Jeff Buckley’s 1976 Gibson Les Paul Custom

access_time First seen circa 1980

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, and switched to an Ovation electric.

This is the point of time where the story gets confusing. If Jeff already owned a Gibson Les Paul, it would be reasonable to assume that he would take that guitar with him to the Musicians Institute, but for one reason or another, he didn’t appear to do so. As a matter of fact, the guitar wasn’t seen again until 1995, meaning that it likely remained at his mother’s house during all those years during which Jeff didn’t even use a guitar of his own (remember – the Telecaster was borrowed from Janine Nichols).

In 1995 Jeff again started using a black Les Paul Custom, which appeared to be the exact same guitar he used in his teen years. Some sources indicate that this guitar was purchased that same year in Wisconsin [Intimate Audio – Jeff Buckley Tribute], but there’s strong suspicion that this is really the one same exact guitar. After all, it is possible that the Jeff simply picked up the guitar from his mother’s place and started using it again during the Grace tour. From the photographic evidence alone, the two guitars appear to be identical, so unless we find a statement from a source close to Jeff Buckley, it is somewhat safe to assume that those photos show one same guitar.

Jeff used this Les Paul couple of times live mostly in 1995. It was seen during a concert played at the Asbury Park, New Jersey, and during the Glastonbury Festival in Britain.

Just recently, this guitar was seen on display at The Rock & Roll Hall of Fame Museum during an exhibit which also included Jeff’s black wool coat, jodhpurs, white V-neck T-shirt and handwritten lyrics and poems. The Les Paul seems to be a permanent donation to the Museum from the Jeff Buckley Estate.

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access_time 1991

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

access_time 1995

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

access_time 1985

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. […]

access_time 1994

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 […]

access_time 1984

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. 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 […]

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