“Butch Vig told us that when Nirvana were working on Nevermind, they were A–B-ing my guitar and trying to replicate that sound”: The Smithereens' Jim Babjak looks back

Jim Babjak of the Smithereens
(Image credit: Bobby Bank/Getty Images)

When it comes time to list the most influential guitar players, the Smithereens’ co-founder and guitarist, Jim Babjak, often gets overlooked. Perhaps it's because of his melody-first ethos, a style that eschews flash for the tune that’s in his head.

But let’s not kid ourselves – Babjak has been a reference electric guitar tone for all kinds of bands, the most notable being Nirvana. Here, as Babjak joins GW for a quick chat, he talks about the gear in his life, the simple pleasures of sending the guitar straight into the amp, and the secret to the perfect solo.

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Joe Matera

Joe Matera is an Australian guitarist and music journalist who has spent the past two decades interviewing a who's who of the rock and metal world and written for Guitar World, Total Guitar, Rolling Stone, Goldmine, Sound On Sound, Classic Rock, Metal Hammer and many others. He is also a recording and performing musician and solo artist who has toured Europe on a regular basis and released several well-received albums including instrumental guitar rock outings through various European labels. Roxy Music's Phil Manzanera has called him, "... a great guitarist who knows what an electric guitar should sound like and plays a fluid pleasing style of rock." He's the author of Backstage Pass: The Grit and the Glamour.