In The Style of Paul McCartney

By Miguel Ángel Ariza

Now is the moment to dive into the world of the four strings again, and what better way to do that than to talk about the most important rock legend who inhabits planet Earth today: Sir Paul McCartney. I do not need to comment on the unanimous decision since the 60s about who is the most influential band in history or about the two young people from Liverpool who wrote the band’s songs, so we are going to focus here on the basses used by The Beatles bassist.  

We are going to focus on his career with the 'Fab four' and we have to start with his legendary and iconic Höfner 500/1 of 1961, which was in the shape of a violin. This guitar is well known by the many experts in the history of the instruments used by the Beatles. Spain has some of his most important instruments, like the bass from The Cavern; this is the instrument that Paul used in that mythical club that he began to give him a name in his hometown and would also be the bass that would accompany him in each performance and each recording until 1963; the year in which the band changed for ever world popular culture and in which Paul, who had recently found fame, was given by Höfner his bass favourite bass, an improved version of his Höfner 500/1.

If in 1963 the fame of those from Liverpool had only just exploded it was in 1965 when they conquered and destroyed the sales charts of the music business’ most coveted market, the United States. It was that year and in that country, specifically before the mythical concert of the band at the Hollywood Bowl where John Rickenbaker himself gave Paul a gift that would also accompany him for many years: his legendary Rickenbaker 4001S, the same one he painted psychedelic for the promotional period of Sgt Peppers and that years later we could enjoy in its natural colour on his records and tours with Wings.

Many historians also note the presence of the omnipresent Fender Jazz Bass, specifically one from the year 1966, on many of Paul’s recordings on the Double White album of 1968, where such legendary songs as Yer Blues, While my guitar gently weeps, and Helter Skelter were probably recorded with this model. 

As for his amplifiers, although he has used many throughout his long career, it is remarkable that he has always returned to Vox's AC100, using the mythical T60 in the 60s, and then the Mesa Boogie today.

And finally, although it is true that we have also seen him using less common bass models such as the Yamaha BB 1200 or the 5-string Wal-MK2, and although he increasingly likes playing the guitar, it is important to highlight that in the 21st century Sir Paul McCartney continues to climb up onto stage with his 1963 Höfner 500/1 (the first one was stolen in 1969) and presents himself to the world as what he was and will continue to be until the day he leaves us – and let's hope for many centuries - a bassist who became the undisputed star of the most important rock of our lives.

Find you own way to the tone of Paul McCartney