Hot on the heels of their latest critically acclaimed album, The Eternal, Sonic Youth has teamed-up with Fender to create two of the most highly anticipated guitars in recent memory—the Thurston Moore and Lee Ranaldo signature Jazzmaster guitars, which will be available beginning July 1.
Moore and Ranaldo, canonized as two of “The 100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time” by Rolling Stone magazine in 2003, make up two-fifths of one of the most respected and influential bands in recent memory. Moore and Ranaldo have been playing Fender instruments for the lion’s share of their careers, to the point where the simple image of a Jazzmaster guitar creates an instant free-associative connection with the band. In celebration of 2008’s 50th Anniversary of the Jazzmaster, Fender had been connecting and talking to all of the icons of the instrument, and a dialogue struck up with Lee and Thurston that led to the design and creation of Fender’s latest signature model additions.
"When Fender came to us with an offer to make signature models of our Jazzmaster guitars we jumped at the chance,” Moore and Ranaldo said. “These are the guitars that have defined the sound of Sonic Youth for more than 20 years. Although we love all guitars, Jazzmasters are the ones we've modified and perfected for our uses over the years. With massive input from our great road crew, we've come up with a Thurston Jazzmaster and Lee 'Jazzblaster' that fully reflect the current state of the guitars we play in 2009. In fact, we couldn't wait to get our hands on these axes—the prototypes of our Fender models have already been thrust into action during the recording of our latest album, The Eternal, and have already begun to acquire the scrapes and scars of live performance. These guitars rock Sonic style!”
Moore and Ranaldo have always modified their Jazzmaster guitars—removing all extraneous controls—simplifying and stripping them back to their essence, leaving just a three-way switch and volume knob. In many ways, these two instruments are similar, yet in almost every major way (pickups, bridges, frets) they are totally different. Both guitars have alder bodies, “C”-shape maple necks with rosewood fingerboards, American Vintage Jazzmaster tremolos and Black anodized aluminum pickguards. Moore’s Jazzmaster features Seymour Duncan Antiquity II for Jazzmaster pickups, an Adjusto-Matic™ bridge and 21 jumbo frets, and is available in Forest Green Transparent satin nitrocellulose lacquer finish with satin black painted headstock. Ranaldo’s guitar features revoiced Wide Range humbucking pickups, Mustang-style bridge and 21 vintage frets, and is available in Sapphire Blue Transparent satin nitrocellulose lacquer finish with satin black painted headstock.
Each Sonic Youth Jazzmaster guitar comes with a custom sticker sheet and a full-color 24-page indie rock ‘zine containing photos, set lists, tuning charts, illustrations, tech info and extensive interviews. Designed and laid out largely by Ranaldo himself, this is the definitive insider’s guide to all things Jazzmaster in the world of Sonic Youth.
Sonic Youth came together in 1981 and quickly became a fixture in New York City’s No Wave art and music scene. Over the years, they have released several monumental albums, including Sonic Youth (1982), Daydream Nation (1988), Goo (1990), Dirty (1992) and Murray Street (2002), and have influenced legions of bands all over the world. Known as much for their hardcore ethos and DIY work ethic as their signature lo-fi noise explorations and radical playing styles and techniques, they have been able to achieve recognition and success, all while staying true to their original values and vision.
“We were stoked to have the opportunity to create something together, and the resultant instruments are spot-on at evoking the essence of their unique styles and preferences,” said Justin Norvell, marketing director for Fender electric guitars. “These guitars went through pretty rigorous R&D—the guys and their techs were incredibly hands-on throughout the whole process. When they were home we took their original guitars apart, re-voiced pickups against their vintage guitars, and more … when they were out on tour we traded countless late-night e-mails, making adjustments based on their road performance. In the end we are all extremely happy with the results, and we believe that Sonic Youth fans all over the world will be as well.”
For more information on the Sonic Youth guitars and a free mp3 download of their new single “Sacred Trickster,” go to www.fender.com/sonicyouth/. For more information on Sonic Youth, go to www.sonicyouth.com.