Roger Waters studio bass*

IF you are enough of a Roger Waters fan to be reading this filler post, you might want to head over to @deadskinboy on instagram and follow his profile. He often posts fantastic, intimate and detailed pictures of Roger, which I gather he takes himself.

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I wont post too much from his account, because it’s not mine to use, but he did post an image recently which piqued my interest, which I thought I’d share.

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This is Roger, apparently in the studio, playing a bass which has been previously unseen in connection with him. No reason to assume it’s his, but for a gearhead, it’s certainly an interesting change. Perhaps he is taking a step away from the sound of the Duncan quarter-pounders in his original Precision, or perhaps this is an occasion of convenience. Time will tell!

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Guitar of the Day 05/11/2015

img-0529Elvis Costello’s Red Stratocaster.

Elvis bought this Strat shortly before the filming of the “Oliver’s Army” videoclip, in which the guitar appears. He would go on to use it live and on stage often over the rest of his career up to the present date.

It is a 1961 Fender Stratocaster in Dakota red (over either an original white finish, or a white primer) with a matching red headstock, maple neck with skunk-stripe and a presumably non-original brass nut.

According to Elvis’ brilliant autobiography, Unfaithful Music and Disappearing Ink, the guitar was “Impulsively bought on Forty-eighth street [Manhattan]… With my first ever credit card after two or three too many martinis at lunchtime.” before guesting onstage that evening with Richard Hell and the Voidoids at CBGB’s, Photos of the gig and backstage were taken by Roberta Bayley, and some can be seen below.

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Elvis Backstage at CBGB’s, preparing to join Richard Hell and the Voidoids onstage on the very day this guitar was first purchased!

Notably Elvis would choose this instrument as his solo accompaniment for his appearance at Live Aid in 1985.
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Singing Richard Hell’s”You Gotta Lose” with the Voidoids at CBGB’s.

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Backstage at CBGB’s with the Voidoids.

Elvis Costello performing on stage.

Elvis Performing “All You Need is Love” at Live Aid.

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The reverse of the guitar as seen during the “Spectacular Spinning Songbook” tour.

Guitar of the Day 17/09/2015

Eric Clapton’s “Gold Leaf” Stratocaster.

0f23363e27ba4169781f42cd6bac7774On the advent of Fender’s 50th anniversary in 1996, the company called Eric Clapton and asked if he wanted anything special to mark the occasion. He asked for a gold leaf strat, with 23 carat gold hardware (as well as his usual lace sensor gold pickups). In May of that year, Fender delivered.
The guitar can be seen at the “Music for Montserrat” concert, which featured Sting, Mark Knopfler, Paul McCartney and Elton John, as well as Eric. It also went on to be the main guitar on Clapton’s 1997 tour of Korea and Japan, and the main guitar on his 13th studio album Pilgrim (1998).

It is also interesting to note that following his use of this guitar on the slide parts on the Pilgrim album, Eric continued to use lace sensor gold-equipped strats for slide parts live and on record, even following his switch to Fender noiseless pickups in his personal and signature models. This remained the case until 2010, when his slide guitars were changed to Fender Noiseless as well.

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Guitar of the Day 15/09/2015

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Not a guitar of huge historical significance, but an interesting curio. The Fender Custom Shop has, on occasion, offered the Eric Clapton signature Stratocaster in Mercedes blue, to match the colour of Eric’s car (a practice he often requests). He played one himself for a period in the 90’s including for the majority of the “Live in Hyde Park” DVD.

This colour has been offered for versions of the EC Strat with both Lace Sensors and Fender noiseless pickups.

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John Mayer’s Electric Guitars: Where the Light is.

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On the easy to recommend “Where the Light is” DVD, John Mayer plays an impressively tight set, switching between an equally impressive number of instruments. What follows is simply a list of the electric guitars seen on the DVD, with a little information about unique features.

  1. Gibson L5

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The DVD opens with John playing a Gibson L5 to a backdrop of the sunset over L.A. The guitar seems to be stock, the model fitted with 2 humbuckers.

2. Fender Custom Shop white strat

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After the opening acoustic set, John takes to the stage with the trio to begin the first electric number. His weapon of choice; an olympic white Fender Strat.

