This page offers information about Cockburn's guitars through the years. Original source material compiled by Frank Brusca. Additional research by Jon Carroll. If you have additional information about any guitars/gear, or corrections to the information on this page, please contact Jon Carroll at email@example.com.
The image on the right is a screen shot from the "Bruce Cockburn - Pictures from Concerts" section of Marie Westhaver's website. Marie has collected images from as far back as the 1980s, and has pictures of many of Cockburn's guitars through the years.
Bruce discovers his first guitar in his Grandmother's attic [Source: Guitar Player Magazine interview conducted by Jim Schwartz, 1980].
In the early 1960's, Bruce's parents bought him a Kay Archtop guitar. This guitar was an acoustic until Bruce installed a DeArmond pickup in the guitar [Source: as above].
Bruce aquires a Gibson ES-175 [Source: as above].
Bruce was using several guitars. Of these we know that he was using a Fender Telecaster and a Martin 00-18 [Source: As above].
Bruce acquires a Martin D-18 when he went solo. The Martin was used on Cockburn's first three albums: Bruce Cockburn (1970), High Winds White Sky (1971), and Sunwheel Dance (1971) [Source: As above].
Bruce aquires his first Wren handmade acoustic guitar. This guitar had a Florentine cutaway,a Cedar top, and Indian Rosewood back and sides. [Source: E-mail from David Wren, from the 12th Fret store in Toronto, to Jon Carroll.]
Bruce aquires a Gibson ES-355 and a Gibson ES-345, and shows us what they are for on Mama Just Wants to Barrelhouse All Night Long and Lightstorm from the album Night Vision (1973). The amplifier used with the guitars was a 15-watt Standel amplifier [Source: Guitar Player Magazine interview conducted by Jim Schwartz, 1980]
Bruce aquires the first cutaway L'arrivée steel string guitar, custom made for him. It had a Florentine cutaway, Masscar Ebony back and sides, and a spruce top. Apparently the guitar did not have pickups judging from the inside cover photo of Circles In The Stream (1997), where the guitar appears to have a removeable soundhole pickup (see B&W photo above right, click for enlargement) [Source: as above, and David Wren].
Bruce aquires his second David Wren acoustic (pictured right, Bruce's third Wren which he acquired in 1984 - photo by Greg Moran, click for more). It is a Venetian cutaway (and was later burned in a studio fire) with Indian Rosewood back and sides and a Cedar top. [Source: E-mail from David Wren, from the 12th Fret store in Toronto, to Jon Carroll.]
Bruce acquires an Antigua Fender Stratocaster, pictured (right, colour) on the back of the album Mummy Dust (1981).
This guitar was purchased brand new by Bruce in 1980 (see additional photos by Kim Kleeh from Wolfgang's, San Francisco, CA, in November 1984 on Marie Westhaver's website). [Source: Phone conversation between Jon Carroll and John Laroque of Ring Music.]
In 1981, Bruce acquired a Yamaha L-55 with a Florentine cutaway, inlaid headstock, and spruce top (see photo by Murray Harrison on Marie Westhaver's site). [ more photos from Murray in the 1980's ] In early 1981, Bruce acquires a blue De Jonge Flying V guitar (pictured right, based on the Gibson design), which appears on the cover of the Rumours Of Glory video (1985) and is used during the song Radio Shoes.
This guitar was sold on eBay.com in May 2000 for just under US$1,000 [Source: feature on this website, which includes interviews by Nigel Parry with the current owner, John Raffaele (pictured right) and the guitar's luthier, Imre De Jonge].
In mid-1981, Bruce also acquired an orange-flake De Jonge Flying V. This guitar appears in the Rumours Of Glory video (1985) [Source: as above].
Bruce was using a Lake Placid Blue Yamaha Pacifica, with a rosewood fingerboard. In 1984, Bruce aquired his third and final blue David Wren acoustic. At the Montreal Spectrum in Quebec, Canada, on 30 June 1984 Cockburn is pictured (see Greg Moran's photos on Marie Westhaver's website) with the Pacifica and the blue Wren.
In 1987, Bruce acquires a pair of Linda Manzer Stratocaster copies. These were blue (almost sparkle), painted with a Canadian automotive paint. They had black pickguards, knobs and pickup covers, with DiMarzio pickups (a DiMarzio HS35 in the Bridge position and DiMarzio HS15s in the neck and middle positions) and Alembic Pre-amps installed by Mark Herbert of Boston.
