Jack White is not just a legendary songwriter and instrumentalist – he’s also a keen guitar gear designer, having previously flexed his out-of-the-box philosophy in products such as his version of Gamechanger Audio's Plasma Coil overdrive pedal.
His most recent feat of guitar modding, though, looks to be one of his wildest: a custom Fender Jazzmaster, which has “the guts of an Electro-Harmonix Pitch Fork” pitch-shifter built directly into the body.
Until now, the daring creation has been pretty elusive – White only told Guitar Player about the Jazzmaster last month, before anyone had seen it in action – though the White Stripes icon recently took to Instagram to showcase the zany six-string in all its glory in a quick-fire clip.
Dictated via a custom-wired control layout – more on that later – White is able to keep his left hand busy with some single-hand lead lines, while his right hand triggers various pitch-shifting shenanigans via an unmarked control knob.
Speaking to Guitar Player about the wild creation prior to posting the demo, White recalled the idea initially came to him when he stumbled across a clip of someone who had incorporated a synth device into his guitar.
After consulting Muse’s Matt Bellamy – a fellow well-known onboard effects guitarist – about his Korg Kaoss Pad-equipped Manson, White then sounded out his guitar tech Dan Mancini to make his dream a reality.
“Dan Mancini, my brilliant guitar tech and mission man, has been working a lot on this one,” White began. “A while back, I showed Dan a clip of a guy who had incorporated some sort of synth device into his guitar, and I thought, 'That’s what I’ve been trying to do for years that I wish we could figure out!'”
He continued: “I remember speaking to Matt Bellamy of Muse about how he incorporated a Korg Kaoss Pad into his guitar, and I always thought that was a great idea.”
Mancini then set to work on equipping his own Jazzmaster with the circuit of Electro-Harmonix’s Pitch Fork – a pedal that can transpose a sound plus or minus three octaves.
As for how the controls work, White says an intermittent switch is used to turn on the harmonies, while one of the pots is responsible for bending the pitch, “just like a Whammy pedal”. There are a number of other toggle switches and knobs, so we imagine the Jazzmaster still has a few more tricks up its sleeve.
“I think Tom Morello may end up getting jealous of this and have to put it on his guitar, too,” White jests. “I’ll have to send him a clip of it and see what he thinks.”
According to the Instagram post, this Jazzmaster is reportedly one of many custom Fenders that White is currently road testing on tour. In fact, we’ve already seen another – a similarly sparkly, heavily modded Tele that features a pickup combination comprising a Thinline Tele humbucker, P-90 and Gretsch FilterTron-style bridge pickup.
To keep up to date with White’s latest guitar design exploits, pick up the latest copy of Guitar Player from Magazines Direct.