Is it possible for a man to have too many guitars? Not if that man is Anthony Joseph “Joe” Perry. The Aerosmith legend estimates he owns more than 600 guitars - but he has so many, even he's not quite sure.

Perry turns 64 on September 10 2014, so that's about a dozen guitars bought every year of his playing life. Perry may have kicked other addictions, but there's no denying he remain a guitar junkie. There are many marques in his vast collection, of course, but Perry's go-to brand is usually Gibson.

Here's a quick 101 on just a few of his favorite and signature Gibson models, past and present.

1959 Gibson Les Paul Standard

Serial number 9-0663, this Les Paul Standard captures all the mojo of the most-covetable electric guitars ever made. In Joe's own words, “It's got everything a great Les Paul is supposed to have. The neck isn't quite as fat as, say, a '54 Goldtop, but it's still got a good, meaty neck. It's not a high-output guitar, so it's got a lot of tone… And it's got all the natural sustain and warmth, and when you turn it up it growls.”


The life of 9-0663 is as colorful as Perry's own. Slash, Boston area guitar star Billy Loosigian, and Eric Johnson all owned number 9-0663 over the years, as it did the rounds through the various ups and downs of Aerosmith's career. Perry had first traded it with The New York Dolls' Johnny Thunders for a Gibson Les Paul Junior (TV finish), but he got it back from Slash on his 50th birthday – a nice touch as Slash credits Aerosmith's Rocks album as a prime inspiration.

Read the full fascinating story of Joe Perry's 1959 Les Paul and details of Gibson Custom's 2013 replica. And here's Perry thanking Slash on video for the return of his favorite Gibson Les Paul. It also shows Joe with “Billie”, more of which later...

Joe Perry BlackBurst Les Paul

In 1997, Joe Perry got his first signature Les Paul with a hand-stained Translucent BlackBurst finish that emphasized the stunningly figured maple tops. The basic specs and dimensions were based on Perry's '59 Les Paul and another 1960 Gibson Les Paul he also loves. The bridge pickup was custom-wound to Perry's specifications. The electronic circuitry includes an active mid-boost tone-shaping circuit, accessible with a push/pull pot, and a master tone control.

At its launch, Perry said, “I didn't do a lot to change what's already a great guitar. Obviously, the cosmetic changes are the most radical. The electronics idea came from a guy who worked on my guitars here in Boston. He took the guts out of a wah-wah pedal and put it in the bass pickup tone pot. When you pop the pot out, everything about the way the guitar is set up goes through that pot and gives you that wah-wah sound right in your guitar, so you can set the tone any way you want.”

These guitars are now out of production and are even hard to find secondhand, but they remain a stunning vision of Gibson Les Paul finishes with a difference.


Joe Perry Boneyard Les Paul

Perry likes his unique finishes. The Boneyard is a classic Les Paul design-wise, but with a Burstbucker 2 pickup in the neck and Burstbucker 3 in the bridge for hotter tones. But its looks are striking. Factoid? Its Green Tiger finish was down to Joe's wife, Billie.

Perry explained, "We were down on one of our trips through Nashville and went through the guitar factory. My family travels with me on the road. We were going through the Custom Shop, and I noticed Billie was missing. I'm always suspicious when she takes off! She had gone off with the head painter. She had an idea for a way to stain the tops, and they conjured up these tops.”

Billie Perry had Gibson Custom build the guitar in secret, and she presented it to Joe as a Christmas present. “She handed me this guitar and it was beautiful,” he said. Sweet. Early editions came with a Bigsby vibrato option.

But why Boneyard? Perry's home studio in Boston is known as The Boneyard as the space was previously a gym. “Where's dad?” Joe's family would ask. “Oh, he's down in The Boneyard again.”

Epiphone also produced a Boneyard Les Paul at a great price and with great reviews – but you'll have to catch one of those secondhand now. Can't afford a Boneyard Les Paul? Buy some of Joe's Boneyard BBQ sauce!


Gibson “Billie” Lucille

Perry likes his Gibson ES models too – he has many. But his favorite is a rare white Gibson Lucille model that Joe had hand-painted with an image of his wife, Billie.

Joe Perry told Premier Guitar, “I changed the electronics; it has one volume and one tone now. The inspiration was the nose art you saw on airplanes during World War II. I wanted to put the most beautiful woman I could find on there, so naturally, I chose my wife. I sent it out to an airbrush artist and he did a great job.

“When I got it back, I opened the case and gave it to Billie... and she hated it. She was so embarrassed she refused to come out of the dressing room at Aerosmith shows when I was using it. She couldn’t stand the sight of seeing herself on a 30- or 40-foot screen at shows. Now, she’s okay with it...


“My Billie guitar rings like a bell when the volume is down. When you turn it up, you can get a great rock ‘n’ roll crunch, and it’s a good heavy metal guitar too. It does everything well. That guitar is really special.”

Perry explained to that he uses it regularly in the studio as well as live. “It’s also the most unique guitar because there is only one of them in the whole world. She's gorgeous, the guitar is gorgeous - how can I not look good playing it?” “Billie” is featured on the painted cover of Joe's Have Guitar, Will Travel solo album.

More of Joe Perry's Gibsons!

Perry told about his other favorite ES models. “I have a 1960 cherry stereo ES-335 with Bigsby. My wife got it for me for my birthday, a few years ago I was bringing that on the road with me. Then I got the blond one that I got new. I couldn't really tell the difference in a live situation. So I've just been bringing the new [Gibson ES-335s] on the road.”

Perry's “Stars and Stripes” Les Paul is another live favorite with an eyeball-bustin' finish. Only 50 were made by Gibson in 2002/2003. Beware: there are now many non-Gibson fakes of the guitar for sale online.

Perry has recorded with various Gibson SGs, Firebirds, ES-175s, other ES-335s and ES-350s as well. Super-nerdy info? Joe played a rare early Gibson EB-6 baritone (only made in 1959/60) for the solo on “King of the Kings” on the Joe Perry Project's Once a Rocker, Always a Rocker album.

JP has recently collaborated on a 10-foot Les Paul art-piece for the Sunset Gibson Guitar GuitarTown project, to be auctioned later in September.


Aerosmith still roll. Perry also guests on the just-out and final Johnny Winter album Step Back. Listen to Joe and Johnny below.

Joe Perry's memoir, Rocks, is also out in October. Expect more tales of guitars!

Happy birthday, Joe Perry. Don't tell us what you want as a present... it's just another guitar, isn't it?