Sunday, 23 January 2011

My taste in guitars

Why do all guitars have to look like this...
Why do all guitars have to look like this...
As a guitarist I think I’m fairly unusual in that I tend to find expensive guitars incomprehensibly unexciting. What excites me is the quirky, cheap and unusual. My dream is not of one day affording a 1962 Stratocaster in mint condition, but rather of unearthing something unique and bizarre sounding in a pawn shop.
Alas the way in which guitars are manufactured and designed in the modern age means that this is probably just as unlikely as that ’62 Strat falling into my lap. The revolution in Far eastern manufacturing means that, by and large, cheap guitars look and sound very much like the expensive ones. This is a mixed blessing in many ways. There’s no doubt that compared to picking up a bottom of the market guitar 30 years ago, the difference in playability is astounding. My father tells tales of guitars with two inches of string clearance that may as well have been strung with barbed wire. But in those days cheap electric guitars were built to whatever shape and design floated the manufacturer’s boat. These days they’re effectively built to two designs, The Stratocaster or the Les Paul, and to my mind the world is poorer for that.

...when they used to look like this?

...when they used to look like this?

I guess my love of resonators come from that desire for the ‘different’ in guitars. What could be more different than a guitar that sounds like a tin dustbin? My main gigging axe was £160 new on EBay. It’s made of cheap Chinese plywood and when you look at it closely the f-holes aren’t exactly the same size. It’s been glued back together with epoxy after the guitar strap came off and sent it crashing into a drum kit. It's missing a volume knob these days as well. I changed the main pickup myself after that developed a loose connection that caused it to only work intermittently, and I love the beast all the more for that, because it doesn’t look or sound like all the other guitars out there.

My trusty resonator, in a rejected shot from the album cover shoot
My trusty resonator, in a shot from the album cover shoot

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