In this video presented by Guitar Star, Black Sabbath’s Tony Iommi shows and talks about the guitar he’s used for most of Sabbath’s long run: his John Diggins Jaydee “Old Boy” Custom. The guitar, which is an SG-bodied instrument, shows the telltale signs that come with years of use.
“It’s been through the mill,” Tony admits. “Well worn. But it’s great. It was first made for me by Jaydee, John Diggins. He used to work for me at one time, and then he went into building guitars.”
Diggins began making guitars under the Jaydee Custom name in 1977 in Birmingham, England, which also happens to be Black Sabbath’s home town. Diggins’ clients have included Angus Young, Level 42 guitarist Mark King and the late Roy Orbison.
Iommi doesn’t recall the exact date that the guitar was made, but he’s previously noted that it was between 1975 and 1978. He first used it for overdubs on the 1980 Heaven and Hell album, Sabbath’s first with Ronnie James Dio following the departure of Ozzy Osbourne. Iommi began to use the guitar more frequently, and it eventually took over from his black John Birch SG as his main instrument in the studio and on the road.
Iommi says Diggins made the guitar for him at home in the luthier’s kitchen—“because I wanted it quick, and he made it in a couple of days. I’ve used it for many years. And now it’s retired because it’s getting old. It’s too valuable to lose.”