If somebody were to ask you who you considered to be the rowdiest, rudest, and brashest heavy metal band in existence, chances are you would say Motley Crue.
They are known for their extreme metal riffs, their wild makeup looks which shocked a generation, and their totally unforgettable tunes.
There has been no band that quite compares to Motley Crue, and each member of this famous group has made a mark in music history.
Indeed, the vocals provided by Vince Neil, the bass riffs provided by Nikki Sixx, the drum backbeat provided by Tommy Lee, and the insane lead guitar rhythms provided by Mick Mars all make this group a musical masterpiece.
Today, we’re going to be taking a look at Mick Mars, who is responsible for many of the raunchy rock and roll sound the band is so well known for.
Mick Mars is the lead guitarist, and has produced countless unforgettable musical pieces that sound like no other.
We’re going to be covering Micks Mars’ entire guitar and gear catalog, giving you the lowdown on what this legend has been using throughout the years in order to achieve that classic musical style.
To find out more, simply keep reading below, as we take a closer look together.
Who Is Mick Mars?
Now, before we jump straight in and take a closer look at all the guitars and gear used by Mick Mars, first, we’re going to be covering who he is, for those who don’t already know.
When we first think of Motley Crue, it’s usually the headstrong bassist Nikki Sixx, or the controversial drummist, Tommy Lee that typically comes to mind.
But, it’s actually Mick Mars, the lead guitarist, who preferred to exist in the shadows of fame, who is responsible for producing some of their most memorable tracks. Mick Mars first joined the band in 1981.
He had been spending all of his time trying to break into the California music scene, but he was feeling like giving up after several failed attempts.
It was these disappointments which prompted Mars to adopt a whole new look so that producers would take him more seriously.
He dyed his hair jet black, and adopted the grunge makeup look that we’re so familiar with today.
He put an ad in a Los Angeles newspaper looking for band members, and this is when he was picked up by Nikki Sixx and Tommy Lee, who were absolutely blown away by his guitar skills.
Mars is the one who is responsible for their famous band name, after he heard someone referring to the group as a ‘motley looking crue’.
Mars is known for using a number of amplifiers on his guitar, that were actually said to be so loud, that you can hear them on Aerosmith’s album Pump, who were recording in the studio next to the group.
He performed with Motley Crue as a part of their farewell tour in 2022, and he said that he would be stepping away from any future performances.
The Musical Style Of Mick Mars
Now that we’ve covered who Mick Mars is, we can move on to discuss the musical style of Mick Mars. Motley Crue are known for being ‘pure’ rock and roll.
Their music displays big tone guitars, and incredibly heavy riffs.
It’s often been compared to the music produced by other heavy metal bands in the 1980s, such as Alice Cooper, The Ramones, and The New York Dolls.
Mars’ guitar style is known for being incredibly raw and punky, and has some aggressive chords.
In the middle portion of the decade, you’ll notice lots of riffs and shredding solos. He is known for being one of the most underrated guitar players of the 1980s.
The Guitars Used By Mick Mars
Now that we’ve given you some background on Mick Mars, and the impact he’s made in the music industry, we can move on to discuss some of his equipment.
First of all, we’re going to be taking a closer look at the extensive guitar collection used by the metal star.
In the earlier days of Motley Crue’s music history, Mars is renowned for using his Gibson Les Paul custom guitar, but as the band approached the 1990’s, he gravitated toward his Fender Stratocaster.
Keep reading below to find out more, as we take a closer look.
Gibson Les Paul Custom
Perhaps the guitar that people most associate with Mick Mars is the Gibson Les Paul. This is an incredibly iconic guitar, and one that many people think of when they think of the rockstar.
One of the band’s first ever singles, ‘live wire’, uses this guitar in the track, and the color of the guitar in question is in keeping with the stark red and black palette displayed by the video.
Indeed, this guitar was a favorite of Mars for a reason, as it was used by some of the most famous heavy metal bands of the time. Namely, KISS, Iron Maiden and the Sex Pistols are also known for loving this specific brand of guitar.
The Les Paul Custom was known for being one of the highest end varieties of guitar produced by the brand at this time.
It was perfect for heavy metal music because of its heavy, mahogany based construction. It has a piece of maple placed in between two slabs of mahogany, and this is what’s responsible for giving the guitar that classic ‘snap’.
It has old hardware, which oozes glamor, and displays the devil may care luxuriousness demonstrated by the band.
