Festival Headliners 2022: What Guitars Are They Using?

The UK festival season has begun! Download, Isle of Wight, Glastonbury, Reading & Leeds — it’s time to pack up the tent, stock up on beer, and enjoy some amazing live music!

In this blog, we’ve highlighted the headliners of these huge festivals and revealed what gear they’re using!

Elliot Stent

Elliot Stent

After two years of enduring postponed/cancelled gigs as a result of the Coronavirus pandemic, it finally feels as though things have returned to normal. We’re ecstatic to see that the UK festival season is back in full swing — and let’s be honest, it’s never truly the Summer without these legendary music events taking place!

Musicians are curious folk. We’re always intrigued to discover what gear makes our favourite artists tick, especially when it comes to their live rigs. That’s why we’ve compiled a list featuring a bunch of UK festival headliners and the guitars that they’re using to achieve the unique sounds that make them, them!

Download Festival: June 10-12

Download is the UK’s biggest annual hard-rock/metal music festival. Regarded as the spiritual successor of ‘Monsters of Rock’, which took place yearly at Donington Castle/Park throughout much of the ’80s and ’90s, Download is soon to be celebrating its 20th anniversary in 2023. Time flies!

Iron Maiden

Iron Maiden on stage at festival

Heavy metal stalwarts Iron Maiden have played Download multiple times over the last 20 years, and they brought the festival back with a bang in 2022 alongside co-headliners Kiss and Biffy Clyro. Releasing their 17th studio album just last year (the critically-acclaimed Senjutsu), the boys squeezed a number of new songs into their setlist. But it’s always their biggest hits like “Number of the Beast”, “The Trooper” and “Aces High” which really get the crowd going!

Iron Maiden are unique for their triple guitar onslaught — comprising Dave Murray, Adrian Smith and Janick Gers. All three are synonymous with the Fender Stratocaster, but more specifically, they often use modded Floyd Rose-equipped “Super-Strats” that boast high-output DiMarzio/Seymour Duncan pickups in order to produce the tight distorted sounds that drive so many Iron Maiden riffs. Both Dave Murray and Adrian Smith currently have signature electric guitars with Fender and Jackson, which they use extensively on stage.

Recommended Iron Maiden Gear

Biffy Clyro

Biffy Clyro's Simon Neil on stage

Biffy Clyro, arguably the UK’s premier modern rock band, closed Download Festival 2022 with one of their signature high-energy sets filled to the brim with anthems! Trust us, these Scots never perform at anything less than 100%, and it was refreshing to hear them play a number of new tracks in support of their 2021 record The Myth of the Happily Ever After.

Frontman Simon Neil is rarely seen without a Strat in his hands, and he’s not particularly picky or ostentatious either — using a mix of Mexican-made and Japanese-crafted models among a handful of Custom Shop creations. It’s surprising how huge his guitar tones are too, considering he’s the band’s only guitarist and employs single-coil loaded Strats. Maybe his Boss MT-2 Metal Zone distortion pedal has something to do with that…

Recommended Simon Neil Gear

Isle of Wight Festival: June 16-19

The Isle of Wight Festival is an annual music event that uniquely takes place on England’s largest island (just off the southern coast). The original festivals occurred between 1968 and 1970, with the latter famously drawing in an estimated 600,000-700,000 attendees due to the star-studded lineup that included Jimi Hendrix, The Doors, Joni Mitchell and The Who. Isle of Wight Festival was revived in 2002 and has since established itself as one of the UK’s most popular music celebrations.

Nile Rodgers & Chic

Nile Rodgers on stage at festival

Nile Rodgers just might be the most “listened-to” guitarist of all time. He’s written, produced and performed on recordings that have sold more than 500 million albums globally, and it’s always a treat when he appears on a festival lineup with Chic. Why? Because who on earth doesn’t sing and dance along with hits like “Le Freak” and “Good Times”?!

