Jeff Buckley’s Guitars and Gear

Short Summary of Jeff Buckley'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).

Jeff playing a blond Fender Telecaster, with a Mesa Boogie Dual Rectifier Trem-o-verb and a Fender Vibroverb sitting behind him. Photo source: YouTube – Jeff Buckley 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

Guitars

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 (requiries opening up the guitar, so count on a trip to a professional).

Amps

Again, things are pretty simple. For most of the stuff, Jeff used a Fender Vibroverb amp, so consider getting one if budget allows (they are pretty expensive). 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).

Strings

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.

Chronological list of Guitars, Amps, Effects, and Accessories used by Jeff Buckley

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Jeff Buckley's Electric Guitars

1976 Gibson Les Paul Custom

access_time1980

When Jeff was 14 years old, he received a Gibson Les Paul guitar as a birthday present from his mother and his stepfather [Jeff Buckley – Everybody Here Wants You; 5:30]. He can be seen holding the guitar in a recent issue of the Guitar World magazine [Guitar World, June 2016]. It is assumed that he used the guitar up until he moved to Hollywood to attend the Musicians Institute in 1986, […]

1980s Ovation Viper

access_time1984

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. Jeff’s band-mate at the time, John Lindsey, who contacted us via email, noted that Jeff played the guitar through a Roland JC-120 during their time together. Jeff played and recorded with John, Tim Marse, and Dan Roth, and the band did […]

Unknown Guitar

access_time1985

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 model is currently not identified, and until it is, all further research is on halt. […]

1983 Fender Telecaster Toploader

access_time1991

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, and following a Tim Buckley Tribute concert at which Jeff was invited to perform and […]

Rickenbacker 360/12 Fireglo

access_time1994

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 late 1994, or around the time album Grace was released. It is therefore somewhat safe […]

Series 10 "Flower" Telecaster

access_time1995

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 didn’t play too well, but it attracted Jeff’s attention anyways, mostly because of the groovy flower finish […]

Jeff Buckley's Acoustic Guitars

1967 Guild F-50

access_time1993

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 most likely used on the studio recording of ‘Lover, You Should’ve Come Over’, although that’s […]

Gibson L-1

access_time1994

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 for a Gibson L-1 acoustic. However, after Buckley bought the L-1, he happened to enjoy […]

Yamaha FG-470S

access_time1995

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 point out something that we don’t know about it.

Jeff Buckley's Amps

Fender Vibroverb ’63 Reissue

access_time1993

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 occasionally also seen using a blackface Vibroverb, most likely also a reissue model. During the recording of […]

Fender Vibroverb '64 Reissue

access_time1995

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

access_time1995

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 something went wrong with the Vibroverb. Be that as it may, given that Michael Tighe – […]

Jeff Buckley's Effects

Alesis Quadraverb

access_time1994

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 is possible that he modified the factory preset to his own liking. During the ‘Grace’ […]

Jeff Buckley's Accessories

Dunlop Tortex Standard .73mm Picks

access_time1994

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 are Tortex Standard picks with an oval edge, as opposed to something like a more […]

External Links

linkJeffBuckley.com (official website)