Fender J5 Triple Tele Deluxe
Your signature J5 Triple Tele Deluxe and Squier J5 Telecaster both have flat 12” radiuses and two humbuckers—specs favored by shredders and not typical on Teles. Did you choose these specs to make the guitars easier to play?
Yeah, when you’re on stage and it’s blaring loud and it’s so super loud, you’re going to need some power. That’s why I put some humbuckers in there and the flat neck, makes it comfortable to play. The neck was designed around a 1966 Esquire I have, which has an amazing neck, and the body was kind of designed around a Fender Custom Telecaster with the binding they had back in the ’60s.
Your signature guitars probably feel a little bit different than the vintage Teles in your collection. Would you be able to just pull out an old Tele and use it onstage immediately or would it take some adjusting to get used to?
They feel the same. The only thing is, the Teles from my collection are completely original. So they would feedback a lot because I play at huge venues at such loud volumes. But in the studio, I use a lot of old Teles for recording.
On “Beat It,” there’s some whammy bar action. Do some of your Teles have whammy bars?
I have a bunch of Teles with Floyd Roses in them. I used to play a lot with a Floyd Rose because I was a big Eddie fan. I just wanted to have that exact sound.
Were they after-market Floyd Roses or did they come stock from Fender?
They came stock from Fender.
You also have some guitars up on eBay. Why did you decide to put them up on the auction block?
I was cleaning house a little bit and I was like, “Man, I have a lot of guitars.” I was kind of trying to make room. I was thinking to myself that if back when I was a kid there was eBay, and Eddie Van Halen put some of his guitars up—I would have freaked out. I just wanted to put them up and have people enjoy them as much as I have.
But, hey, did you know that Brad King from rig-talk.com has Eddie Van Halen’s Kramer Frankenstrat guitar that was used for 1984 listed up for sale?
I didn’t know that.
Yeah, just Google it.
What would I put in, “Eddie Van Halen 1984 guitar?” [Finds guitar online.] Oh yeah, you’re right. This is crazy. Wow, that’s cool.
It would be a nice one for your collection. Are you as obsessive about amps?
I’m not a big amp guy because I guess I’m such a big guitar guy. I’m not that fussy with amps, as long as it works and sounds good. Marshalls always worked and sounded good to me.
Even though you’re not as obsessive with your amps, you now have a DiMarzio-branded John 5 cable. Do you find that quality cables make a noticeable difference?
I do. I’m not a tone chaser but I do notice a difference with cables, especially live. Sometimes even though I play wireless I’ll go to a cable because it just sounds better. Eddie did the same thing on the last tour—not this one. He was plugged in.
Can you describe the sonic difference between cheap and better cables?
It’s really hard to explain. It’s like trying to explain the color blue. You kind of have to hear it, but there is a difference.
Just from speaking with you, I can tell that you’re really obsessed with all facets of the guitar.
Yeah, I was just playing before you called. [Laughs.]
Guitars: Fender Telecasters including a massive vintage collection and signature models—J5 Triple Tele Deluxe, J5 Telecaster, Fender J5 Bigsby Telecaster, Squier J5 Telecaster
Amps: Marshall JCM 900 with vintage Marshall 1960 4x12 cabinets
Effects: Boss SD-1, Boss CH-1, Boss NS-2, Electro-Harmonix Bass Micro Synthesizer, Zoom G1J
Strings: GHS .009s [sometimes .010s or .011s, depending on the tuning]
Picks: Seven Kings .96mm
Cables: DiMarzio John 5 Signature