Across all of the hits he’s been involved with, there’s been one constant and essential ingredient — the used 1960 Fender hardtail Stratocaster which Nile bought from a Miami music shop in 1973; dubbed ‘The Hitmaker’. And it’s not just a studio guitar either, as he uses it extensively on stage too. Earlier this year, as part of their Stories Collection which celebrates iconic artist instruments, Fender unveiled a US-crafted Nile Rodgers signature Hitmaker Stratocaster that faithfully pays tribute to the original. If you’re a Nile Rodgers super-fan, this is the guitar for you!

Recommended Nile Rodgers Gear


Muse's Matt Bellamy on stage with Manson Guitar

The Devon boys returned to Isle of Wight for the first time since their explosive 2007 headlining set. And in 15 years, they’d lost none of their star-power or the “theatre” for which their live shows are so renowned for. Alternative rock’s loudest trio played a diverse mix of old and new hits at the 2022 festival, and to be honest — I’m envious of every single person who was there!

Frontman Matt Bellamy rocked his usual fleet of custom Manson guitars, equipped with all kinds of gadgets and gizmos like onboard ZVEX Fuzz Factory circuits and Korg Kaoss pads. You can go directly to Manson Guitar Works and spec your own wacky, MB-inspired guitar if you feel so inclined. Or, you can check out one of the models from the Manson/Cort Meta Series — an accessible line of Matt Bellamy signature electric guitars boasting many of the features you’d find on his bespoke models; including ‘Sustainiac’ pickup systems and killswitch buttons!  Check out our dedicated Matt Bellamy Rig Page.

Recommended Matt Bellamy Gear

Glastonbury Festival: June 22-26

Taking place in Somerset, England — Glastonbury is a five-day festival that celebrates contemporary performing arts, typically headlined by leading pop and rock groups. “Glasto” is unique for hosting a diverse range of artists, with musicians, comedians, dancers, circus acts and more performing to roughly 200,000 attendees on stages both big and small!

Paul McCartney

Paul McCartney on stage

Paul McCartney is a living legend; there’s no doubt about it. The former Beatle recently turned 80 and he’s showing no signs of slowing down — setting a record as the oldest headliner of the Glastonbury Festival in its entire history! His Saturday night set blew everyone away; proving that age really is just a number…

McCartney is a multi-instrumentalist, but if there’s one instrument he’s synonymous with, it’s the Höfner 500/1 Violin Bass. This was his number 1 in the early years of The Beatles, and while experimenting with other bass guitars post-1965, McCartney changed back to his trusty Hofner in the early ‘90s. Paul wielded the distinctive Violin Bass for a few songs on Saturday evening.

Recommended Paul McCartney Gear

Wolf Alice

Wolf Alice playing gig

They didn’t headline, but how could we leave out Wolf Alice — one of the UK’s leading alternative rock bands, and 2022 BRIT Award winners? They tore up Glastonbury’s iconic Pyramid Stage on Friday, bringing their signature shoegaze sound to the masses. Never heard of them? Imagine Garbage, Curve and Blur blended into one!

Wolf Alice don’t hide their influences either, with lead singer Ellie Rowsell using Fender Telecasters and lead guitarist Joff Oddie favouring Fender offset guitars (particularly Jaguar models) in order to attain that distinctive, jangly ’90s sound. Oddie also uses an incredibly large pedalboard setup dubbed the “Death Star”, making use of Pedaltrain’s top-of-the-range Terra board in order to host numerous digital and analogue effects from Strymon, JHS, Line 6, Empress and many more!

Recommended Wolf Alice Gear

Reading & Leeds Festivals: Aug 26-28

The British Summer isn’t officially over until the Reading & Leeds Festivals have taken place! These simultaneous festivals are uniquely divided between the South and the North of England, with most headliners and support acts performing at both sites. Reading’s Friday lineup typically becomes Leeds’ Saturday lineup, Reading’s Saturday lineup will attend Leeds on Sunday, and Leeds’ Friday lineup will play Reading on Sunday.

