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Tele master John 5 met with Premier Guitar before taking the stage with Rob Zombie at the Bridgestone arena in Nashville on November 25, 2013, to talk tone, Teles, and what’s really in his “lava-lamp” guitar.
Mr. 5 is a Tele-vangelist who owns at least one Telecaster from every year of production, including an ultra-clean Broadcaster that stays at home. On the road, he brings enough axes (mostly signature Teles) to change guitars between every song. Some of the showier instruments he shows to us include a “lava-lamp” Tele that you’ll want to keep your thirsty dog away from, and another with seizure-inducing LEDs inlaid in its top.
One of 5’s favorite guitars—a Tele he calls the “Buck 5”—pays tribute to the man who first got him into guitar. As a kid, 5 was drawn to the instrument when he saw Buck Owens playing his red, silver, and blue sparkle Telecaster on the Hee Haw television program. 5’s version features an ash body, a custom three-on-a-side headstock on the rosewood-topped maple neck, a Fender Enforcer humbucker in the bridge position, and a Fender Custom Shop Twisted Tele pickup in the neck position.
Nobody can accuse John 5 of effect dependency. His minimal, battery-powered pedalboard holds just a Dunlop Cry Baby wah and a trio of Boss pedals—a CH-1 Super Chorus, an SD-1 Super Overdrive, and an NS-2 Noise Suppressor. In case of wireless interference, a Morley A/B box allows him to switch between his Audio-Technica receivers and signature 1/4" DiMarzio cables. He uses an Audiotech Source Selector 1x6 switcher to move between the different wireless units.
Red, white, blue, yellow, and black Marshall heads dominate 5’s guitar-tech station. He’s got three JCM900 Dual Reverbs, a JVM210H, a JVM410H, and a Mode 4. He usually uses only two of the amps at a time, and the Mode 4 is primarily for use when, for example, a nearby airport causes too much interference. The amps power four Marshall 1960B 4x12 cabinets.