Robby Krieger’s Guitars and Gear

Robby Krieger was born on January 8, 1946 in Los Angeles, California. He is best known as a founding member and a guitarist of the band “The Doors”, also writing many of the band’s biggest hits including “Light My Fire” and “Love Her Madly”.

As a young boy, Robby was into classical music mostly influenced by his father, but at the age of seven he became interested in blues and early rock and roll. He wanted to learn an instrument, and after experimenting with trumpet and piano, eventually picked up a guitar and started playing. In 1965 he was offered to play in the Doors alongside Ray Manzarek, John Densmore, and Jim Morrison. The band released a total of nine studio albums, including the two released after Jim Morrison’s death.

Since The Doors disbanded in 1973, Robby established a couple of more bands, including “The Butts Band”, and released seven albums as a solo artist.

Robby Krieger was voted as 76 on Rolling Stone’s list of the 100 greatest guitarists of all time. He is a finger-style guitarist, and is best know for playing a Gibson SG guitar.

Robby Krieger’s Electric Guitars:

1964 Gibson SG Special

1964 Gibson SG Special This was Robby’s first electric guitar. He bought it in 1964 in a pawn shop called Ace Loans located in Santa Monica for $180. He was initially influenced to pick up an electric guitar by listening to Chuck Berry – who at the time played a cherry red ES-335. Robby was looking for an instrument that looked similar to Chuck’s, and closest thing he could afford was this 64′ SG Special.

The guitar was equipped with two P90 single-coil pickups, had a solid-mahogany body, and Vibrola tremolo system. Robby’s 1964 SG Special also had dot inlays, original small pickguard, and no crown inlay on the headstock.

Robby played this guitar in his first band “The Clouds”, and with the Doors on their first album. He also used it a lot during those early tours and live gigs, and played it until the early 70s when it was stolen and never recovered. Robby wasn’t really stressed about it, and he just switched to another SG – which by that time he had more than a few.

FUN FACT: One of the first gigs that the Doors ever did was at London Fog club on the Sunset Strip. On the night of the audition for the job, the band invited their friends from UCLA to cheer after each song, making them seem like a really popular band – when at that time they really weren’t.
Next night no one was there, and the club was basically empty – but the plan worked out and the band was hired to work there for next couple of months. This enabled them to practice in front of an audience, and grow above any initial shyness that they must’ve had to deal with as a young band.

1968 Gibson SG Standard

GIbson SG Standard Red In 1968 Robby purchased another SG, which he first used on the tour that same year. Robby also played this guitar on most of the late Doors stuff, and later on with the Butts Band. He no longer owns the guitar, but it’s not clear when exactly he stopped using it.

Apart from obvious visual differences between this and Robby’s first SG, the 68 SG Standard had two T-Top humbuckers instead of the single-coils in the ’64 Special.

Apart from these two SGs, Robby recalls using a couple more different ones. In an interview with Gibson he mentioned “a black one, a white one with three pickups, and lots of red ones”. Unfortunately we couldn’t find any info about these guitars. If you know anything please message us using the form at the bottom of this article

1958 National Town & Country

1958 National Town & Country Not much to be found about this guitar. Robby used it in late 66/early 67, and it was featured on “Break On Through” promo video.

Robby’s National had blonde finish, maple body and neck with rosewood fingerboard, as well as two Valco pickups.

1954 Gibson Les Paul Custom

Robby Krieger Gibson 1954 Les Paul Custom This guitar first appeared sometime in 1968, and Robby played it on most of the slide stuff on the Doors’ albums. Among others, it was used on the song “L.A. Woman”, and was seen at the Hollywood Bowl concert during which Robby used it for “Moonlight Drive”.

The guitar originally had Bigsby tremolo but it was removed at some point, and the original P90 pickup in the neck position was replaced with a Seymour Duncan mini-humbucker.

In 2014, Gibson released Robby Krieger 1954 Les Paul Signature model based on this guitar.

1968 Gibson ES-335-12

Robby Krieger 12 string es335 Used on Love Her Madly, Texas Radio, and probably a few more.

The guitar was sold on an auction in 2010.

1964 Gibson ES-355 Varitone

Gibson Es355 Robby Krieger In the 80s Robby started playing more jazz tunes, so for that reason he started using Gibson ES-335 and ES-355 models. Information about these guitars is very hard to find, but we came upon one guitar that seems to be one of his most frequently used. It is a cherry red 1964 ES-355 wired mono without the Varitone switch, featuring gold-plated hardware and Maestro Vibrola tremolo piece.

Robby used this guitar on his solo projects during the 80s, and continues to play to this day – most recently on his 2010 album “Singularity”.

1967 Gibson SG Standard

Gibson SG Standard This guitar was spotted in a small guitar shop by Robby’s road manager Marco Moir, who immediately informed Robby that he should go and check it out by himself. He bought it, and it ended up becoming one of his main guitars in the recent years.

This 67 SG also served as a blueprint for the Robby Krieger Signature SG released in 2009, except that the neck was based on piece from a different SG owned by a Robby’s friend.

1960 Gibson Les Paul Standard

Cherry Sunburst 1959 Les Paul This is perhaps the most collectable guitar in Robby’s collection. He bought it just couple of years back persuaded by his friend Al Jackson.

The guitar is rarely played live.


Robby Krieger’s Acoustic Guitars:

1963 Jose Ramirez flamenco

Jose Ramirez flamenco This is one of the first guitar that Robby ever got – his first one was a cheap knock-off.

His father bought it in Madrid during a business trip for $200, and for those first couple of years it was all that Robby played and practiced on.

Rick Turner Renaissance Series Nylon

Rick Turner Renaissance Series This guitar was custom-built for Robby. He plays it very often live in the recent years on “Spanish Caravan”, perhaps to take the stress off the 1963 Ramirez – which is dear to him for obvious reasons (read above).

Robby Krieger’s Guitar Amps:

– Magnatone Custom
This was Robby’s first amp used in the early days of the Doors, but he didn’t use it for any of the recording on the first album – most of the songs were recorded using rented Fender Twin Reverbs.
The Magnatone was a relatively small combo amp with two 12 inch speakers – most likely model 260.

– Acoustic 260
The band signed a deal with Acoustic amps, and both Robby and Ray were using their amps for some time – mostly just live. But Robby grew tired of them and switched to Twin Reverbs from Fender.

– Fender Twin Reverb(s)
Robby used these amps in studio on almost all of the Doors stuff. Some of the amps were customized by Vince Traenor who installed JBL speakers in them.

– Fender Hot Rod DeVille
His current amp. He uses two of them on-stage, with either 2×12 or 4×10 cabinets.

Robby Krieger Guitar Effects:

With the Doors Robby used just a wah pedal, most likely a Dunlop Crybaby, and an addition pedal for distortion. He remembers using Maestro Fuzztone, but he was most often seen with a Vox Tone Bender on stage.

Nowadays his setup is even more simpler – he uses the Boss ME-10 multi-effect unit and a wah pedal on occasion.

Robby Krieger Guitar Strings:

GHS Boomers (.010, .013, .017, .026, .036, .046)

Robby Krieger Guitar Strings:

Although Robby mostly plays with his fingers, when he needs a pick he goes for a Fender Medium.

Contributors: Jim


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