While on tour with Rob Zombie, Mr. 5 shows us his bevy of hot-rod Teles, including a "lava lamp" model and another inspired by Hee Haw legend Buck Owens.

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.


A maze of modulation and reverberations leads down many colorful tone vortices.

Deep clanging reverb tones. Unexpected reverb/modulation combinations.

Steep learning curve for a superficially simple pedal.


SolidGoldFX Ether


A lot of cruel fates can befall a gig. But unless you’re a complete pedal addict or live in high-gain-only realms, doing a gig with just a reverb- and tremolo-equipped amp is not one of them. Usually a nice splash of reverb makes the lamest tone pretty okay. Add a little tremolo on top and you have to work to not be at least a little funky, surfy, or spacy. You see, reverb and modulation go together like beans and rice. That truth, it seems, extends even to maximalist expressions of that formula—like the SolidGold FX Ether.

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Megadeth founder teams up with Gibson for his first acoustic guitar in the Dave Mustaine Collection.

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Gibson 1960 Les Paul 0 8145 is from the final year of the model’s original-production era, and likely from one of the later runs.

The story of 1960 Gibson Les Paul 0 8145—a ’burst with a nameplate and, now, a reputation.

These days it’s difficult to imagine any vintage Gibson Les Paul being a tough sell, but there was a time when 1960 ’bursts were considered less desirable than the ’58s and ’59s of legend—even though Clapton played a ’60 cherry sunburst in his Bluesbreakers days. Such was the case in the mid 1990s, when the family of a local musician who was the original owner of one of these guitars walked into Rumble Seat Music’s original Ithaca, New York, store with this column’s featured instrument.

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