When you are thinking about the best guitarists of all time, which names pop into your mind? Jimi Hendrix? Jimmie Page? Eric Clapton? These are all good shouts, but for me, a particular favorite is Dave Grohl. If you’ve never heard of him, you’ve been living under a rock, because he has had one heck of a musical career! Dave’s guitar style is a true inspiration and I have spent many years trying to figure out what kind of equipment he uses to get his signature sound. If you’ve ever wondered the same, you’re in luck – read on to find out about Dave Grohl guitars and gear List!
I have been a fan of Foo Fighters ever since, they are a seriously big name in rock music loved by the kids and the parents alike.
Bottom Line Up Front: Dave Grohl has used a ton of guitars and gear throughout his musical career, but he is most commonly found using a Red Gibson Trini Lopez, a bespoke stack amplification setup, and a pedalboard consisting of five core effect pedals.
What Does Dave Look for in Guitars and Gear?
Considering the fruitful nature of David Grohl’s career, it can be tempting to assume that this dude will purchase only the biggest brands and most expensive kit on the market. After all, he had already made his millions in his first band Nirvana, so he must have had a ton of cash to splash on gear for his signature Foo Fighters sound.
Well, anyone who has watched a live show, interview, or documentary about Dave Grohl will know that this simply is not the kind of guy he is. On the contrary, – Dave Grohl is well known for being incredibly humble and wholesome, and this is reflected in the guitars and gear that he chooses to use.
Sure, there are a few expensive bits of kit that the average person may not be able to afford, but the vast majority of Dave Grohl’s guitar and gear collection is chosen purely because of the timbral qualities.
Foo Fighters are one of those bands that you can hear from a mile away, and this kind of quality doesn’t come from expensive purchases, but from carefully thought-out equipment choices.
So, what does David Grohl look for in guitars and gear exactly? I would say that to summarise this, he simply chooses his guitar and gear according to the specific sound that he is looking for.
If a $50 effects pedal is going to give him the gritty distortion he needs, he’ll purchase it. On the other hand, if a $5,000 Custom Les Paul is going to give him the stage presence he requires for a stadium gig, he won’t pass the opportunity up.
It’s all about the circumstance and crafting the perfect musical moment, and Dave Grohl is a master of doing exactly this.
David Grohl’s Guitar List
Now that I’ve given a summary of exactly what Dave Grohl looks for in his guitars and gear, let’s take a closer look at his exact equipment rig.
We’ll be investigating his amplifiers and effect pedal choices in a little while, but for now, let’s focus on a few of the most common guitars that you can see Grohl playing.
To start things off, I thought it would be nice to begin by giving a special mention to Dave Grohl’s signature guitar, the Gretsch G2622T. This is an absolute beaut of a guitar – it has a stunning hollowed-out body aesthetic, a beautiful Riviera Blue finish, an iconic and unique tremolo arm, but most importantly, a tone to die for.
So, what exactly makes this Dave Grohl’s “signature guitar”? Well, this doesn’t necessarily mean that he plays it more than any other guitar – it simply means that he expressed love for Gretsch guitars in the past, and the dudes at the company reached out to him to produce something custom for his needs.
It’s now available in shops such as Guitar World, so you can imagine how chuffed he is when he walks in to see it.
There are a ton of videos of Grohl playing this guitar, but one of my favorite examples is on the live recording of the Bourbon & Beyond Festival in Louisville, Kentucky. He truly rocks that guitar!
- Unique tremolo arm aesthetic
- Stunning Riviera Blue Finish
- Designed specifically for Dave Grohl
- Some guitarists do not like the hollowed-out aesthetic
Gibson Trini Lopez
Next up is perhaps the most important guitar on this list, the Gibson Trini Lopez. Take a look at the body of this guitar and you’ll notice it’s quite similar to the previously mentioned example – that is perhaps what Gretsch based the design on.
Dave once told Gibson in an interview that he first discovered this guitar in a guitar store in Maryland in 1992, way before Foo Fighters or even Nirvana had enjoyed much commercial success.
He claimed to find the diamond-shaped f-holes beautiful and loved the stability of the headstock, and after purchasing it, proceeded to use it on just about every Foo Fighters record we have ever heard!
This guitar has been featured on every Foo Fighter album, and are you really surprised? It’s an absolute beaut. He loves this guitar so much that he owns several versions – his classic one with a red finish, a custom Gibson DG-335 which is based on the Trini Lopez, and three others with black and blue finished for gigging. Amazing!
- Highly unique diamond-shaped F-holes
- Dave Grohl’s most used guitar
- Available in several different models
- Gorgeous selection of finishes
- Similarly to the Gretsch, the f-holes are not for everyone
- An insane price tag of up to $10,000
Gibson Les Paul
If you’re already a fan of Dave Grohl, you might be a little bit surprised by the mention of the classic Gibson Les Paul. He’s not exactly famous for being one of Les Paul’s key players, but he does own one and has been recorded using it in various scenarios.
