Tuesday, 24 Nov 2020

Jack White’s Approach to a Guitar

Jack White's Approach to a Guitar
Jack White’s Approach to a Guitar

For those of you who don’t know who Jack White is (shame on you), he is an American musical legend who was born to a family of 10 kids in the city of Detroit. It is highly unlikely that you’ve never heard a song by him; almost anyone with a pulse can humm the “Seven Nation Army” tune. Featuring is such iconic bands such as The White Stripes, The Raconteurs and The Dead Weather, Jack White has earned himself a reputation of being a versatile musician who works well in different bands, but stays to his old-school routes. He is known for going on record about his distaste for how digitised and over-processed music has become. There’s a lovely scene from “It Might Get Loud” documentary where Jack puts together a makeshift guitar from a piece of wood, some nails, a glass bottle and a string. Connects it to an amplifier and smugly remarks: “who said you need to buy a guitar?” His roots are in blues, where emotion and authenticity are high virtues. That’s why Jack’s choice of guitar is always noteworthy, sometimes for the thing that it is, and other times for the thing that it avoids being.

The White Stripes

This two-person band that Jack White and Meg White that brought them both prominence featured the 1964 JB Hutto Montgomery Ward Airline. This is the axe that put Jack on the map, for not only being a great instrument, but also matching the overall style of the band. When playing for the White Stripes, this guitar has been his staple, and was put through some heavy use as any live show video can attest. The original was made out of fiberglass, which eased the weight significantly, but was still an odd choice for a traditionally wooden instrument. In any case, the sounds it produced is now the stuff of legend. The closest thing to it you can get now is the Airline 59 1P, which Jack also used, but with some modifications. Those modifications, in typical Jack White style, involved removing components, rather than adding them.

Triple Green Machine

The Triple Green Machine will be very recognisable to fans of The Raconteurs. This one is a heavily modified Gretsch Anniversary Junior. The custom green paint job hides the level of personalisation that Jack White requested, which was by no means skin deep. Jack tailored it to exactly the kind of sound he wanted for the Raconteurs to have, adding things like a mute system that operated via a lever, replacing the electronics with those found on a Gretsch Triple Jet, and the truly unique feature enabled by the voluminous body of this instrument – a bullet microphone integrated directly into the guitar. The latter feature proved to be fantastic, especially at live performances of the song Blue Veins.

Gretsch G6199 Billy-Bo Jupiter Thunderbird

While its name doesn’t exactly roll off the tongue, this guitar gained its fame thanks to riveting live performances of The Dead Weather. Jack was supposed to wield this one during his tour with Alicia Keys, but the tour never happened due to unfortunate circumstances. Nevertheless, this guitar has given fans spectacular shows, allowing Jack to find new live interpretations of songs like Will There Be Enough Water, which is acoustic in its album version.