Alex's first guitar: Hagstrom

Alex asked for a bass for Christmas 1965, but received a Hagstrom guitar from his parents instead, which he "hated". He learned the bass line from "All My Loving" on this guitar.


Fender Telecaster

With money he made from The Box Tops, Alex purchased a "stripped" Fender Telecaster, his "first nice guitar". 


Yamaha FG-230

Alex used this Yamaha acoustic 12-string circa 1970.

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Gibson Les Paul, Goldtop

Right: Big Star on their one and only "tour" with all four original members.

When we hooked up with Alex he had a gold Les Paul and a Super Reverb. The Super Reverb was the most deafening thing I ever heard. I think the Les Paul had humbuckers but they may have been P-style pickups. It’s hard to remember and doesn’t matter anyway because he didn’t use it much.
— Andy Hummel, 2007

Martin D-35

Alex brought his Martin D-35 to the #1 Record sessions; this is likely the guitar heard on "Thirteen".

Right: Alex, pre-Big Star, with his Martin D-35. Note the fresh set of Gibson strings and a capo on the 3rd fret (which, coincidentally, is how "Thirteen" is played).

When Alex joined the band he showed up in the studio to record 13 and Watch the Sunrise with two Martin acoustics, I think a D-35 12-string and a D-28 (sic) 6-string. They were wonderful guitars. They were used extensively on both LPs, especially the 6-string. I played both a lot.
— Andy Hummel, 2007

Martin D-35-12

12-string acoustic guitar is a prominent sound throughout the Big Star canon, perhaps a result of Roger McGuinn's influence (whom Alex met in Manhattan in 1970). The 12-string likely used would have been this slope-shouldered Martin D-35-12,

Right: Andy loved Alex's Martin guitars, as shown in these photos circa #1 Record, in Alex's parents' living room.

When Alex joined the band he showed up in the studio to record 13 and Watch the Sunrise with two Martin acoustics, I think a D-35 12-string and a D-28 (sic) 6-string. They were wonderful guitars. They were used extensively on both LPs, especially the 6-string. I played both a lot.
— Andy Hummel, 2007

1959-64 Fender Stratocaster

This early 60's Fender Stratocaster is most likely "The Big Star Strat", heard throughout #1 Record and Radio City. 

This guitar is notable for its missing or painted pickup covers, unusual black refinish (it appears to have a matte quality to it, and is flaking around the heel in the cutaway), and missing its headstock logo (possibly sanded off during the refinishing process).

First seen in the 1967 footage of The Box Tops miming to "The Letter" (see below), it is also the guitar Chris is playing In the only known footage of the original incarnation of the band (see below).

Alex later used this same Strat on tour with Big Star (seen below at the Rock Writers' Convention, 1973).

The band's gear was stolen on March 30th, 1974, the night before a concert in Cambridge, MA (opening for Badfinger). Alex lost several guitars, including this Strat.


Fender Mando-Guitar

There has been much mention of a Fender "Mando-Guitar" being used to record the intro to "September Gurls" (it is also rumored to be on "Daisy Glaze"), but exactly what this instrument is has not been determined. 

Now for the jangling guitar (including the solo). That’s an overdubbed Fender mando guitar - a hybrid between a 12-string and a mandolin. Essentially, it’s the top four string pairs from a 12-string capoed at the 12th fret. Alex had borrowed it from Bill Cunningham of the Box Tops for a week or two and used it on Gurls (and Daisy Glaze).
— Bruce Eaton, 2009
The real high guitar harmony that you can hear from time to time was played on a fascinating little instrument made by Fender, called a Mando-guitar — kind of like a mandolin and it worked sort of like a mandolin. I don’t know if the product was successful or if very many were sold, but Alex was the only person I knew who owned one... I’d love to have one now.
— John Fry

1963-65 Gibson Firebird III

This black Firebird III, produced between 1963 and 1965, was most notably used by Alex at the Overton Park Shell in May of 1974. This show was the source of half of the "Nobody Can Dance" album, and Alex is seen with this Firebird in the inner sleeve.

Mitch Easter opines that his may be the guitar used on "Mod Lang", one of the few songs on Radio City with a decidedly non-Strat sound.

Van Duren recalls that this guitar was borrowed (likely after the band's gear was stolen), though from whom is unknown. 


1956 Fender Stratocaster 

When Alex moved from Memphis to Manhattan in the late 70's, he brought this 50's Strat with him. He played it with his post-Big Star band, The Cossacks, but may have also used it at the tail-end of his Big Star days. There is certainly Stratocaster on Third/Sister Lovers, and Alex's black Strat had been stolen by that time.

According to Chris Stamey (Cossacks bassist, seen below), it is owned today by Poison Ivy of The Cramps (Alex produced their Gravest Hits EP and Songs The Lord Taught Us).

According to Mitch Easter, this guitar had a white "laser pearl" finish; this finish and pickguard are non-original.