THE BEATLES IN THE USA: It's a good job The Beatles had taste. It's almost as if they knew that every instrument they laid their hands on would become iconic, because most of them - from Rickenbackers and Hofners through to gorgeous Gibsons and beyond - are desirable to say the least.
Of course, being consummate showmen as well as instinctively talented musicians, the gear they played always had to fulfill the dual roles of sounding great and looking fantastic on stage. In the whole of their career, they rarely got it wrong.
Arguably the two best recognised instruments of the lot are the '63 Hofner 500/1 bass that has become synonymous with Paul McCartney, and the battered '58 Rickenbacker 325 that John Lennon picked up in Hamburg and played right up to '64.
Both sounded great, and both had special qualities that set them apart. Crucially, Macca's bass could be played left handed, and its lightweight semi-hollow construction meant he felt free to roam all over the neck and create those iconic basslines. The '62 pictured here actually replaced an earlier model he bought in Hamburg, and is still being used by Sir Thumbsaloft today.
John's battle-scarred Ricky, a short-scale rhythm machine that perfectly suited his banjo-influenced style of strumming, was tinkered with almost to destruction by Lennon. At various times it was refinished, had the electrics messed with and was subject to all manner of dinks and scratches, but with effortless style and a rough jangly tone you'd be hard pushed to beat it.