Summary of Mark Knopfler’s gear

What guitar does Mark Knopfler play?

Mark Knopfler almost always plays a Fender Stratocaster or a Gibson Les Paul. For example, in “Sultans of Swing,” Mark Knopfler played a 1961 Fender Stratocaster finished in red. And, for comparison, in “Brothers in Arms” Mark Knopfler played a 1983 Gibson Les Paul Standard, a guitar that was actually a replica model of the legendary ’59 Les Paul.


Since those early years, Mark ‘s guitar collection has grown almost exponentially, and nowadays he plays a variety of different guitars. He still plays the original ’61 Stratocaster, but the ’83 Les Paul has been replaced by a duo of real vintage Les Pauls. In recent years he has used extensively a pair of 1958 Les Pauls and a 1959 ,

In the past, Mark has also used a number of Pensa and Pensa/Suhr guitars, the best known being the Pensa/Suhr Custom, which Mark Knopfler played at Nelson Mandela’s 70th birthday concert in June 1988.

As for acoustic guitar, Mark usually plays his signature Martin models: the Martin 000-40S
and the Martin HD-40MK. He also loves playing his 1937 “O” National Style, a guitar he used to record “Romeo and Juliet.”


Mark Knopfler’s various guitar amplifiers.

Mark Knopfler used a variety of different amplifiers during his career. He used a blonde Fender Vibrolux in the early days of Dire Straits and in the early demo recordings of “Sultans of Swing.” From then on he switched to a Music Man 212-HD 130 that he used for about 5 years starting in 1978, then to FACS Jim Kelley and Soldano SLO100 amplifiers , which he used later.

Does Mark Knopfler use effects?

Yes, Mark uses effects occasionally. For example, he uses an Ernie Ball Volume Pedal on “Brothers in Arms,” on those fills where the guitar sounds almost like a cello or violin. He also used a CryBaby Wah pedal on “Money for Nothing” to achieve the unique sounds heard in the main riff.

Mark Knopfler’s 1961 Fender Stratocaster

Mark bought this Stratocaster and it was purchased sometime before Dire Strait’s first album released in 1978. It was Mark‘s first Fender Stratocaster, and the one he still loves and plays today.

Sultans of swing guitar

According to Mark, this guitar was used for Dire Strait’s entire debut album, which included the mega-hit Sultans of Swing. This is important to point out because online sources vary as to which specific Stratocaster was for Sultans, whether it was this one or the ’62 maple Stratocaster. But it seems from the way Mark talks about this guitar and the way he presented it in the documentary Guitar Stories, there is no doubt that it was the 1961 Rosewood Stratocaster.


When Mark purchased the guitar, the original body paint was reduced to bare wood by the previous owner. Using his dream guitar as inspiration, which was Hank Marvin’s red Stratocaster, Mark took his guitar to his friend Steve Phillips and had it painted red.

Over the years, the finish began to crack, and around the late 1980s clear white lines were visible all over the body. However, it is interesting that these do not appear in the Guitar Stories documentary, which means that he made some adjustments at the end, or that there is more to this story.

Usage, Mod

As already pointed out, in particular, Mark used this guitar on Dire Strait’s debut album. After the album’s release, he continued to use the Stratocaster as a touring guitar, but not as much as the maple fretboard Stratocaster.

At some point in the late 1970s, Mark had the guitar modified: he installed a DiMarzio FS-1 pickup in the neck and replaced the volume knob with a black one. If you want to learn more, please refer to MK-Guitar – The DiMarzio FS-1 pickup on Mark Knopfler’s red Stratocaster.

Mark Knopfler’s 1937 National Style “O”

Mark purchased this guitar in 1978 from Steve Phillips, whom he met in 1969 while working as a journalist for The Yorkshire Evening Post. Eventually, the two became close and began playing together in local pubs under the stage name “The Duolian String Pickers.”

The guitar is best known for appearing on the cover of the 1982 album by Dire Strait Brothers in Arms. In particular, he used it in the studio recording of “Telegraph Road” from the 1982 album Love over Gold and in “Romeo and Juliet” from the 1980 album Making Movies.

As can be seen in the photo above, Mark adapted this guitar with an LR Baggs transducer.