Exploring Jimmy Buffett’s Guitar Collection: Signature Models and Musical Gear

From the sun-soaked beaches of Key West to sold-out shows nationwide, the unique sound of Jimmy Buffett has entertained millions. As a guitar enthusiast and seasoned music journalist, I’m Adam Perlmutter, and I’ll guide you through the captivating journey of Jimmy Buffett’s iconic guitar collection.

Can you recall the sound of Buffett’s distinctive, soothing strumming on Margaritaville? Or his plucky twangs on Cheeseburger in Paradise? The rhythm and melody created by this versatile songwriter and entertainer have their roots not just in his talent, but also in the stringed companions that have accompanied him through decades of performances.

Perhaps you’ve wondered: what guitars does Buffett play to create his signature sound? Can the choice of guitar really influence the vibe and rhythm so significantly? I argue, yes. The mysterious guitar collection of Jimmy Buffett holds the secret to the essence of his tropical beats, and the love for his art is deeply rooted in his gear.

Stay with me as we venture through an assortment of acoustic and electric guitars in Buffett’s collection, unique signature models carrying his name, and the gear behind his vibrant music. Let’s delve into his playing style, the influence of his band, and the songs where his guitars took center stage. It’s time to explore the strings and stories behind the man who turned an island escapism into a cultural phenomenon.

Jimmy Buffett’s Guitar Collection

Acoustic Guitars

Acoustic Guitars

Buffett’s affinity for acoustic guitars, especially the Martin D-18, is significant. As a fellow enthusiast, I do appreciate the richness and depth these instruments lend to his music. The D-18 model, a benchmark for acoustic guitars, imparts a smooth, mellifluous tone that is unmistakably Buffett.

The HD-18 JB Jimmy Buffet custom model takes this a notch higher. Tailored to his preferences, it features a tropical-themed inlay that reflects both the musician’s island roots and Martin Guitar’s exquisite craftsmanship. This personalized touch, together with the impeccable tonal quality of the guitar, speaks volumes of Buffett’s attachment to these instruments and their crucial role in forging his distinctive sound. These acoustic guitars, with their mellow resonance and earnest vibrancy, become almost like additional characters in his songs – narrators that allure listeners into his free-spirited, coastal world.

Transcending just percussive layers in his music, these guitars establish a sonic connection that resonates deeply with Buffett’s signature style, contributing substantially to his spectacular repertoire. They shine a new light on the depth and breadth of Jimmy Buffett’s guitar collection, setting the stage for further exploration of his electrifying rockers.

Electric Guitars

Electric Guitars

Peering into the eclectic realm of Jimmy Buffett’s guitar collection, the significance of PRS electric guitars is pronounced. As an established writer for Premier Guitar magazine, I’ve found much to admire in PRS’s exceptional craftsmanship, the subtle hues of which can be observed in numerous models from Buffett’s collection.

The PRS series, over the years, has been a constant feature amidst the Margaritaville maestro’s frequently changing musical arsenal. Having closely examined his collection, I’ve noticed the impact of his PRS electrics on the vibrant and resonant sonic landscapes he cradles his audience within.

Each PRS guitar, more than simply being an instrument, becomes an extension of Buffett’s musical persona. This is particularly evident in his staple performances where his PRS electric adds that quixotic charm and emotive depth to his rhythm. This, in harmony with the rest of his ensemble, creates a signature ‘Buffett sound’.

As we delve further into specific models in subsequent sections, you’ll appreciate how integral these PRS electrics have been to Jimmy’s performances and the timeless songs they’ve helped shape. There’s much to be told – from their aesthetic appeal to the contributions they’ve made to his distinctive sound. Stick around as we explore this fascinating blend of craftsmanship and music in greater detail.

Signature Models

Signature Models

In exploring Jimmy Buffett’s instruments, we cannot ignore his signature Martin guitar. As an esteemed guitar craftsman, Martin is renowned for creating instruments with character and quality. So, when Jimmy signed his partnership with them, it was to create a model imbued with his unique essence.

My fascination with signature models began when examining Jim Hall’s unique compositions in my book ‘Jim Hall: Signature Licks’. Here, I carry forward that same intrigue to Buffett’s guitar collection. The love for the craft is evident in Buffett’s signature Martin. The instrument is not just a mere tool for him, but rather, it embodies his musical journey, his inspirations, and his thoughts.

Portrait in emotive wood and steel, his signature model stands as a testament to his musical genius. A blend of meticulous engineering and artistry, Buffett’s Martin guitar contributes immensely to his characteristic ‘beach escapism’ tunes. The next time you hear a smooth strum in his lyrics, know, that’s his signature Martin, adding its distinct allure and rounded depth.

Moving forward, let’s examine the rest of Buffett’s equipment, the gear that goes beyond just the instruments, further characterizing his unique sound.

