In The Style Of Stephen Stills

By Miguel Ángel Ariza

One of the ‘big forgottens’ in the collective memory (at least in Europe) of the best and greatest guitarists in the history of rock is the protagonist of today’s article: Stephen Stills. Stills is an authentic musical genius capable of playing with the courage of Neil Young, harmonizing as well as David Crosby, and singing as marvellously as Graham Nash; and meanwhile has been capable of composing some of the most famous songs in north American history… that’s not a bad list of accomplishments.      

Only a few giants in the industry can say they have done things like being inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame twice on the same day (with Buffallo Springfield and with CSNY) or having played the holy trinity of legendary festivals: MontereyWoodstock and Altamont. He has done it, he is a star of the highest order, but it is true that he seems to have disappeared from the Olympus of popular gods.  

However that is not the case in ‘the Olympus of Guitars Exchange’, where he has a place of honour, and from which point we dedicate to him this article to speak about his guitar equipment.

He is a huge electric guitarist but he can also play acoustic material that truly leaves us with our mouth’s open. As he himself said, the first time he saw ‘a bit’ of money with his music he bought himself a Ferrari and a Martin D-45. We don’t want to enter into the details of what a ‘bit’ of money is for Stills but we cannot but surrender ourselves before his good taste in both cars and guitars. There are many photographs in which we can see him with that Martin in his hands.

Another two models that we have seen many times hanging from his shoulder are his favourite electrics: mainly the Gretsch (aways without a pickguard; as it helped him with his fingerpicking technique) and without doubt the most legendary and the one that he still uses - which he exchanged with his friend and band colleague Neil Young - the 1958 White Falcon. Later, during the 70s, he was seen many times with a Gibson Firebird I and a Gibson Firebird VII.

Many years later, now in the XXI century, he has finally opted for the Fender Stratocaster. Specifically he has two 1954 models, of which he says that once he mastered them (they are tough guitars) they gave him all the tones that he expects from an electric guitar.

Regarding amplifiers, he says that the combination of a Marshall and Gretsch send him crazy, but that there is a problem when playing live with such wide box guitars. For that reason he has also frequently used Fender models like the Fender Bassman, which he says give him less feedback problems.

Luxurious equipment for a top guitarist who, we cannot finish this article without saying it, went above and beyond the stars by linking up with two guys callled Jimi Hendrix and Eric Clapton to play on his first solo album… doesn’t a guy like that deserve to be remembered more frequently? On Guitars Exchange we have it clear. We are big supporters of Stephen Stills.

Find you own way to the tone of Stephen Stills