It was this guitar that Mars used for the band’s first two album releases, and he took it on tour with him, favoring this particular guitar until 1985.
Even after he switched guitars, Mick Mars still regarded the Gibson Les Paul Custom as one of his very favorites, and stored it behind glass in order to preserve the instrument and keep it secure.
Unfortunately, Mars had to part with his guitar for financial reasons, and it’s now hanging in the Hard Rock cafe in Florida, where you can see it up close and personal.
Some of you may have also noticed that Mars uses an additional guitar in the music video ‘Too Fast For Love’.
This guitar is another Les Paul, and one that Mars owned before joining the band. It’s white in color, and Mars is responsible for customizing this one himself.
BC Rich Warlock
The next guitar that we’re going to be taking a closer look at is the BC Rich Warlock. Some of you might already know about this guitar, as it’s actually considered to be one of Mick Mars’ most iconic pieces.
It has a jagged, sharp appearance, and is a stark white in terms of color. It was used in many of the promotional videos and photos of the band, and is therefore highly recognizable to fans.
This particular guitar was used between 1983 to 1985, during the band’s heyday, and their most iconic period.
It’s incredibly garish in terms of appearance, but this is what makes the piece so iconic. You will find Mars using this guitar in the famous ‘Looks That Kill’ video.
It has a maple neck, and a solid mahogany base. It also has a rosewood fingerboard. This guitar is also responsible for some of the most famous sounds in the Shout At The Devil album.
This is because of the strong tremolo system, which facilitates some of the squeals that are demonstrated in the tracks.
Mars was such a big fan of the tremolo system, that he ensured that all of his subsequent guitars featured this particular facet too.
Nikki Sixx, the bass player for Motley Crue, was also a big fan of DC Warlock guitars, and he too has a BC Rich Warlock bass. This is the guitar that Sixx used exclusively during the earlier portion of the decade.
Unfortunately, as the years went on, Mars was unable to tolerate the weight of the all-mahogany guitars he was so fond of, such as the BC Rich Warlock, and also the Gibson Les Paul Custom.
Mars has a condition known as ankylosing spondylitis, which has gradually caused his back to seize up over the years. This causes his spine to seize up, and causes Mars an immense amount of pain.
Therefore, he was no longer able to tolerate such heavy guitars, as the weight of them was too uncomfortable.
Gibson Custom Flying V
Some of you might also recognize the Gibson Custom Flying V, which was also an iconic guitar that Mars used during the early portion of the band’s history.
In fact, he used this guitar on his tour with famous band, KISS. KISS took Motley Crue on tour with them as their backing act, which was very short-lived, as they were kicked off for their bad behavior.
Mars decided that he was going to use the Gibson Custom Flying V exclusively in his live performances.
At the time, the Gibson Les Paul custom was his favorite guitar, but he felt that the design was too plain to take on stage. Mars wanted something that was a bit more showy, and would make an impact in terms of aesthetics.
He took it on their Shout At The Devil tour, which was heavy in black and red colors, and featured an occult-like theme. This guitar was perfect for such an occasion.
The interesting thing about this guitar is that it was built exclusively for Motley Crue themselves. The design was heavily influenced by Mars himself, who decided that it should have an ebony fretboard, as well as a mahogany base.
Mars wanted it to appear black rather than a deep brown commonly displayed by rosewood, and it certainly does look far darker.
This is also known as one of the more ‘showy’ guitars used by Mars, and as a result, you’ll see it in several different promotional photos of the band. However, Mars has stated that he preferred the feel of his Gibson Les Paul Custom.
Kramer Baretta Special
Another guitar that some of you might recognize from the earlier portion of the decade, is the Kramer Baretta Special.
This guitar is a stark black in terms of color, like most of Mars’ collection. This was used in the album Theatre Of Pain, and in the subsequent tour that the band partook in.
This guitar actually signifies a transitional period for the band. During the earlier portion of their musical career, Motley Crue were known for their brash, rude, occult-like punkiness.
As the decade drew on however, and glam rock became increasingly popular with bands such as Van Halen, the band also moved in this direction.
In fact, this guitar has strong associations with Van Halen, who was known for using the Beretta exclusively during the early portion of his career.
You will see this guitar featured in Home Sweet Home. It’s incredibly sleek, stylish, and of course, glamorous in terms of appearance, and is far less weighty than previous models Mars has a fondness for.
