Gear Rundown: The Ramones

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Gear Rundown: The Ramones

The Ramones Rig Rundown
Words by Gary Seven

Diving into the gear used by the OG, shaggy-mopped, skinny jean clad punk rockers - The Ramones.

There may forever be arguments over who was ‘the first’ in any given genre, but when it comes to the birth of punk music, The Ramones are guaranteed a seat at the table.

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Formed in 1974, these four middle class kids from New York City would only have limited success during their 20 or so years together, but would go on to become one of the most influential bands of all time through their music, no frills attitude, mushroom haircuts and iconic Schott Perfecto leather jacket and ripped denim fashion stylings.

None of the members were actually related, with their name coming from a pseudonym Paul McCartney used to check into hotels – ‘Paul Ramone’.

The Ramones line-up changed over the years, mostly different drummers (hello, Spinal Tap!), but their sound remained anchored around short, sharp, irresistible three chord punk pop.

The four original members have all passed away – Lead singer Joey Ramone (Jeffrey Hyman 1951-2001), Guitarist Johnny Ramone (John Cummings 1951-2004), Bass Player Dee Dee Ramone (Douglas Colvin 1952-2002) drummer Tommy Ramone (Thomas Erdelyi 1949-2014), but not before their induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2002, a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award in 2011 and a legacy of some of the catchiest feel-good anthems ever put to tape. 

The Ramones first single ‘Blitzkrieg Bop’ February 1976. Hard to believe it was a commercial flop, charting at 111 on the Billboard top 200.


Like most guitarists, Johnny Ramone played numerous guitars over the years, a 1966 Rickenbacker 450, a 1971 Gibson Les Paul Custom, a 1979 Hamer Sunburst and several Mosrite guitars.  From 1977 – to the band’s retirement in 1996 it’s the 1965 White Mosrite Ventures II that we most identify Johnny with. It went to auction in 2001, “after 200 shows and 15 albums” and sold to an anonymous buyer for $937,500. 


Throughout his entire career, it may come as a surprise that Johnny Ramone never used any effects pedals, just a BOSS Tu-12H Chromatic Tuner. His sounds came from sometimes modified pickups in his guitars and amp settings only, keeping with the Ramones ‘just plug in and play’ ethic. 


Dee Dee Ramone Fender Precision Bass

Dee Dee preferred one type of bass, the Fender Precision. His original 1975 bass had the pick guard replaced and extra caulking was added to prevent the bass from shorting out, due to Dee Dee’s sweating when playing live. Listed for auction in 2020, it sold for $93,000.


Johnny Ramone Amps

Early on, Johnny Ramone used a Marshall Super Lead Guitar head and Electro Harmonix Mike Matthews Freedom Amp. Once he had a little more cash, he swapped to a Marshall 1959 Mark II Super Lead head and a Marshall 1960B 4×12 straight cabinet, usually having two amps onstage. From 1983 onwards he used a Marshall JCM800 2203 100W Tube Head Amp.


Tommy Ramone Drums

Tommy Ramone was firstly a producer who worked with Hendrix in the late 60’s, then became an early manager of the Ramones, returning to producing in his later career. While recording the first Ramones album, singer Johnny attempted to play drums in the studio, but couldn’t keep up with the fast pace of the songs, so Tommy stepped in.  He preferred Rogers drums, his white mid 1960s kit being the most ionic. Information about the type of cymbals he used seems to have been lost. 


Joey Ramone Neumann

In the studio Joey used the iconic Neumann U67 for his vocals. During live performances, Joey mostly used a Shure SM57 and switched to a the industry standard Shure SM58 in later years.


Keen to keep reading? Check out this article about why Dee Dee left the Ramones.