Neil Young

There's a huge amount of conflicting information floating around on the internet, but this is probably the basic rundown of Young's rig, which has remained mostly consistent for decades.

Electric Guitars

  • "Old Black", 1953 Gibson Les Paul Goldtop. Primary electric since 1969. Jet black body, chrome-on-brass pickguard and backing plates, nickel hardware. Tune-O-Matic bridge and Bigsby B-7 vibrato tailpiece (previously a B-3). Gibson P-90 in the neck; Gibson Firebird HB in the bridge (previously a Rowe DeArmond M5A single-coil, then a DeArmond Dynasonic). Custom control bypass switch, original volume and tone knobs. Schaller M-6 tuners (previously Grover N-102s). '60s Gibson neck with "wheat stack" mother-of-pearl inlay.
  • 1961 Gretsch White Falcon Stereo 6137.
  • 1956 Gibson Les Paul Junior.
  • 1953 Gibson Les Paul Goldtop ("Old Black" stand-in).
  • Gretsch Chet Atkins 6120 (primary guitar with Buffalo Springfield)
  • Gibson Flying V (Time Fades Away tour)
  • Fender Broadcaster (Tonight's the Night tour)
  • Fender Telecaster
  • Guild M-20

Acoustic Guitars

  • 1968 Martin D-45 (primary acoustic since 1969).
  • 1941 Martin D-28 (formerly owned by Hank Williams).
  • 1962 Martin D-28 (tuned to "A# modal": A#-F-A#-D#-G-A#).
  • Martin D-18 (primary acoustic prior to '68 D-45; later used in DGCFAD tuning).
  • Taylor Model 855 12-String (Rust Never Sleeps).
  • 1927 Gibson Mastertone GB-3 banjo.


Again, I've seen a lot of conflicting information about Neil's amp setup, but it most likely seems to be this, more or less:

The core of Neil's sound is a 1959 Fender Tweed Deluxe 5E3, stock except for dual 6L6s that boost the wattage from 15W to 19W and cause the amp to run extremely hot; high-powered fans pump air into the back of it during shows. The external speaker output from the Deluxe sends the amped signal through a volume potentiometer and is split — one signal goes into a 1950s Magnatone 280 2x12 with stereo vibrato, and the other goes to one of three locations (probably via A/B/Y): a 1970s Baldwin Exterminator solid-state (with six speakers: 2x15, 2x12, 2x8); a Fender Tweed Tremolux (25W boosted to 40W), and a Fender Tweed Twin (high-powered with four 6L6s). All amps are also simultaneously miked and sent through a personal 2000W Maryland Sound PA system, which used to be housed in oversized prop Fender amps but now seems to be housed in his giant Magnatone cabinet. Neil uses a personal mixer for the PA to mix the different amp signals together.

Neil remotely controls his Deluxe with his pedalboard using a "Whizzer" system he developed with his late tech Sal Trentino in the 1970s. The Whizzer allows Neil to select between four different volume/tone configurations on the Deluxe. The four presets essentially run from clean to distorted; the first preset is a clean, "country-sounding" tone and the fourth preset "moves the Deluxe's main volume and tone knobs to 12".

His basic amp tone seems to be his Echoplex into the cranked Deluxe into the Magnatone 280. The Baldwin Exterminator seems to be there mostly for feedback and squeal. The other Fenders are usually used in conjunction with his stereo White Falcon; the bass strings go into the Tremolux and the treble strings go into either the Twin or the Deluxe/Magnatone.

All of his acoustics are miked with FRAP stereo three-dimensional transducers.

Various sources (specifically a 2009 Guitar World article) claim he also used a Mesa/Boogie Bass 400 head "with the highs EQ'd out" at some point.


Giant red wood controller; the top half activates, in signal order:

  • five Conn Strobe-O-Tuners
  • MXR M-118 Analog Delay
  • Mu-Tron Octave Divider
  • Effect loop bypass
  • Boss BF-1 Flanger (this is a guess; various sources claim Young uses a 1969-era Boss flanger in a "blue, cast-metal box", which doesn't seem to exist especially considering Boss didn't exist in 1969)
  • Alesis Microverb
  • Maestro EP-4 Echoplex

The bottom half activates the Whizzer presets as well as his Fender Reverb Unit.


  • D'Angelico 80/20 Brass strings (.012-.054) on acoustic guitars.
  • Dean Markley Super Vs (.010-.046) on electric guitars.
  • Herco Gold Flex 50 nylon picks.

Keyboards & Electronics

  • 1885 Estey reed organ (serial number 167272).
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