Sonic Youth Geetars

Sometimes you’ve just got to laugh. If I was Fender’s Head of Marketing, and I wanted to go really out there with my artist endorsements (“New For 2009! G.E. Smith Guitar!”) who would I choose to get that valuable Lawyer-That-Was-A-Huge-Alt-Rock-Fan dollar (I’m looking at you, Searsy)? J Mascis? Nah, already done. Butthole Surfers? Too bizarre. Sonic Youth? But don’t they stick knitting needles into the strings, tune them all to A# and generally abuse the goddamn life out of their poor Jazzmasters and Mustangs?

Well, yeah, but in their dotage they’ve become quite willing to endorse themselves in all sorts of “fun” ways1. And if you’re a lawyer or banker who spent their formative years blasting out “Sister” from their dorm room2, then a funky messed up Jazzmaster might just scratch the itch that a Road-Worn Telecaster 3 or a *gasp* PRS just can’t scratch?

And you know, they are quite nice-looking guitars:

Lee's Guitar

Lee's Guitar

Thurston's Guitar

Thurston's Guitar

Although they look a hell of a lot like the Electrajets (not a bad thing, I’d quite like one of these babies), what with that stripped down Jazzmaster/Jag vibe:

Dan Grosh's Lovely Electrajet

Dan Grosh's Lovely Electrajet

The band do really seem to have been involved in the design of these, which is nice. Different pickups, switches removed, just a volume knob – ok, so it’s hardly a Matt Bellamy Manson special but better than some of the lazy-assed endorsements out there. But surely the whole point of Sonic Youth is that they took the cheapest half-decent guitars they could find and modded the hell out of them themselves, to make them unique? So isn’t selling a massed-produced guitar that was meant to be different to everything else out there somewhat hypocritical?

A Proper Sonic Youth Guitar

A Proper Sonic Youth Guitar

In any case, I can of course be persuaded to change my mind on delivery of a nice new shiny Classic Player Jazzmaster so I can fulfil my Robin Guthrie/Tom Verlaine/J Mascis fantasies. Delivery to Loft and Lost Mansions, 7, London. Ta.

Anyway, in honour of this astonishing moment in guitar-endorsement history, here’s a few tracks of Sonic Youth abusing guitars, one from their most recent (and not at all bad) “The Eternal” LP, and one from the classic “Sister” LP.

MP3: Malibu Gas Station by Sonic Youth

(this MP3 has been removed as Sonic Youth’s record company apparently object to people posting an MP3 from their new album whilst advertising their nice new expensive guitars)

MP3: White Kross by Sonic Youth

Buy Sonic Youth’s “The Eternal” (CD/MP3)

Buy Sonic Youth’s “Sister” (MP3)

1 Now isn’t the time for the sell-out arguments. Another time, maybe.

2 Believe me, such people do exist.

3 Is it just me or is the whole “Road Worn” concept one of the stupidest things ever? Why not just buy a nice new Tele and bash the hell out of it yourself? Or hey, why not go to your local guitar shop and buy a genuine second-hand guitar, which will have more life and character than anything Fender will sell you for about $500 over the market, as well as supporting your local guitar shop, who quite frankly can probably do with the income?

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  1. re footnote #3: yes! yes! and just so typical of, well, almost everyone today: why buy something, keep it for ages, make it part of your life, so that it becomes something special, something that’s almost part of you, with all the attendant scrapes and bumps and knocks and idiosyncracies that that implies, when you can just buy something that looks as if it’s been with you a while. grrrrr!

  2. limbifiariava

     /  April 2, 2011

    Please usurp me to beget kitty

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