“Trip into the bathroom
Over hangers, pants and chairs
Slip on the mat, you ponder that
Before you push me down the stairs……”
Since 1995, I’ve been the lucky owner of a red Fender Stratocaster, with a maple neck, one DiMarzio humbucker, two single coils and a Floyd Rose tremolo. Those of you familiar with electric guitars will recognise this terminology, others may be baffled.
At one point a few years ago, I was contemplating selling the Strat in order to help fund the purchase of another guitar (I was thinking about a more boutique, vintage Strat or a Suhr). I did a little bit of research into the sale and discovered that Japanese-made Fender guitars from the 80’s and 90’s were suddenly highly sought after. Not prized to an excessive amount – nothing approaching the levels of certain, late 50’s guitars, which are often priced in the high thousands. Still, they had some traction in the marketplace because it was agreed that, at that time, the Japanese factories were producing models as good as, if not better than, those coming out of the US – and for a much cheaper price. It made me think twice about selling the guitar. Most importantly, it had always felt, to me, like a nice thing to play – so why get rid of something that felt comfortable and playable (an important consideration for us guitarists)?
Not long after this, the Floyd Rose mechanism started slipping. You can actually see this yourself, if you look closely at the background photo to my website home page. The block which houses the tremolo arm and all the micro tuning dials is slanting slightly upwards in the picture, heading towards the humbucker pickup, indicating that the wood holding it all in place had split. Turns out it wasn’t really strong enough to secure the Floyd Rose from the start. That was all fixed by an amazing chap called Charlie Chandler, whose shop can be found in Hampton Wick, not far from Kingston Bridge (https://www.guitarexperience.co.uk/). At the same time, he also managed to install a little device into the Strat body called a Sustainiac.
Your original, single coil pickup is replaced with the proprietary Sustainiac one and some clever electrical gubbins is inserted into the guitar cavity, hidden by the plate on the reverse. The thing is activated with a switch Charlie put in not far below the bottom string and, once flicked, enables the delighted user to ENDLESSLY sustain a note, even when played at low volume or without any overdrive or distortion. It's battery powered.
The guitar solo in “I’ve Never Loved You More” shows this off, in all its glory. It’s a relatively clean, compressed sound but the last note carries on and on because of the Sustainiac kicking in. I’ve used it elsewhere on the album, in cahoots with more aggressive guitar tones, but this usage I like a lot.
I appreciate the sentiments expressed in many love songs of the past, but I think it makes a change to portray the real aspects of relationships, namely tolerating a partner’s less attractive traits (violence I draw the line at, despite the cartoon references in my song). These might include flatulence, repeated instructions on how to fill a dishwasher or leaving metal coat hangers lying around on the floor. In doing so, we can highlight the humour that (sometimes) lies therein. Or, it’s merely funny to flick a rat off your leg into someone’s face. Isn’t it?