doesn’t even know. During the overdub pro-
cess, I got my hands on a delightful Rick Kelly
replica Tele with Don Mare pickups. This guitar
is made from 150-year-old pine that came from
[film director] Jim Jarmusch’s loft in New York
City, after he had it rebuilt. Here’s what’s wild:
The neck is pine too, and it doesn’t have a truss
rod. The neck is just god-awful huge—over an
inch deep from top to back. Sometimes when
I go for the “folk” F chord—the one where
you grab the low F with your thumb—it’s
like, “Where is it? Someone help me with this
F note!” So I used those three Teles on the
record. I can’t tell you which guitar appears on
what track, but that’s the way it goes.
How does the absence of a truss rod affect
the Kelly’s sound?
Well, Rick’s rap, which I tend to believe, is
that without a truss rod you don’t have that
hollow below the G and D strings. Instead,
you have a solid piece of wood there, and
that produces a fatter tone. More and more,
I’m realizing that a lot of tone in any guitar
comes from the neck, which I never really
gave much thought to until recently. I’ve got
two Big Tex guitars, and one has a maple
fretboard and the other has a rosewood fretboard—and, boy, they sound different. Now
I can really hear the difference in the neck.
Tell us about the baritone you played on
Word to the Wise.
Well, that’s the fourth Tele I used on the
album. It’s a Fender Baja Sexto owned
by [luthier and master repairman] Danny
Erlewine, who I’ve known since the ’60s from
my days in Ann Arbor. He sold me my first
tweed Fender Twin back in the mid ’60s. Why
didn’t I keep that one? [Laughs.] But anyway,
Danny built the body, and I think Fred Stuart
[formerly of the Fender Custom Shop] made
the neck. I used that a bunch on the album. I
also used a Danelectro baritone in England,
because I didn’t have the Baja with me.
Do you tune your baritones B–B or A–A?
I tend to tune it A–A, but I’ve done both. On
my prior record [Hammer of the Honky-Tonk
Gods], I had it tuned B%–B% for a song that
was in F.
How about amps?
I brought my Talos amp to England and I
used it exclusively on the rhythm tracks, as I
recall. It’s a dual-6L6, 1x12 combo made by
Music Technologies in Springfield, Virginia.
It’s a neat amp. When I got home, I used the
Talos for the overdubs, as well as a ’ 68 silverface Deluxe Reverb and a TV-front tweed
Deluxe. The ’ 68 Deluxe has been beefed up
by Pete Cage [of Cage Amplifiers], who put
in a slightly larger output transformer and
reconfigured the amp for 6L6 tubes.
I’ll tell you a funny story about my Talos. When
I fly, I surround it with bubble wrap and tote
it in a soft-sided suitcase. While I was over in
London tracking, somebody told Mark Knopfler
about my Talos, and he was interested in hearing it. I’d never met Mark, but I dragged the