The Secrets Behind the Distinctive Guitar Tone on The Fixx's "One Thing Leads to Another"

July 23, 1983: Jamie West-Oram plays his Ibanez Blazer in Chicago (Image credit: Paul Natkin/Getty Images)

Razor-sharp, ultra-clean funk guitar tones were a prominent element of pop music in 1983. These distinctive sounds could be heard on singles released by David Bowie, Talking Heads, Duran Duran, Echo and the Bunnymen, INXS, Kajagoogoo, Greg Kihn, Naked Eyes, Spandau Ballet, Tears for Fears and dozens of other artists. One of the greatest and most enduring examples of this era is the Fixx’s Reach the Beach album, particularly their best-selling single “One Thing Leads to Another,” which still sounds as infectious and cool today as it did back then.

Fixx guitarist Jamie West-Oram generally relied on Fender Stratocasters during this period (he later switched to custom Strat-style guitars built by John Suhr), but on “One Thing Leads to Another” he played an Ibanez Blazer BL-100. West-Oram mentioned this detail in interviews, and he can be seen switching from a Strat to the Ibanez in early-Eighties live concert videos when performing the song, then switching back to the Strat again at the end. With its three-single-coil-pickup design, the Ibanez Blazer isn’t much different from a Strat. The secret reason it became West-Oram’s weapon of choice for this particular song is, unlike a Strat, it has a phase switch (which only affects the tone of the bridge/middle and neck/middle settings) that produces an even brighter and more percussive tone that cuts through the mix like a knife — just what the rhythm guitar part needed to drive it over the top.

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Chris Gill

Chris is the co-author of Eruption - Conversations with Eddie Van Halen. He is a 40-year music industry veteran who started at Boardwalk Entertainment (Joan Jett, Night Ranger) and Roland US before becoming a guitar journalist in 1991. He has interviewed more than 600 artists, written more than 1,400 product reviews and contributed to Jeff Beck’s Beck 01: Hot Rods and Rock & Roll and Eric Clapton’s Six String Stories.