Do I need to explain what this instrument is? The Gibson Les Paul is one of the most iconic guitars in history favored by some of the most famous guitarists in the world, and there’s no wonder why – the tone, build quality, and craftsmanship behind it is just second to none.
Throughout various interviews, I’ve worked out that Dave owns at least four Les Pauls. There are two black ones that he has pictured using and a white one too, but most notably is the Budweiser Les Paul that he has stated has significant sentimental value to him.
It was given to him by the car racer Dale Earnhardt, and upon his sad death, Grohl claimed to play it the next day during a live tribute. Beautiful.
- An incredibly iconic guitar favored by many superstars
- Gorgeously versatile tone
- Untouchably perfect craftmanship
- A huge price tag of between $3,000 and $10,000
Martin D-28 Acoustic
In terms of iconic electric guitars that Dave Grohl used, those Gretsch and Gibson guitars just about summarise it. However, any fan of Foo Fighters will tell you that Grohl is not a one-trick-pony, and finds great pleasure in serenading his fans with gorgeous acoustic songs.
Sometimes these are written as acoustic ballads, but other times they come in the form of acoustic tributes to classic songs, much like those found on the stunning “Skin ‘n’ Bones” DVD.
Out of all of the acoustics that Grohl uses, The Martin D-28 seems to pop up quite a lot. I’m not surprised, to be honest – Martin acoustic guitars are famous for their rich tonal properties and fine-tuned craftsmanship, and Dave would want only the best for his live shows.
If you want to see this acoustic in action, check out some online footage of Grohl playing live on Kilborn, he uses the D-28 there!
- Some of the best acoustic guitar craftsmanship out there
- Rich tonal properties
- Stunning visual aesthetic
- Costs well over $3,500
Before I move on to amplifiers and effects pedals, I wanted to give a quick mention to Taylor acoustic guitars. Sure, there are various examples of Grohl using the previously mentioned Martin D-28 acoustic, but the guitarist also seems to be a big fan of Taylor guitars.
I’ve never spoken to the dude, but I have a feeling that one of the main reasons for this is due to the immense comfort and satisfaction Taylor acoustics provide when you hold them, especially when playing during some of the three-hour acoustic live sessions!
There’s been a few different occasions I can remember seeing Grohl with a Taylor acoustic, but I particularly remember his acoustic performance of “Wheels” with a Taylor 612ce. What an absolute gem of an acoustic guitar!
- Unique body ident for optimized comfort
- Stunning resonance
- Incredible truss rod for the best tension stability possible
- Costs around $3,500
David Grohl’s Amplifiers
I think we can all agree that a solid guitar is the most important element of a guitarist’s rig, but what use would that Gibson Les Paul be without a decent amplifier to do it justice? Dave Grohl may be pure magic, but he still needs an amplifier, so let’s take a quick look at some of his top picks.
Amp Cabinet: Vox AC-30
If you’re already a guitar connoisseur then you will be aware that professional “stack amps” are comprised of two parts – the head, and the cabinet. The amplifier head doesn’t act in the way that you might assume it to. I used to think that the head covers the treble and the cabinet covers the bass and mid, but this is not the case.
Instead, the head simply processes the audio signal through an internal preamp, producing the tonal qualities to be amplified by the cabinet.
Therefore, there isn’t too much to say about Dave Grohl’s amp cabinets as he focuses more on picking the perfect head. However, he has been known to use Vox AC-30s when possible, particularly when going for clean sounds. According to Dave’s sound technician Joe Beebe, he used to use a Marshall cabinet amongst various others.
However, he found that they simply did not project the clean tones that Grohl needed sufficiently, although they worked OK for dirtier sounds.
Upon switching to the Vox AC-30, all of these different sound portfolios could be projected through a single cabinet, and he’s been using them ever since.
As I mentioned earlier, amp heads contain the important preamps and circuitry that deliver signature amplification tones to a cabinet, and therefore Grohl uses a variety of different heads for different purposes.
The most notable amp heads that Grohl likes to use are the Mesa Boogie Road King heads, specifically using these for the “dirty” character found in Foo Fighters heavier songs. However, he hasn’t always used this – in the past, Grohl instead used the Mesa Boogie Dual Rectifier heads.
When it comes to cleaner timbres, Grohl tends towards combining the Fender Tone Master Heads with his Vox AC-30. Check out these amp heads for yourself you’ll see why – they deliver an incredibly rich and crisp clean tone, although they’re not so ideal for gritty and dirty tones.
Check out just about any Foo Fighters live show and you will see Dave with at least two of these amp heads. He may not use their guitars much, but he certainly has a soft spot for Fender amp heads!
Finally, it’s worth mentioning that whilst Grohl does use the amp heads that I listed, he is a real superstar, and with that comes the responsibility to deliver a specific sound all the time. For this reason, you’ve guessed it – Dave Grohl has a tailor-made, custom audio amplifier to cater to his specific needs.
