On the off-chance you came across the article in Guitar
& Bass Magazine and wondered why it lacked a little cohesion - here,
then, is the original text from which I attempted to edit 500 words which still
retained the gist of what it was I imagined I was saying, or indeed not...
PG, the Tele and me
"He doesn't look very happy".
I had to agree. The face peering from the cover of Guitar
& Bass Magazine was the epitome of glum.
"Erm - yes, his life has had its ups and downs" I mumbled,
accepting my change from the woman behind the counter, and returning to
the streets of Brixham. Nowhere would have looked at its best on a wet
Monday in July, and this seaside town in Devon hardly seemed to be bothering.
Noticeably, the main hook to attract tourists appeared to involve visiting
the harbour to catch crabs... How blue can you get?
Peter was my first inspiration when I started playing guitar. Back
in the late sixties, the discussion of who is better - Green of Clapton?
- was one of the great verities on which you had to take a stand, alongside
Right or Wrong, Good or Evil, Spurs or Arsenal. Choosing Peter Green was
a clear indicator of taste and discernment; siding with Clapton was the
unimaginative choice of the LCDs on the dimmer side of the classroom (nothing
personal, Eric, obviously). Although it would have been the obvious guitar
for me to play, sadly, a Les Paul has never been within my price-range.
So discussing my prized Telecaster in relation to Peter Green may initially
appear inappropriate, I appreciate, but...
Let me tell you about my Tele
Purchased in October 1978 from Rokas’ previous location on the other side
of Denmark Street from where it now resides, it cost most of my Autumn term's
grant - so no meals 'til Christmas that year... In truth, it was a wreck. The
body had almost been stripped clean of paint, and re-coated, quite haphazardly,
with varnish. The neck, which had burn marks on the underside, grooves worn into
the frets, and divots gouged into the rosewood board under the B string at the
3rd and 5th frets, was made playable by the good people at Wing Music (when it
was still based at Bromley North station). The sweat-soaked neck pick-up had warped
so much that both ends now curled up and prevented the two E strings from ringing,
but as it had also shorted-out, the decision to remove it and convert the Tele
into a faux-Esquire (using white insulation tape to mask the gap in the pick-guard)
more or less made itself. Plugging into a borrowed Vox AC30 via my Electro-Harmonix
fuzz box took care of any unruly treble trouble, and ensured a glorious winter
(and spring) of discontented punk-era strumming.
But I had obtained this humbucker, see, taken from my friend, Allen's,
mid 70s Les Paul Custom when he installed a DiMarzio super distortion
unit, and after I'd completely destroyed a Watkins Rapier during my efforts
to Van Hooliganise it, I needed somewhere else to house the humbucker.
Undaunted by the lack of skill already meted out on the Watkins, I thought
nothing of taking a chisel (actually a screwdriver) and mallet (OK - a
shoe brush) to my latest guitar, to make enough space for the pickup.
Following much discussion with Allen about how it must, definitely,
enhance treble response (I'm sure we read about Joe Walsh or someone doing
this), the pickup was deliberately "misplaced", and turned around
again following the ministrations of the 'tech in Southsea, who pointed-out
I'd put it in back to front, when all I wanted was for him to wire the
pick-ups to a new switch. I'd like to think my actions were inspired by
an unconscious echo from those years of listening to Peter, but I think
it more likely to be just coincidence. I remember a frisson of surprise
when the whole issue of his reversed neck humbucker became a topic of
debate in recent years - was that why I did it at the time? Just don't
The original, much corroded, bridge was replaced by a Mighty Mite brass
unit about 2 years after I bought the guitar, which in turn over the next
20-plus years became so tarnished and covered in grime as to pose a major
health risk, and was eventually succeeded by a cheap chrome plate with
GraphTech bridge pieces. The original volume control was swapped-out when
the non-functioning tone control was removed to make way for a jack socket
(to replace the original, broken socket), the control knob was also brass
for many years, but I bought a chrome replacement at the same time as
the most recent bridge plate. The bridge pickup finally died in the early
90's making way for a Seymour Duncan Hot Lead Stack. The piece of gaffer
tape under the low E string lessens the clunk when my palm presses the
string against the pickup. The neck is date stamped 1970, the serial number
on the neck plate matches those from 1973, hardly any of it is "original"
but it's the best £150 I ever spent - and I'd love to see the Fender
Custom Shop attempt to replica/relic this one!
And the point of all this?
Such as it is - I, too, have a tangential tale of a brush with Peter Green. Some
several years ago, I received a call from someone who knew someone who knew me,
regarding the possibility of playing guitar at a wedding, the substantial lure
being that Mr Green would be present. As a known Green fanatic, no further leverage
was required, and I willingly accepted the invitation. Quite a large amount of
the standard repertoire was performed, but noticeably nothing by the Mac. Until
the groom was goaded to "get up and do something". Black Magic Woman,
he suggested. Great, thinks I. Followed by the realisation that I'd never actually
learnt that number, as no band I'd ever been in wanted to play it (blame Santana,
if you must). "This’ll be rough" stage whispered the singer as
we counted in. But determined not to lose face, I bluffed the intro, and the Tele
even started to sustain notes almost of its own accord - perhaps even (ahem) Supernatural(ly)?
- whilst Peter stood a few feet away. I didn't dare look to see his response,
or talk to him afterwards, but hopefully he took it in good stead. For me that
moment - like the Tele - is priceless.
return to those orton leaves