In the early days of U2 Bono could be seen having a strum on a Fender Lead II
during "A Day Without Me" and that was about it. Starting with The Unforgettable Fire tour, Bono began playing a lot more
guitar. Initially, toting a Washburn Festival Acoustic for a song here and there.
That said, for the majority of U2's career Bono seems to have favored Gibson
and Gretsch guitars.
By The Joshua Tree tour, The Gibson J160-e and various Telecasters began making
For Zoo TV Bono began playing a black Gibson ES-175 for a lot of his guitar
Popmart tour saw two the retirement of the black ES-175 in favour of two custom
finish sparkle ES-175's [one in blue the other in red]. Bono also brought out his Gibson Les Paul Custom for a few shows as
well as a custom metallic finish Gibson Les Paul Custom for "Last Night On Earth"; althouth most nights saw him playing
this song with his red sparkle ES-175. The Gibson Hummingbird with star stickers, was put to use for the acoustic/b-stage
moments and his Gretsch Chet Atkins Tennessean was used for "Gone".
The Elevation 2001 tour saw Bono playing Gretsch electrics. Early in the tour
it was his Gretsch Chet Atkins Tennessean was used for "Gone" and his cadillac green Gretsch Country Club. The Country Club
was later replaced by custom built Gretsch "Irish Falcon". This 'custom' guitar is now available as a production model.
The Vertigo tour has seen Bono concentrating more on singing and playing less
guitar. For most guitar duties, Bono still plays his Gretsch "Irish Falcon",
Another thing to keep in mind is guest appearances and promo spots. It is not
always the 'given' that Bono will be using his own guitar. There have been some performances in which Bono has been seen with
a guitar and not seen with it again. This does not mean 100% that it was a loaner or rented for the occasion but it does
leave this as a possibility. Examples? One example would be the 1999 Net-Aid show. Bono was seen playing a black Takamine
(electric acoustic). I am not 100% certain of which model. But I do know that I have not seen video or pictures of Bono using
that guitar before or since the Net-Aid show. Another example would be the 2003 Pavarotti and Friends show. Bono was seen
playing a Gretsch Black Falcon. While it is a similar make and model to his "Goal Is Soul" Irish Falcon, I've not seen Bono
use the Black Falcon before or since the 2003 Pavarotti and Friends show.