Though at first glance this guitar seems to be one of the Hendrix signature models Fender ran for a little while, Closer examination reveals a Custom Shop logo on the rear of the headstock, and none of the Hendrix signatures seem to have the same combination of features found on this example. I.E: Upside down headstock, right-way-up Fender logo, large block “stratocaster” text and a regular pickup slant.

3. Hardtail sunburst strat

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Next, what looks to be a genuine vintage sunburst strat. No custom shop logo on this one and very believable wear on the body and hardware.

4. Hendrix “Monterey Pop” Strat

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A replica of the strat Jimi famously used and abused at the Monterey pop festival.

5. Guild Starfire

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Guild’s answer to the Gibson 335, a twin pickup hollowbody.

6. Cypress Mica John Mayer signature strat

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One of a limited run offered by fender, this guitar has John’s signature on the headstock, and specs common to all of his signature stratocasters. The pickups are his signature “Big Dipper” pickups and the control knobs are an unusual design for a fender.

7. The “Black One”

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This guitar is probably the one most associated with John. Made at least in part by John himself during a tour of the Fender factory in California and designed to his specifications, it was his guitar of choice for a very long time.

8. Gold Leaf Strat.

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A custom shop made Strat very likely based on the gold leaf strats Eric Clapton had the custom shop build in the early-mid nineties. Of course, unlike Clapton’s, this model has a rosewood fretboard. Reportedly, this guitar is John’s favourite for “Vultures”

9. Sunburst John Mayer signature strat.

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The same specs as the Cypress Mica strat, but with the more standard fender control knobs.

Analysis: Roger Waters’ Black Fender Precision Basses

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Rogers main bass on stage during the recent Wall tour.

On the back of the hugely successful (financially as well as artistically) Wall tour, Roger Waters has introduced thousands of new people to his music, and paved the way for a reissue of his amazing 1992 album Amused to Death in late July, as well as a new project presently titled Is This The Life We Really Want?expected May 19 this year. One hardly needs to mention his work with Pink Floyd at all…

But iconic throughout his entire career since the early 70’s, Roger’s imposing stage presence has been married to a black Fender Precision bass, and for the sake of this post, it is this instrument which we now turn our focus to.

One of Roger’s original black basses. As stock, including pickup cover. Early 70’s.

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According to Phil Taylor, guitar tech for both Roger and David Gilmour during the Pink Floyd days (and still employed in this capacity by David today), following the theft of all of the bands guitars in 1970, Roger owned three black Fender Precisions; One with a rosewood fretboard, two with maple. One of the maple basses seems to evade more mention, but the other two each play a large part in Roger’s recording career.

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Roger’s preferred bass from 1970 to around 1978/9 was a black Precision with a maple neck, large headstock logo, a white pickguard and chrome pickup cover. This bass can be seen on the tours in support of Dark Side of the Moon and Wish You Were Here, and particularly in some parts (notably the studio footage) of the Live in Pompeii film, where it shares the spotlight with a sunburst P-bass with a rosewood fretboard.

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David Gilmour with black strat and Roger Waters with the sunburst ‘Pompeii’ bass.

David Gilmour’s famous Black Strat was decked out in a complimentary manner, but by the time of Wish You Were Here, David had replaced his white pickguard with a black one (he had also switched to a 60’s style rosewood fingerboard neck). Around the time of Animals, Phil Taylor suggested that Roger may like to switch to a black pickguard as well, and the operation was seen through in time for the In the Flesh tour of 1977, where the bass can be seen with a three-ply black/white/black pickguard, still featuring the pickup cover. Snowy White also played bass on some songs on this tour, using a black precision distinguishable from Roger’s by the lack of a very obvious large black dot which can be seen on the ball part of the headstock of Roger’s main bass. (On this note, this marking doesn’t seem to exist on other P basses of the period, so perhaps it is something as simple as a deliberate cigarette tip burn.)

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David’s black strat circa 1977, with black pickguard, rosewood neck and DiMarzio bridge pickup.

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Roger with main bass on the In The Flesh tour, 1977.

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Snowy playing bass with the Floyd, 1977.

