On the 'tube

Did I heard it right? George didn’t like the sound of Gretsch into …


I think there was a point with the Beatles that George had become disenchanted with his own guitar playing. He felt his playing had become stagnant and stale by constantly playing the same Beatles songs over and over and other players were passing him by in tone and style. The age of the "Guitar Hero" was beginning and George who was always a "team player" and did not fit that mold...which for him was probably more about his personality than skills as a player. Just like many of us mere mortals, even George had a sound he was chasing in his head, loved guitars and suffered from the same GAS. The Strat was his Holy Grail of guitars and at that time in England it was not so easy to get your hands on different models of American made guitars, even for a Beatle. Ironically, as much as George professed his love for the Strat, he played many of his most iconic guitar parts with the Beatles on other guitars, Epi Casino, SG, etc. Also in that era effects pedals were in their infancy and it was not as easy to plug any guitar into any amp along with a few choice pedals and get any sound you want. Great video by the way.


I don't find it so surprising. I'm betting most Vox amps sold in this country were bought for visual stage impact rather than tone.


George didn't have to deal with those VOX Thomas Organ transistor amps; he had the real deal tube models that we pay top dollar for. It does seem odd---he had the sound that so many of us are seeking and he wanted something different. The quest for the ultimate tone goes on.


If my memory is correct, he described his sound with the Gretsch and Vox amp as "crap."



To me the times were different back then, so much new stuff was developing with new players and styles. I know for me when Hendrix came out all I could think about was a Strat too. At that time I was playing a Guild Starfire V and it started feeling outdated for a period of time.


So George was constantly GAS-ing for different gear to get new and cooler guitar sounds? Hmmm...he sounds like most of us!


He rediscovered the joys of his Duo Jet in his later period. The Travelling Wilburys all used Gretsch guitars too.


I don't find it so surprising. I'm betting most Vox amps sold in this country were bought for visual stage impact rather than tone.

– norm van maastricht

In the US, very well possible, yes. But a UK AC15 or AC30, while not my personal favorite amps, are very good sounding amps. Probably some of the nicest guitar amps you could get in Europe around that time.


Funny,i was just watching the whole video Curves Contours, and Body Horns yesterday!

I recorded it on an old vhs tape from when it was shown on tv,i'm amazed it still worked as its over 20 years old!


I have seen that vid... we all know he wanted a Strat in Hamburg, missed it, got the Duo Jet instead. Then in aother vid he states that he and John got t he LPB Strats in the Rubber Soul sessions. 65 was his last Gretsch year. And don't forget in 65 Strat was at a real low ebb of popularity, no one's idea of cool at least here.. because of... British Invasion guitars!!! . Even Hendrix was doing Jazzmasters at the time. Only cool in UK because of Hank Marvin. So he saw the guitar's coolness ahead of many others. He had the bridge/middle pickup sound by '66, years before EC made it his tone. So he was ahead of all those people when it came to that guitar. In the end, despite using lots of other stuff, he became a Strat slave like everyone else .. but was ahead of them.

Gretschadelphia also summarizes things well.

And btw Hi Lo Trons thru a cranked AC-100 w/ EL 34s ON FIRE is Hell on Wheels can ya relate

Dig how he moves over the the Pretty Woman riff in 2nd version.


Like most American made consumer goods, Fender guitars became freely available in the UK in 1960. Before then you either got someone to bring you one back from the US, or you placed a special order (as Cliff Richard did for Hank Marvin's first Strat) or you found a secondhand one as George Harrison did with his Duo Jet.

I didn't think his Gretsch/Vox sound was actually crap during the early EMI years — although it wasn't particularly wonderful, either — but I did like the sound of the Hi-Los in his Tennessean. However, his sound on the earlier Decca demo stuff was pretty feeble. I know the band was in its formative stage (at least from a recording point of view) but it was still a classic Gretsch through a Gibson amp recorded in a pro studio. OK let's blame the engineer.


Quest for tone is a perpetual instatifaction ! Moreover, having the same sound for years could be a little boring when we're talking of creativity vibes of the swing-london.

Anyway, having few steps back now we know that the Gretsch + Vox AC is a killer combo !


Grass is always greener

You have access to Gretsches and Vox tubes and you want a STRAT?

Gag me with a ladle

I'm new to the Gretsches but I've frankly never liked Strats

In college, 1985-90 I did own one 'Strat', not sure if it was a real one or not . I have no recollection of buying it or selling it, just having it as my 3rd/last ranked guitar behind my AS200 and a Tele

Never owned a Strat since

Do have a Tyler Variax 69 though and it's shape and mag pickups are dead ringers for a Strat

They just never appealed to me

I ACHE for a Jag, but especially in hipster trendy Seattle, the prices are insane

Kurt Cobain completely inflated their value

Like Jimmy Page did with Les Pauls (another guitar I am indifferent to dislike mode for)

Give me an ESP over a LP ANY day

I think the mania over 59 LP's in particular is insane

And that you can buy a 3k Les Paul that has worse frets than a $250 Chinese guitar!!!!

