James Woodard (The Grasshopper Lies Heavy – guitar)
SPB: I have two #1 guitars; one for stage; and one that stays home for recording and practice.
Woodward: My old #1 is my 1982 Gibson Les Paul Standard in a tobacco burst finish. It came into a guitar store I worked at about a decade ago and instantly knew I had to have it. When you work in a guitar shop, you get to try out a lot of guitars day to day, and some of them have an intangible quality to them that makes them special. Well, this one's got it. It's such a great instrument, and I've written a ton of music on it and have played countless gigs with it. I've even used it as a weapon once or twice.
It's been gigged and toured with a ton, and I am pretty aggressive when I play live, so this guitar has a lot of scars from being either thrown into the drums or the crowd, or stuck into the ceiling at venues. One of the knobs is missing. It broke off at some point and I never replaced it because no one needs tone knobs. In terms of hardware it's all stock. It just sounds perfect through my old Marshall heads. It's truly The Sound Of Rock And Roll™.
That being said, I don't gig with this guitar anymore. It's become too sentimental to me, and I would hate having it stolen on tour. Plus, the value of these old Gibsons has skyrocketed, so it stays home.
My "new" #1 is an Electric Guitar Company TB1000 I bought from a friend secondhand. It's an aluminum neck-thru design with a clear acrylic body. It's got a woodgrain formica pickguard, which is a nod to the original acrylic Dan Armstrong guitars, but has the classic Travis Bean TB1000 body style. It's heavy and very angry, like me. And because of its materials, it can take a lot of abuse. It's been with me on several US tours and one Japan tour at this point. On the first night of the Japan tour I threw it across the stage and broke two tuning pegs (basically the only parts you can break on the thing). That experience made for a great manic scavenger hunt across Tokyo to find tuning pegs before the gig the next day. All the knobs are long gone, and one of the potentiometers has been snapped off at the base. I purposefully removed the switch tips on both guitars to ensure that I don't accidentally switch pickups while playing.
The EGC is a fantastic instrument; the neck is incredibly thin, the body balances perfectly (because of its absurd weight, which I enjoy), and its voicing is so pissed off. It's like someone took an old Les Paul and turned it up to 11. It has a bit more tonal bandwidth as my LP; more biting highs and deep lows. With a fresh set of strings, it’s chimey, chorus-y, piano-like qualities come through and the tone is very clear and cutting. The ultra-thin neck took a while to get used to, and I found it very hard to see the fret markers on the metal neck on dark stages so I had to put dummy markers on it until I got completely comfortable with the neck, but it's just a magical instrument and I love playing it. It also simply looks amazing; I think it's a gorgeous guitar.