What Guitar Does Dave Grohl Play? His Top Picks

Dave Grohl, hailed as one of the most accomplished musicians of our time, has made a significant impact on the world of rock music. Born on January 14, 1969, in Warren, Ohio, Grohl’s musical journey began at a young age. He gained prominence as the drummer for the iconic band Nirvana before establishing his own band, Foo Fighters. While he is widely recognized for his exceptional drumming skills and soulful vocals, it is his prowess as a guitarist that has added an extra layer of depth to his musical repertoire. Fans often wonder, “What guitar does Dave Grohl play?” as they are eager to learn more about the instrument that contributes to his distinctive sound.

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Brief overview of Dave Grohl’s musical career and his influence as a guitarist

Grohl’s entrance into the music scene was marked by his stint as Nirvana’s drummer in the early 1990s. His contributions helped shape Nirvana’s groundbreaking sound and solidified their place in music history. Following Kurt Cobain’s tragic death in 1994, Grohl embarked on a solo project that eventually evolved into the formation of Foo Fighters.

As both lead vocalist and guitarist for the band, Grohl showcased his immense talent beyond just being a masterful percussionist. Grohl’s versatility as an instrumentalist played a pivotal role in shaping Foo Fighters’ distinctive sound.

His guitar playing skillfully combines elements of punk rock energy with melodic hooks borrowed from classic rock influences like Led Zeppelin and The Beatles. The marriage between aggressive power chords and catchy riffs creates an intoxicating blend that brings their anthems to life.

Importance of the guitar in Grohl’s signature sound

The guitar serves as an essential component within Dave Grohl’s musical arsenal, acting not only as an instrument but also as an extension of his creative expression. Whether performing high-octane rock songs or delicate acoustic ballads, he consistently relies on his guitar to convey emotion and amplify the essence of his songwriting.

Grohl’s guitar playing style is characterized by a raw and energetic approach. He combines technical proficiency with an instinctive feel, allowing him to seamlessly transition between heavy, distorted riffs and soulful, melodic passages.

His ability to play with such dynamism enables him to create powerful sonic landscapes that resonate deeply with listeners. Dave Grohl’s musical career has been marked by his multifaceted talent as a guitarist, which has played an indispensable role in shaping both Nirvana and Foo Fighters’ sound.

His seamless blend of aggressive rock power and emotive melodies highlights the guitar’s significance within his signature sound. As we delve further into his guitar preferences and the instruments he chooses to wield, we will gain a deeper understanding of the tools behind Grohl’s remarkable musical journey.

Dave Grohl’s Guitar Preferences

Dave Grohl, renowned for his versatile musical abilities and dynamic performances, has developed a strong affinity for certain types of guitars throughout his illustrious career.

His guitar preferences encompass both electric and acoustic guitars, each contributing to his distinctive sound and style. Let’s delve into the types of guitars that Dave Grohl prefers to play.

Electric Guitars

When it comes to electric guitars, Dave Grohl demonstrates a fondness for iconic models that have become synonymous with rock music. One such guitar is the Fender Stratocaster.

Known for its sleek design and versatility, the Stratocaster has been a go-to instrument for Grohl. Its bright tone and smooth playability make it an ideal choice for both powerful riffs and melodic hooks.

In addition to the Stratocaster, Grohl has also gravitated towards Gibson models such as the ES-335 and Trini Lopez, both known for their distinctive tones and timeless designs. The ES-335 combines elements of solid-body and hollow-body construction, offering a warm yet punchy sound that suits various genres.

On the other hand, the Trini Lopez model boasts its own unique aesthetic while delivering rich tones with a touch of vintage charm. Grohl’s electric guitar preferences extend even further with his fondness for the Gibson Explorer.

This strikingly angular guitar holds historical significance in rock music; its aggressive design matches its powerful sound perfectly. The Explorer has been prominently featured in Foo Fighters’ performances over the years, embodying Grohl’s energetic stage presence.

Acoustic Guitars

Beyond his prowess on electric guitars, Dave Grohl also showcases his talents on acoustic instruments during intimate moments or when he wants to showcase a more introspective side to his craft. 

One of his preferred acoustic guitars is the Martin D-18, a classic model known for its well-balanced tone and projection. The D-18’s rich resonance and responsiveness make it an ideal choice for accompanying Grohl’s soulful vocals.

Furthermore, Grohl has shown a fondness for the Gibson J-45 acoustic guitar, renowned for its versatility and warm sound. The J-45’s combination of solid tonewoods and meticulous craftsmanship results in a well-rounded instrument suitable for both delicate fingerpicking and robust strumming.

Dave Grohl’s guitar preferences encompass an array of electric and acoustic models that contribute to his dynamic style. From the iconic Fender Stratocaster to the distinct Gibson ES-335, Trini Lopez, and Explorer models in his electric arsenal, to the versatile nature of Martin D-18 and Gibson J-45 in his acoustic collection – each guitar resonates with Grohl’s musical vision, enhancing his performances with their unique characteristics.

Dave Grohl’s Main Guitars

Fender Stratocaster:

The Fender Stratocaster is undoubtedly one of the most iconic electric guitars of all time, known for its sleek design and versatile sound. Dave Grohl has been a longtime fan of this model, and it has become a key component of his guitar arsenal. The Stratocaster’s distinctive double-cutaway body shape allows for easy access to the higher frets, facilitating Grohl’s energetic playing style.

What sets Dave Grohl’s customized Stratocasters apart are the personal touches he adds to make them truly unique. One notable modification is the customized pickguards that feature artwork or designs created specifically for him.

These pickguards not only enhance the visual appeal of his guitars but also reflect Grohl’s artistic sensibility. In addition to aesthetic modifications, Grohl often installs humbucker pickups in some of his Stratocasters.

