What Guitar Does Mark Knopfler Use

What Guitar Does Mark Knopfler Use?

Mark Knopfler is a British guitarist, singer and songwriter. He became famous as the lead guitarist and singer of the band Dire Straits. He co-founded Dire Straits with his brother David Knopfler after many years of playing with many bands including “Silver heels”, “The Duolian String Pickers”, “Brewers droop”and “the Café Racers”.

Their first album entitled “Dire Straits” did little when it was first released, but after the single “Sultans of swing” was released it became a hit in mainland Europe, the United States and Canada, eventually becoming a hit in the UK. Many of Mark’s songs are about places he visited as a kid, but he has also recorded many themes for films such as “Local Hero”, “Cal”, and “Comfort and Joy”.

What Kind Of Guitar Does Mark Knopfler Play?

The guitar Mark Knopfler is usually associated with during the early days of Dire Straits is a 1961 Fender Stratocaster but he has also played many guitars throughout his career including:

  • Steinberger GL2
  • Pensa Custom MK I
  • Monteleone Isabella
  • Burns Double 6
  • Gibson SG Original
  • 1958 Mark Knopfler Les Paul Standard
  • Reverend Buckshot
  • Atkins J-45 Buddy Holly replica
  • Pensa Custom blue 2011
  • Pensa Slimline Telecaster
  • 7-Gibson-southern-jumbo-1953
  • Ramirez 4CWE
  • Schecter Telecaster
  • Teisco Spectrum 5
  • EKO-700 4-V oro Mostrar ‘titulo original
  • Fender Jazzmaster Custom Pre-63
  • Vintage 1930s Martin D-18 acoustic guitar
  • Gibson Advanced Jumbo
  • 1953 Gibson Southern Jumbo
  • Danelectro 59 DC
  • 1957 Gretsch 6120 Chet Atkins Hollowbody
  • Martin-40S
  • National Tricone
  • 1937 National Duolian Resonator

Who Has Mark Knopfler Worked With During His Long Career?

Over Mark’s long career he has played with many other artists including:

  • Eric Clapton
  • Paul McCartney
  • Phil Collins
  • Elton John
  • Tina Turner
  • Chet Atkins
  • Steve Philips
  • Guy Fletcher
  • Brendan Croker
  • Vince Gill 
  • Sean Keane
  • Derek Bell
  • And many more

What Strings Does Mark Knopfler Use?

Mark Knopfler uses D’addario XL 110s on all of his electric guitars except one of his Strats that has D’addario XL 115, and the Danelectro which has D’Addario EJ21 strings. The EJ21 strings are made specifically for jazz guitarists and feature a wound 3rd string (G). All of these strings are either light gauge or extra light gauge which makes sense when you see how Mark relies on string bending for his solos.

What Amps Does Mark Knopfler Use?

Mark uses the Soldano SLO 100 most of the time, it is rumoured that Eric Clapton switched to the same amp after playing Mark’s at a live performance.  Mark also uses:

  • Music Man 212-HD 130 Vintage (1970s)
  • Fender Vibrolux 6G11
  • Fender Super Sonic 60 watt; 2×12 cabinet
  • Selmer Thunderbird Twin 30
  • Mesa/Boogie Mark III Guitar Combo 1×12
  • Fender Hot Rod Deluxe II Combo
  • Reinhardt The Storm 33 Amplifier
  • Tone King Imperial MKI 1×12 Combo Guitar Amplifier
  • Marshall JTM45 45W Tube Guitar Amp Head
  • Kemper Profiler PowerRack 600-Watt Profiling Amp
  • Kemper Profiler Rack Guitar Amp System
  • Crate – VC 5212
  • Divided bye 13 SJT 10/20
    Mark definitely owns this amp, but it’s not seen much due to his other sponsorship commitments.

What Effects Pedals Does Mark Knopfler Use?

Mark uses a few effects pedals including:

  • Ernie Ball Volume Pedal
  • MXR Analog Delay
    Mark used this between 1978/79 on Dire Straits first tours
  • Dunlop GCB95 Cry Baby Wah Wah
    Mark had this pedal set almost fully open on “Money for nothing”
  • Boss SD-1W Super OverDrive Waza Craft
  • Morley VOL Volume Pedal
    Mark used this all through the 1981 “Making movies” tour
  • D’Addario Micro Headstock Tuner
  • Crowther Hot Cake
  • Mu-Tron Dan Armstrong Orange Squeezer
    Mark used these last 2 together on the first Dire Straits album.

What Pickups Does Mark Knopfler Use?

Mark has many guitars (as do most guitarists) the majority of them were fitted with either Fender Custom Shop Texas Special Strat Pickups or EMG 85 Active Humbucking Pickups.

Mark Knopfler
aherrero, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

What Chords Does Mark Knopfler Use?

In many of his songs Mark uses blues style chords. In “calling Elvis” for example the chord structure is created in the B blues pentatonic scale. In fact Mark relies heavily on the Blues pentatonic scales. In “Sultans of swing” Mark uses the D harmonic minor (D E F G A Bb C#). And in the song “Money for nothing” he uses the G minor pentatonic scale (G Bb C D F).

What Pick Does Mark Knopfler Use?

Mark doesn’t use a pick he fingerpicks. But he finger picks in an unconventional style. He has his own technique which includes using the thumb, index and middle fingers but he occasionally uses his ring finger too. 

What Kind Of Music Does Mark Knopfler Play?

.Mark Knopfler’s guitar and vocal style covers many genres of music including: 

  • Celtic Rock
  • Blues Rock
  • Country Rock
  • Roots Rock
  • Rock

How To Play Guitar Like Mark Knopfler 

To play guitar like Mark Knopfler you’ll need to set up a Fender Strat (or similar) using both the bridge and the middle pickups. Playing through a chorus and reverb effect, and tube overdrive. All playing through a SoldanoSLO-100 amp. 

He plays harmonies over the chords but in a way that adds to the music, not showcasing his expertise as many guitarists do. None of Mark’s solo work is done in a way to boost his own ego, they all fit perfectly in with the song. Mark tends to play solos within the chord structure (also known as Diatonic). This means his solo work sticks to the key structure for instance if he was playing a song in C major he would play the notes consistent with the root chord and chords  C major, D minor7, E minor 7, F major7, G 7 and A minor 7.

Mark uses the following progression through the chords I, VII, VI, IV using the 4th chord to bring us back to the top for the changes.In many of his tunes he sticks to the standard I, IV, V chord sequence. So in the key of E he would use E (I) A (IV) and B (V).

To play like Mark you’ll need to fingerpick over the chord structure using a variety of scales. He uses the Pentatonic scale to great effect, but he also uses Dorian, Mixolydian and harmonic minor phrases inter mingled with the pentatonic scale. 

What Age Did Mark Knopfler Learn Guitar?

Mark was 9 when he got his first guitar, He says he never wanted to be a star, he just wanted to play guitar in a band. He plays for the love of playing, it just so happened that he became a star.

Frequently Asked Questions

What guitar was used on Sultans of Swing?

On Sultans of swing Mark uses a Fender Stratocaster, but he says he wrote it using a National Steel guitar in open tuning but he never recorded it like that.

What is the guitar on the cover of brothers in arms?

The guitar on the cover of Brothers in arms was Mark’s 1937 14-fret National Style “O” Resonator.

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