What guitars are you using these days?
For the live shows, I’m using a ’59 Les Paul reissue—a Gibson Custom Shop instrument modeled after Mike Bloomfield’s guitar. For the new album, I used a 1964 SG and a couple of my G&L SC-2s. The SC-2 is probably my favorite guitar. I was introduced to them when we did the New Traditionalists album. I did an interview then where I mentioned buying a weird guitar called a G&L and how much I liked the tremolo system because it stayed in tune. The day after the interview hit the newsstands, someone from G&L called me and asked, “Hey, can we endorse you?”
Is there a G&L Bob1 Signature model we don’t know about?
Uh, no. G&L gave me three or four of their top-of-the-line guitars and then they sent me the SC-2, more of an entry-level student guitar, which is what I stuck with.
What drew you to the SC-2?
I love its [Magnetic Field Design] single-coil pickups, which have a really springy sound with great high end. The guitar itself is lightweight and plays really well. The tremolo has a great feel and, as I mentioned, it stays in tune better than any other I’ve tried. I can throw it against the wall and it still plays great.
G&L’s entry-level SC-2 solidbody is Mothersbaugh’s favorite electric, largely because of the clear, “springy” sound he gets from its high-output Magnetic Field Design singlecoils— but also because the guitar takes a licking and keeps on ticking. “I can throw it against the wall and it still plays great,” he says. Photo by Jon Wright
Besides the SG and SC-2s, did you use any other guitars on the new album?
Yes, I played a Rickenbacker 330 of unknown vintage that I bought from Doug Fieger of the Knack, as well as a custom guitar Ibanez made for me.
The blue one?
Is that a cloud or a spud?
It’s funny you should ask, because when we were in Japan in 1979, Ibanez asked me to endorse their guitars. I said, “Well, whaddya got?” and they showed me a catalog. I looked at them all and said, “Nah, no thanks. I don’t like any of these.” Then they said, “We’ll build you one.” So, very flippantly, I took a Magic Marker to a Les Paul-shaped guitar of theirs and drew scallops on it and said “Here, cut it like a potato, paint it brown, and put every possible type of electronics in it.” Then, about six months later, the blue guitar showed up. It was supposed to be a potato, but it wound up as a Japanese artist’s interpretation of what I had drawn—so it’s somewhere between a potato and a cloud.
During the dark days of the mid ’80s, after the band went on hiatus, I lost the Spud guitar. Years later, my friend Vahe Vahe of the band Nu-Tra heard that a pro skateboarder named Jason Jessee had it. We got in contact with him and I bought it back.
What about amps?
On the latest album, I used a WEM Dominator combo. It’s an old British tube amp that sounds incredible. Other than that, I just used a Line 6 PODxt Live.
Did you employ any interesting stompboxes?
I pretty much used the effects in the PODxt Live. I’ve used the PODxt Live for many years, so I know how to navigate it pretty well.
Do you still use the PODxt Live?
No, I’m down to my last working unit. They are long discontinued, so I switched to a Fractal Audio Axe-Fx. It’s an amp simulator and pedal simulator that sounds fantastic and is quite roadworthy.
Do you still play the La Baye 2x4 for your whammy-bar torture and crowd-surfing thing during “Smart Patrol/Mr. DNA”?