Gear Rundown: Taylor Swift

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Gear Rundown: Taylor Swift

Taylor Swift Rig Rundown
Words by Emily Davidson
Edits by Mixdown staff

Ever wondered which guitar is the go-to of the inimitable Taylor Swift? We're diving into the gear behind the singer-songwriter wunderkind.

After becoming the youngest name ever signed under Sony/ATV at 14, Taylor Swift quickly shot to stardom off the back of her debut release back in 2006. Through her genre hopping across the next 16 years that would stem from the early success of tracks like ‘Tim McGraw’, ‘Love Story’, and ‘You Belong With Me’, Swift has made her mark on the industry as a name to be reckoned with – love her or hate her, Swift’s influence on the 2010s and 20s music scene can’t be ignored. Forays into hi-fi pop aside, when we think of Taylor Swift at her songwriting core, it’s seldom without a guitar in hand.

With the ongoing success of the Taylor Swift Eras Tour, we’re revisiting some of the gear she’s used throughout her career.

Taylor Swift Guitars

Since 2020, she’s released three full studio records, in addition to two fully rerecorded albums, so there’s been no shortage of new content for fans. On top of this you have music videos and touring and promo and one off performances and – yeah. To sustain a career like this, it’s only expected that you may, in fact, need a lot of gear!

Read up on all the latest features and columns here.

Taylor Swift Guitars

Taylor Taylor Swift Guitar – Taylor 614ce

With its distinctive rich Borrego Red, this guitar first made an appearance back in 2010 with the release and promotion of Swift’s third studio album Speak Now, along with the proceeding – and aptly named – fourth studio album Red. Carrying her through tours and music videos, Swift’s 614ce quickly became a recognisable staple in her guitar rotation.

With this guitar more recently making a glorious reappearance with the release (of the rerecording) of Red (Taylor’s Version), it’s back to centre stage for this iconic instrument, featuring pride of place in the ‘I Bet You Think About Me’ music video. Swift is known for this rich Borrego red, often seen with her Gibson Les Paul limited and later (2012) her custom Les Paul Special. This particular guitar can also be spotted in a number of live recordings, both in studio and onstage.

The grain of its flamed torrefied spruce top peeks through the vibrant red Swift’s 614ce, and with maple back and sides and a West African Crelicam ebony neck and fretboard, it’s a solid beast. The body is inlaid with grained ivoroid, and set with an X-scalloped bracing within its grand auditorium body for a rich, balanced sound that complements well as a supporting rhythm guitar. This model also features gold-plated Taylor tuners.

Gibson J-180

Along with her love for Taylor guitars (is it the name?), Gibson runs a close second for Swift. Often seen with a J-180, her range of custom Gibsons chart her aesthetic shifts between musical eras. This model first stuck its head out to Swift back in 2015, who was first seen playing it while supporting Madonna onstage at the 2015 iHeartRadio music awards.

It’s unclear if after this performance she was gifted this very guitar, but if she was, it’s likely not the one she’s using currently – the performance guitar has the name Evelyn inlaid into the headstock. Swift’s Gibson J-180s have grown with her, seeing her through her “new” redemption era, from 2017’s Reputation all the way through the recent rerecordings.

This model features a star fretboard inlay, and is based on Everly brothers’ classic 1987 J-180 – although Swift’s guitars loses the recognisable pickguard which is traditionally associated with J-180s. With a spruce top, maple back and sides, rosewood fretboard, and mahogany neck, its larger size too allows for more resonance and sonic presence than many of Swift’s previous acoustic guitars.

With a custom deep green finish through her record-breaking Reputation stadium tour, cloud-like pastel pink wrap for Lover, and return to classic black through both Folklore and Evermore, Swift isn’t afraid to switch things up. After performing at the American Country Music Awards in 2020, Swift also auctioned off a signed black J-180 for covid relief fundraising, which sold for $40,000 – a price that sits notably above all other auction items.


Fender Johnny Marr Signature Jaguar

Although more often seen with acoustic guitars in hand, the Johnny Marr Signature Jaguar deserves a mention too. Trotting around the globe with her throughout the 1989 world tour in late 2015, it’s not uncommon for this Olympic White Jag to be spotted around, seen too in her performance of ‘Wildest Dreams’ at the Grammy museum in 2016.

Alongside Swift, this specific Jaguar is also used around and about by a number of other big name artists – the likes of Arctic Monkeys front man Alex Turner, Radiohead guitarist Ed O’Brien, and, (you guessed it) Johnny Marr himself. Unlike some of her other more customised guitars, this one appears to be closer to (if not exactly) the off the shelf model.

Based on Marr’s ’65 Jag, this model consists of an amalgamation of parts, with a Jag bridge, Mustang saddles, two custom-wound Bare Knuckle Johnny Marr single-coil pickups, and a custom profile maple neck. With a vintage style floating tremolo and tremolo arm, alder body and non-traditional slide switches (instead, a four-way blade pickup switch). This beast of an electric guitar holds itself up well against Swift’s much larger acoustic arsenal.

Taylor Swift’s Microphones

Audio-Technica AEW-T4100

Throughout a number of her earlier tours, Swift partnered with Audio Technica for both frontline and backline vocals, using the Elite 5000 series UHF Wireless series with a AEW T4100 cardioid dynamic handheld transmitter for lead vocals during her Fearless tour through 2009-2010.

Swift’s front of house sound engineer throughout the Fearless era Russell Fischer said in a statement to Audio-Technica that “during rehearsals for the tour, we tried a number of different wireless systems and mics from a variety of manufacturers on Taylor’s vocals, but we kept coming back to the Audio Technica 5000 Series Wireless and the T4100. We all agreed that the A-T was the right system for the job.”

They needed a mic that would work well with Swift’s dynamic stage presence and “reliably reject feedback”> For a tour as highly awaited as this, it was important to have a mic that would stand up reliably.


Custom White Sequential Prophet 12

Making its most notable appearances throughout her 2015 1989 tour, it’s not uncommon to spot Swift alongside a Prophet. The Prophet 12, in particular, as a full-sized, five-octave, semi-weighted synth, is heralded for its versatility and range as an absolute powerhouse of a polysynth – hers, in a custom white finish – even replacing its hardwood frame with a sleek glossy white casing.

There’s a reason this synth continues to shine even years later – with 12 rich voices and wide range of tools for granular customisation, the Prophet 12 is said to wipe the field in both analogue and digital sound – combining the best of both worlds. It comes with 396 user and an additional 396 factory memory programs, and five DSP-based oscillators per voice.  Swift’s band has also been known to be seen playing not only Prophet 12s, but Prophet 08s and Pro2 synths as well.

Lockdown Sessions

If you’ve been following Swift’s comings and goings at all over the last few years, you probably would’ve come across her eighth studio album Folklore, affectionately known as the indie folk (like the name… get it?) lockdown soundtrack. However, platinum records weren’t the only thing to come out of the pandemic.  While shows globally were put on hold, and Taylor’s Lover tour cancelled, spirits were low.

So! Taylor stepped up! And what came of this need for creative ingenuity that COVID spurred on was a team effort with Disney Plus to create the Long Pond Studio Sessions during 2020. This consisted of a full acoustic play through of the entirety of Folklore, along with fellow collaborators Aaron Dessner and Jack Antonoff.

Due to the intimate nature of the production (density and social distancing rules), there was also a much more limited range of gear used. After all that, in comes Telefunken’s U47 large-diaphragm tube condenser mic and Shure’s SRH840 headphones – the stars of this lockdown show.

Telefunken U47

The U47 is heralded as the “gold standard for microphones in professional recording studios” (lucky the Long Pond Studio Sessions were in fact, performed in a professional recording studio) and can be used not only for vocals but instrumental, orchestral, backing, and chamber recordings too.  This particular model comes with a chrome grille and matte nickel-plated body, and the purchase of such microphones comes with a plethora of included accessories.

The U47 draws inspiration itself from the historic German sound, and is known for its rich depth and presence. Its range enables for a deep low end and forward midrange, maintaining smoothness and detail in the top end without sacrificing fullness in bass.

Shure SRH840

Shure’s SRH840s go hand in hand very well with the U47, enabling a precise feedback of, again, rich bass and soaring highs, all while maintaining a clear midrange. They come with 40mm dynamic neodymium drivers, minimising distortion while providing a natural frequency.

These headphones don’t come cheap either, but do deliver on the premium build that would be expected, with a padded headband and a sleek design created with camera aesthetics in mind. With gold (coloured, not real) trim and a luxurious matte black, they sparkle onscreen in a way that doesn’t distract but highlights the thought behind its design.

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