The guitars in Elvis Presley’s music

By Miguel Ángel Ariza

As we enter the world of who without any doubt is the best singer in the history of modern music (Author's note: I am looking forward to reading your comments on this statement), it is necessary to talk about three people who have to be mentioned from 1954, when Elvis joins Sun Studio in Memphis for the first time, until his death in 1977.   

The first character we have to mention, and of whom we have already talked long and hard about at Guitars Exchange, is Mr. Scotty Moore, who in my absolutely subjective opinion, due to the love I have for him, is the quintessence of what was, is and should be a Rock And Roll guitarist. I do not mean just his guitar solos, but mainly how you should accompany a Rock and Roll song from the perspective of rhythm, at least in its original form of the 50s. It is a delight to listen to his Gibson ES-290 plugged into his Ray Butts’ Echosonic, an amplifier that he built to emulate his idol Chet Atkins (of who we know that he also recorded some guitars for the King at RCA) and listen to the beautiful harmonies that he adds to the ballads of his first period, not to mention his incredible groove when it comes to playing the most classic rock and roll. Note for the neonates: The rock and roll of the 50s is not played aggressively and hard; It has air and is full of details. Of that Scotty Moore and his Gibson Super 400, the guitar that replaced the ES-290, knew a lot.



The second name in this trinity and no less important and less idolized is James Burton, the guitarist who spans the entire decade of the 70s in the career of Elvis and will always be remembered for being his guitarist in the Las Vegas’ years. The sound of James Burton can be summed up very easily: it sounds like Fender Telecaster all over the place, which is why we included him in the 'Master’s of the Telecaster' list. Specifically James Burton was, during his time with Elvis, a man faithful to a particular model of Telecaster, perhaps the most beautiful of all, the Pink Paisley Fender Telecaster. Legend has it that when the Fender boys called Burton to offer him a Telecaster they said that it had his name "written on it" but when Burton saw it he did not feel a crush precisely ... a pink guitar did not fit into his plans. Still he gave her a chance, picked up the guitar, plugged it in and spent the rest of the decade with that pink wonder hanging from his shoulder.



To finish we have to talk about the third name on this list and that is none other than Elvis Presley himself. Yes folks, the guy to whom that almighty voice belonged also played the guitar and did not do it just for the pictures on the album covers. We can listen to his acoustic Kay in almost all the Sun Records’ recordings, or what is almost to say the same, practically all the songs that changed the world forever. As an anecdote, the store where his mother bought that guitar when he was only 11 years old is still open and selling, among other utensils, some guitars.
  Later it would be a Martin D-28 that we can see being mistreated on the iconic cover of his first record with RCA in 1956.



But undoubtedly if there is a guitar model linked to the already legendary image of this artist it is the Gibson J-200, being the first of many of his most precious and most used assets during the early years of his career.

These are the most representative guitars in Elvis' music; guitars that although it pains us to say from a portal dedicated to them, and to the guitarists who have been totally eclipsed by a voice ... can still not be bought in Thomann.