What Guitar Does Dave Grohl Play?
Dave Grohl is one of the most legendary rock musicians of all time, having been part of some of the most critically and commercially successful projects of the 1990s and the 2000s. As the creator of the Foo Fighters and drummer for the iconic Nirvana, it’s no wonder his guitars are talked about so often.
Dave has a wide variety of guitars he has used throughout the years, the Gibson Trini Lopez Standard being the most iconic one. He seems to largely favor Gibsons and has his own Signature DG-335 modeled closely after the Trini Lopez and that he uses to this day.
Dave Grohl: Some Background Information
Dave Grohl is one of the most legendary musicians of the last few decades, being a member of two of the most popular rock bands, Nirvana and then Foo Fighters. He is well-known as a versatile and incredibly skilled musician with the accolades to prove it.
Grohl became interested in music, particularly punk rock, when he was a teenager. He soon learned how to play the guitar and, at the same time, he started to teach himself how to play the drums too. It is now well-known that Grohl never learned how to read sheet music, so he plays everything by ear.
At 17, Dave Grohl joined an already-established punk rock band called Scream as a drummer. He spent four years with this band, touring and recording a few albums. He mostly played the drums but also sang vocals and wrote songs.
Once Scream disbanded in 1990, Grohl auditioned for the newly formed band Nirvana and was invited to join. They soon began recording their first album, “Bleach,” followed by what has now become a legendary grunge and alternative rock album, “Nevermind.” Grohl was a drummer but contributed to several songs as a songwriter, too.
The third and final album of Nirvana was “In Utero”, another critical and commercial success. However, following the sudden death of the lead singer, Kurt Cobain, Nirvana disbanded, and Grohl was again looking for his next career step.
Dave Grohl founded the Foo Fighters soon after, and their first self-titled album was released in 1995. Their second album, “The Colour and the Shape,” was a major success that once again put Grohl in one of the most popular and commercially successful rock bands at the time.
The success of Foo Fighters continued over the next few years, with the third studio album, “There Is Nothing Left to Lose,” also becoming majorly successful. In 2002, Grohl briefly joined Queens of the Stone Age to help them record their new album, which inspired him to continue recording the fourth album of Foo Fighters.
The fifth and sixth albums, “In Your Honor” and “Echoes, Silence, Patience & Grace,” were followed by a Greatest Hits album. Grohl continued to record new music, releasing other majorly successful albums named “Wasting Light,” “Sonic Highways,” and “Concrete and Gold.”
Throughout these years, Grohl contributed to vocals, guitar, and songwriting. He also played briefly with other bands. Grohl has released solo mixtapes, recordings, and other projects with different musicians from different bands. He has also worked on the soundtracks of a few different movies.
While he played the drums in the first few projects he was part of, Grohl has mainly played his guitar in the last couple of decades. He is an accomplished guitarist with a unique style that has earned him a ranking among the world’s best instrumentalists.
Grohl has a few well-known guitars he uses often and others he plays more rarely. He has a preference for Gibsons, especially for electric guitars.
List of Guitars That Dave Grohl Plays
Let’s see the main guitars that Dave Grohl has used throughout his more than three-decade-long career, from the ones he regularly uses to the ones he used to play as a teenager, to which he has a sentimental attachment.
1967 Gibson Trini Lopez Standard ES-335
It is very well known that Dave Grohl prefers Gibsons, but there are two main guitars that he has been using for more than 30 years. The first one is the 1967 Gibson Trini Lopez Standard ES-335, a guitar that has become fundamental for the sound of the Foo Fighters and is featured on every album of theirs.
According to Grohl, he discovered this guitar in 1992, during the Maryland stop of Nirvana’s tour. The unique-shaped f-holes attracted his attention, and then he was impressed by the sound and the feel; the rest is history.
It’s easier to make a list of Foo Fighters songs and videos where this guitar is not present than the ones where it is. The 1967 Gibson Trini Lopez Standard ES-335 has been used in recordings for every Foo Fighters album, although not in every single song. This guitar can also be seen in most music videos.
The Trini Lopez is a special, limited edition guitar issued by Gibson, ordered by Trini Lopez himself. Understandably, this guitar features special requests from this artist, who wanted a guitar similar to the existing ES-335 but with a twist.
The Gibson Trini Lopez Standard ES-335 features a Firebird headstock (another distinctive quality that attracted Grohl’s attention at first), diamond-shaped sound holes, and a tailpiece with Trini Lopez’s name on it. The musician loved the diamond shape so much that he has incorporated it in different ways into this guitar.
