Nowadays, it’s hard to remember a time before Taylor Swift’s rule of pop music. From her explosion in popularity with radio-ready Nashville country to her foray into outright pop and recent return to guitar-driven introspective folk, Taylor Swift enters the third decade of the 21st century as one of her generation’s brightest stars and most talented singer-songwriters the world has seen.
An artist development deal, countless hours with Nashville’s Music Row songwriters after school, and Swift’s uncanny talent for developing hooks and melodies led her to the Sony/ATV publishing house. She was the youngest artist they’d ever signed.
Still a teenager, Taylor was Big Machine records’ first signing, she got to finally unleash her prodigious songwriting and performative talents with singles like “Our Song”, “Picture to Burn” and tours with The Rascal Flatts and Brad Paisley. Taylor Swift tapped into the teen market with country music in a way that had never been done before, and the rest is history.
What Guitar Does Taylor Swift Play?
Taylor Swift is known for her broad catalog of Taylor acoustic and acoustic-electric guitars. As for electric guitars, she’s known for her Red Sparkle Gibson Les Paul and, in more recent years, she has also adopted the Johnny Marr Fender Signature Jaguar model as one of her primary guitars.
See the full list of Taylor Swift guitars and gear below.
Fender Johnny Marr Signature Jaguar
|Years Used||2016 to Present|
Taylor Swift may have preferred Les Pauls for years, but she recently took a shine to the Fender Jaguar. In the image above, Swift can be seen playing the Johnny Marr signature Jaguar, a limited Fender release celebrating the legacy of the legendary Smiths axeman.
Taylor Swift is herself a big fan of The Smiths, with their influence on her music being most prominent in the song “Mr. Perfectly Fine”, which even displays some Johnny Marr-style delicate guitar arpeggios. In an interview with fellow singer-songwriter Ryan Adams, Swift and Adams discussed their mutual love of The Smiths and the Morrisey/Marr songwriting partnership.
The Johnny Marr Jaguar sports a custom neck profile based on Marr’s own 1965 Jaguar, which Fender refers to as a “played-in” feeling. Rather than using conventional Fender single-coils, this signature model comes with custom-wound pickups made by Bare Knuckle, a British boutique company. This Jaguar also features a unique control setup, including a pair of “Bright” switches. One of these is a universal switch, “kicking everything up a notch or two”, while the other only affects the series pickup switch position.
Speaking of the switch, the Marr Jaguar hosts a four-way blade switch, which allows players to select only the bridge or neck pickups in parallel, the neck pickup alone, or the neck and bridge pickups in series. Complete with an oversized CBS-era headstock and an alder body for that classic Fender twang, the Marr Signature is a unique instrument.
Swift played this Fender staple guitar frequently in recent years, with its most prominent appearance coming during her performance at the GRAMMY Museum. The distinctively bright tone of the Johnny Marr Jaguar is on full display in the song “Wildest Dreams” unaccompanied.
Taylor Presentation Series PS-14CE Grand Auditorium
|Finish||Natural Flame Koa|
|Years Used||2008 to Present|
Taylor Swift plays this intricately carved Taylor acoustic in the music video for “Fifteen”, as well as during several live appearances. For a time this was the most associated guitar to Swift’s name, extending its appearances to present-day performances and more than a handful of photoshoots.
The PS-14CE features a Grand Auditorium-sized body, a large, full-voiced shape perfect for the delicate strumming of Taylor Swift’s country songs. The guitar in the video above appears not to have the spruce top commonly associated with high-end Taylor acoustic guitars, however. Its top is a darker wood, with a deep flame finish. This guitar looks like the flame koa model, which was briefly produced in the mid-2000s.
The flame koa PS-14CE, like the rest of Taylor’s Presentation series, represented their fine acoustic guitar craftmanship. The back, sides, and highly figured top are all solid koa, while the guitar’s neck is solid mahogany. The ebony fretboard is inlaid with an abalone vine pattern as well as the word “Taylor”, which was not a standard feature on production models at the time. This guitar is in fact custom-built for Swift, who was in the late 2000s one of Taylor guitars’ biggest endorses mainly because there are no identical models in this series since they’re handcrafted and flamed.
The guitar’s bridge, like its fretboard, is ebony, with an abalone inlay and compensated bone saddle. The body has ivoroid binding, as does the guitar’s fingerboard. On the headstock is abalone & ivoroid binding, an abalone floral inlay, and gold Taylor tuners. The guitar comes with a Taylor Low Profile Expression System, an acoustic pickup designed to deliver the guitar’s delicate, full-bodied tone through any amplifier.
