What Instrument Did John Lennon Play? The Iconic Beatles’ Musician Explored

John Lennon, an iconic figure in music history and one of the founding members of the legendary band The Beatles, was known for his incredible songwriting abilities and vocal talents. However, his proficiency with musical instruments was also an essential aspect of his acclaimed career. Throughout his time with The Beatles and during his solo endeavors, Lennon played various instruments.

John Lennon’s remarkable abilities with both the guitar and piano played a significant role in shaping his celebrated career, making him one of the most influential artists in history.

John Lennon’s Main Instruments


John Lennon played various guitars throughout his career, both with The Beatles and during his solo work. Some of his most famous guitars include the Rickenbacker 325, which he acquired in 1960 during a visit to Hamburg, and the 1965 Epiphone Casino, which became one of his most famous instruments.

Additionally, Lennon used various Gibson and Fender models. His ability to switch between rhythm and lead guitar was highlighted in songs like “You Can’t Do That” and “Get Back.”


Apart from the guitar, John Lennon’s other main instrument was the piano. He composed many songs on the piano, showcasing his versatility as a musician. His piano playing can be heard on several Beatles tracks and in his solo work.


Although not his primary instrument, John Lennon occasionally played bass. This showcased his adaptability and willingness to experiment with different instruments to achieve the desired sound.

To sum up, John Lennon was a versatile musician who played various instruments, with guitar and piano being his main ones. His talents extended to bass, demonstrating his impressive musical capabilities.

Specific Guitars Played by John Lennon

Rickenbacker 325

John Lennon was known for using the Rickenbacker 325, which became an iconic instrument associated with his performances with The Beatles.

This guitar was notable for its unique design, featuring a small body and distinctive headstock. Lennon owned and played various Rickenbacker models throughout his career.

Gibson J-160E

The Gibson J-160E was another staple in Lennon’s collection. This acoustic-electric guitar was used on every Beatles album and played a significant role in the band’s sound. It featured a unique pickup system that allowed it to be played both acoustically and electrically without losing tonal quality.

Epiphone Casino

Lennon also played an Epiphone Casino, one of the few guitars used by all three guitar-playing Beatles members. This hollow-bodied electric guitar provided a different tone than the solid-bodied guitars the band used Lennon to experiment with feedback in his performances.

Fender Stratocaster

The Fender Stratocaster was another widely recognized guitar in Lennon’s collection. Known for its distinct three-pickup design and contoured body, the Stratocaster provided Lennon with a versatile sound palette to explore in his work with The Beatles and his solo career.

Martin D-28

The Martin D-28 was an acoustic guitar that John Lennon used during his time with The Beatles as well as his solo career. This high-quality, handcrafted instrument contributed greatly to the warm and rich sound of Lennon’s acoustic performances and songwriting.

Although the focus of this section is on the Rickenbacker 325, Gibson J-160E, Epiphone Casino, Fender Stratocaster, and Martin D-28 models.

It’s worth noting that John Lennon also played other guitars throughout his career. Some of these notable mentions include the Gretsch 6120, Höfner Club, Framus Hootenanny, Gibson Les Paul Junior, Fender Telecaster, Guild Starfire XII, Ovation, Gretsch Duo Jet, Gretsch Tennessean, Rickenbacker 360/12, additional Epiphone Casinos, Gallotone Champion, Futurama, Chet Atkins, Country Gentleman, and Hofner 500/1.

Most importantly, each of these instruments contributed to Lennon’s unique and iconic sound.

Other Instruments and Sounds


One of John Lennon’s notable instruments was the harmonica. His harmonica playing can be heard on various Beatles tracks, such as “Love Me Do” and “I Should Have Known Better.” Lennon’s lively harmonica riffs contributed to the unique sound of The Beatles in their early days.


Although primarily known as a guitarist, John Lennon also experimented with drums occasionally. He is credited with playing drums on some solo tracks, even though usually Ringo Starr would have taken care of that role in The Beatles.

Keyboards and Synthesizers

John Lennon had an affinity for playing other instruments like the electric piano, harmonium, and clavichord. He often used these instruments to provide rich, atmospheric textures to his music.

As The Beatles moved into their experimental phase, Lennon was also among the first to incorporate newer instruments like the Mellotron and Moog synthesizer. These devices allowed him to create unique, avant-garde sounds that would leave an indelible mark on the world of music.

