Rhythm Guitar has always been the backbone of the music of Electric Light Orchestra and related projects.


Jeff Lynne first became interested in rhythm guitar after hearing his father’s vintage jazz records. His earliest musical influence was the influential folk-rock duo of Judy Collins and Stephen Stills. In ELO, Lynne played rhythm guitar, usually using his Epiphone Riviera with the left picking the bass strings, allowing the band to have fuller sound production. During live performances, Lynne used an array of guitars for his performances, including Fender Telecasters and Stratocasters, Gibson Les Pauls, and Gibsons SGs. He often played rhythm guitar melodies to accompany the keyboards. Lynne also played rhythm guitar on computer in some ELO recordings, and served as back-up vocals at times.


The bass guitar was performed by Kelly Groucutt, usually on a Rickenbacker Bass. Groucutt’s style was more traditional rock than that of Lynne, and was influenced by the combination of blues, jazz, and rock which ELO combined. Groucutt’s bass guitar work is heard prominently throughout the ELO recordings, and is usually the driving force behind many of the songs. He often carried out a “call and response” between himself and Lynne to create musical direction, and echo the melodic hooks that Lynne would create.


Bev Bevan was the only drummer of ELO and while he initially used a hybrid drum kit, he later employed a drum machine which supplemented his rhythms. Bevan played traditional rock rhythms, but often added rhythmic accents and flourishes to the ELO songs. He used a variety of different percussion instruments, bells, and wood blocks. One of the most iconic sounds of Bevan’s drumming is the “cymbal roll”, often heard at the beginning of tracks such as “Rockaria”, “Strange Magic”, and “Hold On Tight”.

Lead guitar

During ELO’s live tours, lead guitarist Mike Edwards played a major role in the band’s sound. He usually used a white, double-neck Gibson SG with a whammy bar to perform solos and licks during performances. Edwards’s performance style was more melodic than Lynne’s, and often showed influence from jazz and blues. His technique was to play two notes (often a major third apart) on one string and then stretch out the notes to achieve a more melodic sound. Edwards frequently improvised solos, often drawing from the imagery created the lyrics. Following the departure of Kelly Groucutt from the band, Edwards assumed some of the bass duties.

Other instruments

ELO, and subsequent projects, have also featured various instrumentalists, most notably violinist Mik Kaminski and cellist Mike Haslam. Kaminski was featured prominently on the earliest ELO releases, and his different techniques, such as vibrato, arpeggiated playing, and the use of slides and glissando, added to the band’s distinct sound. Haslam was introduced to the band in 1979, and part of his role was to provide additional low frequencies to balance the sharper sound of the electric guitars. In addition, both Kaminski and Haslam utilized their instruments as percussive instruments.

Category:Electric Light Orchestra members
Category:Rhythm guitarists