Vintage Guitar - February 2018 - 86
giving it a grittier sound more reliant on
guitar. His first recordings with the band
were dubbed guitar parts on two sessions
for Let It Bleed - "Country Honk" and
"Live With Me" - as well as the single
"Honky Tonk Women," released in July
of '69. He role was elevated on Sticky
Fingers and Exile On Main Street - held
today as perhaps the Stones' best album.
The final representation of Taylor's work
in the group was 1974's It's Only Rock
'n Roll, and he departed late that year.
The guitar was used extensively by
Taylor and Keith Richards as part of a
communal arsenal. Through the years,
its identity has been crossed and con-
The guitar's finish is suitably
faded, worn, and checked.
Its control knobs are eraaccurate reproductions.
Stones in Concert; colloquially, it's
referenced as the "Ya Ya's Guitar."
Being so versed in the blues,
Taylor played a lot of slide with the
Stones, which means this guitar
spent time in his favored tuning,
Open G. He also played it during the
Stones' set on that fateful day at the
Altamont Speedway Free Festival in
In its prime, the guitar was just one
tool employed by the Stones, subject to
its share of modification and upgrades.
Taylor once acknowledged that a Bigsby
vibrato had been removed and replaced
with a standard Gibson stop tailpiece;
two mounting-screw holes confirm his
statement. Babiuk's book identifies it as
originally having a pair of double-black
PAF pickups. Extensive measurements
by Elder led Hard Rock staff to conclude
the covered pickups in it now are not
"We got a 10.2k-ohm reading for the
bridge pickup - likely too hot to be an
original PAF, which typically register
about 8.5k," he said. "I have little doubt
these are aftermarket."
"In the early '70s, it was not so
unusual to put Grover tuners on Les
Pauls because the plastic keys on the
originals typically deteriorated with
time," noted Jeff Nolan, Hard Rock's
Director of Memorabilia. "Also, new
pickups weren't uncommon. It came
to the Stones simply as a used guitar,
not coveted as 'vintage.'
They liked the way
it sounded, so they
put it to good use
in a day-to-day gig
being precious about it
or refusing to re-fret it,
change a dead pickup, or
replace the tuning keys.
I actually love how
not precious they
were about the
n o w we're
rather precious about
Instrument photos courtesy of Hard Rock International.
As seen on the cover of Get Yer Ya Ya's Out!
fused with other 'Bursts
in assorted Stones road
cases. During a 1980
interview with Guitar
Player, Taylor identified
it as a '58 and said he still
owned it. Other references,
though, have labeled it as the
guitar Taylor bought from
Richards before he joined
the Stones. However, Andy
Babiuk, author of the formidable tomes Beatles Gear
and Rolling Stones Gear, has
documented that particular
instrument and designated
it a '59.
Inspection by Hard Rock
guitar tech Kip Elder reaffirms it is indeed a '58.
"I went over it with a finetoothed comb," said Elder. "The neck
is much thicker than later models
-.905" at the first fret, graduated to
.983 at the 12th. Its nut is also wide
compared to later models, measuring just over 1.7". And while it's
considerably worn, the first digit
of the serial number is definitely
He further notes the dramatic fade
in its "now lemonburst" finish, and
adds that it's very likely the guitar
being held by Charlie Watts
on the cover of the 1970
live album, Get Yer Ya
Ya's Out! The Rolling