of that is a necessity of duplication, because
I spend so much time with Wilco in Chicago.
But I live in Los Angeles, so I’ve had to amass
amps, pedals and guitars in both places so I
don’t have to fly with all this stuff.
What are some of your standout pieces,
besides the Jazzmaster?
I’m kind of drawn to what I call these “ugly
duckling” guitars or strange ’60s flights of
fancy and rather odd instruments—and also
inexpensive instruments. I find the couple of
swanky guitars I’ve bought from friends just
don’t work for me. They’re too nice or something [laughs]. Then there’s also my old Martin
00-17 acoustic, my old Taylor 12-strings from
the ’70s, and my Jaguars. I have a 1962 Jaguar
that I bought in the ’90s at Black Market Music
for $300. I had it painted with a picture of
[fashion model] Kristen McMenamy. I kind of
adored her whole vibe at the time—I liked that
she was older than all those other girls and
just came along with this androgynous look. I
played that on “Hummingbird” and some of
the more country numbers because it has a
nice twang. My 1969 Jaguar is my most “rock”
guitar. It’s silver with a mirror pickguard, and
it has a Charlie Christian pickup in the neck
position and a Seymour Duncan Antiquity
wound especially to compete and blend with
the Charlie Christian pickup in the bridge position [laughs]. It’s hilarious, but it has this beefy
sound because of the pickup configuration.
It was an eBay guitar, and it was a complete
mess. I had no idea it would be so good. I use
that on rhythm parts where I need more gain. I
also have some Jerry Jones electric 12-strings
and baritone guitars, including a double-neck baritone that I played on “You Never
Know,” the George Harrison tribute. There’s a
descending, diminished-chord slide part, and I
solo on one neck and then play rhythm on the
other, which is such a ridiculous solution I came
up with to play that song more reverently to
the record. But I joke that I don’t know why
I have so many electric guitars, since I could
really get by with just the Jazzmaster and be
How many Jazzmasters do you have?
I have three. The main one is a ’ 59, and I have
a spare onstage that’s black—that’s a ’ 59,
too. And then I have a ’ 59 in Los Angeles.
What’s the story behind your main
’ 59 Jazzmaster?
The main one I bought from Mike Watt in 1995.
I was playing a Jaguar for many years, and I
started playing with Watt in ’ 90, but even more
in ’ 94 when I recorded on his first solo record,
Ball-Hog or Tugboat? I played my Jaguar, but
I was fascinated with these Jazzmaster guitars after hearing Tom Verlaine of Television
and Sonic Youth using these guitars. Also,
I wanted the strings behind the bridge. It’s
funny, they were joke guitars when I was a kid,
so I didn’t really consider them—but I should
have, because they were affordable. That’s why
Sonic Youth played them: they were cheap.
When I realized the Jazzmaster had not just
the different pickups but also a slightly longer
string length, I thought, “Wow, that could
really work.” Then, I saw my friend Joe Baiza
playing in Santa Monica, and Joe was playing
this Jazzmaster instead of his usual sunburst
Stratocaster. So I asked, “Joe, where did you
get that guitar?” And he said, “It’s Watt’s.” So
I asked Watt about it, and it turns out he was
lending it to Joe because Joe was getting his
Strat refretted. We were about to go on tour,
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