It has a Floyd Rose tremolo system, which is one of the things that drew Mars toward this particular guitar, as it allowed him to shred to his heart’s content.
It’s incredibly lightweight in terms of the guitar’s feel, and is super easy to control, with only one control knob.
Because Mars was seen using this particular guitar too frequently, the brand’s sales went through the roof, and reached their peak in 1985, when they sold more than any other guitar brand at the time.
The next guitar we’re going to be taking a look at is the Kramer Telecaster. The Kramer Telecaster was adopted by Mars during the Girls Girls Girls era of the band.
You will also see this particular guitar featured in the Dr. Feelgood video, released in 1987.
This was when the band were at their most famous, and there were lots of other similar bands trying to steal the limelight from the group during these years.
As a result, lots of groups were adopting guitars with straight, jagged lines.
Mars however, wanted to differentiate himself from all of these Motley Crue wannabes, and as a result, chose the Kramer Telecaster as his main guitar that he would end up taking on tour during this period.
Mars loved the way that the Kramer Telecaster looked, with its super sleek, modern appearance, but he disliked that it was so heavy.
This was the only drawback for Mars, who really enjoyed using the Kramer Telecaster, as nobody else was using this brand during the period.
This guitar is known for being one of the most iconic varieties played by Mars, and this is because of the decoration displayed on the guitar. Mars had two different varieties of the Kramer Telecaster, one in white, and one in black.
The thing that was shared between these two guitars however, is that both had been painted with a pair of breasts at the center. This was done to fit in with the Girls Girls Girls era of the band.
They were both made with maple necks, and mahogany boards. The Floyd rose tremolo system displayed by the guitar allowed Mars to produce some of the band’s most iconic sounds.
For example, if you listen to their track from the album Dr. Feelgood, called Kickstart My Heart, you will hear what appears to be an engine revving at the start.
This is not an engine however, and is, in fact Mars’ guitar performing some slides using the unique tremolo system.
It is unknown what has actually happened to these famous guitars used by Mars during the decade. Most of his pieces were sold during the middle portion of the 1990s.
During this decade, the band faced waning success, and Mars was forced to part with some of his most famous guitars, the Kramer Telecaster being one of them.
Fender Modified Stratocaster
The final guitar that we’re going to be taking a look at is the Fender Modified Stratocaster.
Mars still uses this guitar to this very day, and is a longtime favorite of Mars. He transitioned to this guitar to fit in with the band’s new grunge like image.
He adopted this guitar in order to adapt and fit in with the changing aesthetics of the time. Glamorous and showy guitars were no longer in style, and the 1990s was more in favor of a simpler style and look.
He used this guitar for the first time in 1994, when they released a grunge album with John Corabi.
He loved the way that the guitar felt, and he wasn’t the only one using Fenders during the decade. Bands like Nirvana also loved the look and feel of the Stratocaster guitars.
It’s known for being incredibly lightweight, and easier to handle than other brands. Mars became such a big fan, that he began collecting various stratocaster guitars from every decade, dating back to the 1950s.
He has one from every single year, and keeps them all safely at home whilst he’s on tour.
His favorite stratocaster guitar is one from the 1960s, and Mars says that this is because of the large headstock, which he claims makes the sound much better.
The only trouble is that because of Mars’ heavy playing style, he’s prone to wearing this lightweight guitar out. His main guitar, which he has named Isabella, has actually had three different necks on it.
This is the guitar that Mars has used on almost every album in the 1990s, and on the road too.
It is probably known as the most iconic guitar Mick Mars has ever used, and is the one most commonly associated with the musician.
Gear Used By Mick Mars
Now that we’ve taken a closer look at some of the most famous guitars used by the musician, we can move on to discuss some of the other gear Mars is known for using.
Specifically, we’re going to be taking a look at some of the amplifiers used by the musician. To find out more, simply keep reading below.
Marshall Super Lead
The first amplifier that we’re going to be talking about is the one most commonly associated with Mick Mars.
This is, of course, none other than the Marshall Super Lead. He has been using these since the 1970’s, previous to his time with the band, and has subsequently been a fan for decades.
During this period, he was using the Marshall Plexi models with 100 watt heads. This was the amp that many bands chose during the time, solely because it was so brash and loud.
In terms of tubes, Mars would have likely used Tung Sol 6550. These were known for being incredibly powerful, and great for the glam rock music the band was producing.
