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Status Quo's Francis Rossi: "I put a Tune-o-Matic bridge on my Tele like the old Gibsons. I think all that stuff, and taking off the lacquer, added to the tone"

Francis Rossi
(Image credit: Fin Costello/Redferns/Getty Images)

For much of Quo’s career, you and Rick Parfitt had the two-Tele setup. Whose idea was that? 

“I started with a Gibson and Rick had an ES-335. Then I got the Tele. Rick being who he was wanted to get a Tele but early on he had an SG. A lot of the stuff that we recorded on Piledriver and Hello was an SG, not a Telecaster. Later on he got carried away that people were going, ‘Oh! The Telecasters!’“  

Where did you get your Tele? 

“I swapped my Gibson Stereo 335 for a Les Paul copy with a guy from Badfinger. Within a few months the bridge collapsed into the body, so someone sent me two Telecasters to try, and I kept a sunburst one. I painted it black but when I got to the gig, where it dried out in the case, it looked fuckin’ ‘orrible. I was painting furniture at home with this green paint where you could see the grain underneath – quite phenomenal at the time! 

“So I repainted the guitar and realised I was late for a gig. I put it back together quickly and just never got to paint the other side of it. One night someone got backstage and nicked the two guitars either side of my Tele. That’s when I thought ‘No-one’s going to nick that because it looks like a sack of shit!’“  

What was with the hole in the body?

“I kept ripping out guitar leads. I thought I’d drill a hole in it and slip the guitar lead through the hole first. That kind of worked, but really I should’ve replaced the jack input.“

Why did you change the bridge?

“If it’s a traditional Tele bridge, people go, ‘You gotta have that!’ Well, you don’t like your guitar in tune then, do you son? What a stupid design. I put a tune-o-matic bridge on it like the old Gibsons. I think all that stuff, and taking off the lacquer, added to the tone. It did sound quite unique.“

How come you changed the pickups in the 90s?

“I went for Lace Sensors, then later I changed the neck pickup for one of those Hot Rail things. I suppose I always wanted to get a sort of humbuck-y, Gibson-y noise because I started on Gibsons, and we would get a lot of interference with the single coils, particularly in English venues.

“People were like, ‘Don’t like the Lace Sensor! If only you’d played that on the original...’ When people talk about guitar tone, I always ask, ‘Do you like the song?’“