Joe Perry Says He Recorded the Majority of Aerosmith's Early Material with Fender Stratocasters

Joe Perry performs on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno on January 30, 2012
(Image credit: Stacie McChesney/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank)

Though he doesn't necessarily play them onstage exclusively, Aerosmith electric guitar legend Joe Perry has long been associated with the Gibson Les Paul.

In a recent interview with Total Guitar though, Perry revealed that Stratocasters, not Les Pauls, served as his primary studio tool during Aerosmith's formative early period.

“I played Les Pauls pretty much throughout the ’70s,” Perry said. “But I recorded most of my stuff with Strats. I always loved having the vibrato arm, and it seemed easier to get different tones out of a Strat.” 

Emphasizing that, in the moment, he was "more concerned about writing songs than I was about the particulars of which amp I used or whatever,” Perry added that there there were some notable exceptions to his Strat studio use rule.

"I would say with a fair amount of confidence I used a Les Paul on 'Eat The Rich', 'Toys In The Attic' [the song], 'Pandora’s Box', and 'Nine Lives'," Perry told Total Guitar. "I would bet that at least one of my [guitar] tracks on 'Walk This Way' is a Les Paul, and then everything I did after that was with the Strat.”  

From that explanation, one can reasonably conclude that it's a Strat you're hearing on early Aerosmith smashes like "Dream On."

However, if the Strat was Perry's axe of choice in the studio, why did he typically go for a Les Paul onstage?

“The tone you could get out of a Les Paul was heavier,” Perry explained. “And it was easier to get to get distortion with less noise. I think a lot of the reason that guitar plays so well in general is because it has its roots in Spanish guitar.”

To read the full Total Guitar interview with Perry – which also covers, among other topics, his (somewhat surprising) thoughts on '59 Les Pauls – pick up the latest issue of the mag at

Jackson Maxwell
Associate Editor, and

Jackson is an Associate Editor at and He’s been writing and editing stories about new gear, technique and guitar-driven music both old and new since 2014, and has also written extensively on the same topics for Guitar Player. Elsewhere, his album reviews and essays have appeared in Louder and Unrecorded. Though open to music of all kinds, his greatest love has always been indie, and everything that falls under its massive umbrella. To that end, you can find him on Twitter crowing about whatever great new guitar band you need to drop everything to hear right now.