“I’m still learning and I’m still having fun with guitars.”
The Who’s Pete Townshend suggested that owning more guitars than one could play may be counterproductive and reflected on his recent experiences with a Jackson.
Consciously or not, many accomplished guitarists also end up as collectors — after all, acquiring more of the thing you love is a natural urge for most people when you have the means to do so — and Pete Townshend is no exception. “I had [guitar tech] Alan Rogan in my life for so long, and whenever we finished a tour, he would always buy me a guitar,” Townshend tells Guitar World in a newly published interview.
However, The Who mastermind also believes that large collections stop being practical since not all guitars will get the exercise he believes they need:
“I’ve never been really that interested in owning a ’57 Les Paul or anything. I picked up a few in my life and thought, ‘What’s the story here?’ Because what’s important about guitars is that they need to be played, and I think, unfortunately, it’s difficult to play them all properly.”
“They need to be played to stay alive. Japanese guitars, particularly the old Yamaha 12-strings, when you bought them from the store, they were terrible. Now, they’re really good. Sometimes people don’t get it, but the wood has dried out. So, while none of us will seriously do this, we probably shouldn’t buy or own more guitars than we can play.”
“I was playing faster with a Jackson”
However, that doesn’t stop Townshend from experimenting with models he previously had little experience with. While talking about his recent decision to give “one of those sort of heavy metal guitars” a go, he said:
“The other day, I thought, ‘It’s time for me to try a Charvel, or one of these sort of heavy metal guitars. I’ve stuck with Eric Clapton-style Strats for such a long time now, though I do pick up Les Pauls and SGs and I love them, but they don’t allow me enough scope and change on stage.”
“So I’ve always thought, ‘If I buy a Charvel or a PRS or any of those super-fast new jazz guitars, I’m going to have one sound and it’s going to be finger memory.’ But the other day, I thought, ‘Fuck it. I’ll try one out.’ I bought a Jackson. I didn’t know that they were owned by Charvel and that Charvel is now owned by Fender, but I bought a Jackson.”
Summing up the results of his experiment, Townshend said:
“I got it out of the box and it’s got very light strings on and a notch where the strings are locked down, and it’s got the strings locked at the other end, too, and you tune them with little buttons. And so, the whammy bar is extraordinary!”
“I was playing faster. No question. I was playing at three times the speed that I normally play at. And when I did fingering, drumming, it didn’t stop. It didn’t go thunk; it went ding. Because these guitars are built for a particular kind of thing. So I’m still learning, andI’mm still having fun with guitars””