Ironically, while I am a fan of neither Fender (prefer G&L) or Gibson

I LOVE Gretsches (owned by Fender) and Steinbergers (owned by Gibson)

Steinbergers are 180 degrees different than Gretsches.... But man are they unbelievably awesome

Need Steinberger is a true genius


He might not have liked the tone but because they made all those hit records with that sound, it became a tone people sought after.


WhittleZ, Gretsch is not owned by Fender. It is owned by The Gretsch Company. Fender merely has a marketing and product development agreement with The Gretsch Company.


Ironically, George loved the vintage 6120 w/ Dynas that his wife bought him for his birthday that he played on the HBO Carl Perkins Special. Both George and John switched from Vox to Fender amps in the latter phase of the Beatles. One thing we do know is that George loved guitars. Unlike John who just saw them as tools and treated his guitars indifferently, George took great care of his instruments and they remained in great condition throughout the years. With further regards to George's preference for Strats, IMO, George can sound like George on any guitar but a significant ingredient to his slide tone is the bell-like clarity that a Strat can produce. IMO, George was a fine all around guitar player (better than he himself thought; there are anecdotes from other players who jammed privately with George that he was also an outstanding Blues player but shied away from that style publically because "Eric and some of the other guys are so great at it"). He should be on the Mt. Rushmore of slide players. His slide playing was so unique and original, so soulful in emotion and tone along with unmatched accuracy and intonation.


WhittleZ, Gretsch is not owned by Fender. It is owned by The Gretsch Company. Fender merely has a marketing and product development agreement with The Gretsch Company.

– Ric12string

Really? Awesome

Thank you for correcting me

That improves my mood and outlook on life!

I don't HATE fender but they have done little innovative in a long time and sell a lot of mediocre productsat inflated prices imnsho

I'm talking guitars. Amps be another story

Yes, some of their guitars are decently priced and good quality although the lack of innovation is still what it is

As for Steinberger, apparently Gibson is leaving well enough alone and letting them and GENIUS Nes Steinberger continue to make world class groundbreaking guitars while Gibson churns out absurdly priced overhyped mediocrity, and provides the singular experience of having consumers pay $2k plus for guitars that are often I desperate need of a fret job

I have HEARD they totally misuse their Plek(s) for example running the guitars through UNSTRUNG?????!!!!!



George started w Gretsch - lusted after a Stratocaster - but also chose A Gibson SG and Les Paul for some of his best works. Every one of those periods and sounds were definitive in their own way.

It reminds me of my own misery. A Gibson SG, 57 RI Stratocaster or Country Gent into a tweed Bassman or Deluxe Reverb etc? Yea, I'm in misery. But... Even w great choices, I get frustrated on any given day and send a particular amp or guitar into purgatory.

My guitar buddies laugh when I send a great guitar to the back of the line .. They know they will come back to the front of the line in time.

George loved Gretsch guitars, I have no doubt, and made some of his best music with them (All my Loving, I Feel Fine, She Loves You) and returned to Gretsch for excellent later works such as Cloud Nine and the Carl Perkins Special. He also made timeless works with his Stratocaster and Gibsons - oh yea - because that's what a great musician can do.


It's true that Fender hasn't come up with anything good since Leo left, but it's still cool stuff and they've made a lot of it. Where would we be without Fender.


I don't HATE fender but they have done little innovative in a long time and sell a lot of mediocre productsat inflated prices imnsho

I don't necessarily agree with this statement. They have introduced their Blacktop and Pawn Shop guitars over the last few years. They have some new takes on their original designs within these lines. My favorites are the original Blacktop Jazzmaster with a Fender humbucker in the bridge and a Seymour Duncan designed Jazzmaster bridge pickup and the reverse Jaguar bass.

If given a choice I feel most players including me want Fender, Gibson or Gretsch to be consistent rather than innovative.


I love George's playing throughout The Beatles and beyond. He never lost sight of the job the lead guitarist had to do in whatever period he was playing. McCartney's comments about his playing being underrated and essential to the success of many songs in Living in the Material World are not only spot on, but have the added weight of coming from someone who actually played with him. As for his tone on a Gretsch compared to a Strat, I'm with George. I figure he knew what he wanted. I can only imagine how much better those early tracks would have sounded on a Strat through a Deluxe Reverb.


My favorite George Harrison tones are with his Duo Jet. If he could have played his Duo Jet through a Deluxe Reverb it would have been marvelous!


I love his Gretsch tones on the early stuff,but i feel his slide playing is the real George ,it sounds like its coming from his soul,to me anyway.

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