“Fender saw the indented pickguard and said, ‘This isn't good for you’”: John 5 played his “Goldie” Telecaster so much that Fender feared for his health

John 5 holds his Goldie Telecaster (left), the Goldie Telecaster, stood against a white wall
(Image credit: Jen Rosenstein/Future)

It’s not uncommon for a guitarist to have a favorite instrument, the one they always intrinsically grab no matter the circumstances. What is uncommon, though, is to play a guitar so much that it poses a serious health risk. 

That’s the unlikely scenario John 5 found himself in when Fender inspected his beloved Goldie Telecaster; an instrument that has essentially succumbed to a long list of time-worn injuries.  

Speaking in the latest issue of Guitar Player, the Rob Zombie turned Mötley Crüe riffsmith revealed the extent of the damage wear and tear has caused to his beloved electric guitar over the years. When Fender saw what his relentless playing had done to his pickguard in particular, the luthiers expressed real concern.  

“Goldie has probably been on more songs and to more shows than any other guitar I own,” he says. “This was my number one guitar, and I played it all day and all night. 

“It's been refretted already once. The metal pickguard has been replaced twice because I played it so much that I dug a groove in there, which indented the metal. Fender saw that and said, ‘This isn't good for you. This could get in your skin.’ I mean, I just played it so much.” 

John 5's Goldie Telecaster, pictured from multiple angles

(Image credit: Jen Rosenstein/Future)

Goldie's place at the pinnacle of John 5's collection is no mean feat. The Telecaster addict owns over 100 of these iconic electric guitars, including a model for each year of the instrument's illustrious history between 1950-83. 

“I just love history, and I love Telecasters, so I have the best of both worlds,” he previously told Guitar Player. “I know a lot of people don’t want to hear this, but they’re great investments. Some folks know about stocks. I know about Telecasters.”

His latest sit down with the magazine sees him detailing a number of his top picks, including a 1966, spaghetti logo sporting Esquire – the guitarist's first vintage purchase – and Ghost Number One, which was brought in to give Goldie a well-deserved break. 

John 5 performing in 2019

(Image credit: Johnny Louis/Getty Images)

In development since 2019, it boasts DiMarzio D Activator pickups and a kill switch. It got its live debut in summer 2022 and it's been used on all his new songs, including his work with Mötley Crüe. “There's a magic behind that guitar,” he says. 

But it isn't just collecting guitars that John 5 obsesses over. As per another Guitar Player chat, adding to his mastery of the instrument is an exhaustive, ever-evolving process. 

“If I hear a bluegrass player killin’ it, I’m like, ‘I have to play that!’” he says. “And if I hear a metal player rippin’ it, my brain just fries. So I have to learn what they’re doing and execute it perfectly. I obsess over it, and I love it dearly.”

Despite his insatiable appetite, he's also spoken of his need to play cleanly, regardless of style.

“You can still play with fire and be accurate,” he believes. “I made it my mission to get rid of the slop. I’ve always been an OCD clean freak, and that extends into all areas of my life. I want to keep my guitars clean, and I want my playing to be clean, too. I’ll play something a million times until I know it’s perfect. But I don’t want it to sound sterile. A guitar line should flow like water.” 

To pick up the July issue of Guitar Player – which features an in-depth discussion with John 5 about his extensive Strat and Tele collection – head on over to Magazines Direct

Phil Weller

A freelance writer with a penchant for music that gets weird, Phil is a regular contributor to ProgGuitar World, and Total Guitar magazines and is especially keen on shining a light on unknown artists. Outside of the journalism realm, you can find him writing angular riffs in progressive metal band, Prognosis, in which he slings an 8-string Strandberg Boden Original, churning that low string through a variety of tunings. He's also a published author and is currently penning his debut novel which chucks fantasy, mythology and humanity into a great big melting pot.