Bruce Springsteen and Neil Young’s guitars
Bruce Springsteen’s Guitar
Bruce has stuck with this guitar from the first album until now. You see this guitar on his Born to Run album. When I saw him in 2000 he was playing it. Bruce bought this in 1972 in Phil Petillo’s Neptune New Jersey guitar shop for $185. Now the guitar is said to be worth between $1 million and $5 million…pretty good investment Bruce!
The guitar is a composite assembled from parts from at least two other Fender guitars. The bolt-on neck dates from a 1950s Fender Esquire guitar. The Esquire decal on the headstock indicates that the neck came from the single-pickup variant of Fender’s more-popular two-pickup Telecaster. The body is a 1950’s Telecaster
The guitar had been originally owned by a record company and was part of the payola scams of the 1960s. It was rigged with four pickups wired into extra jacks that would each plug into a separate channel on the recording console.
Petillo removed the extra pickups and returned the guitar to original Telecaster shape before he sold it Springsteen, but a huge side effect of the routing was that the Tele was now really light, giving it a sound a feel unlike any other.
Bruce had Peillo modify it over the years. He added his triangular Precision Frets, a six saddle titanium bridge, and custom hot-wound waterproofed pickups and electronics so they could better survive a sweat-soaked 4 hour show.
Bruce has now retired the Esquire from road duty, so these days Springsteen plays clones on stage, but still records with the original.
Neil Young’s “Old Black”
Neil Young is known mostly as a singer songwriter but he is a hell of a guitar player. He is one of my favorite rock guitarists. He doesn’t play lightning quick and that is a good thing…it’s playing with feel that many guitar players forget about.
Neil Young acquired Old Black in 1968 through a trade with Buffalo Springfield member Jim Messina, who traded Old Black for one of Young’s orange Gretsch guitars (Gretsch 6120 Chet Atkins).
The guitar made a humming sound so he dropped it off at a guitar shop in LA. When he came back, the shop had closed for good and lost one of the pickups. To replace the lost pickup, Neil added a Gretsh pickup that didn’t quite sound the way he wanted, but it stayed that way until Larry Cragg found an old Firebird pickup and installed it. Then Old Black was restored to its former glory and that Firebird pickup is still installed on the guitar today. It was roughly resprayed to jet black, and received a new Tune-o-matic bridge (not available when the guitar was produced) and a B-7 model Bigsby vibrato tailpiece.
The neck pickup has always been the original P-90 pickup, but it is covered by a metal P-90 cover. Neil is still playing Old Black to this day and he said he will until he dies.