At 16 years of age he made his debut as guitarist of John Mayall’s Bluesbreakers replacing one Eric Clapton, at 17 he officially joined the band filling the space left by Peter Green and at 20 he joined another British band led by one Mick Jagger and one Keith Richards called The Rolling Stones. We’re talking about one Mick Taylor, probably the best guitarist in the history of the London band and one of the earliest figures in the history of pop music.
He got such merits at a tender young age by almost always being accompanied by a Gibson Les Paul Standard from the late 50s, with a very wide neck, something he still appreciates now getting close to 70 years old. A little later on he did it with a second Gibson Les Paul Standard, this time from ‘59, but not just any old guitar but the same one Richards had been using for years and which brought the two guitarists together for the first time although this time was just a transaction and not to make some of the records of pure genius such as Let It Bleed, or Exile on Main Street.
Later he would begin to toy with another of the models that he has used since the 60s, the Gibson SG Standard, some of them fitted with a Bigsby, and with which by the way, he used to play quite a bit of slide with the Rolling Stones. It’s the main guitar he played for the legendary live album Get Yer Ya-Yas Out. It’s another guitar with a light body but a wide neck that gives us a pretty clear hint that it was the one preferred by Mr. Taylor.
Another interesting thing about his gear are the strings he used were a type of hybrid set, with light strings in the first chords and heavier, thicker strings for the bass chords. According to the man himself, his third string is a .017 and the sixth is a .052.
He is currently quite comfortable playing some of his Fender Stratocasters, a model he loves, just like most of us, for its versatility. But claims he has never stopped nor would he ever stop playing his old Les Pauls and other Gibson models, like the Gibson ES-335 for example, which he used a lot in the studio during his time with the Satanic Majesties.
These are some of the most representative guitars from a guy who at 25 was already there and back from it all, and had lived various lives on a few tours, and was greatly admired by the public at large, and yet more importantly, by the great artists of his generation, having collaborated with musicians as big as Dylan, Jack Bruce, and John McVie among many others. A guy who decided to step aside after walking on the wild side perhaps a bit too early. He chose to get away from the excesses and quit the biggest band on the planet at the peak of his career and probably for one single reason: the dead don’t play guitars.