Taylor Swift often uses this beautiful acoustic six-string to perform her more tender acoustic ballads, particularly “Back to December”. You can see her playing with this guitar on the Letterman show in the video below.
Taylor Swift Baby Taylor
|Finish||Natural with Custom Artwork|
|Years Used||2009 to Present|
Taylor Swift’s relationship with Taylor guitars started with this one model. She played the ¾ size Baby Taylor model long before she ascended to superstardom, often writing songs of her own from the back seat of her mother’s car with this particular guitar. Taylor wrote much of her early work on a standard Baby Taylor, and in 2009 Taylor guitars decided to issue a special signature model for her.
This ¾ sized instrument is aimed squarely at aspiring singer-songwriters. Its smaller scale and the slender 1 11/16-inch neck is better suited to those adapting their hands to the guitar, but what this instrument lacks in size it more than makes up for in quality. Its compact dreadnought-style body is built from laminated sapele back and sides with a solid sitka spruce top. This tonewood combination has a rich, balanced sound, better suited to strumming than delicate fingerpicking.
Because this guitar is a true acoustic, with no electronics or pickup system in place, Taylor herself does not play it live just to suit her on-stage antics and movement.
The guitar is instantly recognizable as a Taylor Swift signature model thanks to her name appearing prominently near its micarta (a wood composite) saddle.
|Years Used||2017 to 2020|
Swift’s use of this unique Gibson coincides with her taking a more active role in playing guitar during her performances. Although on previous tours much of her guitar playing was limited to strumming, when performing the lead single“Lover” Swift deftly employs arpeggios and varied chord voicings. Taylor’s more intricate, Nashville-influenced guitar lines are well-suited to a bright-voiced guitar like the J-180.
Taylor’s catalog extends to two J-180 acoustic guitars, one being a traditional black one while the other sports a white matte finish. The first black one became rather iconic being the one that fronted her NPR Tiny Desk session back in October of 2019 when Taylor was promoting her latest release “Lover” by playing her songs the way she wrote them on acoustic, so it happens that this instrument was the one she used to write the entire album.
Finally, the black J-180 was auctioned back in 2020 to raise as much as $40.000 for the charity called Nashville: An Auction To Benefit ACM Lifting Lives. Upon giving this acoustic, Taylor autographed it along with an extract of the lyrics for “Lover”.
The Gibson J-180 was, at least initially, a signature guitar built for the Everly Brothers. It was a flat-topped acoustic based on the more popular J-200, with an adjustable bridge and the same distinctive star fret inlays seen on Swift’s own pink model. Although the original J-180 featured a tortoiseshell pickguard covering most of the guitar’s body, Taylor Swift’s J-180 goes without it.
The Gibson J-180 features solid construction, with a maple back and sides and a solid spruce top. This gives it a bright, twanging tone that pairs perfectly with country and folk music. The neck is made from mahogany to provide some warmth in tone, with a rosewood fretboard inlaid with mother-of-pearl star-shaped fret markers. The guitar’s bridge, like the fretboard, is rosewood, although not in the “moustache” shape found on the more commonly used J-200.
It also features an adjustable bridge designed by Ike Everly to minimize Phil Everly’s habit of breaking strings. Adjusting the bridge allowed him to reduce the tension on his guitar’s strings, thereby making it harder for him to break them. The Gibson logo on the guitar’s headstock is mother-of-pearl as well, and the J-180 features three-a-side tulip-shaped tuners, just like Swift’s custom Gibson Les Paul.
Taylor’s pink “Lover” J-180 bears several significant differences from its black sibling. The most obvious change being its matte pink finish, which covers the entire body and headstock of the guitar. The star inlays are still there, as is the rosewood fretboard, but the Gibson logo is printed on the headstock in black rather than mother-of-pearl. The truss rod cover and the guitar’s body are inscribed with the word “Lover”, the name of the album and single Swift was promoting at the time.
Taylor GS6 Swarowski
|Years Used||2008 to 2013|
When “Fearless” came out, Swift needed a perfect aesthetic and sonic fit. During most of her tour and recording sessions, she played this customized Taylor Grand Symphony, also known as the GS6. This large-bodied dreadnought acoustic appeared several times during the cycle, including the music video for “Our Song”.
