Paul McCartney

Paul McCartney playing a Rickenbacker bass on stage
By Jim Summaria. [CC BY-SA 3.0 ]
Sir James Paul McCartney is an English bassist famous for playing in the Beatles.


Born on the 18th of June 1942 in Liverpool, England to Mary and Jim McCartney. His father was a trumpeter and a pianist and encouraged him to play music. He gifted him a trumpet which Paul later traded for an acoustic guitar which became his main instrument. As a leftie, he reversed the strings on right-handed guitars.

He met his future the Beatles bandmate George Harrison in Secondary School. At 15, John Lennon invited Paul to play rhythm guitar in his band, the Quarrymen. Harrison soon joined as lead with Stuart Sutcliffe on bass and Pete Best on drums.

In 1960 they changed their name to the Beatles and left Liverpool to play in Hamburg clubs. This period is noted as a crucial point for the band as their musicianship increased astronomically.

In 1961 Sutcliffe quit, forcing Paul to take on the role of the bass player. In 1962 Best was replaced by Ringo Starr and Brian Epstein became their manager.

Lennon and McCartney had a musical partnership and became the main songwriting force of the band. Paul played multiple instruments on songs and helped arrange and produce tracks.

From 1963 onwards the band experienced their fans hysteria dubbed by the media as “Beatlemania”. In 1964 their debut album Please Please me, shot straight to top of the UK charts. They produced 11 more albums which brought them similar successes.

Tensions within the group resulted in them breaking up in 1970. After the break-up, Paul released his first solo album McCartney in 1970. It was a commercial success reaching the top of the US charts.

In 1971 he formed the group Wings with his wife Linda McCartney. Wings became a successful group and made hits with Live or Let die and Mull of Kintyre. They disbanded in 1981 and Paul continued with his solo career. He collaborated with artists such as Stevie Wonder and Michael Jackson.

Paul is universally commended for his accomplishments as a songwriter and multi-instrumentalist. Paul was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1988 with the Beatles and in 1999 as a solo artist.


  • Höfner 500/1 1961
  • Höfner 500/1 1963
  • 1964 Rickenbacker 4001S
  • 1966 Fender Jazz
  • Yahama BB1200
  • Wal MK2 5 string
  • Fender Precision
  • Vox T-60 amp and cabinet
  • Vox AC30 head
  • Selmer Truvoice Stadium
  • Fender Bassman
  • Acoustic 360/361
  • Vox AC100
  • Tone Bender fuzz box
  • Pete Cornish Custom Pedalboard
  • Altec Compressor(studio)



Paul McCartney is synonymous with Höfner basses. His 1961 Höfner was stolen while filming Let It Be. He used Höfner until 1966 then his Rickenbacker began appearing in Rubber Soul and most future the Beatles records. He used a Fender jazz on some of the white album and abbey road. Paul returned to Höfner in a few songs of Let It Be.


He used the stock pyramid flats for his Höfner, the now obsolete stock Maxima flats on the Rickenbacker and Rotosound black nylon Tru-bass 88 on Let It Be.  He’s currently using TI flats.


Paul primarily uses a pick but sometimes uses his fingers or thumb. The foam mutes on his basses are an important part of his tone. He know when to play minimally and when to add appropriate fills. He would often overdub the bass near the completion of the song giving him more creative freedom on the track.

Notable Tracks

Revolver 1966
Come Together
Abbey Road 1969
I Want You (She’s so Heavy)
Abbey Road 1969

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