Jeff Buckley

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 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 had a custom mirror pickguard, and with what was most likely a Seymour Duncan Hot Rails pickup fitted in the bridge position.

Seymour Duncan Hot Rails Telecaster PickupSeymour Duncan Hot Rails Telecaster PickupAmazon.com Check price

Aside from this guitar, Jeff was also seen using a late 1970s Gibson Les Paul Custom. This guitar is currently owned by The Rock & Roll Hall of Fame Museum. Also, he often used a Rickenbacker 360/12 “Fireglo”. Also worth mentioning is the cheap Telecaster replica made by Series 10, decorated with flower patterns.

He played his electric guitars almost always through a Fender Vibroverb Reissue amplifier. Some also 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. He also liked his vintage Gibson L-1, but used it less often publically.

About effects, Jeff didn’t complicate things much at all. The one single notable effect that he used is the Alesis Quadraverb rack unit, used on “Hallelujah”. Throughout the song, Jeff used a modified “Taj Mahal” Reverb effect preset on the Quadraverb.

List of Guitars, Amps, Effects, and Accessories used by Jeff Buckley

Sort by:

Electric Guitars

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, a real guitar. And that’s when we all chipped in to get him the Les Paul.

Jeff Buckley – Everybody Here Wants You Documentary (5:30)

I got an electric guitar at thirteen – a black Les Paul copy that sounded pretty good. Yes, that’s how it started…

The Oppressive Lightness of Being Crazy, Gitarre & Bass, October, 1995

According to Jeff’s friend, Jason Hamel, who was kind enough to provide some details about the guitar, Jeff had this Les Paul when the two first met, in 1981. Jason also suspects that Jeff got the guitar way before his 14th birthday (1980) since only a year later he could already play some serious stuff. As he points out, it is also possible that Jeff had a guitar prior to this which he used to practice on.

Read More

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 was purchased at Pete’s Music. My friend Dave Judy says he sold it to him. He used that all through high school and GIT.

Jason Hamel – email

Jeff Buckley playing an Ovation Viper, the early 80s. Photo credit: Unknown
Read More

Unknown Guitar

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. The body does seem to resemble some Ovation models from the 80s, like the Viper, but the headstock is where it gets confusing. 

For any feedback, please be sure to leave a comment below. Images of the guitar are available here: Jeff Buckley with an unknown guitar.

Read More

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’s valuables were stolen from his apartment in Los Angeles, and following a Tim Buckley Tribute concert at which Jeff was invited to perform and was given the opportunity to meet Janine.

Embed from Getty Images

The guitar originally featured a white pickguard, but Janine changed it to a mirror one – allegedly inspired by Chrissie Hynde (The Pretenders) who played a similar guitar back in the day.

Read More

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 late 1994, or around the time album Grace was released. It is therefore somewhat safe to guess that Jeff bought it in preparation for the tour and that the guitar wasn’t used during the studio session. If you happen to know more please be sure to leave a comment.

As far as the specs, the guitar featured a maple carved body finished in red sunburst (therefore its nickname – Fireglo), a three-ply maple/walnut neck with rosewood fretboard, a pair of Hi-Gain single-coil pickups, and an adjustable bridge. It was one of the earliest 12-string electric guitars and was hugely popularized by George Harrison of The Beatles. Jeff’s guitar for some reason had a black masking tape rolled over the upper horn, possibly to help support a strap-lock.

Read More

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.

Jeff Buckley with the Flower Telecaster.

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 on the body. He used the guitar a few times at least, most notably during a gig played at MTV London on March 3, 1995.

Read More

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 was according to most sources, a knockoff.

At this point, it is important to establish histories behind the two Les Pauls. For the longest time, people (including us) thought that the Les Paul that Jeff received for his 14th birthday was the same one that he used later on in the 90s.

However, there were some inconsistencies in that version of the story. Most importantly, it didn’t make sense that Jeff would leave a perfect Gibson Les Paul guitar at home and then buy an Ovation Viper (his second electric guitar), and then go on to borrow a Fender Telecaster (the one that he used for the most part of his career). If he had a Gibson, he would certainly use it.

Read More

Acoustic Guitars

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 black tape covering the soundhole, which is basically a cheap way and an alternative to using soundhole covers that serve the purpose of preventing feedback.

Jeff Buckley Live in Chicago in 1995.

The guitar was also most likely used on the studio recording of Lover, You Should’ve Come Over, although that’s just a guess.

As far as how Buckley acquired the guitar in the first place, the recent issue of Guitar World Magazine (June 2016), notes that Steve Addabbo borrowed his own 1967 Guild F-50 to Jeff in 1993. According to the article, the two met at the  Shelter Island Sound Studios in New York in February 1993 and recorded a few songs that became available to the public with the release of the compilation album ‘You and I’, released on March 11, 2016.

Read More

Gibson L-1

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

As the story goes, 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 it too much to give it away, so he agreed he’d give the Telecaster back instead. He supposedly had a custom guitar ordered to replace the Telecaster, but it arrived only a couple of weeks prior to his death. [MojoPin.org] He never got a chance to use it, and we have no idea what it is.

Read More

Yamaha FG-470S

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.

Read More

Amps

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 occasionally also seen using a blackface Vibroverb, most likely also a reissue model. During the recording of the album itself, he allegedly used an altogether different amp of the same model, since his own amp wasn’t working properly at the time (source needed).

After the release of the Grace album in 1994, the band seemed to have purchased a new Fender Vibroverb ’63 Reissue and a Mesa Boogie Dual-Rectifier combo for each Jeff and Michael Tighe, so altogether Jeff seemed to have used at least three different Fender Vibroverb ’63 Reissues.

Jeff is seen using a brownface Fender Vibroverb RI during the Live in Chicago gig. The amp sitting left to the Vibroverb is a Mesa Boogie Tremoverb. Photo source: YouTube
Read More

Fender '64 Vibroverb

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).

Read More

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 something went wrong with the Vibroverb.

Be that as it may, given that Michael Tighe – Jeff’s guitarist, used not only the exact same model himself but also a Fender Vibroberb identical to Jeff’s, it is likely that the band purchased a pair of these for each guitarist to use during the ‘Grace’ tour.

Mesa Boogie Dual Rectifier Trem-o-verb Combo sitting to the left of Jeff’s Fender Vibroverb, Live in Chicago, 1995. Also, note the Alesis Quadraverb unit sitting on top of the Mesa Boogie. Photo source: YouTube
Read More

Effects

Alesis Quadraverb

This is a rack unit guitar processor, that probably contributed the most to 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’ tour, the Alesis Quadraverb was seen sitting on top of Jeff’s Mesa Boogie Dual Rectifier Trem-o-verb combo amp, so it is possible that he played it through that as opposed to through his Fender Vibroverb – the amp that most assume was his favorite one.

Alesis Quadraverb rack unit, identical to the one that Jeff used. If you’re in the market, these usually go for around $50 used on Reverb.com. Photo source: Reverb.com
Read More

Strings

Accessories

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 else but these, please be sure to leave a comment below.

Also note that these are Tortex Standard picks with an oval edge, as opposed to something like a more modern Tortex TIII which has a sharp and pointy edge. If you’re in the market for the same exact picks that Jeff used, you can order them from Amazon for relatively cheap in a pack of 72 – Dunlop Tortex Standard, 0.73mm, Yellow Guitar Pick, 72 Pack

You’d often see Jeff sticking a bunch of Dunlop .73mm Tortex picks in his microphone stand, in order to have them handy in case he drops the one he’s currently using. Photo source: YouTube
Read More