Of late I’ve been taking many trips down memory lane back to the 80′s to be precise, my formative years as a guitarist and the decade that like it or not shaped me.
My own personal 80′s influences can be neatly divided into 3 categories
The Texturalists: Will Sergant, John McGeoch,The Edge, Jamie West-Oram, Robert Smith, Johnny Marr – Non of these guys were known for soloing,but they created atmosphere and dynamics with interesting ideas and use of effects,with Marr and sergant alternative tunings were often applied, with McGeoch just really mad ideas. They taught me lots about applying the guitar in a group situation and about using my imagination.
The Shredders: Vivian Campbell,Jake E Lee,Gary Moore,Rhandy Rhoads, George Lynch, John Sykes
A lot of fans of the first group of guitarists would probably be horrified that someone who owns a Smiths album would listen to someone like George Lynch, but thats just silly. Music is a broad church and a real player will see the good in most things. In particular this later group taught me about playing with fire and passion and also the fact that its actually quite useful to know your scales and modes. They also gave me something to aim for technically.
The in betweeners: Alex Lifeson, Reeves Gabriels – These guys could do both equally well and frequently did.
The hardware of the 80′s was in the main Stratocaster type guitars, not by Fender you understand. But by makers who in many cases started out putting together high quality components for the proffessional user like Schecter,Charvel/Jackson, Tom Anderson, Suhr, Buddy Blaze etc. The top selling guitar in North America from the mid-late 80′s was Kramer, followed by Ibanez with its high performance RG guitars. Every guitar was much the same, the usual components were
Basswood Body: Cheap, tonally neutral and had little grain so applying a mad paintjob to it was easy
22 fret neck with Jumbo frets
Floyd Rose locking Tremelo System or sometimes a Kahler
2 single coils & 1 Humbucking pickup
Now I’ve been thinking about a Stratocaster for a while and I’ve yet to find a guitar that really has everything I like, which has annoyed me. Back in the late 70′s many guitarists felt the same and thus the replacement part industry was born, which then gave way to the 80′s definitive guitar, the Superstrat, and of course the biggest names who made those guitars. Charvel/Jackson, Hamer, Ibanez,Schecter,Kramer, Valley Arts etc etc.
Of course Fashions changed and with Fenders reversal in fortunes comes the Irony that they now own Charvel/Jackson as well as Hamer as part of the massive FMIC group. Gibson own Kramer, Valley arts and Steinberger.
Now I’ve been thinking that as I cant find my ideal Strat, perhaps the time has come to put one together, take a used unloved guitar with a good neck and body and add the rest myself??
Watch this Space.