Johnny's First Guitar:
1960's/70's Decca Guitar
I was twelve, I talked my mom into picking up a Decca electric guitar
for me for twenty-five dollars. It had a little blue plush amp."
- Johnny Depp, Rolling Stone January 24, 2008
It might've looked
something like this:
or perhaps like one of
And the Plush amp might
be something like this:
Gretsch Jet Firebird Guitar
played this guitar at an Iggy Pop concert in Paris on 12/12/99.
The show was broadcast. As per Mike E., the guitar has
2 Super Tron pickups, which would date the guitar to around 1968-1970.
Ghetto Bird Guitars
played 8 songs with Alice Cooper at his Orpheum Theatre, LA show in
November of 2012 and 2 songs with Aerosmith a few days later at the
Staples Center. He played the guitar at top left, which has a shape
similar to the Gibson Firebird. The logo identifies this as an Echopark guitar; this model is the Ghetto Bird
(thanks to Rubén and Andrea for the ID, and Ina, Mary, and Adde for
Echopark is a new trademark established in 2012, and is a
favorite of Aerosmith members Joe Perry and Brad Whitford, as well as
Jakob Dylan and others.
In the fall of 2015, Johnny was spotted in his home recording studio
playing a similar guitar, in a photo taken by Ross Halfin. Around
that time, Echopark Instagrammed that they'd been hanging with Johnny at "3 o'clock in da mownin." Later, they posted a photo of the "Ghetto Bird number 2...#johnnydepp." The finish is darker on this second guitar, and according another Instagram, it features "Echotron pickups." In 2016, Echopark posted another Instagram (top right) with the caption "Ghettobird I Custom built for Jonny Depp."
1 and 2: November 29,
2012 with Alice Cooper; photos 3 and 4: December 3, 2012 with
Aerosmith; photo 5: Ghetto Bird number 2 at Johnny's home studio,
October 2015, photo by Ross Halfin; photo 6: closeup of Echotron
pickups; photo 7: photo by Echopark)
El Cabillo Guitar
played this guitar at Alice Cooper's Christmas Pudding show on December
8, 2012. Like the guitar above, the headstock identifies it
as an Echopark;
the model is an El
Cabillo. Joe Perry
played a similar guitar with a different finish on the
Aerosmith video of Train Kept A Rollin' featuring Johnny that is on the
Music From Another Dimension! release.
A post found on the imgdonkey
online image site showed a photo of a guitar with the following
caption: "recently discovered that my family has more talent than i
thought here is a guitar dad&039s cousin made for johnny depp."
A close-up of the headstock reveals the guitar to be a
Johnny also owns a resonator guitar made by Kurt Schoen; this
is a solid body guitar but is made from the same Apache Powder Company
crate that the resonator is made from. Like the resonator,
one also has a bullet inlaid and antique skeleton keyheads.
Teye T Series La Pirata Guitar
was sporting this beautifully intricate guitar backstage at The Roxy on
September 17, 2015, the night of the second Hollywood Vampires
show. Teye guitars are hand-crafted by Teye, with unique and
artistic designs. Hopefully we will be seeing much more of this
guitar. Thanks to Evert at Teye for the identification!
Zemaitis Custom Metal Fronttm Guitar
Johnny was spotted playing this
guitar in the studio, as captured by photographer Suzanne
Allison. The guitar is identified by its headstock
as a Zemaitis model. It appears to be a custom Metal Fronttm
with a monocut shape, though the specific Celtic knot-style design is not
shown on Zemaitis' website. A close-up of a Zemaitis guitar headstock is shown below.
RKS Electric Guitar
guitar was spotted with Johnny and another
guest at the Pirates of
the Caribbean: At World's End premiere
on May 19, 2007. It was built by inventor and designer Ravi
Sawhney, who founded RKS Guitars with Dave Mason as a partner.
The guitar business was a sideline that was apparently active
from 2003 to 2007.
