My Personal Guitar World: A Diverse, Sometimes Sweet, Sometimes Hostile Place
My personal guitar world is populated by a diverse, sometimes sweet, sometimes hostile, band of strong personalities.
They scream at me. Weep at me. Play me, sometimes as a fool, sometimes as their tolerated servant.
Ernest Hemingway once said, “I belong to this notebook and this pencil.” Now that’s not to say Hemingway was a tool, but at times the line between artist and tool can be bloody-Mary-blurry. They’re one, each useless without the other.
Through my years as a professional musician, I’ve had affairs with Fenders and Gibsons, Gretsches and Rickenbackers, even a plexiglass Dan Armstrong, which I still love even though my bandmate Chris Collingwood dismisses her as looking like a 1960s coffee table. Lately I’ve been playing a custom beauty called the BeachBlaster, which I helped design and will talk about in a few.
I’m a bit of a slut for not being monogamous to just one brand, model or guitar and have been collecting since I started at age 6.
My first was a "used" '65 Mustang for $75 and then after much repetition of telling my pop, "Dad, I need a Les Paul now," he finally gave in and laid down a cool $150 on a Seventies LP deluxe (before they became referred to as vintage). It was only a few years old at the time, I was 8 and I still have both in my collection today.
Then there's the '57 Les Paul Jr that belonged to my father that gets more than her share of my love. Duane Allman offered my dad a nice chunk of change for it back in the Sixties, an offer that was politely declined. Always something nostalgic about your first.
Many Gretsches have also shared my bed as well as the stages. My double-cut 6120 has a special place in my heart. It took me through my U.K. days and is now retired from touring in favor of a few reissues for the road.
Then there’s this new signature thing we call the BeachBlaster, a Tele body made from 200-year-old Douglas fir wood from the joists of an old school house. My buddy Curt Wilson built it to my specs with three Seymour Duncan Whole Lotta Humbuckers and a Bigsby.
There are three in existence so far (lucky me, I have serial numbers 1 and 2). I named it the Schoolhoused BeachBlaster as a tip of the hat to Mr. Fender (and to avoid a lawsuit). One in Sea Foam Green and another in Shoreline Gold. They're light, lovely and loud. Curt is a wizard who builds and fixes guitars in his 1820s schoolhouse (where the wood for the BeachBlaster came from) in Hopewell, New Jersey, a structure he restored just like he does with timeless and well-worn Gretsches and Gibsons.
Anyway, what I’m trying to say here is that my guitars (like yours, I’m sure) are so much a part of me that I don't think I really exist without ‘em. When I come off the stage, I feel like a house whose fire has just been put out. Sated and immiserated, all at once. And my companions, they’ve been through it, too.
Jody Porter is the lead guitarist in Fountains of Wayne and founder of the shoegaze pioneers the Belltower. His second solo album, Month of Mondays, is completed and will be available later this summer.
My first gig
Jody Porter and friends