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more mass in it, it made the guitar louder and it was better. “So now I’ve got the bridge and the

neck. And the first big thing to break out of was the thinking that I love Jags so much that I didn’t want to change any of the aesthetic. But the other serious problem with it is that these switches that switch the pick-ups on, also switch the pick ups off. And the amount of times, like every other guitar player, where my amp would go off and every single time without fail I would glare at my guitar tech saying ‘what the hell?!’ And it happened with the Cribs at Reading 2008 and it’s on the TV and while we’re doing it in front of 40,000 people, my guitar tech is saying ‘it’s not the guitar is it?’ And I’m going ‘of course it’s not the guitar’. Oh. Shit! It’s that switch. “It was Bill who put it together with

me, who came up with the idea and put it to me very meekly, he said ‘well you could change that switch out’. And I immediately was like, ‘what? Change the perfect look of a Jaguar? I love those switches.’ And he said ‘yeah, but you keep knocking it off and that’s why people put duct tape over it.’ He just said ‘you could try a Telecaster switch. I said, ‘that will look horrendous’. Fast forward a few months and now when I play a normal Jag, those switches are a pain. “Really, what you’re supposed to do with old Jags is you’re supposed to put it in that rhythm mode and set your amp up in that mode. That normally sounds like that [makes muffled noise] and then you bring in this bottom section for all your colours, that’s the way it was designed. Modern guitar players don’t do that. They just go ‘bang, there’s my sound’, bridge pick up usually and then when they hit that button that changes the tone signal, suddenly you’ve got that very dull sound. So I realised that, for me, who uses a lot of different tones on the Jag, this whole beloved secondary circuit was redundant. “But I wanted to keep the aesthetic of it and I use the high- pass filter a lot, that’s where the high pass filter is now. That rhythm section is gone. And believe it or not, I was on tour for a couple of years wondering ‘what are you going to do with the wheels Johnny? What are you going to do with the wheels?’ And I thought do I put a compressor in there? But no self-respecting guitar player from my culture wants a battery living in his guitar, it’s just a pain. Do

20 February 2012

The Johnny Marr Jaguar. Yours for around £1,942.80

I make it active? No. And I just did a lot of research on other guitar players. And for a time I thought, well I’ll leave the wheels and they won’t do anything. And then Ross from the Cribs who is the drummer and a very smart guy, said ‘I don’t know about you, but if I bought stuff from a shop and it had bits on it that didn’t work, I wouldn’t be very happy.’ “So I took that on board and I just decided I would make it look a little bit like a Mustang. Once we had the switch thing sorted out we thought we could take care of a lot of business by putting a fourth position on the switch. And that brings that in series position, which give you a thick, dark sound that no Jags have. But, weirdly, it was too dark. Which is really unheard of on a Jag and that necessitated putting this switch here as an extra filter. “There are ten sounds on it without any

batteries or out of phase nonsense or coil taps. It took care of all the business. “My tech said to me when we’d got this done that he’d been playing the guitar and it sounds like a Gretsch, crossed with a Ricky and plays like a Fender and…that’s what I do. Also I use Les Pauls for a clean sound. In series position it sound like a clean Les Paul. So it sounds like all those guitars that I’ve used, together. But I play it like a Fender.” Obsessive, see? At one point it looked as though he was going to say it should have ten sounds but he had managed to add a Nigel Tufnelesque eleventh. For that extra little push over the edge. But no doubt Fender have got great

value from him and there can be little doubt that anyone who ends up buying the Marr Jaguar will be getting a lot of the man himself for their money. Being quite the guitar icon of course,

you’re unlikely to find him shopping for a new strap in Dawsons, but he does retain a fondness for guitar retail and recognises its importance in bringing through new generations of musicians. “It has been part of my life since I was

seven or eight. First time I ever went to one. The first toy I ever had was a guitar. It wasn’t a train, it wasn’t a car, not even a football, it was a guitar, that was my first ever toy. “And the first great experience I

ever had with my Dad was in a music shop. He took me to buy a harmonica. So I don’t know any different. And I’ve been very fortunate

over the last 25-30 years because as soon as I started to be able to make records I was able to get into being in the world of specialist guitar shops. And there was only a few of us doing it – myself, Robin Guthrie from the Cocteau Twins was into old guitars. But they were just called old guitars then.

And over the years I have built a relationship with guitar specialists all over the world because pretty much everyone knew each other and that culture has changed with the Internet. “And the other side of that which is the less elite side of it is the guitar shop in the suburbs, which is another disappearing culture, I stayed in touch with and have got a couple of friends who have a guitar shop in Manchester which has been able to be very successful.

The first great experience I ever had with my Dad was in a music shop. He took me to buy a harmonica. So I don’t know any different.

“In the 90s I came across Sounds Great in the suburbs in Manchester and the guys who used to work in there until recently were absolute experts at boutique pedals, new amps, new PAs whatever. So I had my feet in both camps – the elite culture but also the world that normal guitar players inhabit.”

Is a healthy retail environment

important for new bands? “Yeah, it is absolutely, true as shit. And I

really loathe the stranglehold that’s starting to happen with your tasteless chain, that shall remain nameless. Certainly in the North of England, it’s horrible. Selling crappy pianos and crappy guitars. It’s a big question because on the one hand I love that guitars are much less difficult to buy. But there is a knock-on effect. When I was younger they were exotic. And it wasn’t like now where everyone will know a family that have either had an electric guitar under their roof or know someone who has had an electric guitar under their roof. And I’m fine with that, I think it’s really good. “In a lot of households I think electric guitars have gone the way of the skateboard which is it’s in a wardrobe gathering dust because a kid fancied playing one for a year and then gave it up. I’m on the side of that. I think that’s great, absolutely fantastic. But obviously we start to see a real drop in quality with things being more affordable and they sound cheap. It’s just the way of the world, you know, they sound cheap. “It’s all swings and roundabouts because at the same time the internet has meant people are able to make very, very good pedals, on their kitchen table. And buy machineheads and capacitors. That’s the culture in Portland. Some of the guys who work for me in America, young guys, are absolute jedis at making guitars. And will do it for you cheap. So it’s all good and what you lose with one hand you gain on the other.”

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