Jethro Tull’s Ian Anderson says he’s against guitarists who have techs tune their instruments for them

Ian Anderson
(Image credit: Daniel Knighton/Getty Images)

A number of roles fall under the responsibility of a roadie, such as carrying electric guitars, acoustic guitars, guitar amps and other gear to a live venue, unpacking it all and setting it up ready for a guitarist to play through. Some ad hoc housekeeping duties, such as string changes, are also commonplace.

However, it turns out Jethro Tull’s Ian Anderson simply can’t get behind a roadie’s role as an all-round guitar handler – instead, he “just cannot conceive” of somebody tuning his guitar, let alone changing his guitar strings.

During an appearance on Paltrocast With Darren Paltrowitz, Anderson aimed a lighthearted dig at those who rely on roadies to tune their instruments, and described them as “wimps”.

Anderson then doubled-down on his claim, and said guitarists should take more pride in looking after their prized instruments rather than delegating basic duties to roadies.

“The idea of having a guitar roadie who unpacks your instrument, changes the strings and tunes it up for you – for God’s sake, you want your bottom wiped as well?” Anderson offered (transcribed via Guitar Magazine). “Somebody that hands you the soap in the shower? What’s that all about? 

“What wimps,” he continued. “You should take pride in your instrument and take pride in keeping it clean and keeping it in tune. I just cannot conceive of somebody changing my guitar strings for me.”

His comments came after he spoke in length about how his health issues have informed his precautionary approach to maintaining and looking after his own instruments, revealing that “nobody is allowed to touch my instrument”.

On dealing with his chronic obstructive pulmonary disease – which renders him more susceptible to severe chest and lung infection symptoms – Anderson reflected, “It really is, for me, not just a question of three or four days of feeling a little under the weather.

“I usually end up [with] four or six weeks of serious bronchitis and feeling really rough,” he continued. “And of course, chances are I’m on tour during that period.”

These risks necessitate precautions in gear-handling, with Anderson going on to say greasy hands from shaking hands or opening doors “are the last thing you want” while playing guitar.

He continued, “Nobody is allowed to touch my instruments and nobody is allowed to shake hands with me or otherwise contaminate me in those precious moments between leaving my dressing room and getting back to it. 

“No one touches my microphone. I handle things that are potential sources of contamination. I take care of that myself.”

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Matt Owen

Matt is a Staff Writer, writing for Guitar World, Guitarist and Total Guitar. He has a Masters in the guitar, a degree in history, and has spent the last 16 years playing everything from blues and jazz to indie and pop. When he’s not combining his passion for writing and music during his day job, Matt records for a number of UK-based bands and songwriters as a session musician.