Jan Akkerman – The Dutch Master of Guitar

Jan Akkerman, a legendary Dutch guitarist, has had a long and storied career that has left an indelible mark on the world of music. As a founding member of the progressive rock band Focus and a prolific solo artist, Akkerman has influenced countless guitarists and pioneered many unique guitar techniques.

In this post, we will delve into the life and career of Jan Akkerman, exploring his biography, the guitars he has played, and the equipment he has used to create his signature sound.

Table of Contents


Jan Akkerman was born on December 24, 1946, in Amsterdam, Netherlands. At the age of five, he began taking music lessons on the accordion before switching to the guitar a few years later. Akkerman’s father was an amateur guitarist, and he was introduced to a variety of musical genres at a young age. This exposure to diverse musical styles helped shape his unique playing style which would later become his trademark.

In the 1960s, Akkerman started his music career by joining various local bands. His first significant breakthrough came in 1968 when he joined the Dutch rock group Brainbox. With Brainbox, Akkerman began to showcase his immense talent as a guitarist, and the band quickly gained recognition.

In 1970, Akkerman, along with Thijs van Leer, formed the progressive rock band Focus. The band achieved international success with hits like “Hocus Pocus” and “Sylvia,” which featured Akkerman’s extraordinary guitar work. Focus’s innovative blend of rock, jazz, and classical music set them apart from other bands of the era. Akkerman left Focus in 1976 to pursue a solo career.

Akkerman’s solo career proved to be equally successful, as he released numerous albums. Over the years, he has collaborated with various artists from different genres.


Throughout his career, Jan Akkerman has played several different guitars, each contributing to his unique sound. Some of the most iconic guitars he has used include:

1. Gibson Les Paul

Akkerman’s primary guitar during his time with Brainbox and Focus was a 1958 Gibson Les Paul. This guitar is known for its rich, warm sound and has been a staple in his arsenal throughout his career. If you are the proud owner of this iconic guitar, check how old your Les Paul is.

2. Fender Stratocaster

Akkerman also played a Fender Stratocaster during his time with Focus. The Stratocaster’s versatility allowed him to explore different tones and techniques, further shaping his distinctive sound.

3. Framus Akkerman Model

In the late 1970s, Akkerman collaborated with German guitar manufacturer Framus to create a signature model. The Framus Akkerman Model features a semi-hollow body, a unique headstock design, and a blend of Gibson and Fender elements. This guitar has become one of his most recognizable instruments.

4. PRS Private Stock Jan Akkerman

In 2016, Akkerman partnered with Paul Reed Smith to create a limited edition Private Stock model. This guitar is inspired by his original 1958 Gibson Les Paul and features a mahogany body, a curly maple top, and custom PRS pickups.

Guitar Equipment

Over the years, Jan Akkerman has utilized various amplifiers and effects to achieve his distinct sound.


Akkerman has mainly used Marshall and Fender amplifiers throughout his career. He favored the Marshall Super Lead 100-watt amplifier for its raw power and tonal clarity. Later, he switched to Fender Twin Reverb amplifiers, which are renowned for their pristine clean tones and lush spring reverb. In recent years, Akkerman has also incorporated AER acoustic amplifiers into his live setup, enabling him to maintain the natural sound of his acoustic guitars.


Jan Akkerman is known for his tasteful use of effects to enhance his guitar sound. Over the years, he has used a variety of effects, including wah-wah pedals, phasers, and echo units. The Cry Baby Wah pedal, in particular, has been a staple in his setup, allowing him to add expression and character to his solos. Akkerman has also used the EHX Electric Mistress Flanger/Filter Matrix and the Roland Space Echo to create spacious, atmospheric tones.

Strings and Accessories

Jan Akkerman typically prefers medium-gauge strings for their balance between playability and tone. Akkerman has also been known to use custom-made brass picks, which he claims provide better control and a brighter sound than traditional plastic picks.

Jan Akkerman’s unique blend of rock, jazz, and classical influences, along with his exceptional guitar technique, has made him one of the most respected and admired guitarists in the world. His signature sound continues to inspire generations of musicians.