Note: Professional musicians use many different guitars and frequently change them. Though this is by no means an exhaustive list of every guitar they’ve ever played, we’ll try our best to keep this list updated with their most notable guitars.
Taylor Swift is one of the most prominent singer-songwriters in the music industry, creating memorable albums in different genres, including country, pop, and indie-folk. However, no matter what genre she tries, she never abandons her guitars. Have you ever wondered what guitar she uses?
Taylor Swift has used many guitars throughout her music career, including Gibson Les Paul Limited, Fender Johnny Marr Signature Jaguar, Gibson Les Paul Special, Taylor GS6, and Taylor T5. She mostly uses Taylor and Gibson guitars, with her favorites being Gibson Les Paul Limited and Taylor GS6.
If you want to learn more about Taylor Swift’s guitars, read the rest of this article. I’ll also answer some guitar FAQs about the famous songstress at the end. Let’s get started.
Taylor Swift: Background Information
It’s almost impossible to find someone who doesn’t know Taylor Swift. Her career spans more than 17 years and multiple music genres, and one can only wait and see what she will offer next. Taylor is known for breaking records in sales and tickets, as well as reaching resounding success.
While some may know her as a pop phenomenon, Taylor Swift signed her first deal with a recording company at 14 as a country singer. Her debut album was self-titled and cemented her as a bright young country star. Her next two albums were also major successes, breaking records in the country and overall charts all over the United States and beyond.
After her third album, Swift started experimenting with her sound, trying a more pop/pop rock sound with her fourth studio album, “Red,” which was once again very successful. With “1989,” her next album, Taylor Swift left country behind to embrace pop completely, with hits like “Shake It Off” and “Blank Space” both huge hits and record-breaking singles.
Taylor continued to experiment with her pop sound in her following two albums, “Reputation” and “Lover,” both critically and commercially successful. In 2020, Taylor Swift released her first foray into indie folk and alternative rock in an album called “Folklore” followed by a sister album, “Evermore,” both major hits.
At the time of this article, her latest album is “Midnights,” a return to pop but with indie and alternative twists. Once again, it’s breaking new records and is expected to win awards.
Taylor is known for her unmatched songwriting skills and the diaristic technique she used to employ. She has explained her songwriting process by describing three approaches she takes with her lyrics: Quill Lyrics, Fountain Pen Lyrics, and Glitter Gel Pen Lyrics. Each represents a specific type of writing and can be easily identified in her songs.
Throughout this illustrious career, Taylor has often performed with her guitars. Whether she’s playing country, pop, or folk, she always takes her guitar to perform many of her songs. Taylor can also play the piano, banjo, and ukulele, but the guitar seems to be a favored instrument in her performances.
List of Guitars That Taylor Swift Plays
Here’s a list of the guitars that Taylor Swift uses in her performances:
For those following Taylor Swift’s career from the beginning, the image of a red Taylor TS will bring many memories. Swift played this guitar during her early live performances in 2005 and 2006. This T5 is a semi-acoustic guitar, meaning it is an electric guitar with a hollow body that can produce acoustic sounds.
The T5 has a Hawaiian Koa top and African Mahogany back and sides. The neck is also mahogany, with an ebony fretboard. This guitar has a hollow body and an acoustic body sensor, allowing it to produce warm and clear acoustic sounds. It features three pickups: a visible bridge humbucker, the acoustic sensor, and a hidden neck humbucker arm.
Taylor Swift seemed to enjoy playing this one since she had three different versions of it: the more famous red one, a pink one, and one in natural. Understandably, as she grew as an artist, she left this instrument behind, which remains an important symbol of her beginnings.
Check out this video of her singing “Your Anything” and playing her red T5 in 2005:
Taylor 614CE Grand Auditorium
This acoustic-electric guitar is another great addition to Taylor Swift’s collection. The original version has a natural finish with dark brown sides, but Swift’s version has a bright red finish. This is a beautiful guitar with a lot of character, which explains why Taylor chose it for this particular tour.
Taylor Swift used the 614CE during her famous Red Tour, which also may explain the choice of color for this particular guitar. She used a few different instruments throughout the show, but this guitar was typically saved for the heartfelt ballads like “The Story of Us” or “Teardrops on my Guitar” from her debut album.
The Taylor 614CE Grand Auditorium features a Sitka spruce top, which is torrefied, a process that makes the wood harder, more stable, and richer sounding. The back and sides are made of maple, the neck is Hard Rock maple, and the fretboard is made of West African Crelicam Ebony.