Although the model has since been discontinued, Taylor’s website reveals that it featured a maple body and neck with a sitka spruce top. The guitar’s maple-heavy construction provided it was a bright-focused tone, with each note. Its fretboard was ebony, with abalone fret inlays. Like the Baby Taylor, this guitar came without electronics built-in, although Swift presumably installed a pickup system to perform with the guitar live.
This guitar is notably adorned with 5,400 Swarovski Lead Crystals attached with silicone epoxy, which, according to hearsay, Swift and her mother placed on the guitar by hand. The sparkling crystal-encrusted finish was not a commercially available option, although at least one guitar with the Taylor Swift modification is on the secondhand market.
This GS6’s use was extended from the Fearless era since it became one of her most iconic six-strings,it saw action on “Speak Now”, and “Red” albums and tour cycles, although Swift has not used it since. It can be seen in all its shining and sparkling glory in the below video of “Our Song”, during the performance scenes from about two minutes onwards. This is easily one of the most iconic Taylor Swift guitars of all time.
Gibson Les Paul Limited
|Years Used||2010 to Present|
Taylor Swift’s main electric guitar during the record-breaking Speak Now era was this stunning Gibson Les Paul. As seen in the picture above, Swift’s Les Paul was favored enough to grace the cover of the Speak Now tour, and was prominently featured in videos as well as promotional material during that album/tour cycle.
At the time the Les Paul Limited had to be custom-built, in this occasion it’s very likely that Swift got it from her contacts over sat the studio in Tenessee or from a dealer. This particular model has been personalized by Swift, sporting a now trademarked sparkling red finish that was commercially unavailable up until the mid-2010s. The second distinguishing feature of this Les Paul is its mini-humbuckers. These rarely-used pickups were a common feature on the Gibson Les Paul Deluxe, first introduced in the 1970s.
Mini humbuckers were actually first developed by the Epiphone company. These had a thinner sound than the full-sized PAF humbuckers that Gibson was famous for while providing a warmer tone than any single coil pickup on the market at the time. Epiphone put mini humbuckers in many of their hollow-bodied electric guitars, such as the Riviera, which put them in direct competition with Gibson and their Thinline series.
During the 1970s, these humbuckers were considered weaker than Gibson’s famous PAF humbuckers, and modifications slowly the mini version became an increasingly rare find in these lines of guitars. However, recent decades have seen many players, including Swift, coming to appreciate the unique tonal character of the mini-humbucker.
It’s likely that Swift chose to use these unique pickups to assist in separating her own guitar tone from that of her backing band. Her touring band features three additional guitar players, two on electric and another playing acoustic. Typically they use Telecasters for their twangy ideal tone for Country music.
Rather than kowtow to the Telecaster-worshipping country pickers, Taylor chose to go for a high-clarity, twanging guitar sound via the much-maligned mini-humbuckers.
The sparkling red Speak Now Les Paul has an ABR-1 bridge and a mahogany body with a maple cap. It’s likely that Swift’s Les Paul was either weight relieved or chambered, as were most Les Pauls in production at the time. The fretboard looks like rosewood, and the neck appears to be mahogany. This Les Paul features mother-of-pearl trapezoid fret inlays and the Gibson logo on the headstock, with plastic tulip-shaped tuning heads.
During the Red era, Taylor Swift played a different sparkly red Les Paul. Although this guitar looks similar to the Speak Now model, the two are most likely to be different instruments. The Red Les Paul, featured full-sized humbuckers, perhaps to fill out her band’s sound in absence of her third guitar player, who in the above performance has switched to the banjo. The Red Les Paul also has chrome tuning heads rather than the plastic tulip-shaped heads of the Speak Now Les Paul.
The guitar most closely resembles a ‘57 Les Paul Standard Reissue in Candy Apple Red, with its amber-colored control knobs and cream plastics. If this guitar is a ‘57 reissue, it has all the standard Les Paul features, including a mahogany body with a maple top, mahogany neck, rosewood fretboard, and mother-of-pearl trapezoid fret inlays.
Gibson Les Paul Special
|Finish||Red Custom Sparkle|
|Years Used||2012 to Present|
Debuting on the Red tour and initially acquired during the recording sessions for the album, this is a memorable piece to remember in Taylor’s hands. Aside from being regularly featured on-stage and photoshoots, what makes this Les Paul special is its one-of-a-kind finish. It was customized with a diamond-encrusted finish, intricate patterns including hearts, and the number 13 her lucky sign. Like all great country stars, Taylor Swift is not immune to the charms of a sparkling instrument.
