What Guitar does Dave Matthews Play?

Dave Matthews burst into the spotlight in the 90’s as one of the most unique guitar players of the era. His band, The Dave Matthews Band, which he fronts as both the lead vocalist and primary songwriter, has been one of the most commercially successful live acts of the last 25 years. In this article we answer the question – What guitar does Dave Matthews play?

Dave Matthews Net Worth

Since forming in early 1991 in the college town of Charlottesville, VA, The Dave Matthews Band has toured relentlessly. In that span they have sold upwards of 100 million tickets and over 100 million albums. With numbers like that it’s no surprise Dave Matthews is one of the wealthiest rock stars on the planet. As of 2020 Dave Matthews’ Net Worth is estimated at $300 Million.

Dave Matthews Jamming on stage during the summer tour 2018
Dave Matthews Jammin on-stage during the Summer 2018 Tour.

What Guitar Does Dave Matthews Play?

Dave has written all of his songs, as well as, performed almost exclusively with an acoustic guitar.

Matthews typically tours with a bare minimum of 3 guitars (though it is often many more than that). Two 6-string guitars (standard and drop-D tuning) and a 12-string are on hand depending on the tune. Since 2011 Dave has rocked several custom-made guitars made by Rockbridge Guitars out of Charlottesville, VA.

Most of his tunes call for the six string, and at the time of this writing Dave’s go-to player is a Custom Rockbridge SJ Sunburst (pictured below).

Dave Matthews perfomring with Tim Reynolds using a custom rockbridge SJ acoustic Electric Guitar in Sunburst finish
Dave Matthews performs with his Custom Rockbridge SJ alongside Tim Reynolds.

Dave Matthews’ Guitars

Over the course of his career he has switched up his main axe several times. He is most well-known for his iconic Gibson Chet Atkins SST Acoustic Electric and his Taylor 914ce.

Dave Matthews Guitars History

MakeModelColor/ FinishYears
OvationCelebrityBlack1991 -1993
GibsonChet Atkins SSTBlack1994 -1999
MartinDM3MDNatural1999
Taylor714Natural1999-2000
Taylor914cNatural2001-2011
TaylorW65 12-StringRed Walnut2001-2011
RockbridgeCustom SJSunburst2011-Present
RockbridgeCustom SJ 12-StringSunburst2011-Present

Gibson Chet Atkins SST “The Chet”

“The Chet” was Dave’s main guitar for most of the 90s while recording Under The Table and Dreaming, Crash, and Before These Crowded Streets. He had a 2 Chets in the arsenal back then. One in black, and one in natural finish.

DMB gibson chet atkins SST guitar in black in the 90s
Dave with “The Chet” SST in black finish.

The guitar’s thin, feedback free design, as well as its ability to cut through mix were key featured that attracted Dave to the Chet. Dave’s first Chet was a SST Standard, complete with plastic sound hole, used in the “What Would You Say” video.

Dave upgraded to the newer SST Studio model for “Ants Marching”, “Satellite”, “Too Much”, “So Much To Say” and “Tripping Billies” music videos. Dave retired the Chet Atkins sometime in 1999 when he was choosing between Taylor and Martin Guitars for presumably an ungodly amount of money.

Yamaha Country Jumbo

A guitar used for several acoustic radio shows and interviews between ’93 and ’96. This guitar appears in the music videos for “Satellite” and “Stay (Wasting Time)”.

Martin HD-28

Dave’s main guitar for the 1999 Dave and Tim shows. He also used it during the VH1 Storytellers with Reynolds. After receiving a Martin signature model Dave ditched the HD-28.

You can get a good look at the HD-28 in action during the professionally filmed ‘Listener Supported’ Album/ DVD from 1999.

Martin DM3MD

Dave’s signature model from Martin. Dave used this guitar on the Listener Supported concert, and some of the DMB Summer 1999 tour. Not too long after that he opted for the Taylor 714 for the 2000 tour.

It’s worth noting that John Mayer used Dave’s Martin DM3MD Signature Model to record his first album “Room For Squares”.

Taylor 714

Dave’s touring guitar for 1999-2000. He had four of these guitars at one point, but typically only used one of them while the others took backup duties. Dave discovered this guitar at Dusty Strings in Seattle, WA.

DMB performing at Ralph Wilson Stadium in 2000. Dave playing a Taylor 714
Dave Matthews with his Taylor 714. Ralph Wilson Stadium, Orchard Park, NY. July 22nd, 2000.

