Tuesday, May 19, 2009

John 5 at Sweetwater

I know I have mentioned John 5 before. He's just about the only metal guy or shredder out there who rocks out on a Telecaster. I mean, I think I recall a guy in a band in the early 80s who might've played a modified one, but really, nobody else immediately comes to mind.

I don't think I have mentioned Sweetwater Sound. They're a catalog/website music store, where I got my Samson D/I box, with which I am very happy. They also have a storefront. And what a storefront it is. Or not. That is to say, they're trumped by far by the selection, acoustic and electric, of Dave's Guitar who I visited last summer. But Dave's Guitar, to my knowledge, does not have a studio. It also does not have a lecture hall/concert hall, much less a really nice one.

But wait. I'm ahead of myself.

John 5 came to Sweetwater, in the beautiful outskirts of Ft. Wayne, Indiana, to shred and answer questions, and to show off the Squier take on his Fender signature model.

Let me first hit all the guitar geek points:
  • Fender Heavy picks
  • .009 "sissy girl strings". His word, not mine
  • Tuner, Noise Suppressor, OD pedal, Fender Frontman series practice amp. Pretty sure DSP. "You don't need a lot of money to get started", he says.
  • No brands other than Fender were mentioned, so I don't know which pedals.
  • The Marilyn Manson and Rob Zombie live albums he's on were recorded 100% live with no overdubs, for which he is very proud.
  • He doesn't own a B-Bender, which he says he should talk to the Fender rep about.

Interesting point: He doesn't smoke or drink. I don't know why I was surprised by that, but I was. I was also very glad that my son, who I brought along, got to hear that. One time, on tour, Dimebag made him take a shot and he hated it.

There were, of course, freebies raffled off at the end. I didn't get anything, but seeing as I got my Soul of Tone t-shirt literally right before we left.

There was a signing table after the show, while the line went through, Niel and I went to look at the guitars. As a word of warning, I would mention that the electric room after a shred seminar is like Guitar Center on a Saturday afternoon times 10. I mentioned that entering the electric room was a mistake to the sales guy. He looked at me and said "I can't hear you!" I said "Exactly!" But I did see some things that are absolutely great. There was a Hot Rod '52 Tele that was nice to play, and another, a Highway One, I think, that had a Greasebucket tone circuit, which I think I need to know more about. And I tried a Gretsch. I'm not sure if you really need a neck volume, bridge volume and master volume, but it sounded great. I very much want one.

Not to mention the amp. I plugged into a Hot Rod Deluxe in Python! That would be too much for my next church gig. In a good way. I think.

Incidently, I am now convinced that I am well and truly bald. I am considering going Kojak.

Anyway, eventually, we joined the end of the line. I went out, grabbed my #1 and had him sign the back of the headstock.

I figure a blast of clearcoat should keep that reasonably preserved. And I guess my #1 is now my #5. And I need a better digital camera.


John Grabowski said...

Thanks for taking the time to write and post this Dave! I attended the workshop too, along with my 9-year old son. To John 5's credit, he kept my son's attention for the entire workshop (NOT an easy feat).

I enjoyed all of the Q&A, and thought the "banjo picking" on the Tele was pretty entertaining too. John 5 definitely demonstrated a wide range of licks (and his own "Tele tricks" too). I thought he was very personable.

As a Sweetwater manager, I appreciate all of your compliments on Sweetwater and our store. We aim for a spectacular customer experience - I'm glad that's what you experienced.

Thanks again for coming out, and for writing about it. We truly appreciate it.

~ John G.

Furtheron said...

Great stuff... I like the look of that Squier model - although I prefer his Fender 3 pickup signature based on the Fender Tele Deluxe of old...

Re - metal shredders on Teles... early Zep with Mr Page? But more recently Jim Root in Stone Sour / Slipknot as well.

Dave Jacoby said...


Jim Root's Tele does not look like a Tele to me. But yeah. I was gonna say something, but it would distract from the story.

Niel actually picked up a Jim Root Tele. I had stepped into the acoustic room. When I design my own music store, I will put the acoustic room as far from the electric room as possible.

And speaking of acoustics, there was a parlor guitar (Wechter?) that I could easily learn to love.


I am a strong believer in the "If you play it, say it" philosophy, and I had a great time in a beautiful facility playing well-made and great-sounding instruments (well, there was a sub-$1000 Martin Dread I wouldn't take if you paid me, but there's a reason people go for the $1000+ martins) and listening to a world-class musician talk about his craft. I would gladly shop with you or attend a seminar there again.

Vexx said...

Yes! i was totally there! 5 was amazing and rocking it out like ever. probably one of my greatest influences now.

Dave Jacoby said...

Vexx: I'm not the biggest metal guy, kinda leaving the fandom after being disappointed by And Justice For All, on about 20 years ago. But the guy has the chops, he plays my kind of instrument (you might have noticed that I'm a Tele guy....) and he's really nice, too.

I'm picking up "Foggy Mountain" because of him, and I played it last Saturday at a bluegrass jam. But glad you came here and glad you came there.