Ever since Green Day frontman Billie Joe Armstrong bought his first Les Paul junior back in 2000, he's been hooked. Since then he's rarely seen on stage without one. Throughout the past decade, Billie Joe has played various Les Paul Jr's, a Les Paul Special, an SG, and his acoustic signature Gibson Billie Joe Armstrong J-180. Armstrong has even gone so far as to play old Green Day songs, that were originally recorded on other types of guitars, on his LP Jr. So let’s take a look at Billie Joe live on stage with his many Gibson guitars!
“The first time I ever picked up a Les Paul Junior, it was my guitar which I call Floyd. I plugged it in and it was just the sound that was in my head for so many years,” Billie Joe said in an interview with Gibson.com in 2006. Floyd is a sunburst 1956 Les Paul Junior, and it was used as the basis for the Billie Joe Armstrong Les Paul Jr. According to Armstrong, the signature model is basically identical to Floyd, with the exception of the neck, which is based on a 60’s style neck which is traditionally a bit thinner than the 50‘s necks, making it easier to play. Here’s Green Day playing “American Idiot” live on Good Morning America. Armstrong is playing a Sunburst LP Junior. It is difficult to tell whether it is Floyd or his signature model.
Double Cutaway Les Paul Junior
Billie Joe Armstrong has gotten so fond of the Les Paul Junior that he’s even taken to using it while playing old Green Day songs that were originally played on different guitars. Here’s a really cool video where Billie Joe is playing the Dookie classics “Longview” and “Welcome To Paradise” on a TV Yellow Double Cutaway Les Paul Junior.
Billie Joe Armstrong ES-137
Billie Joe’s latest Gibson signature guitar is the Gibson Memphis Billie Joe Armstrong ES-137. The body of the guitar is based on that of an ES-175, but with a chambered mahogany core that help reduce feedback and increase sustain. The Black Cherry Burst guitar comes equipped with two Memphis P-90 pickups, and a simplified set of controls to help dial in great tone. Billie Joe could be seen playing the guitar on tour with Green Day last year. Check out this clip of “Minority” from Moscow.
Billie Joe Armstrong J-180
Ever since Green Day’s “Time of Your Live (Good Riddance)” became a huge hit in early 1998, the Gibson J-180 has been Billie Joe’s go-to acoustic guitar. So it was hardly surprising when Gibson came out with the Billie Joe Armstrong J-180 signature guitar. What makes the instrument stand out from its peers is the built in Fishman VT pickup system, allowing guitarists to easily plug in to a PA, and the double tortoiseshell pickguards that protect the body from furious up and down strumming. Here’s a clip of Green Day doing “21 Guns” during the 2009 AMA’s. The J-180 is front and center.
Billie Joe Armstrong Les Paul Junior Double Cut
In 2012 Gibson released the Billie Joe Armstrong Les Paul Junior Double Cut . The TV Yellow guitar came with a silver Billie Joe Armstrong “Adeline skull” logo on the pickguard. Just like the original Billie Joe Armstrong Les Paul Junior, this model has the H-90 pickups, which are P-90 pickups but with two single coils stacked on top of each other for noise canceling purposes. Here’s a video of Billie Joe playing the American Idiot classic “Holiday” on the LP Junior Double Cut signature model:
For further reading:
10 Things You Didn’t Know About Green Day