, from a guy called Jean-Marc who worked at the avenue. For the full story please refer to The Story of the “Flower” Guitar. The guitar was apparently a cheap Korean knock-off that […]
1976 Gibson Les Paul Custom
Chronologically looking, this was the second Les Paul that Jeff owned and played. However, it was the first legitimate Gibson model, since the first guitar wasm according to the most sources, a knockoff. Jeff’s First Les Paul At this point, it is important to establish histories behind the two Les Pauls. For the longest time, […]
1967 Guild F-50
Jeff used this guitar quite often live for the acoustic bits, most notably during the Live in Chicago concert in 1995. During that gig, the guitar had a black tape covering the sound hole, which is basically a cheap way and an alternative to using sound hole covers that serve the purpose of preventing feedback. The guitar was also […]
Jeff was often photographed playing this guitar in 1994 and early 1995, giving us an approximation of when he acquired it. Embed from Getty Images Allegedly, the owner of the blonde Telecaster that Jeff played, Janine Nichols, thought that Jeff should keep that guitar since he loved it so much, and agreed she’ll give it away in exchange […]
This guitar was listed on JeffBuckley.com as part of the guitars owned and used by Jeff, but it is most likely that the Yamaha actually belonged to Michael Tighe, who played rhythm guitar for Buckley. However, just to avoid any confusion, it is probably best to list it here – and perhaps someone will even come along and […]
Fender Vibroverb ’63 Reissue
This was the amp that Jeff used for the most part of his career, seen on photos taken at Sin-e and on the stuff he did later on, most notably the Live in Chicago concert. Worth noting is that he originally seemed to have used a brownface Reissue made sometime in the 90s, but from around 1994 he was […]
Fender Vibroverb '64 Reissue
Jeff was seen using the amp alongside a Mesa Boogie Dual Rectifier Trem-o-verb combo during the BBC Late Show gig, filmed in London, on January 17, 1995. Him using this amp seemed to have been a rare occurrence because Jeff usually stuck with his Fender Vibroverb ’63 Reissue (Brownface).
Mesa Boogie Dual Rectifier Trem-o-verb Combo
Used most notably during the Live in Chicago, and Live in Glastonbury concerts in 1995, alongside a Fender Vibroverb ’63 Reissue (Jeff’s main amp, even in the earlier years). It is not known for which purpose Jeff used the Mesa Boogie combo, but it was either a dedicated “dirty sound” amp or a backup in case […]
This is a rack unit guitar processor, that probably contributed the most in making what’s now known as Jeff’s signature sound. The best example of this sound is perhaps heard on ‘Hallelujah’, during which Jeff used the “Taj Mahal” Reverb effect present on the Quadraverb. He also allegedly played around with the settings, so it […]
Dunlop Tortex Standard .73mm Picks
Although Jeff often played just with his fingers, when he needed a pick, it seems that the yellow .73mm Dunlop Tortex Standard picks were his main choice. If you happen to come across a photo or a video where he’s using anything but these, please be sure leave a comment below. Also note that these […]
Contributors: Michael C., ryanpere, Alex Sandberg, wreknsild, Jamie, Mark, Jim