What guitars does Dave Grohl use? These are the instruments that power the Foo Fighters

What guitars does Dave Grohl use? These are the instruments that power the Foo Fighters

Dave Grohl is a man who has worn many hats over the years – from the wildman drummer in Nirvana to Queens of The Stone Age and Them Crooked Vultures, through to his current status as the Confirmed Nicest Man In Rock. But above all else, Grohl has become iconic as the frontman and bandleader of the Foo Fighters.
The Foos have become probably the defining (and certainly most popular) rock band of this century, with a string of hit albums, singles and sell-out arena tours from across the world.

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Grohl has also navigated the path from the drum-stool to a bona fide guitar hero better than pretty much anyone else in recent memory, and he’s done it with a string of varied but primarily Gibson instruments in his hands.
While many of the guitars Grohl has used in the Foo Fighters have been vintage instruments, such is his influence as a guitar player, many of the instruments he’s been drawn to have ended up being revived in more accessible forms, including a very popular signature model.
Below, we will take a look at the guitars Dave Grohl has used through the years and offer some comparable alternatives to those seeking to nail the Foo Fighters’ tone.
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Gibson DG-335
Dave Grohl performing with his red 1967 Trini Lopez Gibson. Image: Frank Micelotta/Getty Images
Since 2007, Dave Grohl has primarily relied on his signature Gibson DG-335 guitars for his live performances and they are said to have been a mainstay in the studio. The signature guitar draws a lot of its features from a somewhat obscure old Gibson signature model that was made for a guitarist/singer/actor named Trini Lopez.
The Trini Lopez model was of course, based on an ES-335 but with a Firebird-style headstock and diamond-shaped F-holes. It was first offered in 1964 and ceased production in early 1971. Its best-selling year was 1967, when Gibson shipped 92 of them, so it was far from a popular model. But Grohl picked one up in the early 90s and put it to use on all the early Foo Fighters records and videos, making the guitar cooler than it had ever been before. Dave Grohl’s former tech, Earnie Bailey confirmed to us that this Trini Lopez model remained pretty much stock, but as Grohl stated in an interview with Gibson, it became a hugely important part of Foo Fighters lore.
“This is a beautiful guitar. I saw this in a guitar shop in Bethesda, Maryland. I think it was 1992, ’93 or something like that. I think I was still in Nirvana when I bought it. I thought it was unusual. It looks like a Gibson ES-335, except it has diamond-shaped f-holes and has this different headstock on it. And I didn’t really know anything about Trini Lopez, the artist when I bought it. This is the sound of the Foo Fighters… On every record, I might use different guitars now and then. For the most part, it’s just this.”
In 2007, Gibson finally gave Grohl a signature version of the guitar that would be christened the DG-335. The guitar was made until 2014, and retained the unique headstock shape and diamond f-holes, but added Burstbucker pickups (which are voiced within PAF specs), a Tune-O-Matic stop tail bridge, and some cool finish options from the old Gibson catalogue, such as Pelham Blue and Metallic Gold in addition to black.
The signature models that Grohl plays on stage are pretty much stock as well, but tracking down an original Gibson model is tough. Thankfully, in 2024 Epiphone released a version of the DG-335 that makes it a much more attainable option.
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Gibson Explorers, Firebirds and more
Dave Grohl performing with the Foo Fighers in 2001. He plays his black Gibson Explorer. Image: Paul Natkin/Getty Images
Throughout his guitar playing career, Grohl has been a Gibson man first and foremost. According to guitar tech Earnie Bailey, in the early days of the Foo Fighters, Grohl used a couple of Les Pauls (one tobacco and one white), and over the years, he has also been spotted with Gibson RD, SG, Flying V, and Firebird models.
His main guitar in the early days of the Foo Fighters was a black Gibson Explorer, which challenges the Trini as his most iconic guitar. So wedded to this guitar was Grohl that he actually had two of them that were nearly identical, aside from a couple of stickers. These served as Grohl’s main stage guitars on the road while the Trini Lopez was kept safe and sound in the studio. If you saw Foo Fighters live during their legendary The Color And The Shape through One By One pomp, Dave was probably playing an Explorer.
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The Plexi

While he has mainly been a Gibson guy, Grohl hasn’t just played the brand in his Foo Fighters career, and indeed one of the band’s most defining moments was conducted with a very unique guitar in hand.
The legendary video for 2003’s All My Life saw Grohl strap on a Dan Armstrong ‘Plexi’ guitar – and he would also use it heavily live during the following years. These unique see-through instruments were made by luthier Dan Armstrong between 1969 and 1971, and while they were briefly available again during the surge of interest when Grohl began using one, it’s safe to say they never caught on.
Dave Grohl’s Acoustic Guitars
Dave Grohl performing with a Gibson Elvis Presley Dove in 2006. Image: John Shearer/WireImage via Getty Images
Dave Grohl has a healthy stable of acoustic guitars that he has used throughout the years, including a couple of Taylor and Martin models. But the acoustic he has been playing most recently is a Gibson Elvis Presley Dove, which is a model based on Elvis Presley’s 1969 Gibson Dove acoustic guitar that he used through the early 1970s.
Elvis’ guitar was a gift from his father, Vernon Presley. In 1975, Elvis famously handed the guitar mid-performance to an astonished audience member at a concert in Asheville, North Carolina. The original sold at auction for $334,000.
Gibson does make an Elvis Presley Dove and according to the spec sheet, the guitar features a Sitka spruce top, with maple back and sides, and a neck with an Indian rosewood fretboard with mother of pearl parallelogram inlays. As far as electronics, it is equipped with an L.R. Baggs VTC preamp and under-saddle piezo pickup, and soundhole-mounted volume and tone controls. For those looking for a lower-cost alternative, one might consider an Epiphone Dove, which features the same basic specs and construction as its Gibson counterpart.
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