- Can you remember the first guitar you owned? What was the make and model and how did you acquire it?
It was a Westone Quantum headless bass – you know the one – with the compact square-ish body and crucially, no head. It was aged white and had belonged to my Dad and served him well as a gigging bassist, frightfully eighties but little enough for me to get under my teenage fingers. When our band kicked off we spray painted it blue to make it mine. I dropped it on stage once. It didn’t care. It was a real workhorse. Dad has the bass back now – I don’t think he’d ever part with it.
- What are the qualities that matter to you when deciding on buying a guitar, and how has this changed over time?
Acoustics now. I’m looking at the shape and the wood now more than ever. When I got hold of my Martin Mahogany I wasn’t 100% sure whether it wasn’t a bit dull. It wasn’t anywhere near as immediate as the spruce top or lighter wood guitars I already had hanging around. I’d never spent that amount of money before and was a bit worried I’d made a mistake but soon enough I learned that what it was doing for my playing style was perfect. I play with the outsides of my nails and it tends to sound a bit abrasive and it just mellows it all out. The sound of that guitar has really developed too. Neck profile is pretty important too. The neck of my Blueridge guitar is the best of the bunch in that respect – put that on a mahogany body and I’ll be the first in with my checkbook.
- How did you discover your present guitar, and how did it find its way home to you?
I bought that guitar from a shop called Northern Guitars in Leeds. I was in a bad mood and I had a student loan. It was the first ‘folk shaped’ guitar I’d ever owned having only really had Dreadnoughts. I was looking for something that wasn’t so boomy. It was my number one for years until I bought the Martin 00015M from my good friend Dan Wilde. Dan makes guitar playing look effortless and I’ve got to admit part of me thought that maybe I’d inherit some of Dan’s superpowers if I got his hand-me-down guitar. No such luck! Lovely instrument though.
- What historical aspects, if any, have you unearthed about your present or past guitars?
Ha! Up until recently, I’ve always bought into pre-owned instruments. Nothing really however that would pre-date shell suits or Duran Duran. The first brand new instrument I bought was last year and it was a Seagull guitar made of Cedar. The thing with it was though, it was a formidable shade of orange, I wouldn’t like to be too rude about someone else’s design, but this orange for me was just too much. So I took steps to have the finish changed and a friend of mine agreed to strip it and stain the wood for me. The nice surprise was that when he removed the orange lacquer, underneath was the most perfect blonde coloured wood. So we left it there and its now darkening beautifully and gently on its own.
- What was the most recent song you composed on your guitar, and how did your present guitar tool lead you to discover the right music?
I’ve been touring in Germany – so I took my Blueridge, which is nice and light. I’ve been writing this thing in open G tuning and I think I made some headway on the second verse – which for me is the kind of make or break bit of a song. Sometimes even when it’s only me in a room, I can feel a bit foolish bashing away at the same string of chords and shapes trying to break through to something. I think the best thing about doing it on this guitar is that we’ve travelled together all over the world – or working on it. I know it will forgive me anything! Its not my best instrument – which is why it’s the one I’ll sling on a plane or in the hull of a bus but I often wonder if it brings out the best in me.
visit Jess at www.jessmorgan.co.uk