What is that guitar?

That guitar is one that was built specifically for this tour.  One of the themes of this tour is “moire” which is that weird thing that happens when you look through two screen and you see all sorts of weird 3D shapes.  Moire is everywhere in our production, including in our guitars!

Mike and I worked very closely with the builder, Ben Lewry of visionaryinstruments.com, who specializes in creating very funky electronic guitars that usually feature all kinds of touch controllers and accelerometers that can be used for controlling audio effects in software like Ableton Live and whatnot.  These guitars have no such controllers, but instead feature full RGB lighting behind the moire screens that make up the face of the body.

Ben and I had lots of conversations about my Ibanez because he wanted to create the instrument so that it would sound and play simlilarly.  The body shape and neck and headstock are all designed based on my favorite guitar.

As part of the design, he put all the controls along the top of the instrument, so there are no controls on the face of the body itself, to leave the moire screen as emtpy as possible.  There are four preset light designs built in that I can choose with a selector swith.  Most of these presets react to the sound of the strings, so that when I play something, the guitar lights up.  It’s very fast and when I play choppy rhythms or staccato leads, the lights really accentuate the sound!

But, even cooler than all that, the guitar has a DMX input, which means that it can receive color commands from the light board and be totally controlled by our lighting guy!  It took a few shows to get that working, but now it’s in full effect.  So cool!

I’m also using in-ear monitors for the first time.  And everything is wireless, so for each show I’m wearing a transmitter for the guitar audio, a receiver for the in-ear monitors, a receiver for the DMX data, and a battery pack for the guitar’s lights.



In retrospect I had no idea what I was doing back in 1981 when I was looking for a new guitar.  I had been playing the Travis Bean for four years but Max Creek was getting ready to record “Drink The Stars” and the Bean had intonation issues because of the aluminum neck, so it was time.  I had been looking around and I read a bunch of things about a guitar that Ibanez had on the market, the Musician series, patterned somewhat after the Artist model that Bob Weir was using at the time.  There seemed to be a few models of Musicians, some with active EQ and some without; some with “dual sound” pickups and some with “tri sound” pickups.

Creek had a weekend playing at Jonathan Swift’s in Harvard Square so since we were hanging out in Boston on Saturday a few of us when to Wurlitzer Music in Boston to check out what they had.  It turns out that they had one model of Ibanez Musician, an MC350.  I played that thing for probably an hour in the store and every five minutes this very rude sales dude would come over asking if I was going to buy the thing.  At one point he asked, “Do you even have money?”  Yes, you dick, I have money.

Long story short, I did get the MC350.  And I still use it today.  It’s pretty much all original except for some brass knobs to replace the plastic ones, and a small wiring change I made in 1985.  But all the hardware, including the pickups, is original.

Well, relatively recently I found out some information about this particular model.  There were only 84 of them ever made, and mine is one of the earliest ones, and one of the few made in 1981.  Most of the rest were made in 1982.

A couple weekends ago I had the rare experience of seeing one of these other MC350s.  My friend John is a collector and brought his to a Creek show and we couldn’t help but take some photos of the twins: