Take away the media circus surrounding the White Stripes and one fact remains: Jack White is an extraordinary musician. He’s one of the few guitarists to make a serious impact in the last few years— an instantly identifiable player at a time when everyone else is happy to regurgitate riffs and tread water. Moreover, he has done more than anyone else to raise the profile of the blues in the past decade. He’s done so by pushing the nether boundaries of virtuosity and unearthing forgotten techniques, and by digging out unfashionable gear with which to forge his own unique sound.
Ironically, although White’s gear originally sold in department stores and via budget catalogs—and while his whole ideology hinges on gritty authenticity rather than expensive technology—you’ll still have to cough up a reasonable wad to copy his setup. For example, expect to pay $1,000 to $2,000 for a Sixties JB Hutto Montgomery Airline guitar like Jack uses. The quirky DiPinto Belvedere Deluxe is a viable alternative with tons of retro character. And at $749, it should appeal to most budget-minded guitarists. Jack also uses a Fifties Kay hollowbody electric, but you’re unlikely to find one in decent condition nowadays. Instead, plump for a Gretsch Electromatic hollowbody ($1,200).
Sears Silvertone amps such as White uses are hard to find, but they’re not as expensive as you might think: a 100-watt head comparable to White’s should run you about $800. Still, at $569.99 the Fender Blues Junior model will get you close to the White Stripes’ swampy stomp in an affordable, compact and roadworthy package.
As for pedals, a new Electro- Harmonix Big Muff pedal can be had for just $116, while a DigiTech Whammy pedal costs $249. For cheaper alternatives, try the Danelectro FAB Distortion, Overdrive or Metal mini pedals. They’re a steal at just $19 each.