According to the manufacturer, this guitar has a rich and sweet sound thanks to the torrefied top. Its sounds can be amplified and better sustained thanks to its V-Class bracing. The best quality about this particular guitar is that its sound reflects the player’s individual character and abilities.
Taylor used this guitar throughout her Red album rollout, so you can see her playing it during tours and various television appearances from 2012 to 2014. Here’s a video of Taylor Swift playing the 614 CE for “The Story of Us” during the “Red” tour:
Taylor Swift Baby Taylor
Emotionally speaking, this may be the most popular guitar among Taylor Swift’s fans, considering that Taylor used it before she was the superstar we know today. Moreover, this guitar has her signature, unlike the other instruments on this list.
The Taylor Swift Baby Taylor guitar is a small instrument that is ideal for guitarists and singers that are still getting used to playing this instrument. The size and smaller scale help with handling and figuring out the finger placements for novice guitar players.
The back of the guitar is made of Sapele, while the top is spruce. The combination of Sapele and spruce give this instrument a rich and balanced sound, perfect for strumming. The guitar has a natural, light wooden finish, adorned with custom artwork that includes her name using the font used in her debut album.
This ¾ size Baby Taylor is one of Taylor’s favorites. She had been using this type of guitar since she was still an aspiring songwriter, but in 2009, Taylor Guitars issued this signature model, especially for Swift.
The Taylor Swift Baby Taylor is a completely acoustic guitar, so it is not ideal for live performances. While it is possible to modify acoustic guitars to plug them, Taylor has chosen other, more high-end guitars to use on stage.
However, Taylor still uses Baby Taylor mostly for writing songs or studio recordings. She has mentioned using this guitar to write several songs from her many albums throughout the years.
Although the Taylor Swift Baby Taylor guitar may carry her name, the Taylor GS6 Swarovski is probably the most recognizable one on this list. Even casual listeners may recognize this guitar, which has appeared in multiple performances and music videos.
Swift first started using this guitar in 2008 when she released her second studio album, “Fearless.” The Taylor GS6, covered in Swarovski crystals, was a great representation of Swift’s fresh sound and dramatic songwriting style at the time.
Understandably, this instrument was a favorite during many live performances and became a symbol among her fans. It is now on display at the Country Music Hall of Fame.
The Taylor GS6 features a spruce top and maple body. The neck is also made of maple, while the fretboard is ebony. This guitar has a warm and clear sound with a forward midrange. This guitar is entirely acoustic, so it’s typically unsuitable for live performances. Still, it’s reasonable to assume that Swift had it modified to be able to plug it while using it on stage.
The GS6 is no longer on the market, while the Swarovski version was never for sale. The original GS6 was available in three finishes: Natural, Tobacco Sunburst, and Honey Sunburst.
Taylor used this guitar for a relatively long time, from 2008 until 2014, on three different tours. You can see it in performances during the “Fearless” (2009-2010), “Speak Now” (2011-2012), and “Red” (2013-2014) tours. Watch Taylor play this unique guitar for “Long Live” during her “Speak Now” tour:
Fender Johnny Marr Signature Jaguar
This instrument carrying the signature of the Smiths’ Johnny Marr is one of the few Fenders that Taylor Swift has been using throughout the years and the only one on this list. This particular choice is not surprising, considering Taylor Swift is a fan of the Smiths and has cited them as inspirations.
It’s unclear when Taylor first came to own this guitar, but she has been using it since 2015 and has played it consistently since then. The most memorable performance with this guitar remains her 2015 performance of “Wildest Dreams” from her “1989” album:
The Fender Johnny Marr Signature Jaguar borrows certain elements from Johnny Marr’s 1965 Jaguar, including the custom-profile maple neck and dual custom-wound Bare Knuckle single-coil pickups. This guitar also includes a four-way blade pickup switch on the lower horn chrome plate.
The alder body gives this instrument a clear and full, but not heavy sound. The four-way blade pickup allows the player to combine different sounds. For instance, using various neck or bridge combinations, you can achieve warm and smooth sounds or sharp and edgy tones, depending on what you choose.
Swift seems to enjoy the Fender Johnny Marr Signature Jaguar since she has been playing it for almost 10 years in different performances. It’s reasonable to assume that it’s become part of her main instruments by now.
Gibson J-180 Everly Brothers
If you’re a fan of Taylor Swift, you may recognize this guitar from many of her recent acoustic performances. Swift has two different versions of this same guitar, in black and pink finishes, and has used them often during 2019.