Taylor 914c

Found at the same store as the Taylor 714, Dave’s 914c was his main guitar for the 2001-2011.

Dave Matthews Taylor 914c
Dave performing with the iconic Taylor 914c.

In 2010, Matthews’ collaborated with Taylor and created a limited edition Dave Matthews Signature Guitar. Modelled after his iconic 914c with custom inlays and a tribute to the late great Leroi Moore, founding member and saxophonist for The Dave Matthews Band, who passed away in 2008.

Taylor W65 12-String

Dave used this for several songs on Lillywhite Sessions (such as JTR, Bartender and Grey Street). Matthews feels that these are the exception to the typical “strummy-stummy” sound that most 12-strings exhibit.

Dave took this on tour in 2000 and used it up until it was replaced with a Custom Rockbridge 12-String.

Dave’s Other Guitars

Takamine (Model Unknown): used for acoustic shows at Trax, circa 1992
Ovation Celebrity (Black): Dave’s main guitar for the ’91-’92 era
Ovation Celebrity (Natural): backup for ’91-’92 days
Lakewood Acoustic: 96′ and 97′ Dave and Tim tours.
Taylor Custom Baritone: Made for Dave by Taylor in the fall of 2001. The guitar is essentially a LKSM6 body style, with a 26-1/2″ scale. Dave used this at Farm Aid 2001.

What Guitar does Dave Matthews Play Now?

As we stated above Dave has switched up his guitar numerous times.The following info for the rig rundown was taken from DaveTabs.com

Dave Matthews’ Rig Rundown

Current Gear:

Rockbridge Custom Sunburst – Standard Tuned (2)
Rockbridge Custom Sunburst – Drop D
Dobro – Resonator Guitar
Jerry Jones Baritone Tuning
Jerry Jones Baritone – Standard tuning
Taylor 714CE – High B Tuning
Gibson Sunburst Custom – High B Tuning
Ukelele
Taylor 12 String (at least 2; one is in standard, and the other is a half step down)
Fender Stratocaster
Veillette Gryphon – High Tuned Unison 12 String (believe he has two)
Martin DM3MD – Drop D (Dave and Tim only)

Pre-2011 Dave Matthews Band Caravan Festivals:

Taylor 914C 6-String Acoustic Guitar
Taylor W65 12-String Acoustic Guitar
Taylor 714 Acoustic Guitar
Jerry Jones Baritone
Veillette Gryphon
Veillette Baritone 12-String
D’Addario Strings
Dunlap Guitar Pics
Matchless DC-30 Amplifier
Shure UHF Wireless System
Shure UHE Antenna Distro
UltrSound/Soundweb Custom Switcher
Korg DTR-1 Digital Tuner

Dave Matthews Playing Style

The following info was taken from DaveTabs.com

Dave Matthews is one of the most unique guitarists to ever hit the music scene. Dave’s style is aggressive and percussive. He has an innate ability to mute almost any string he would like while still fully strumming either chords or single notes.

If you ever watch Dave’s right hand while he is playing, it rarely stops moving. He strums his heart out on every song he plays. Even on songs like The Stone where Dave has to hit single notes, Dave’s hand is moving like a butterfly. He hits all the notes and doesn’t think twice.

Dave also wrote many of his songs with the same set of unique chords. These “Dave Chords” are played in at least fifty percent of his songs and are known and loved by all DMB fans. Although many of Dave’s songs are extremely difficult to play, anyone who practices often can learn his style and how to play “like” Dave.

How many shows has Dave Matthews Band played?

As of January 2020, the Dave Matthews Band has played 2960 official shows over the course of 79 official tours (Source: DMB Almanac).

Wrapping it all up

Hopefully this answers the question, what guitar does Dave Matthews play? If you would like anymore in-depth analysis of famous musicians guitar rigs feel free to send us a message.

5 thoughts on “What Guitar does Dave Matthews Play?”

  1. Is there anywhere that you direct me that confirms that? I have seen multiple pictures of Dave with the Martin Signature Model in late 1999 and then the Taylor 714 in summer 2000. I know he used the Chet as backup in 2000 but it was not his main guitar. Let me know, Thanks!

  2. Fender Princeton Reverb Combo Amp is a solid choice for the price, but really anything in the $200-300 region is similar in performance. Can’t go wrong IMO.

  3. I think he’s Dave and just like any other person picks up what he wants when he wants. Realistically I bet all these guitars are in a humidifier truck that just follows him around.

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