The unique f-holes have diamond shapes, but you can also find this shape in the fingerboard inlays. The signature tailpiece design mentioned above also includes two other diamond shapes.
The guitar comes in three finishes: Cherry, Pelham Blue, and Sunburst; Grohl’s model is Cherry red, as you can see in the footage from his music videos. The body of the Trini Lopez Standard is maple and semi-hollow. The neck is mahogany, and the fretboard is rosewood. This electric semi-hollow guitar features double PAF humbucker pickups.
The Trini Lopez ES-335 is an excellent guitar with a full but sharp sound with warm tones. You can use it to play different genres because it can achieve a wide range of tones. It’s also easy to play, thanks to a comfortable design.
The Gibson Trini Lopez Standard ES-335 is probably Grohl’s favorite guitar, considering that it’s still a primary instrument in his recordings more than three decades later. It’s interesting to note that he doesn’t use this guitar much for live performances, probably because it’s become a prized possession that he doesn’t want to risk during high-energy stage moments.
Here’s a video of Dave Grohl showing this guitar during a studio tour for NME:
2007 Gibson Dave Grohl Signature DG-335
Another favorite of Grohl’s that he has been consistently using for more than 15 years is the Gibson Dave Grohl Signature DG-335. Considering his affinity and preference for Gibsons and his status as a rock legend, it’s only natural that Gibson decided to collaborate with him to create this signature guitar.
This custom DG-335 was commercially available from 2007 until 2014. Grohl has two models with two different finishes, which he’s been using since then for recording, songwriting, and in many performances and music videos. It’s believed Gorhl has several more models that he uses for touring. They have become his primary choices while on the road.
This semi-hollow electric guitar is very similar to the standard and the Trini Lopez but includes a few customizations based on Grohl’s preferences. For instance, the DG-335 includes double Burstbucker pickups, which create wonderful vintage tones, perfect for Rock’n Roll and Blues.
Additionally, the stop tail bridge is a Tune-O-Matic, which helps with precision. Grohl’s version comes in three finishes: Ebony, Metallic Gold, and Pelham Blue. The Pelham Blue version is probably his favorite since it’s been spotted in numerous live performances.
Besides the above differences, the rest of the specs have remained similar to the Trini Lopez version. The body is maple, and the neck is mahogany with a rosewood fretboard and a Firebird headstock. Grohl also kept another Trini Lopez favorite, the diamond-shaped sound holes.
The many DDG-335 models have become a staple for Dave Grohl in his tours and other live performances. The Pelham Blue one can be seen in several music videos of the Foo Fighters, including one of the latest ones in 2017, “Run”:
Gibson Firebird Studio
Unsurprisingly, we’re continuing with Gibsons, this time with one of Grohl’s all-time favorites. This Gibson Firebird was first seen in Grohl’s hands in 1997 and has made many appearances since then. Grohl owns at least two different Firebirds, a white and a black one; the latter is more popular among fans and probably his favorite of the two.
Dave Grohl is one of the most famous musicians who have used this guitar. It’s evident he liked it very much and enjoyed playing it in several different performances throughout the rollouts of at least three Foo Fighters’ albums: “In Your Honor,” “Echoes,” and “Silence, Patience, and Grace.”
This Gibson Firebird was the primary touring guitar in 2005 and 2006, most notably in the Foo Fighters’ Leeds Festival appearance. However, you can also see it in several different performances throughout the mid and late 2000s as well.
Although the exact model has not been specified by Grohl or anyone close to him, fans believe its is a Studio model based on the pickguard and the dot fretboard inlays. The body and neck are mahogany, while the fretboard is maple. It has two 490R and 498T humbucker pickups and Grover tuners.
It’s pretty difficult to find Grohl’s version with a black pickguard. All black 2000s Firebird models on the second-hand market nowadays have white pickguards. It’s also possible Grohl could have modified the guitar.
Although the Gibson Firebird is no longer Grohl’s primary guitar for touring or other performances, he still uses it occasionally. Its most famous appearance is probably the “Pretender” music video:
1991 Gibson Les Paul Custom
Dave Grohl has been using two different versions of this model since 1995, when he started playing with the Foo Fighters. Grohl has used both of these guitars extensively during recordings and early tours and even shared them with his bandmates for certain songs. Famously, this was one of two guitars used for the first-ever Foo Fighters concert.
Les Paul had been one of Grohl’s favorites for a long time, but the two custom models, one Polar White and the other Ebony, became staples during the Foo Fighters’ second album rollout and tours. Grohl plays them in music videos from this era, as well as in other live performances.