Taylor was first seen using one of the versions of this guitar in 2017. The black version is well-known for the Academy of Country Music Awards performance of “Betty,” a song from her “Folklore” album, but also for her 2019 Tiny Desk performance.
The top of the Gibson J-180 Everly Brothers guitar is made of spruce, while the rest of the body is maple. The neck is mahogany with a rosewood fretboard. Its jumbo shape makes it very easy and comfortable to handle. The J-180 provides a great and warm but slightly subdued sound with a lot of responsiveness.
The Everly Brothers version is no longer available for sale, but you may find it in some vintage stores. Taylor auctioned her black Gibson J-180 back in 2020 for charity. Here’s a video of Taylor Swift playing this version of the guitar in 2020:
Gibson Les Paul Limited
You may recognize this particular guitar from several performances throughout the “Speak Now” tour in 2010. The Les Paul Limited was not commercially available at the time, so it’s reasonable to assume that Taylor found a vintage version from a high-end seller or had it custom-made. This Gibson Les Paul Limited is still not available for purchase as we speak.
The Gibson Les Paul Limited guitar is one of Taylor’s personal favorites, as she played it constantly during her tour and other live performances but also featured it in photoshoots. Taylor also used this same guitar during her “Red” tour from 2012 to 2014.
Considering that Swift’s guitar is custom-built, certain elements may not be accurately identified. It seems like a hollow-body electric guitar with a maple top and mahogany back and sides. The neck is also mahogany, and the fretboard may be rosewood. The most unique thing about this particular version is the pickups.
The rare mini-humbucker pickups of this Gibson Les Paul Limited help create bright, warm, and clear sounds, avoiding harsh tones. Although these pickups may seem like they struggle to reach the full sound that regular ones provide, they bring additional qualities that make the sound unique and full of character.
It’s been a while since we’ve seen Taylor use this iconic guitar, but it’s safe to say it’s still part of her collection. Such a unique-looking and sounding guitar can be hard to part from.
Check out Taylor playing this instrument during a live performance of “Sparks Fly”:
Gibson Les Paul Special
This custom, diamond-adorned instrument is a popular instrument that Taylor Swift has been using for more than a decade. It became famous, especially during the “Red” tour and promotional appearances, and it’s safe to say it’s one of Taylor’s favorites.
If you try to find any random concert footage or photoshoot from 2012 or 2013, there’s a high chance you will see this shiny red guitar. Keeping up with the album theme, this custom model was bright red, with various designs decorated with diamonds, including her lucky number, 13. This was Taylor’s main guitar throughout her tour.
Gibson Les Paul Special is a solid-body electric guitar, certain versions of which have been around since the 1950s. The original version was only available in a yellow finish and was mainly marketed toward intermediate guitar players. Both the body and the neck are mahogany, while the fretboard is rosewood.
The best thing about this guitar is that it’s incredibly versatile, allowing you to play everything, from delicate ballads to gritty punk songs. The Les Paul Special is also very easy to hold and handle, as it’s made for various skill levels.
While the “Red” Tour featured many guitars (almost all of them red!), some of which I cover on this list, this may be the signature guitar of this era. You can see Taylor playing this guitar during her performance of “Red”:
What Instruments Does Taylor Swift Play During Live Performances?
As I explained initially, Taylor Swift plays several instruments, including the guitar, piano, banjo, and ukulele. However, during performances, she primarily uses the guitar and the piano.
She also played the banjo on stage on certain occasions during her country years. There’s a performance from her “Red” tour featuring a banjo as well. She has also played the ukulele at least once on stage. Nowadays, she seems to favor the guitar.
Is Taylor Swift a Good Guitar Player?
Taylor Swift is mostly famous for her songwriting skills, but she’s also a good instrumentalist. She has played the guitar since childhood and honed her skills at an early age. Understandably, you may not hear her name alongside the greatest guitarists of all time, but she is highly skilled and versatile in this instrument.
During the beginning of her career, Taylor mostly used strumming to accompany her lyrics, but recently, she has included more complicated guitar techniques in her songs. This is especially evident in her performances from her albums “Folklore” and “Evermore.”
Taylor Swift is arguably the biggest star of her generation, spanning a career of almost two decades and a range of genres. She remains one of the most popular performers, even after 10 studio albums.
Taylor started as a country singer, using mostly her guitar during live performances. She has used a variety of guitars over the years, including a Taylor GS6, a Gibson Les Paul Limited, and a Fender Johnny Marr Signature Jaguar. She favors Taylors and Gibsons more than any other brand.