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At some point in the early 70’s, the rosewood-fretboard Precision had received an all-maple replacement neck, but for the recording sessions on The Wall in 1978, David Gilmour had Phil Taylor write to Charvel, asking for a custom made heavily flamed maple neck (featuring a Fender logo) to replace the rosewood one on his Strat, the letter itself clearly also specifies a number of other necks, including a new Charvel neck for a Precision bass.

So the (originally) rosewood necked bass received it’s third neck, a Charvel maple neck with a 50’s style Fender logo. It also received a black pickguard, lost it’s bridge and pickup covers and became Roger’s main bass from the 1979 rehearsals to the present day, first seen in this condition on the Wall shows in 1980/81. On this tour, Andy Bown can be seen playing a second bass (likely the same as Snowy played on the previous tour as it seems to be missing the headstock ‘dot’).

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Roger and Andy Bown share bass duties on The Wall tour, 1980/81.

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Following his split from the remaining members of Pink Floyd in the mid 80’s, Roger took only the Charvel necked bass with him (this one can be spotted because the “Fender” logo copy is strangely sized and positioned), and so he had the Fender Custom Shop make him two copies, which he has used as backups since. In 2010, the specs of these two copies were also used as the basis of the Fender Roger Waters signature Precision bass, although this model features significant differences to Rogers own (A properly proportioned Fender headstock logo, a single ply black pickguard and black hardware).

Roger Waters The Wall Live at the Time Warner Cable Arena on July 10, 2012 in Charlotte, North Carolina - © 2012 David Oppenheimer - Performance Impressions

The ‘Wall’ bass is still Roger’s main instrument, and he continues to use it on every show. Recently, photographer Lisa Johnson featured the instrument in her fantastic book ‘108 Rock Star Guitars in Pictures’, She notes that Roger had the pickups replaced with Seymour Duncans, also revealing that the pickguard is a three ply black/white/black, but he recolours the white pinstripe with marker before every show to make it appear all-black. Some very nice and detailed photos show that the pickguard still retains the holes from the pickup cover and the extra screw hole in the middle of the pickguard which some P-basses of the era featured. (as well as showing Rogers marker work quite clearly).

The back shot also reveals a maple-cap neck (no skunkstripe), an F-stamped neckplate and a heavily worn ‘tummy-cut’.

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This bass remains Roger’s primary live bass as of the “Us and Them” tour, 2017.

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As an interesting footnote, the ‘dot’ headstock bass remains in David Gilmour’s possession, and was used by Guy Pratt on Coming Back to Life and Take it Back  on the Division Bell album, as well as by David on tracks for The Endless River.

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Pete Townshend’s Lace Sensor Stratocasters

The history of the modifications leading up to Pete’s present setup is not a simple one,  but in short, as it stands at the moment, almost all of Pete’s Strats are equipped with Gold Lace Sensors, “Eric Clapton” electronics such as the TBX tone control, midboost and preamp, and Fishman electronics to allow an acoustic output as well, by means of a splitter box, DI and stereo cables. Unless noted, all the Strats below seem to have the aforementioned electronics, a two point Fishman Powerbridge tremolo (with acoustic pickup capabilities, controlled by an extra volume knob behind the bridge) and Sperzel locking Tuners.

– More info is available at the fantastic ‘whotabs’ site at http://www.thewho.net/whotabs/gear/guitar/fenderecstrat.html

I had previously been under the impression that any Guitar with the Clapton Signature on the headstock was a Clapton and any without it was a Strat Plus. However, in an excellent recent article by http://www.guitar-bass.net* which includes an interview with Pete’s tech Alan Rogan, the author seems to claim that ALL Pete’s guitars are Claptons, but the signature has been removed from the headstocks. This seems unlikely, since most are in colours the Clapton was never offered in, and since Rogan has stated that some of Pete’s Strats are custom made by Fender.

I have listed the Strats in no particular order and please note that although some are numbered in the images, Pete changes the numbering between tours, perhaps even between shows. It’s also possible, if not probable, that some of these guitars (or parts thereof) may appear more than once in the list, their specs having been changed between tours.

1. Number one is an olympic white Strat with no Clapton signature, ivory coloured pickup covers and a 3 ply white pickguard. Shown here as seen live in 2007.

