The Rolling Stones axeman Keith Richards has a well-detailed history with various guitars. His main brands of choice were Gibson and Fender, two companies that he remains inextricably linked to today, but the specific model of guitar varied throughout his career.
Never one to remain monogamous, Keef explored the possibilities of the Gibson Les Paul in the mid-1960s, the Firebird towards the end of his partnership with Brian Jones, the ES-355 starting in the late ’60s and lasting all the way up to the present day, the Telecaster that was famously tuned to open G, a Stratocaster whenever the mood struck him, and a Tele Custom during the Some Girls era.
When pressed to choose a single six-string to keep for the rest of his life, however, Richards chose what many would consider his signature guitar. “If I only had one, I’d have to go with my Telecaster,” he said. “Just because I know him so well: we have a marriage.”
Richards seems to be copping out a bit by remaining vague on which specific Telecaster he would choose, considering he has a number of the guitars in his arsenal. But it can probably be inferred that he’s talking about ‘Micawber’, the Tele that started it all. ‘Micawber’ is the guitar that is eternally tuned to open G and gave to such classic Stones songs as ‘Brown Sugar’, ‘Honky Tonk Woman‘, ‘Happy’, ‘Start Me Up’, and scores of other unimpeachable additions to the Stones catalogue.
Micawber has survived the dank basement of Nellcote and the robbery that took place there while the Stones were recording Exile on Main Street. Richards continues to use the guitar live, despite its specific model being nearly 70 years old. But as Richards eloquently puts it, the two have such a perfect union that it would be impossible to separate one from the other. They’re soulmates, and they’ve created some of the best rock and roll of all time together.