The Les Paul Special was initially aimed at the beginner market and features several cost-cutting appointments. The most obvious of these is its dot inlays and lack of maple top. Although a “traditional” Les Paul Special featured Gibson P90 pickups, Swift’s guitar sports twin humbuckers instead.
Although the bejeweled Les Paul special might be one of Taylor Swift’s best-known instruments, it was far from her first foray into the model. It’s worth mentioning that Taylor has yet another LP Special, however, rather than the highly-customized Gibson seen during the Red era, she used a black Epiphone as featured on the music video for “Picture to Burn”.
|Years Used||2008 to 2011|
Along with her preferred Les Paul models during the late 2000s and early 2010’s Taylor frequently played this single-cutaway solid-body model from American guitar builders Taylor. It was often rotated and used especially for the song “Should’ve Said No”
Taylor is known as mainly an acoustic manufacturer, and their long partnership catalog includes Miss Swift detailed later in this article. However, Taylor Swift’s penchant for single-cutaway electric guitars with mini-humbuckers extended from her custom Gibson Les Paul to this distinctive SB1-X.
The Taylor SB1-X features a Les Paul reminiscent silhouette, with a beveled cutaway and thicker midsection. The guitar’s resemblance to Gibson’s most iconic instrument ends there, with a completely different sound, one that matches perfectly with electrified country music.
Its body is made out of swamp ash, which provides a brighter tone than mahogany. The guitar’s neck is made from a solid block of maple, capped with an Indian rosewood fretboard. Both the nut and saddle on this instrument are bone, and although the guitar’s body has a gloss finish, and the neck is a satin finish. This is to aid in playability, as some guitarists complain of gloss finishes on the neck becoming sticky with sweat under hot stage lights.
Perhaps the most unique feature of this guitar is its pickups. Surprisingly for a company best known for building high-quality acoustic guitars, one of Taylor’s senior product developers, David Hosler, is something of an expert on pickups. Hosler worked with Rupert Neve, the world-famous recording equipment designer, on the Expression System pickup, but Hosler didn’t stop there. As he continued to refine his pickups, he developed several unique designs, including Taylor’s own take on the mini humbucker. Taylor’s mini humbucker promises “balanced tonality that sits between the cut of a single-coil and the fuller thickness of a vintage-style humbucker”.
To further complicate matters, the SB1-X also features a five-way pickup selector. That may seem confusing for an instrument with only two pickups, but like Taylor Swift’s Johnny Marr Jaguar, it’s all about tonal diversity. The five-way switch five-way lever switch can run either humbucker in isolation or both at once, or split the coils for a Finder-like tone, either in parallel or series.
You can hear the distinctive snarling twang of this guitar in the below concert video of “Should’ve Said No”. In the below video, Taylor Swift plays an SB1-X in a black finish, but Swift has been seen with a similar model in cherry burst.
|Years Used||2005 to Unspecified|
Early on in her career, Taylor Swift used the Taylor T5, this was around the time she had mild popularity and lacked the production value she is nowadays known for, luckily she had some high quality gear to help her on the road. This guitar was a popular choice for gigging guitarists, particularly around Nashville, where over the course of a single gig they would need both electric and acoustic sound. The combination of this guitar’s hollow body, magnetic acoustic body sensor, and twin electric guitar pickups enabled players to embrace the best of both worlds.
Taylor Swift owned at least three Taylor T5 guitars, one in pink another darker natural one, and popularly another Borronga red one. She primarily used this thinline guitar for amplified performances as a teenager, likely thanks to its slender 1-11/16″ neck and thin body accommodating her slender frame.
Other notable features of the T5 series include its ebony fretboard and sapele, or African mahogany, neck, back, and sides. The T5’s unique pickup configuration uses Taylor’s five-way switching system, allowing players to blend the sounds of its two electric pickups and the magnetic acoustic pickup for a broad range of tones.
Taylor Swift’s pink T5 featured a distinctive “Taylor” fret inlay, as did her Grand Auditorium model. It’s likely that the obvious branding advantages of the artist and company’s shared name led to this development, as Taylor rarely sells models with their own name on the fretboard.
The guitar’s distinctive appearance is complete with its twin leaf-like F-holes, asymmetrical fingerboard, three EQ knobs on the upper bout, and sole visible bridge pickup.
|Years Used||2012 to 2014|
Yet another high-end Taylor for the Swift stable, this gorgeous maple-and-spruce instrument graced the stage during the two-year Red tour.