Soldano SLO-100 Super Lead Overdrive
This is the brand that Mars used during the early portion of the 2000s. It has a super expansive tonal palette, more so than any other amplifiers he’s used in previous decades.
It’s an incredibly versatile and modern amplifier, and all of its wiring was conducted in the USA. It helps to add some variety and color to the tone of Mars’ guitar.
Other bands are famous for using the Soldano SLO-100 Super Lead Overdrive. During the 1980’s, Eric Clapton was one of its main proponents.
Eventually, however, they became popular amongst heavy rock musicians too, and Van Halen is known for being one of the main users of this amplifier.
The Pedals Used By Mick Mars
Some of you reading this article might be wondering what pedals Mick Mars uses.
These aren’t easily identifiable, and deviate from some of the more popular varieties used by bands during the 1980s.
He likes incredibly thick, clear and almost obnoxious sound displayed by a talkbox or a wah pedal. Many other bands at the time were using additional drives and distortions in their rigs.
This was also an incredibly popular incorporation into musical sound during the decade.
Mars preferred to keep things simple, and allow the natural distortion to occur from his Marshall amps.
To sum up, Mick Mars is heavily regarded as one of the greatest guitarists of all time, despite being highly underrated. He first started his musical career by playing blues music, and played in lots of bars, wanting to break through into stardom.
In a bid to change his fortune, Mars adopted his stage name that we know so well today, and decided that he was going to shake up his image by dyeing his hair black.
Mars started wearing heavy eyeliner, and put in an ad in the newspaper, advertising himself as a guitarist. Both Nikki Sixx and Tommy Lee were instantly drawn in by his awe inspiring mastery of the guitar, and immediately formed their band together.
Mars has not had an easy personal life, and suffers from a chronic condition called ankylosing spondylitis. This is an arthritic condition that he was first diagnosed with at the young age of 17.
Mars shows great fortitude, as he still manages to perform long sets, and tour the world over despite the incredible pain he experiences daily.
For those of you who have listened to the music produced by Mars, you’ll know that his guitar sound is one of the most recognizable in the industry.
It’s incredibly thick, rowdy, and brash, and the performer displays an incredibly aggressive style of playing music.
In terms of guitars, perhaps one of the most popular ones used by Mars throughout the course of the 1980s is the Gibson Les Paul Custom, which is behind most of the early albums produced by the band.
Gradually, as the decade waned on, Mars began using the Fender Modified Stratocaster, which is the one he still uses today.
The style of the guitar was more fitting toward the grunge-like image that the band adopted in the 1990s. Mars has used this guitar on countless tours, and on several different albums, and as a result, the neck has been replaced three times.
Frequently Asked Questions
Why Is Motley Crue Replacing Mick Mars?
Some of you reading this article might be wondering why Motley Crue will no longer be featuring Mick Mars as the guitarist at the center of their live performances.
The reason why you’ll no longer be able to see Mars perform live, is because his chronic ailment, called ankylosing spondylitis, has become too severe.
Mars can no longer withstand the tough conditions associated with touring, or spend hours on top of a stage.
In 2022, Mick Mars decided that he would publicly resign from the band himself, and Motley Crue offered him a generous payout.
When Did Motley Crue Reach Their Peak?
Motley Crue were a staple band throughout the 1980s, but they actually reached their peak during the latter portion of the decade.
This was a high point for the band, as they’d finally combatted their addictions and were leading a life of sobriety.
They also released one of the greatest albums in their entire career in 1989, with Doctor Feelgood, which became an instant success.
How Old Is Mick Mars From Motley Crue?
Mick Mars has announced that he will no longer be touring with the band, Motley Crue, as he’s no longer able to tolerate the back pain associated with his chronic arthritic condition.
The guitar player is now 72 years of age. When he first joined the band, Mars was 29 years of age, and the oldest member in the band.
Tommy Lee was the youngest member of Motley Crue, at just 17 years old, Vince Neil was 20, and Nikki Sixx was 23.
How Rich Is Mick Mars?
Mick Mars, the lead guitarist of the band Motley Crue, is worth an estimated 70 million dollars as of 2023.
The band enjoyed a revival in their career during the 2000’s, as they conducted several nostalgic tours where they played their most classic tracks. Their stadium tour in 2018 saw the band earn a total of 173.5 million dollars.