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Lifestyle

November 28, 2013

'108 Rock Star Guitars' reveals battle-ax beauty

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John Rzeznik (Goo Goo Dolls) resurrected a broken Stratocaster into a 4-string. The word “OUCH!” is splayed over its torso; it’s now named Halfcaster.

“I was amazed when I threw the guitar in the air and the top portion split right off,” Rzeznik recalled via email. “I had my guitar tech take it to a luthier in LA who sanded off the rough edges and fixed the electronics.

“I used it on a song called ‘Big Machine’ for a couple years after that. Surprisingly, the tone didn’t really change; it was a cheap guitar that didn’t sound that great to begin with. Haha!”

The appreciation of instruments as visual art is an age-old concept.

They “may evoke status, identity, or indicate events — sacred or profane,” comments J. Kenneth Moore, the Frederick P. Rose curator in charge of the Department of Musical Instruments at The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City. “They become sounding, tangible works of art — telling many stories of the life and times of those who used them,” he said.

A guitar owned by James J.Y. Young of Styx bears an elaborate carving of Cerberus, ancient mythology’s three-headed Underworld guard dog.

A double-neck owned by Cheap Trick’s Rick Nielsen has a quirky folk art feel. Its two-pronged top forms the legs of Nielsen’s upside-down caricature. The figure, named Uncle Dick, displays a thumbs-up, but his expression looks maniacal.

When Mom made young Nils Lofgren a Nehru jacket and bell-bottom pants out of drapes, he proudly stuck leftover fabric on his guitar so it matched his new suit.

The book also features a famous, battered Fender Esquire owned by Lofgren’s boss, Bruce Springsteen.

Before a Rage Against the Machine performance, Tom Morello scrawled “Arm the Homeless” on his guitar.

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