The Gear Behind the Music

The Gear Behind the Music

After exploring Jimmy Buffett’s extensive guitar collection, you begin to appreciate not only his skilled fingers running over the strings but also the breadth of guitarist equipment that accompanies his performances. From unique guitar picks to that leaning stand seen during many a live concert, each piece contributes to creating that distinctive sound we associate with Buffett’s music. This brings us to the next section of our journey, the music gear.

Among other things, I am revered in my circles as a guitar tech, and my fascination extends beyond just the stringed instrument itself. I often find myself captivated by the plethora of equipment that enables a musician to fill our ears with transformative soundscapes. That’s why I’m particularly excited to delve into the instrumental paraphernalia that pieces together Jimmy’s onstage setup.You might be wondering, ‘What gear does it take to produce the signature Buffett sound?’ The answer may surprise you!

Firstly, the use of an acoustic guitar amplifier is critical to achieve the warm, melodious tone synonymous with Buffett’s songs. He intricately blends the amp’s capabilities with those of his guitar to strike the right balance between raw guitar sound and electronic amplification. His current choice, an AER Compact 60 acoustic amplifier, is well-equipped for this task. Its dual-channel input system allows Jimmy to accentuate different aspects of his guitar’s output, adding an extra layer of versatility to his performances.

Another fascinating insight is Buffett’s use of a guitar wireless system, which keeps him unhindered by cables and open to free movement onstage. The Line 6 Relay G50 has been his choice for years. Its advanced signal relay capability and wide frequency response perform immaculately with his acoustic-electric guitars. Such a minute detail might seem trivial to a casual listener, but to a guitar tech like me, it demonstrates the importance of an unfettered connection in preserving the purity of sound.

Then we have the bottleneck slide. Often strapped to his pinky finger, Jimmy’s transition from rhythm to slide guitar adds a fluid, bluesy edge to his live performances. The Dunlop 212 slide, handcrafted Pyrex glass, has become a staple in his onstage gear, due to its warm tones and exceptional musical sensitivity.

Apart from these, Buffett’s equipment assortment includes an arsenal of varied capos, tuners, and picks tailored to his eclectic mix of music styles. These may seem like small, inconsequential pieces of the jigsaw puzzle, but in reality, they make a massive difference to the way Jimmy shapes his sound on stage.

Thus, the gear behind the music isn’t just an accessory to the artist; it’s an extension of their musical persona. The next time you listen to a Buffett song or watch him live, remember the intricate framework of equipment that complements the Maestro’s art and brings his music to life.

Playing Style and Band Influence

Playing Style and Band Influence

Along the corridors of sound, instruments play an undeniably crucial role, acting as the vessels of a musician’s expression. Yet, in my experience as a guitarist and graduate in Contemporary Improvisation, I’ve found that a musician’s palette goes beyond their instruments. The true colors emerge from their distinct guitar playing style and band dynamics, the unspoken language that sculpts their performance. Bearing this ethos, delving into Jimmy Buffett’s style and the Coral Reefer Band’s influence on his music piques my curiosity.

The harmonious blend between Buffett and the Coral Reefer Band highlights the synergy that can transpire among a group of talented musicians. Their combined sound has crafted a unique genre, a melange of folk, country, and pop – imbued with a tropical twist that has equally become Buffett’s trademark. From my perspective, the band contributes a supportive and vibrant backdrop, enhancing Buffett’s laid-back style, while his vocals and strumming patterns serve as a spirited guide through their musical explorations.

Buffett’s playful guitar playing style has an air of simplicity that belies its subtle complexity. His signature combination of fingerstyle and flat-picking techniques, coupled with his love of unconventional chord voicings, creates a captivating sonic texture. Time and again, he has shown how a few well-chosen notes, played with heart and style, can evoke far more emotion than the most intricate of solos.

But here’s a thought: What would happen if Buffett changed his style or played with a different band? Would the magic still be there? It’s quite a conundrum, as the Coral Reefer Band’s impact is so intertwined with Buffett’s own musical identity. Their shared jam-band ethos, masters of spontaneity, is a driving force for their energetic performances that light up Parrotheads—a nickname for Buffett’s fans— around the globe.

However, while the Coral Reefer Band undeniably brings substantial flair, it’s important to remember that before the band, there was Jimmy. His enchanting melodies, deft storytelling, and inherent charisma form the backbone of anything he touches. While his enhanced sound with the band is iconic, there’s no denying that Buffett’s individual style would still shine through in other musical landscapes. The magic, I believe, would persist, though in a different, equally intriguing form.

Exploring Buffett’s musical journey, from his solo beginnings to his long-term collaboration with the Coral Reefer Band, has reinforced my firm belief as a musician: styles evolve, bands change, but the soul of the music remains anchored in the artist. Jimmy Buffett’s band and playing style are instrumental to understanding his fascinating musical landscape, reflecting his creative evolution while showcasing his distinctive artist expression.