There’s not a lot of information about these guitars coming from Grohl himself, but fans have speculated that they are both 1991 models. They have a maple top and mahogany back and sides. The fretboard is ebony with mother-of-pearl markers.
These Gibson Les Paul limited guitars can be seen in so many performances on stage and music videos, including “Everlong”:
After the early 2000s, they were replaced by other guitars, but it’s safe to say that they are still part of Grohl’s collection.
1970s Gibson SG Custom
This Gibson, along with the Les Paul Standard, is a symbol of the early years of the Foo Fighters. Grohl has owned several of these models since then, but some are more significant than others.
Both the Standard and a cherry red SG Custom were used during the performances and tours of the first album of the band. Interestingly, Dave played both of them during the very first Foo Fighter concert. Understandably, these guitars have a special place in fans’ hearts.
The cherry 1970s Gibson SG Custom was a gift for Grohl from his now ex-wife, Jennifer Leigh Youngblood. You can see footage from different stage shows and music videos from the 1990s where Grohl uses this guitar; most notably, he plays it in the music video of “I’ll stick around” seen here:
Dave himself has not said much about this particular instrument, so there isn’t much accurate information about it. However, fans have examined the footage and have determined that the guitar might be from the 1970s. It’s hard to take a more accurate guess, considering the timeless appearance of Gibsons.
The SG Custom is well known for its unique design with a double cutaway shape and was originally available in four finishes: Cherry, Ebony, Walnut, and White. Grohl owned several SG versions in different finishes, including the original white finish and the cherry red one he used in “I’ll Stick Around.”
This solid-body electric guitar has a mahogany body and neck, while the fretboard is ebony. It features three powerful humbucking pickups, an adjustable Tune-O-Matic bridge, and extremely low frets. This guitar offers a wide variety of tones and a bright warm sound featuring pronounced high and mid tones.
Grohl used many SGs throughout the 1990s, although the original cherry red was not seen for a while. It’s impossible to know what exactly happened to it or the white SG, but they’ve likely established a place in Grohl’s ever-growing collection.
1990 Gibson Explorer
Grohl first used this Explorer back in 1995, when he was performing during Foo Fighters gigs, but he has used it frequently throughout almost two decades. This guitar is pretty closely associated with him, seeing as he used it constantly and consistently until the early 2000s for live performances as well as music videos.
You may recognize this particular guitar from the “Big Me ” music video, or concert footage from the late 1999s when this guitar was a fixture throughout the “There’s Nothing Left to Lose” tour. However, Grohl also continued to use it throughout 2001 and 2002, although it’s possible that he was using two very similar models of the explorers interchangeably.
This Z-shaped solid-body electric guitar features a mahogany body and neck, with a rosewood fretboard. It has dual 496R and 500T humbucker pickups and a stop-bar Tune-O-Matic bridge. It also has a powerful and balanced sound for both rhythm and lead guitar.
Although Grohl mostly seemed to move on from this Gibson Explorer back in 2002, he’s still been seen with it occasionally. Check out one of the first appearances of this guitar in a 1995 performance of “Big Me” by Foo Fighters:
1978 Gibson Les Paul Standard
Unsurprisingly, there’s another Gibson to add to the list. What may be a bit unpredictable, considering the guitars I have mentioned so far, is the fact that it’s a Gibson Les Paul Standard. This is one of the most iconic guitars in the world and a preferred instrument for many music legends.
Dave Grohl is not among the icons who are tied to this particular model in eternity, but he has used this one on certain occasions. It is believed that he purchased his when he was contemplating his future and his next project after the sudden disbandment of Nirvana.
Grohl used the 1978 Gibson Les Paul Standard while recording his first Foo Fighters album, but you may also see it in the footage from certain live performances right after the album was released. Although it’s not certain, some sources maintain that Grohl recorded Everlong with this guitar.
There’s a reason why the 1978 Gibson Les Paul Standard is one of the most famous and recognizable guitars in the world. It has a beautiful solid maple top and mahogany back and sides. The neck is mahogany, and the fingerboard is rosewood with trapezoid inlays. Grohl chose a dual-tone Tobacco Sunburst finish, which is incredibly eye-catching.
This solid-body guitar features two VI humbucker pickups on the bridge and the neck and original Kluson tuners. Les Paul Standard guitars are known for their powerful sound and great sustain. They are incredibly versatile tone-wise allowing the guitarist to experiment with sounds. Their sound is warm and bright and features a pronounced attack.
