Keith Richards is known for his blues-based, Chuck Berry-inspired playing style—which is why his playing on the Rolling Stones’ “Gimme Shelter” is such an eye-opener. At the time, Richards’ freaky, tremolo-drenched riff sounded like something straight out of the future—or at least a very chilling alternate present.
And then there’s the sound of the guitar itself. Simply put, it’s clearly not a Tele. It’s not a Les Paul. It’s not an Epiphone Casino. It’s a Maton EG240 Supreme.
The song was recorded almost 50 years ago, so it’s understandable that Richards has forgotten the name of the person who once owned the Australian-made axe, but he does (or at least did) remember that the previous owner stayed with him at his London apartment for a little while.
“He crashed out for a couple of days and suddenly left in a hurry, leaving that guitar behind,” he told Guitar World (hey, that’s us!) in 2002. “You know, ‘Take care of it for me.’ I certainly did.” Or did he?
“It had been all revarnished and painted out, but it sounded great,” Richards said. “It made a great record. And on the very last note of ‘Gimme Shelter’ the whole neck fell off. You can hear it on the original take.”
Keith played the Maton throughout the Let It Bleed sessions in early 1969—especially on “Midnight Rambler” and “Gimme Shelter.” You can hear the axe in all its isolated glory below. We’ve also included a particularly impressive outtake from the “Gimme Shelter” sessions. Enjoy!