Special Mentions: Songs and Guitars

Special Mentions: Songs and Guitars

Having explored some of Jimmy Buffett’s most notable guitars and associated gear in the previous sections, we come to a unique segment – ‘Special Mentions: Songs and Guitars’. This is where we examine the intricate intersection of specific musical compositions with their associated instruments – a relationship that’s often less considered, but deeply essential to an artist’s creative process.

When engaging with such a task, one can’t bypass Jimmy Buffett’s touching ‘Songs You Don’t Know by Heart’ album. As someone who’s penned many songs myself, I can attest to the sacred relationship between a musician and their instrument. In Buffett’s case, the Gibson J-180 Everly Brothers Signature is often his companion of choice, and for good reason. Impressively built with a robust tone and easy playability, it’s a guitar that almost begs the artist to create.

The steel guitar, with its distinct tone, has often featured prominently in Buffett’s island escapism themed songs. This instrument, primarily known for its integral role in country music, paradoxically accentuates the tropical feel of Buffett’s tunes, such is the masterful way he employs it.

The Gibson J-180, a significant part of Buffett’s collection, is said to inspire many of his compositions. But is there more to it? Well, as we dive deeper, we uncover a world of sentimental and artistic connections. This guitar was not just a tool for Buffett, but also his muse – memorializing moments, emotions, and stories into meaningful songs.

Each strum on the Gibson J-180 Everly Brothers Signature carries a story, conjuring up the warmth of Key West sunsets and the euphoria of life lived freely – quintessential Buffett. The guitar’s contribution to his music isn’t just about the melody; it’s how the melody translates Buffett’s unique experiences into universal feelings.

No less important is the guitar’s tactile comfort and nostalgic appeal, something every musician will affirm to. For Buffett, I infer, the guitar may have been a return ticket to cherished memories, allowing him to articulate them musically with a clarity that only familiarity can breed.

Riding on the waves of Buffett’s tunes, we are transported into his life’s chapters – some whimsical, some reflective, but all authentic. Songs like ‘Peanut Butter Conspiracy’ or ‘Something So Feminine About a Mandolin’, tied intrinsically with their respective instruments, provide us snapshots of his world – so vivid, we could almost reach out and strum those guitar chords ourselves.

Indeed, exploring Jimmy Buffett’s ‘Songs You Don’t Know by Heart’ and his associated guitars like the Gibson J-180 Everly Brothers Signature is akin to a fascinating stroll down the sunny lanes of his musical journey. Each song a station, each guitar a compass; guiding us and Buffett himself through a riotous tapestry of life, laughter and lessons learned.


What kind of guitars does Jimmy Buffett use?

Jimmy Buffett is known for his use of Martin guitars. Specifically, he uses a Martin HD-18JB, Martin D-28 Jimmy Buffett Signature, and a Martin Custom Shop, among others.

What is the Martin D-28 Jimmy Buffett Signature?

The Martin D-28 Jimmy Buffett Signature is a limited-edition guitar model designed after Buffett’s legendary Martin D-28. Its top is made from Adirondack spruce, while the back and sides are constructed from Madagascar rosewood. Buffett’s signature is also inlaid in mother-of-pearl on the fingerboard.

What other types of musical gear does Jimmy Buffett use?

Aside from his guitar collection, Jimmy Buffett also plays ukulele and harmonica. However, his most famous onstage accessory is probably his notorious parrot head hat, a nod to his devoted fan base known as “Parrotheads.”


So what really defines a musician? Is it the guitars they play, the songs they write, or the style they adopt? Through our exploration, we’ve seen how Jimmy Buffett’s lively guitar playing style, signature models and musical gear give rise to his unique musical identity.

We’ve admired Buffett’s extensive guitar collection, tracing the journey with each acoustic guitar that has shaped his signature sound. Every guitar he plays becomes an extension of his voice, unifying his listener’s experiences through their shared, yet diverse, expressions. This extends to the electric guitars in his collection, with their own tales and tunes that add intriguing facets to his musical personality.

The powerful connectivity of the gear behind the music— his pedals, picks, and amps further influences his playing style and band ethos. These elements not only customize his sound but also exemplify how adjustable equipment can refine and elevate a musician’s performance.

Simultaneously, we delved into the profoundness behind his songs, symbolized by the specific guitars he used to craft them. Each melody, each lyric, adds a new string to the uniquely woven tapestry of Buffett’s musical journey.

As we close, I encapsulate not just the facts and figures of Buffett’s guitar journey, but also the emotions these instruments raise within their strings. While we may have begun exploring Jimmy Buffett’s guitar collection, we’ve come away appreciating the heart of human expression. These mighty instruments, handled by a master like Buffett, become powerful tools of storytelling, echoing an undeniable truth— a musician’s identity extends beyond their gear, it resonates in the symphony they create from it.

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