Guitars old official site (no longer updated)
RKS Guitars Legacy
(official legacy site with videos and a photo gallery)
Sawhney on Wikipedia
Ibanez Destroyer model
played this guitar to perform his solo for the Shane MacGowan &
Friends Haitian relief charity single, I Put A Spell On You.
headstock identifies it as an Ibanez, and it is probably a Destroyer
model from circa 1975. In the early 70's, Ibanez was selling
guitars that closely resembled Gibson models, and the Destroyer was
similar to the Gibson Explorer. Gibson filed a lawsuit
Ibanez in 1977, forcing them to change their designs. These
pre-lawsuit guitars are very much collectors' instruments.
Destoyer on Wikipedia
Attack article about the Gibson lawsuit
Explorer on Wikipedia
Baxendale "Do It For
custom guitar was given to Johnny as part of a quest by filmmakers
Haylar Garcia and Darcy Grabowski to bring Johnny a screenplay.
the Ballad of Bad Bax,
the screenplay tells the story of the life of guitarmaker Scott
Baxendale, and it was/is hoped that Johnny would consider starring in
it. Baxendale built this guitar, which is described as
of aged solid swamp ash and capped with a curly maple top, it combines
elements of the Fender Stratocaster, Telecaster and Dan Electro
guitars. The headstock is inlaid with a design by Garcia, and in the
back is a specially constructed chamber that displays the Narcophonic
script." When the
filmmakers and Baxendale finally caught up with Johnny in 2005, Johnny
explained that he was not permitted to accept the screenplay
personally-- it would have to go through traditional channels.
However, he was able to accept the guitar itself.
of the quest to deliver the screenplay is told in the documentary, Do It For Johnny,
which screened at a number of festivals in 2007. The film is
still awaiting domestic and foreign distribution. See the
Depp Rocks! Documentaries page for more on Do It For Johnny.
2005 Westword.com article featuring description of the Do It For Johnny
Gretsch Americana Series Limited Edition Showdown Acoustic Guitar
June of 2015, Johnny put his French Estate on the market, including a
number of his personal belongings. News and real estate photos
showed many of the buildings and their rooms and furnishings that are
up for sale. Included in two of the photographs is this Gretsch
3/4 size model, that was perhaps played by Johnny and/or Jack.
Gretsch Guitars G4510 Americana Series Limited-Edition Showdown Acoustic Guitar
Gretsch Guitar seen in Cry-Baby
Weymann Guitar seen in My Valentine Video
This beautiful guitar was
Johnny the Paul McCartney-directed video of his song, My Valentine, in
April of 2012. In November of 2012, McCartney released his
Kisses DVD, which features a Making My Valentine featurette.
it, Johnny is seen taking the guitar out of its case. Here is
some of the dialogue that took place:
THAT's a nice-looking guitar
That's a Weymann...
Off camera (could be
cinematographer Wally Pfister): (Gasp!) Oh WOW!
That's an old Weymann
Maybe it'd be nice with the f-holes like that
It's more romantic...
Something romantic about it, yeah. It'd be a good
Weymann was a
Philadelphia-based instrument maker who began in 1864 with harmonicas
and sheet music, according to one of his descendents on an Allexperts.com
His son and grandson continued with the company, H.A. Weymann
Son, which later became mostly known for its banjos, but also made
guitars, mandolins, and even brass instruments. The company
out of business in 1942. Online, one can find a 1925
Weymann Deluxe and a 1928
that are very different from Johnny's guitar, notably in the much more
ornate neck and headstock. However, the body styles with the
f-holes are very similar, as are the tailpieces in all these models.
Shortly before Live Kisses was released, I received an e-mail from a
fellow named Phil Arnold, who believes that a guitar he owns is nearly
identical to Johnny's. The body shape and style, the
the f-holes, and even the unusual tailpiece look identical.
purchased his guitar on a California street corner in 1988, and has
been trying to identify it ever since. He told me what he had
learned about it from various luthiers while having repairs made, and
that he believed it to be very old; possibly dating back to the 1800's,
and possibly originating from a European violin maker. Once I
relayed Johnny's identification of his guitar as a Weymann, the
possibility emerges that this guitar could still date back to the 1800s
and could be inspired by European violin design. Read Phil's
intriguing story here:
Photo of Phil's Guitar