Humbuckers are known for their thicker and more powerful sound compared to single-coil pickups commonly found in traditional Stratocasters. This modification allows him to achieve a heavier tone when necessary, particularly when playing with Foo Fighters or during live performances that require a more aggressive sound.

Gibson Trini Lopez:

While Fender guitars may dominate Grohl’s collection, there is another guitar model that holds a special place in his heart: the Gibson Trini Lopez. The Trini Lopez is a rare and distinctive guitar model named after its namesake American singer and guitarist who gained recognition in the 1960s.

What makes this particular Gibson model stand out is its unique design elements influenced by both Gibson’s popular ES-335 and ES-355 models. It features diamond-shaped f-holes on its semi-hollow body, providing an aesthetically pleasing touch while also enhancing resonance and tone.

Grohl’s attraction to the Gibson Trini Lopez likely lies in its vintage charm and its ability to deliver a warm and rich sound. The combination of the semi-hollow body and the choice of pickups in this model offers a unique blend of acoustic-like qualities with the versatility and power of an electric guitar.

Dave Grohl’s main guitars include the iconic Fender Stratocaster and the rare Gibson Trini Lopez. His customized Stratocasters feature unique pickguards with personalized artwork, as well as humbucker pickups for a heavier sound when needed.

The Gibson Trini Lopez, on the other hand, stands out with its distinctive design elements and vintage appeal, providing Grohl with a warm and resonant tone. These guitars contribute significantly to Grohl’s signature sound and have become integral components of his musical identity.

Other Guitars Played by Dave Grohl

Gibson ES-335:

The Gibson ES-335 is an iconic semi-hollow body electric guitar that has been a staple in the world of rock music since its introduction in 1958. This versatile instrument merges the warmth and resonance of a hollow body with the sustain and stability of a solid-body guitar.

The semi-hollow construction allows for a rich, full-bodied tone, while also reducing feedback issues commonly associated with fully hollow guitars. Dave Grohl has been known to wield the Gibson ES-335 on numerous occasions throughout his career, showcasing its versatility across various musical styles.

One notable example is in the Foo Fighters’ hit song “Times Like These,” where Grohl’s ES-335 fills the track with its balanced tonal qualities. The guitar’s ability to deliver both smooth cleans and crunchier overdrive tones makes it an ideal choice for Grohl’s dynamic playing style.

Gibson Explorer:

The Gibson Explorer is an iconic solid-body electric guitar known for its radical body shape and powerful sound. Introduced in 1958, this distinctive instrument was initially met with mixed reactions due to its unconventional design.

However, it has since become a symbol of heavy rock and metal music, thanks to players like Dave Grohl who have embraced its unique attributes. The Explorer’s angular body shape not only sets it apart visually but also contributes to its sonic impact.

The extended upper bout provides increased access to the higher frets, allowing for effortless shredding. Moreover, this guitar’s mahogany construction delivers thick yet articulate tones with exceptional sustain—an essential characteristic when crafting heavy rock riffs or melodic solos.

For Dave Grohl, the Gibson Explorer has proven to be an instrument capable of producing high-energy performances that perfectly complement his hard-hitting drumming background. From Nirvana’s “Smells Like Teen Spirit” to the Foo Fighters’ “Monkey Wrench,” the Explorer’s aggressive sound and ergonomic design have played a significant role in shaping Grohl’s signature heavy rock sound.

Dave Grohl’s guitar collection extends beyond his beloved Fender Stratocaster and includes other notable models like the Gibson ES-335 and Gibson Explorer. The semi-hollow body design of the ES-335 offers a versatile range of tones, making it suitable for various musical styles.

On the other hand, the bold and powerful sound of the Explorer perfectly aligns with Grohl’s hard-rocking sensibilities. By exploring these different guitars, Grohl showcases his ability to harness their unique characteristics to create his distinctive sound that has captivated audiences worldwide.

Dave Grohl’s Acoustic Guitars

Martin D-18: Background on

Dave Grohl’s love for acoustic guitars is evident in his performances and recordings, and one of his go-to acoustic instruments is the Martin D-18. The Martin D-18 is an iconic model known for its rich, warm tone and impeccable craftsmanship.

It has been a staple in the world of acoustic guitars since its introduction in the 1930s. The Martin D-18 features a dreadnought body shape, which ensures a balanced tonal response with excellent projection.

It is constructed using high-quality tonewoods, typically utilizing a solid Sitka spruce top paired with mahogany back and sides. This combination contributes to the guitar’s vibrant mid-range, strong bass response, and articulate trebles.

Grohl’s choice of the Martin D-18 showcases his appreciation for vintage-inspired instruments that deliver timeless sound quality. The instrument’s natural resonance perfectly complements his stripped-down acoustic performances, allowing him to showcase his songwriting skills while capturing the attention of audiences worldwide.


Dave Grohl’s guitar choices reflect his diverse musical influences and his desire to create distinct sounds that resonate with both himself and his audience. From electric guitars like Fender Stratocasters to iconic models like Gibson Trini Lopez, as well as renowned acoustics such as the Martin D-18, Grohl carefully selects instruments that enhance his playing style and contribute to his unique musical expression.

His dedication to crafting powerful melodies and delivering energetic performances has made him one of contemporary rock music’s most influential figures. Whether he is rocking out on stage or strumming an acoustic ballad, Dave Grohl consistently demonstrates an unwavering passion for music that inspires countless aspiring musicians around the world.

Through his guitar choices and musical prowess, Grohl reminds us that music is a universal language capable of uniting people and evoking emotions. His mastery of various guitar models exemplifies the limitless possibilities that lie within the realm of music, encouraging us all to embrace our creative instincts and find our own unique voice.

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