The Taylor 614CE uses solid maple back and sides to provide “sonic transparency”, which is Taylor’s way of saying the guitar will sound different from one player to the next. Its spruce top is specially torrefied (roasted) to enhance this tonal versatility. The guitar’s maple back and sides are finished in a hand-rubbed brown sugar satin, while Swift’s guitar features a gorgeous red finish in keeping with the branding for the tour.
Taylor’s own Expression System provides amplification to the guitar, while its V-class bracing supposedly increases dynamic range, sustain, and projection. The body and maple neck are bound with West African Crelicam Ebony, while the neck has a satin finish. The fretboard, like the guitar’s binding, is the same West African Crelicam Ebony, inlaid with grained ivoroid wings.
The Red tour featured a B-stage acoustic performance, which was the section of each concert for which the red 614CE was reserved. They used this guitar for tender acoustic renditions of “Begin Again” and “The Story of Us”.
Timetable Showing Each Guitar Taylor Swift Has Played Over Her Career
|Taylor||T5||Natural/Pink/Borrego Red||2005 to Unspecified|
|Taylor||SB1-X||Black||2008 to 2011|
|Taylor||GS6 Swarowski||Swarowski Crystals||2008 to 2013|
|Taylor||Presentation Series PS-14CE Grand Auditorium||Natural Flame Koa||2008 to Present|
|Taylor||Swift Baby Taylor||Natural with Custom Artwork||2009 to Present|
|Gibson||Les Paul Limited||Red Sparkle||2010 to Present|
|Gibson||Les Paul Special||Red Custom Sparkle||2012 to Present|
|Taylor||614ce||Borrego Red||2012 to 2014|
|Fender||Johnny Marr Signature Jaguar||White||2016 to Present|
|Gibson||J-180||Black/Pink||2017 to 2020|
Taylor Swift Amps Overview and Other Accessories
Although Swift’s band prefers to play through Marshall JMP amplifiers, Taylor Swift herself is mainly an acoustic player. However, when that’s not the case, her sound is preset to the careful and meticulously planned stage sound accordingly to her set-list. As many guitar players often delve into experimenting with pedals and amp heads, this is not the case for this particular singer-songwriter.
Taylor Swift’s early songs were characterized by delicately picked acoustic guitars, bold, respectable strumming, and compressed, twanging Nashville lead breaks. Many of the guitar lines on her records were played by professional studio musicians, but Swift herself is no slouch when it comes to guitar playing, eventually, she learned from some of the finest session musicians from Nashville Tennessee, and her skillset became more and more palpable.
She often plays, appropriately enough, Taylor acoustic guitars live, and deploys Gibson Les Pauls for her concerts’ more raucous numbers. Here, we’ll take a close look at the guitars Taylor Swift has been most associated with over the years, particularly during her country and indie-folk eras.
It’s no surprise that Swift, with her unmatched ear for melody and enough hooks to turn a fisherman green with envy, was even compared to the late, great Eddie Van Halen, although we can all agree there is an element of clickbait to that headline. But in all fairness, this comparison comes not because Swift is a virtuoso or a shred guitar genius, but by the sheer number of young players she is inspiring to pick up the guitar, especially girls! It’s rare to see a pop star send a generation of fans to guitar stores in pursuit of their own six-string dreams, but inspiration is Taylor’s bread and butter.
Taylor Swift’s guitar arsenal is as varied as her songwriting palette. Live, Swift often switches between playing guitar or simply singing without a guitar on, playing a variety of different six-strings and sometimes even the banjo over the course of a single performance.
Often enough, singer-songwriters such as Taylor don’t get enough credit for their all-rounder skills and such is the case with Taylor. Her guitars are her main tool for composition, and thus her main tool to captivate hearts the way she’s been doing for over a decade now. That does it for this article, let us know your favorite Taylor Swift guitar is in the comments below.
My name is Chris and I’ve had a passion for music and guitars for as long as I can remember. I started this website with some of my friends who are musicians, music teachers, gear heads, and music enthusiasts so we could provide high-quality guitar and music-related content.
I’ve been playing guitar since I was 13 years old and am an avid collector. Amps, pedals, guitars, bass, drums, microphones, studio, and recording gear, I love it all.
I was born and raised in Western Pennsylvania. My background is in Electrical Engineering, earning a Bachelor’s degree from Youngstown State University. With my engineering experience, I’ve developed as a designer of guitar amplifiers and effects. A true passion of mine, I’ve designed, built, and repaired a wide range of guitar amps and electronics. Here at the Guitar Lobby, our aim is to share our passion for Music and gear with the rest of the music community.