Guitar Stories

This is a very cool music documentary I discovered a few years back about Mark Knopfler. The host is John Illsley, former bassist of Dire Straits. John asks Mark to choose six guitars that have defined his life and his sound. Great premise. John and Mark travel from Newcastle to New York exploring the stories behind these six career-defining guitars. The journey starts in the Central Arcade of Mark’s boyhood home of Newcastle-upon-Tyne at the music shop J. G. Windows. Next stop is Robin Hood’s Bay, Yorkshire, where Mark reconnects with his long time friend Steve Phillips, an English blues and country player. Early in Mark’s career, he and Steve played local Newcastle pubs billed as “The Duolian String Pickers.”  That iconic resonator that appears on the cover of Brothers in Arms (1985) was purchased from Steve. Years later Steve was also a part of Mark’s side project The Notting Hillbillies. John and Mark eventually make their way across the pond, first to the guitar shop of Rudy Pensa in SoHo, NYC, then concluding their journey in Islip, Long Island, at the home of master guitar maker John Monteleone.

Mark actually wrote a song about Monteleone, which appears on his LP Get Lucky (2009).  I owned the album for some time prior to watching this documentary the first time.  I don’t quite know whether I had never heard the song “Monteleone” or if I had just not paid attention.  But after hearing the song in this documentary and hearing the story behind it, I became enamored.  It’s now one of my favorite Knopfler tunes.

The chisels are calling
It’s time to make sawdust
Steely reminders of things left to do
A mandolin’s waiting for you



And for the record, here are the guitars:

  1. Hofner Super Solid V2, 1962 (Mark’s first guitar)
  2. National Style Duolean Resonator, 1937 (“Romeo & Juliet”)
  3. Fender Stratocaster, 1961
  4. Gibson, Les Paul, 1958 (“Money For Nothing,” “Brothers In Arms”)
  5. Pensa Mk 1, 1980
  6. Monteleone Isabella, 2008 (named after Mark’s eldest daughter)


Mark with a Monteleone (though not Isabella)

More from GroundGuitar:
Mark Knopfler’s Guitars and Gear

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: