NOT-SO CHEAP THRILLS
Rick Neilsen and Robin walk us through the key gear for their 2017 European dates...
Rick Fender Jeff Beck Esquire
“This is a copy of the Tele Jeff Beck gave me a long time ago, but it was actually made for me. I’m not sure what songs I’ll use it on tonight. Certain songs need the toggle switch, so I wouldn’t use this for that. It’s best for the more ballad-y stuff, not that we do ballads.”
“I actually have the original Orange 2X12 combo at home. I bought the very first one they ever made, back when it was Orange Music and before Orange Amps really existed. I like Orange amps because they have presence and punch… though for some reason in 1980, I switched to purely Marshalls.”
Hamer Gonna Raise Hell
“It’s over the top and stupid, and that’s why I like it! This was made before you could have graphics done on Photoshop. It was all hand done, putting the squares on, spraying them white and then spraying the others black. That’s how it all used to be done!”
“I’ve got three five-necks at home, but I didn’t bring those. They’re too fuckin’ big and heavy – but obviously I couldn’t come over here with nothing! I’ll use it for She’s
Tight and maybe two other tracks.”
Robin Nash Guitars Tele-style
“Years and years ago, Nash came to one of our shows and offered us a Telecaster. We were a little skeptical about it because we didn’t know him very well, but we tried it out and it sounded fantastic – better than the other Telecasters I was using. It was a very solid and roadworthy piece of equipment. When it came time to do this record, I was going to get this guitar made for Rick. But when I asked Nash, he wanted to make one for each of us – so we’d all have a piece of the album… and he did mine first! It has a regular Telecaster pickup, there’s not really much different about it, keeping very close to the original 50s Teles. Nash is a bit of aficionado for Telecasters in particular, but he does all different kinds of stuff. It’s a really special guitar. I’ll use it for anything that has a solo in it.”
Nash Rickenbacker-style 12 string
“This is not a Rickenbacker – here’s the story. I have some friends at Schecter Guitars and one of the guys there used to work for Rickenbacker. I knew he had the schematic for the 12-string of the same year and look as my six-string. He couldn’t make one through the company, but said I should find another company and he’d give us the schematic. Nash was the perfect guy for that – he makes great guitars. I was thinking I should call it the Robinbacker and have the logo on the headstock, but I decided against it as it might piss those guys off haha! I’ll use it on CaliforniaMan, IKnowWhat IWant, Voice and some of the new songs.”
Rickenbacker six string
“This is my main guitar that I’ve had since 1978. I found it in a pawnshop in Tulsa, Oklahoma. It was completely original and in great shape, which it still is. I bought it for $350 and took it home because it was the perfect size and perfect weight – a thick-bodied Rickenbacker with the neck going through the body, as well as a brass pickguard. I’ve played it ever since 1978 because it’s very roadworthy and sounds great. In the mid-90s, I got a call from our bass player, Tom, who said he’d found a picture of my guitar with Johnny Ramone playing it. He sent it to me and it looked exactly the same, of course. Clearly Johnny Ramone ran out of money driving through Tulsa and had to pawn that guitar off… which is really funny. That’s my story and I’m sticking to it!”
“my rarest guitar is a 1963 guild merle travis...”
When I got to the club, Ronnie Wood was sharing out tea from an antique set he got from a store... I’d already been to see them at La Cave, when there was maybe eight people there. I was still in high school back then and flew over during the week. Not many people did that kind of shit in those days – a 100 miles, maybe, but Cleveland was nearly 800 miles away. But I flew to Philadelphia and sold him a guitar for $350.”
You’re a well-known collector of guitars. How many do you think you own, in total?
“To be honest, I have about 500 guitars right now, something like that. There’s around 150 Gibsons, 40 or 50 Fenders and then 150 Hamers, as well as others – I’ve always like double necks! So when you do the math, I guess it’s around 500. I definitely didn’t start out with that many! I started out with one, just like everybody else. My rarest is a 1963 Guild Merle Travis with all this crazy ornamentation on it… they only ever made three of them. They went for $2,000 in ’63 and would fetch around a million today… if I could find some fool with enough money to buy it haha! It had been thrown into a fireplace, the neck was completely broken. It cost me more money to have it repaired than to buy it!”
There are few guitarists like you, but is it be fair to say that Angus Young would be one of them?
“Actually, I tried to emigrate to Australia in 1973, so I probably could have been in AC/DC… though thinking about it, I’m probably too tall haha! I totally love those guys, they’re the only band I would stay around to watch every show for. We did a lot of shows with them around the end of the 70s. We would flip-flop too, one night they would close, the next night we would. It was good – we were both unknown and just getting going. I think they got going a little faster, but I’d like to think we both did fine in the end...”