Pete Townshend says he "invented the guitar tech"

Pete Townshend of The Who performs on the opening night of the bands North American 2017 tour headlining Day 8 of the 50th Festival D'ete De Quebec (Quebec City Summer Festival) on the Main Stage at the Plaines D' Abraham on July 13, 2017 in Quebec City, Canada
(Image credit: Ollie Millington/Redferns)

Pete Townshend has talked openly about his role in developing the Marshall stack. But did you know he also invented the concept of the guitar tech?

At least, that’s what the Who mastermind and electric and acoustic guitar legend states in a new interview.

Speaking to, Townshend brought up his longtime tech, Alan Rogan, who passed away in 2019. Reminiscing about Rogan, he said, “I don’t think he shaped my sound, but I had never had a guitar tech before Alan came to work for me. And I remember I used to give him a hard time, like, ‘Listen, the guitar tech is supposed to tune the fucking guitars, not just put strings on them, man.’ So, Alan is probably one of the first guitar techs. I guess you can say I invented the guitar tech!”

Townshend continued, “Because I can remember going to see Crosby Stills & Nash in a session, and they were restringing their own guitars. Or, in Steven Stills’ case, he would only string some guitars, because there was this one Martin there that he said to me, ‘I’ve never changed the strings on this guitar, and I never will unless one breaks.’ That was part of the sound of them.”

Elsewhere in the interview, which is centered around the release of the new deluxe version of The Who Sell Out, Townshend went deep on his gear past and present, including the Pinball Wizard Gibson J-200 and some recent acquisitions, among them old Rickenbackers, a Gibson ES-335 that “looks like shit” and a variety of Collings acoustics.

In general, Townshend expresses his continuing love for playing the guitar.

“I think it’s incredibly personal, working on guitars,” he said. “It’s like how sometimes, if you just tidy up your stuff, you’ll be bursting with creativity. I think it’s the same with instruments. You get them in order, and they immediately inspire something.

“So I’m still having fun with guitars. I’m still working out with tunings, and inventing tunings, and even re-entry tunings, where the strings are higher at the top than at the bottom. I really love that. So, I’m still having fun with guitars.”

Thank you for reading 5 articles this month**

Join now for unlimited access

US pricing $3.99 per month or $39.00 per year

UK pricing £2.99 per month or £29.00 per year 

Europe pricing €3.49 per month or €34.00 per year

*Read 5 free articles per month without a subscription

Join now for unlimited access

Prices from £2.99/$3.99/€3.49

Richard Bienstock

Rich is the co-author of the best-selling Nöthin' But a Good Time: The Uncensored History of the '80s Hard Rock Explosion. He is also a recording and performing musician, and a former editor of Guitar World magazine and executive editor of Guitar Aficionado magazine. He has authored several additional books, among them Kurt Cobain: Montage of Heck, the companion to the documentary of the same name.