Miscellaneous Instruments

In addition to his primary instruments, Lennon experimented with a variety of other sounds throughout his musical career. Some of these include:

  • Bass guitar: Lennon occasionally played bass on some Beatles tracks, such as “Helter Skelter” and “Let It Be.”
  • Banjo: Lennon’s first string instrument was a banjo that his mother, Julia Lennon, bought for him.
  • Lead guitar: At times, Lennon would switch with George Harrison and play lead guitar, such as on the song “You Can’t Do That.”
  • Bigsby vibrato: On his Gibson J-160E and Epiphone Casino guitars, Lennon used a Bigsby vibrato to create smooth, sweeping bends.
  • Sitar: Lennon briefly tried his hand at the sitar and played it on the song “Norwegian Wood (This Bird Has Flown).”
  • Percussion: Lennon occasionally played various percussion instruments, such as maracas, bongos, and timpani, to add rhythm and texture to the music.

Given the vast range of instruments and sounds Lennon used throughout his career, it is evident that he was continually exploring and pushing the boundaries of his music.

The legacy of John Lennon, as an artist and musician thrives even to this day, owing to his versatility and willingness to take risks in his artistry.

Lennon’s Role in The Beatles

Collaborations with Other Band Members

JAsa co-founder of The Beatles, John Lennon, played an important role in the band’s music and collaborations with other members. Known for his strong partnership with Paul McCartney, they co-wrote many of the band’s songs, creating one of the most famous songwriting duos in music history. Lennon and McCartney’s distinct styles complemented each other, resulting in numerous hits for the band. Lennon also worked closely with George Harrison, initially teaching him guitar techniques and later forming a strong bond over their shared musical influences.

Ringo Starr, who joined The Beatles as the drummer in 1962, admired Lennon’s wit and musical talent. Lennon, in turn, provided vocal harmonies and occasional guitar or piano support for some of Starr’s songwriting efforts. George Martin, the band’s producer, was crucial to Lennon’s musical development, helping him experiment with new styles, instruments, and techniques in the recording studio.

Songwriting Contributions

John Lennon made significant songwriting contributions to The Beatles’ discography. Many of their hits, such as “Help!”, “Strawberry Fields Forever” and “In My Life” showcase his introspective lyrics, distinctive voice, and innovative use of chord progressions.

Lennon played several instruments while in The Beatles, primarily guitar and piano. His notable guitars include the Rickenbacker, Epiphone Casino, and various Gibson and Fender models. He also composed many songs on the piano, his other instrument of choice.

As part of his songwriting duties, John Lennon typically provided lead or co-lead vocals for the tracks he wrote or co-wrote. He also contributed to the band’s overall sound, both as a harmony vocalist and by playing additional instruments when needed.

In summary, John Lennon played a pivotal role in shaping The Beatles’ music, collaborating closely with other band members, and providing a strong foundation for their songwriting and recording process. His significant contributions to their discography and his ability to perform on various instruments testify to his talent and lasting influence in the music world.

Notable Songs and Albums


Imagine is one of John Lennon’s most iconic songs, released as a single in 1971 and also serving as the title track of his second studio album. Composed on piano, the song features simple and beautiful lyrics expressing the desire for world peace. It is often considered one of the greatest songs of all time and a representation of Lennon’s solo work after leaving The Beatles.

Love Me Do

Love Me Do was The Beatles’ debut single, released in 1962. John Lennon played the harmonica and shared lead vocals with Paul McCartney on this catchy song. Written primarily by McCartney with input from Lennon, Love Me Do was the song that marked the beginning of The Beatles’ extraordinary musical journey and established their early success.

Double Fantasy

Double Fantasy is a 1980 album by John Lennon and Yoko Ono. Featuring alternating songs by Lennon and Ono, it showcases the collaborative nature of their relationship and artistic endeavors.

The album received mixed reviews upon release but went on to win the Grammy Award for Album of the Year in 1982. It includes the hit songs “Just Like Starting Over” and “Woman” by Lennon, as well as “Kiss Kiss Kiss” and “Every Man Has a Woman Who Loves Him” by Ono.

Revolver Album

Revolver is the seventh studio album by The Beatles, released in 1966. Lennon contributed to several standout tracks on this groundbreaking album. as a guitarist and vocalist. Among these are “Tomorrow Never Knows,” a song featuring experimental tape loops and innovative production techniques, and “I’m Only Sleeping,” which showcases Lennon’s unique songwriting style.

Hailed as a masterpiece and a turning point in The Beatles’ career, Revolver is often regarded as one of the greatest albums in rock history.

To sum up, John Lennon is a legendary artist who experimented with sound using his musical talents in playing the guitar and the piano, among other musical instruments.

John Godfrey

John Godfrey is a music fanatic, as well as the owner of Songpier.com which provides music guides. In high school, he learned how to play the drums which inspired him to learn about rock music. He began to write articles for various music magazines and during this period he realized he had a passion for writing music descriptions. He has a Master's degree in music education from the University of Redlands.