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Costello came snarling out of the U.K. in the mid-1970s with an edgy talent and image that immediately set him apart from the punk masses -- impeccable pop songcraft, caustically literate lyrics, an angular stage presence, black horn-rimmed glasses -- and an ever-present Fender Jazzmaster. At the time, the Jazzmaster guitar had largely fallen from fashion until Costello’s phenomenal success seemed to lift it to new and previously unknown heights of appreciation. Throughout the 1980s, 1990s and right up to today, legions of new-wave, alt-rock and indie-rock players prized the resurgent Jazzmaster for its versatile tone and subversive cool.
“This is a brutal-sounding guitar,” Costello said of his Jazzmaster. “It suits the way I play. But this guitar -- it’s had a funny life. And I’ve just always stuck with it; I always come back to it. I’ve done all sorts of different music, but whenever it’s involved electric guitar, I don’t think there’s one record I’ve made on which the Jazzmaster doesn’t feature somewhere.”
Costello’s original instrument has undergone many changes in the past 30 years, and Fender’s new Elvis Costello Signature Jazzmaster replicates the guitar as it existed at the time he recorded his acclaimed 1977 debut album, My Aim Is True. Uniquely Costello-inspired features include a post-’68 neck design, a walnut stain finish and a tremolo with easier and greater travel, essential for that “Watching the Detectives” tone, or what Costello calls that “spy movie” sound.
“The original guitar this model is based upon has been refinished, rebuilt, and has a new neck with Elvis’ name inlaid into the fingerboard, so we had to reference a lot of seventies-era photography, as well as Elvis’ personal anecdotes, to get it right,” said Justin Norvell, Fender marketing manager for electric guitars. “Elvis dialed in the finer details -- the points that photos can’t tell you, like the feel and setup and the exact hue and luster of the finish -- things only he would know.”
The new Elvis Costello Signature Jazzmaster guitar will be available through authorized Fender dealers beginning this month with an MSRP of $2149.99.
Costello remains as busy as ever today, touring this summer with the Police and debuting in December 2008 as the host of Spectacle: Elvis Costello With ..., a Sundance Channel television series in which Costello plays host to artists and other personalities for an hour of discussion and performance.
For more information on Elvis Costello and his Jazzmaster guitar: