Mick Mars

Mick Mars, Mötley Crüe guitar god and inventor of some of the best riffs in rock music is also an avid guitar collector. After having sold off a large portion of his guitars during a rough patch in the nineties, Mars has slowly rebuilt his collection over the past decade. As one would expect, Gibson guitars figure prominently in that collection. Mick’s collection include a ’56 Gibson Les Paul Special, a curly maple top Les Paul Standard from the early seventies, as well as a Gibson Les Paul Custom, and a Gibson Chet Atkins 12-string acoustic. Here we’ve collected some quotes from Mars on his favorite Gibson guitars, along with some of his thoughts on guitars in general.

Mick Mars explained to Vintage Guitars how he differ from many other guitar collectors:
When I buy a guitar, I look for something I can play. I don’t buy pristine guitars, because I like to play them. If I drop them, I don’t care. So I’m a collector of “player” guitars – those I’m not afraid to pick up and bang on. I typically don’t buy guitars for looks; I buy them for tone – the sound, the output, and that kind of thing is most important. I’m a tone freak.

Being a tone freak, as he says, what could be better than the rich sound of a ’72 Les Paul Custom? Mars talked about this great instrument, and how it helped shape the sound of both Shout at the Devil and Theatre of Pain, in an interview with Guitar World:
“That was all my black ’72 Les Paul Custom guitar. I bought it for 400 bucks and sold it years later for 25 grand. That was a good investment!”

In a recent interview with Guitar World, Mars shared the story of the ’72 Les Paul’s current whereabouts:
“The ’72 Les Paul Custom that I used to play in the early days is now hanging in a Hard Rock Café somewhere in Florida. I didn’t want to let go of that guitar, but I was forced to do it.”

Motley Crue

Mick told Vintage Guitar the interesting story of how he came to own a Gibson Chet Atkins 12-string acoustic:
“Actually, I got that guitar when they were first coming out. Jerry Garcia wanted it, but I had asked Gibson first! I used it to record “Without You” and some of the other stuff on the Dr. Feelgood album.”

Equally as interesting is the story of how he came to own a Gibson Les Paul Custom in 1989:
“Back in ’89, on the Feelgood tour, a guy brought a black Les Paul from the Gibson Custom Shop to a meet-and-greet backstage. He said his mom got him the guitar but he didn’t like it, and wanted a guitar with a whammy on it. So I traded him [...] for this black Custom Shop Les Paul. It has dot inlays and it’s made of alder. I took the paint off, like a bonehead, because I wasn’t using my head, and I put a Floyd on it and an EMG in it. It’s a beautiful-sounding guitar.”

Here’s what Mars had to say when asked about his favorite guitar pickups by Vintage Guitar:
“But my favorite pickups of all are the Gibson “T-top” humbuckers that were just after they got their patent. I can’t get enough of them.”

In an interview here at Gibson.com from last year, Mars shared some advice for guitarists who feel stuck in a rut:
“Really, it depends on how far you are. I’ve had people tell me, “I’m at a standstill.” What I would usually do when I hit a standstill is take on somebody that I didn’t know. Like, after I learned a lot of blues things when I was a little guy, I would want to step it up, so I stepped up to Wes Montgomery or George Benson to learn a different type of thing. But, what’s most important is practice. I can’t read, so I just play with my feel, with my soul and with my heart and put everything that I have into it. I play some stuff, and I don’t know what it is, but people will come up and say, “Hey, when you did that pentatonic scale, that was out of this world!” And I go, “What’s that?” [Laughs] But, practice, practice, practice is the best way to do it.”

Speaking of the blues, Mick talked to MusicRadar about how he incorporated the blues:
“The only way that I can describe that is to look at what all of the players were doing in the ‘80s. They were doing these scales, but there wasn’t any feeling at all. Without sounding cheesy, but I want every note to be from my heart and my soul. So that’s what I take from the blues – feel.”

Words of wisdom from Mick Mars on the art of guitar playing, as told to MusicRadar:
“Guitar playing isn't about how fast you can make your fingers go; it's about making music.”