Although Grohl used this guitar mostly during the 1990s, he continued to record songs with it throughout the early 2000s. However, in 2007, he seems to have attempted to modify it in some way but gave up. As a result, this guitar has remained unusable since then, at least to the fan’s knowledge.
Here’s footage from a Foo Fighters performance at a festival in Belgium in 1997, where Grohl plays this guitar:
I can finally interrupt this parade of Gibsons to introduce one of the only exceptions on this list, the Taylor 612ce. Unlike every other entry so far, this guitar is a Taylor and acoustic. Although Grohl mostly plays the electric guitar for most of his songs, he occasionally needs an acoustic one for certain performances.
Fans will recognize this guitar from certain performances during the mid-2000s, including a BBC Radio 1 performance of “Wheels,” as seen here:
Grohl used a couple of acoustic guitars around this time, mostly Taylors, but the Taylor 612ce was used more often for recorded performances. It’s believed that it has also been used for recordings, although it’s difficult to pinpoint the exact songs since no official information is available.
This Taylor is one of the only items on this list still available for sale. It has a torrefied Sitka spruce top, meaning the wood has been roasted to create a richer and more stable sound. The sides and back are maple, while the neck is hard rock maple with an ebony fretboard.
The shape and size of this guitar are ideal for comfortable handling and use. Its sound is quite powerful and complex, with rich tones and great sustain. The tonal precision makes this guitar perfect for fingerstyle, but it’s also very good for strumming.
Dave saw the benefits of using this particular guitar for his acoustic performances, as he used it for a good while. However, after the late 2000s, fans have not seen it in his hands anymore.
Gibson Elvis Presley Dove
This unique and very valuable guitar is relatively recent compared to certain guitars on this list that have been used since the 1990s. Fans believe that Grohl owns more than one Dove, but it’s unclear how he came to find them and why he chose this particular model to use.
This Gibson Elvis Presley Dove appeared first in 2011, as seen in the footage from different concerts and television appearances. It soon became the primary electro-acoustic guitar for all of Grohl’s emotional, laid-back music at the time and has remained so even more recently.
Typically, this guitar appears at some point during Foo Fighters’ gigs, when Grohl appears with only one guitar and does stripped renditions of his favorite songs, like Everlong. Check out Grohl using it for a special performance of this song in 2014:
The Gibson Elvis Presley Dove is available for sale nowadays, although the latest version includes certain changes that Grohl’s version did not have, like the Pearloid inlays. This guitar is based on a Gibson Dove that Presley received as a gift from his father.
This electro-acoustic guitar has a Sitka spruce top and solid maple back and sides. The neck is mahogany, and the fretboard is Indian rosewood. It features modern LR Baggs VTC electronics, piezo pickups, and tone controls to allow you to plug it in for stage performances. It offers very rich and balanced sounds with powerful and varied tones.
What Is Dave Grohl’s Favorite Guitar?
As you have seen from the list above, many guitars could classify as Grrohl’s favorites throughout the years, but if I had to guess one, it’d be the Gibson Trini Lopez Standard. Grohl has repeatedly mentioned how much he likes and appreciates that guitar.
The fact that Grohl retired his Trini Lopez from tours also says much about how much he wants to protect this valuable instrument. Other favorites include his signature Gibson, the DG-335, the Gibson Firebird Studio, and his Les Paul SG Custom. As for acoustic or electro-acoustic guitars, the Gibson Elvis Presley Dove is probably his favorite.
Did Dave Grohl Teach Himself Guitar?
Given that it’s established that Grohl cannot read or write music, people have often wondered if he has had any formal guitar lessons. According to Grohl, he started taking guitar lessons from a proper teacher, but found the experience boring and quit lessons early on. It’s safe to say he taught himself a great deal.
As mentioned above, Grohl taught himself how to play the drums as well. Although not unheard of, the autodidactic skills are still pretty impressive and a testament to Grohl’s immense talent.
Dave Grohl is one of the most legendary and popular Rock’n Roll musicians. He is well-known for his incredible talent and abilities to play the guitar and drums. He has been part of several bands, including Nirvana and the Foo Fighters; he has also released several solo projects.
Grohl’s favorite guitar seems to be the 1967 Gibson Trini Lopez Standard, which he has had for more than 30 years. Other notable guitars of Grohl’s include the Gibson Firebird, Gibson DG-335, Les Paul Custom, and Gibson SG Custom. His favorite electro-acoustic guitar lately seems to be the Gibson Elvis Presley Dove.