Mark Knopfler was born on 12 August 1949 in Glasgow, Scotland to an English mother and Hungarian-Jewish father. Mark’s first guitar was a £50 twin-pick-up Höfner Super Solid. During the 1960s, he formed and joined schoolboy bands and listened to singers like Elvis Presley and guitarists Chet Atkins, Scotty Moore, B.B King, Django Reinhardt, Hank Marvin, and James Burton.
Together with his brother David Knopfler, back in 1977 Mark formed Dire Straits. With him there was his friends John Illsley and Pick Withers. In late 1977, Dire Straits recorded a five-song demo tape including their first hit single “Sultans of Swing” as well as “Water of Love”, “Down to the Waterline”, and “Wild West End”.
As front-man of Dire Straits and solo artist, Mark sold over 120 million records worldwide and has won four Grammy Awards. He is ranked 27th on Rolling Stone’s list of the 100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time. Down below are 5 electric guitars that Knopfler used in his long career.
1. 1962 Hofner Super Solid V2
This guitar which Mark had from 1964 (then he was 15) when his father bought it for him for 50£, has a special place into Mark’s collection of guitars. This guitar was made in 1962 and it features red finish, celluloid strip fretboard inlays, and two type 510 “Diamond Logo” pickups.
It was his first guitar, and at that time he couldn’t afford an amplifier so he played it through a family radio instead. Even though it’s been more than 50 years since Mark got this guitar, he still owns it and takes a special care of it.
2. 1959 Gibson Les Paul Special Doublecut
This is one of the earliest guitars which Mark has, predating his red 1961 Stratocaster. It can be seen in a photo presented during a documentary “Guitar Stories” where Mark talks about his six guitars that helped him to define his best known sound. The guitar featured double-cutaway mahogany body finished in cherry red, and two P-90 pickups.
3. 1961 Fender Stratocaster
This guitar was bought when Dire Straits released their first album in 1978. It was Mark’s first Fender Stratocaster, which was most likely used on the demo tape of “Sultans of Swing” and possibly on the album version as well. When Mark bought the guitar the original paint was stripped down, so Mark had it repainted in red to replicate his dream guitar – Hank Marvin’s red Strat.
Mark used this guitar on the recording of the album, and as a spare for his maple necked Strat. Towards 1979 he started using this guitar more than the maple Strat, but in mid 80s he decided it was better to keep the guitar safe at his house for obvious sentimental reasons.
4. 1962 Fender Stratocaster
This was Mark’s second Fender Stratocaster, acquired sometime in mid to late 70s. It is believed that the guitar itself was made sometime in the early 60s, and that it was actually a Japanese copy featuring maple neck which wasn’t typical for that time period on American Stratocasters.
This guitar has been a subject of many theory crafting and people trying to figure out its origins. Many people thinks that although some of the parts of the guitar might be Japanese. Mark’s maple Strat was taken apart in 1982 by John Suhr, who then noticed all these irregularities and replaced the original neck with a Schecter one-piece maple neck. Soon after that, perhaps because finding out that his Strat wasn’t genuine, Mark stopped playing it altogether and moved onto Schecters and other guitars.
This guitar was allegedly sold at an auction for charity cause, although we haven’t been able to find an official listing for it.
5. 1969 Fender Telecaster Thinline
This guitar actually belonged to David Knopfler, but Mark used it himself as a slide guitar for “Water of Love” in the early days.
The guitar was originally a Telecaster Thinline with body cavities, later modified by Mark’s friend Steve Phillips who filled in the f-holes and painted the whole thing black. It had two standard Telecaster single-coil pickups and a mahogany body.