Bruce originally sold the pair at Ring Music. One of the pair was a 12-string and sold in June 2000 for US $1,020 at The 12th Fret in Toronto.When it sold,the DiMarzios had been replaced by Evans noiseless pickups.
Bruce acquires a Linda Manzer acoustic guitar (see right), which remained with him for 11 years. It had Mayan calender symbols for fret markings, and its cedar top was painted blue by adding blue dye to the laquer.
Brian Jantzi from Toronto has provided information on one of Bruce's amps which was presumably used up to about this time.
"I bought my first good guitar amp in 1988 from Ring Music. I tried everything used that was there at the time and settled on this 1959 Fender Tweed Tremolux. It had the name 'Bill' written on it in ink and looked a bit worse for wear. Usual for old tweed. Right after I paid for it ($788 in 1988), the Ring person told me: 'You just bought Bruce Cockburn's amp.' I've had John Fletcher tune it up and refurb over the years and this amp continues to be the holy grail of tone. Bruce had a 16 Ohm Ovation ceramic in it when sold. I replaced it with a Weber alnico 8 ohm and tone went from a 10/10 to a 12. Thank you Bruce!"
The gear for the 1989 world tour included the two blue Linda Manzer Stratocasters, the Linda Manzer Charango, the Orange-Flake Imre de Jonge Flying V, a black "CPX" series Yamaha Acoustic, an Aqua colored fiberglass Resolektric, and what looks like a 1985 Fender Twin Reverb Amplifier.
Bruce aquires a Chrome Dobro (pictured right at The Ram's Head in Annapolis, Maryland June 23, 1998. Photo by Marie Westhaver, click for more.). This guitar has Palm tree grapics on it's metal body. In an Acoustic Guitar Magazine article in 1999, Cockburn commented that:
"The way I use that Dobro live," he says, "it's got a Tele pickup in it and a microphone built into it as well, and the audience gets to hear the microphone and I get to hear the Tele pickup. That's the system, so that I can get the volume I need without it screaming at me. But sometimes we'll mix them up, you know, because the pickup sounds pretty nice, particularly through old vintage amps that are not designed to such high tolerances as modern ones. On the song 'Use Me While You Can,' we were recording both of them. You'll hear it start with more of the Dobro sound, and the pickup comes in as it goes along you start to become aware of the tremolo and the extra sustain that the pickup gives it. And we fool around with that kind of thing live sometimes, too."
On the album Nothing But A Burning Light (1991) Cockburn uses a Fender Jazzmaster and a custom National "Resolektric" guitar with a red pearloid pickguard and aqua finish. The Resolektric seems to be styled afer a Fender Mustang.
Bruce aquires a white and green Jerry Jones three pickup model.
Bruce shops at The 12th Fret and Ring Music stores in Toronto. He has also shopped at Westwood Music, in Santa Monica, CA, where he bought a Collings Acoustic used on the current album, Breakfast In New Orleans, Dinner In Timbuktu (1999), used with a Neumann U89 microphone.
On the 1999-2000 tours, Bruce used a Spruce-topped Manzer with Fishman pickup, the custom National "Resolektric" style guitar, a Copper Jerry Jones single cutaway 3 pickup model, and 2 black Charvel Surfcasters (one in standard tuning , one in Drop-D) with gold hardware [Source: Acoustic Guitar Magazine, 1999].
At Bruce's 5 March 2002 show in Baltimore; guitar savvy fan David Smith had the good fortune of talking shop with Bruce's guitar tech. Here's what David learned from the guitar tech about BC's current equipment:
Two six string guitars made by Linda Manzer. One of these had a Fishman with an Audio-Technica condenser mic, the other I don't remember the transducer but also used the pickup in combination with an Audio-Technica. No blender, he had two cables from the guitar, one from the pickup, the other from the mic, each one a separate input to the mixer.
The mic was straight to the board, no effects, the pickup signal went through the effects. I can't tell you details on the effects, but they were discrete boxes; digital delay, tremolo, chorus, probably a few others. He also played a 12-string Guild with an I-Beam (LR Baggs makes it I believe), and no mic on this guitar that I remember.
[Source: David Smith]
Teaj saw Bruce Cockburn and band in Ann Arbor, Michigan on 17 November 2017, for the Bone On Bone tour. He has written an indepth article on all the gear Bruce and band are using during this tour. Serious G.A.S. - Bruce Cockburn – Glimpses of a Master’s Gear. Wonderfully written, even for non-gear heads, do go check it out.
Pedal Board photo by Kirsti Reeve
19 December 2017 - Fantastic article in Premier Guitar - Just Wait and See, covering guitars and gear.