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2. Number two is an olympic white Fender Strat Plus with very similar specs as number 1, but with a single ply pickguard.

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3. Number three is a torino red Strat Plus with white pickup covers and knobs on a Mint Green pickguard. Shown here as seen live in 2007. This would seem to be the Strat Pete used on “Won’t Get Fooled Again” at Live 8.

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4. Number four is a torino red Clapton Signature with white pickup covers and knobs on a Parchment pickguard. Shown here as seen live in 2007 and 2015 (last image)

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5. Number five is a torino red Clapton signature. Shown here as seen live in 2007. Unless he has duplicates (and this is entirely possible) This would seem to be the Strat Pete used   at the Superbowl XLIV halftime show and for “Who Are You” at Live 8.

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6. Number six is a Candy Apple Red Strat with no Clapton signature and a single ply pickguard. Shown here as seen live in 2007.

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As a side note, Pete played a Candy red Strat like this with unusual fret markers in Feb of 2013. As far as I’m aware, there is only photographic evidence from one gig, so if anyone has information on this neck, I’d love to hear it! It seems the guitar either had extra markers inlaid or attached to the fretboard or an entirely new neck installed.

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7. Is an olympic white Strat Plus, very similar to number one, but with distinct white pickup covers. Shown here as seen live in 2007.

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8. Number eight is an olympic white Clapton signature, with no fishman electronics (so no extra volume knob behind the bridge), standard vintage style gotoh tuners and a Kahler tremolo system with locking nut. Shown here as seen live in 1996 on the Quadrophenia tour for “The Rock” and “Love, Reign O’er Me.”

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9. Number nine is an olympic white Clapton signature, but with the pickguard modified to suit a large tremolo system. This could well be either the same guitar as number 8, with a new neck fitted and the Kahler removed and fishman electronics added, or perhaps the pickguard assembly from 8 refitted into another guitar. Shown here as seen live in 1999.

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10. Number ten is a torino red Clapton signature, with cream pickup covers and what looks to be a Fishman VS-50P Powerbridge which I have not seen on any of Pete’s other guitars. Shown here as seen live in 1999.

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11. Number 11 is a torino red Clapton kitted out the same as number 8, with a Kahler trem and locking nut and no fishman electrics. (Images from 1989, found at http://www.whotabs.net at the address listed earlier in this article).

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12. Number twelve is a Clapton signature, but similar to number nine, it has a modified pickguard for a larger trem. It seems likely that this guitar is a later version of number 11 (or parts of it). If this is true, eight and eleven may well have become nine and twelve respectively, following the same changes. Shown as seen live in 1999.

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13. Number thirteen is a shoreline gold Strat with no Clapton signature. Shown as seen live in 1999 and (in the third image) 2007, this guitar seems to have picked up a very distinctive ding in the paint on the tip of the lower horn.

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14. Fourteen is a Candy Apple Red Strat with no Clapton signature, distinguishable from number six by a three ply pickguard. This guitar seems to have been Pete’s favourite on the 2012/13 “Quadrophenia and More” tour and can be seen throughout the DVD.

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15. Fifteen is a black Strat with no Clapton signature. Used rarely on the 2007 tour, it features heavily in the 2012/13 “Quadrophenia and More” tuned to Eb. According to the guitar-bass interview with Alan Rogan, this guitar dates to 1992.

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16. Sixteen is an Aztec Gold Strat with no Clapton signature and a 3 ply pickguard.

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17. Seventeen is an Aztec Gold Strat with no Clapton signature. It differs from 16 in that it has a single ply pickguard, and seems to be the only one of Pete’s Strats to feature Gold Sperzel tuners.

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18. Now used by Simon on tour, Pete previously (still?) owned this Clapton Strat with two P90’s and Fishman acoustic setup. I had been under the impression this one was refinished either to or from sunburst, since I’d seen both and it’s an uncommon mod, but at the Oxegen gig in 2006, Simon was seen using the sunburst P90 strat, with the black one by his side as a spare 3rd and 4th pictures)

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19. Though likely not strictly one of Pete’s guitars (it doesn’t have the fishman modification knob behind the bridge), Roger was seen in 2007 playing a similar Pewter Clapton Signature with Gold Lace Sensors on “Eminence Front”.

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