Not much information is known about these custom heads other than that they are 100W and pack a huge punch. I’d love to get in the studio with him someday and pick his brains about them, they look stunningly inconspicuous!
David Grohl’s Effect Pedals
We’ve checked out the guitars and amplifiers of Dave Grohl’s musical arsenal, so let’s finish things up by covering some of the most important effects pedals to the guitarist. It doesn’t matter how good of a guitarist you are, everybody needs a sonic helping hand once in a while, and Grohl is no exception!
Delay: BOSS DD-3
The first effects pedal that I wanted to mention here is the BOSS DD-3. Anyone who has ever used BOSS effects pedals knows that they have fantastically minimalistic interface designs, low prices, and pack a serious punch.
So, is it a surprise that Dave Grohl uses their DD-3 for delayed segments of Foo Fighter songs? Sure, he could afford a vintage Space Echo or some other antique delay, but what is the point in spending that money when BOSS has already got it covered for under $100? It’s an absolute belter of a delay pedal.
- Excellent value for money
- Minimalistic interface
- Lightweight and portable
- Ideal for a basic delay, but not suitable for complex delays such as space echo or grain delay
Phaser: MXR Phase 90
Next up is something fairly unusual, the MXR Phase 90 phaser effects pedal. Phasers are relatively rarely found on effects pedalboards, their qualities can be quite explicit at times and therefore put people off using them.
However, I think that is exactly why Grohl has gone for the MXR Phase 90. The dry/wet function of this pedal facilitates the incredibly subtle use of a phaser, and it gives it that gorgeous swirly sound that can be found on countless Foo Fighters’ records. Always remember, less is usually more!
Related read: Comprehensive MXR Phase 90 Review.
- Extremely minimal with just one dial and bypass button
- Lightweight and portable
- Excellent value for money
- Subtle phasing
- Some phase connoisseurs would require more parameters than just “speed”
ProCo Rat Distortion
Dave Grohl’s amp rig produces a pretty dirty tone as it is, but sometimes you need a level of distortion and grit that simply isn’t possible through traditional means. Dave’s go-to when this situation arises is the ProCo Rat distortion pedal, yet another minimalistic addition to his pedalboard.
This pedal contains a distortion, filter, and volume dial to allow Dave to customize his distortion tone to however he needs it, and all for around $100. Seeing a trend here?
- Contains a unique “filter” knob for distortion customization
- It only costs ~$100
- Sleek black aesthetic
- Only features a traditional distortion setting
Noise Gate: MXR Smart Gate
When people think about effects pedals, their minds normally move towards the explicit and experimental sound design of complex pedals, but some are used for more professional and serious means.
A prime example of this is Dave Grohl’s use of the MXR Smart Gate, simply used to apply a noise gate to prevent any guitar noise below a specified threshold. It’s an absolutely essential pedal for live setups, especially when combined with other noisy pedals.
- Great at optimizing a professional pedalboard setup
- Prevents noise and feedback from other pedals
- Minimalistic with just a single threshold dial
- Quite expensive for such a simple pedal at around $175
Tuner: BOSS TU-2
Finally is Dave Grohl’s BOSS TU-2, and this one may come as a surprise as it’s a guitar tuner! Some people are under the impression that once you master the guitar, you can simply tune the guitar perfectly by ear every time.
This is simply not the case – nobody has perfect ears, especially when they’re being obliterated by noise during a live show. Dave Grohl is completely aware of this, and that’s why he uses this fantastic guitar pedal. It’s a smart move!
- Much more effective than clip-on tuners
- Aesthetically pleasing graphical display
- Ideal for quickly switching between tunings during a show
- Some people would consider more expensive and complex tuners to be more effective
Wow – that sure was a lot of detail in regards to Dave Grohl’s guitar and gear portfolio! Let’s take a quick breather by rounding things off with a quick FAQ!
Question: What is Dave Grohl’s Favourite Electric Guitar?
Answer: Dave Grohl uses a ton of different guitars, but he is most commonly seen playing with a Red Gibson Trini Lopez
Question: What Amp Setup Does Dave Grohl Use?
Question: What Brand of Acoustic Guitars Does Dave Grohl Like The Most?
Question: Which Effect Pedals does Dave Grohl Use Most Frequently?
I hope you have enjoyed learning about Dave Grohl’s guitar and gear setup as much as I have! There’s a ton of equipment that you would have to buy if you wanted to emulate his sound, and it’s worth remembering that no amount of gear will compensate for the incredible skill that he has.
However, if you wanted to emulate his setup, a great place to start would be with a Gibson Trini Lopez guitar. It’s going to be difficult to emulate his custom amp setup, but you could certainly purchase his five core effect pedals for under $500!
Good luck with your guitar journey, and who knows – with plenty of practice and tone optimization, perhaps I will be writing an article about your guitar and gear setup in the future! Rock on!