Beatle George Harrison was born on February 25, 1943 at 12 Arnold Grove in Wavetree, Liverpool. Surely you are already familiar with his contribution to The Beatles, his solo work and perhaps even his life story. Though John Lennon and Paul McCartney wrote the lion’s share of the band’s hits, Harrison will likely be best remembered for his contributions like “While My Guitar Gently Weeps” and “Here Comes the Sun”.
“Slowhand” and God himself, Eric Clapton saw Harrison as an innovator on the guitar, combining elements of country, rock, rockabilly and R&B to inform his own style. Harrison’s guitar playing doesn’t always garner a lot of attention, but he was a solid and imaginative guitar player all around, from his subdued leads to his innovative approach to rhythm parts.
Just as Jimi Hendrix became associated with Fender Stratocasters, so did Angus Young with Gibson SGs and Alberta King with Flying Vs. Sometimes, the guitars one uses become just as famous, if not more than the one using them. Harrison is best known for popularizing the Rickenbacker 360/12 electric 12-string guitar as well as the Fender Rosewood Telecaster and Gibson J-160E acoustic-electric guitar.
Harrison’s son, Dhani released a must-have iPad app for fans – The Guitar Collection: George Harrison in 2012. Unfortunately, this app is nowhere to be found on the App Store these days, but at the time fans delighted in the opportunity to browse Harrison’s many rare, collectible and iconic instruments.
We thought it worthwhile to take another look at some of Harrison’s most prized and recognizable axes. Here are three we’d like to highlight.
1963 Rickenbacker 360/12
Rickenbacker has now been in business for over 85 years as a guitar manufacturer and their beautiful chimey axes are loved by many. To be fair, they serve a bit of a niche, aging audience these days, but that isn’t to say they aren’t great for a variety of styles.
The 1963 Rickenbacker 360/12 was a Rickenbacker prototype at the time. In 1964, owner of Rickenbacker guitar company Francis C. Hall discovered that The Beatles would be appearing on The Ed Sullivan Show. Harrison was unable to attend due to illness, but bandmate Lennon gave the guitar a go and thought it would be perfect for Harrison and passed it onto him.
1968 Fender Rosewood Telecaster
Fender is synonymous with their Stratocaster and Telecaster guitars. From Eric Clapton to Jimi Hendrix, there are many players who favor Fenders and use them extensively. Even players who don’t primarily use Fenders tend to have at least one in their collection for when they need a “spanky” tone.
Harrison’s Rosewood Telecaster is another prototype guitar. Fender was looking to add solid rosewood Stratocaster and Telecaster models to their product catalog, so they gave Harrison this Tele to help drive exposure for their new product. Harrison used the guitar for the Let It Be and Abbey Road sessions.
1962 Gibson J-160E
American guitar manufacturer Gibson is known for their classic, quality instruments, whether electric or acoustic, with their acoustic instruments often offering a dark, warm tone favored by many.
Harrison and Lennon both ordered a Gibson J-160E acoustic-electric guitar simultaneously. The axes were shipped from the United States in the summer of 1962. The guitars were promptly used on “Love Me Do”.