The 1975

The 1975 at Festival

2019 BRIT Award winners The 1975 are gearing up for the release of their 5th studio album Being Funny in a Foreign Language in October, and they’re getting back into the festival game! Replacing original headliners Rage Against The Machine, The 1975’s signature sound comprises hooky, overdriven guitar lines as well as crystal-clear cleans. They’re nothing like RATM, but the energy will still be high!

Frontman Matty Healy has wielded a ’65/’66 Mustang since the early days of the band to achieve the bright, crisp tones that have spanned all of The 1975’s albums — typically plugged into a lush-sounding Roland Jazz Chorus amp combo. However, Healy’s recently been seen playing Japanese-crafted Oopegg guitars — “neo-bizarre” instruments with retro style in abundance!

The 1975’s lead guitarist, Adam Hann, prefers the modern playability of a Music Man John Petrucci signature JP6. It’s not your typical “pop” guitar, but its “in-between” split-coil pickup positions create that silky-smooth, jangly sound that The 1975 are known for.

Recommended The 1975 Gear

Arctic Monkeys

Arctic Monkeys on stage at festival

The Arctic Monkeys, Sheffield’s finest indie/alternative rock band and arguably one of Britain’s biggest musical exports in recent memory, are headlining Reading & Leeds for a third time in 2022 — marking an 8-year sabbatical since their last appearances at the unique twin festivals.

Frontman Alex Turner and guitarist Jamie Cook have a pretty big arsenal of instruments between them, but they generally favour vintage electric guitars from Fender, Gibson and Gretsch among others. Amp-wise, Turner and Cook employ old-school Selmer, Fender and Hiwatt valve combos along with fairly common stompboxes like the classic ProCo RAT distortion and Ibanez Tube Screamer overdrive. Imitating their guitar tones isn’t that difficult at all, especially with our Arctic Monkeys Rig Page!

Recommended Arctic Monkeys Gear

Rage Against The Machine (Cancelled)

Tom Morello of Rage Against The Machine on stage

The most anticipated shows of the entire UK festival season? We thought so! Rage Against The Machine were going to finally make their return to Reading & Leeds, in a year in which they celebrate the 30th Anniversary of their explosive self-titled debut album. On August 11th 2022, RATM unfortunately announced that they had cancelled their UK and European tour to allow frontman Zack de la Rocha to fully recover from a leg injury he sustained at a show in Chicago in July. They will no longer be playing their headlining slots at the 2022 Reading & Leeds Festivals.

Rage Against The Machine guitarist Tom Morello is easily one of the most influential, original and inventive rock musicians ever. Known particularly for his love of guitar pedals; Morello has a unique playing approach that blends punchy pentatonic-based riffs with scratchy DJ sounds, percussive killswitch/tremolo effects and crazy whammy-drenched solos — forming an instantly recognisable style.

Morello still uses a few of his staple guitars from the early ’90s, such as his custom “Arm The Homeless” super-strat, ‘82 “Sendero Luminoso” Fender Standard Telecaster, and of course the stealthy “Soul Power” Strat that he used in Audioslave. Fender have even made a signature model for Tom based off of his Stratocaster, with near-identical specs to the original — including a Seymour Duncan Hot Rails bridge pickup, a mirror scratchplate, and of course, the double-locking Floyd Rose tremolo! You can find this guitar and other Morello gear on our dedicated Tom Morello Rig Page.

Recommended Tom Morello Gear

Want to Learn More?

If you’re keen to stay up-to-date with other matters within the musical instrument industry, take a look at more of our ‘Industry’ content by clicking here.

Elliot Stent
Elliot Stent
Elliot is a Senior Digital Product Marketer at Andertons, and at least the 7th best guitarist in the company's Web Team. He's exactly one day younger than Harry Styles, and believes that this "head start" is the only reason why Harry's more successful than him.

Responses & Questions

Leave a Reply