GEAR MAGAZINE APPEARANCES

I have a stack of guitar magazines that feature Sonic Youth in some capacity, and this page aims to collect the most interesting bits of info from those articles. If you know of any gear/guitar based SY features that aren't listed here, please let me know!

New additions from May 2020 are in this colour, but I've left the February 2020 updates highlighted in this color since you're probably not used to an update every 3 months...enjoy!

INDEX

GUITAR PLAYERSeptember 1986
GUITAR PLAYERFebruary 1989
MUSICIANMarch 1989
INTERNATIONAL MUSICIAN & RECORDING WORLDMay 1989 NEW!
GUITAR WORLDFebruary 1990 NEW!
GUITARE & CLAVIERSDecember 1990 NEW!
SONICSMay 1991 NEW!
BASS PLAYERMay/June 1991 NEW!
GUITAR PLAYERAugust 1991
GUITAR (JAPAN)September 1992 NEW!
GUITAR THE MAGAZINESeptember 1992 NEW!
GUITAR PLAYEROctober 1992
GUITAR SCHOOLNovember 1992
GUITAR WORLDNovember 1992
GUITAR PLAYERDecember 1992
GUITAR FOR THE PRACTICING MUSICIANDecember 1992 NEW!
SONICSApril 1993 NEW!
GUITAR THE MAGAZINEMay 1994 NEW!
GUITAR PLAYERJuly 1994
CONFUSION IS NEXTOctober 1994
THE WHOLE GUITAR BOOK 31994 NEW!
GUITAR FOR THE PRACTICING MUSICIANAugust 1995 NEW!
GUITARE & CLAVIERSSeptember 1995 NEW!
GUITAR PLAYERNovember 1995
MUSICIANDecember 1995
GUITAR WORLDDecember 1995
THE COMPLETE BOOK OF ALTERNATE TUNINGS1995 NEW!
CHITARREJanuary 1996 NEW!
GUITAR FOR THE PRACTICING MUSICIANMarch 1996
GUITAR 8 BOOK (JAPAN)1996? NEW!
GUITARE & CLAVIERSMay 1998 NEW!
GUITAR PLAYERAugust 1998
TOTAL GUITARAugust 1998
VINTAGE GUITARAugust 1998
GITARRE & BASSAugust 1998 NEW!
GUITAR WORLDAugust 2000
TOTAL GUITAROctober 2000 NEW!
TOTAL GUITARAugust 2002 NEW!
GUITARISTSeptember 2002 NEW!
GUITAR PART #102September 2002 NEW!
GUITAR PLAYERNovember 2002
GUITAR ONEJuly 2003 NEW!
GUITAR BREAKERSAugust 2003 NEW!
GUITAR & BASSJuly 2004 NEW!
GUITAR PART #124July-August 2004 NEW!
GUITARISTSummer 2004 NEW!
GUITAR PLAYERSeptember 2004
GUITAR PART #149July-August 2006 NEW!
KEYBOARDS RECORDINGJuly-August 2006 NEW!
GUITAR ONEOctober 2006 NEW!
GUITAR PLAYERDecember 2006
EQAugust 2009
PREMIER GUITARAugust 2010
FEEDING BACK2012 NEW!
GUITARS & HEROES2018 NEW!
 

 

GUITAR PLAYER
SEPTEMBER 1986
"THE DOWNTOWN SOUND - NEW YORK GUITAR '86 PART 2"
by Mark Dery

NOTES
This is a continuation of a 2-part series covering downtown New York bands and is almost certainly the first article on Sonic Youth in a guitar magazine. This article focuses on pre-EVOL Sonic Youth, Rat-At-Rat-R, Swans and Live Skull. SY's portion covers eleven paragraphs and is a fine introduction to their sound. It discusses the "noise rock" label, how they consider themselves right between John Cage and John Fogerty, the early Branca influence, and a number of guitar tricks and tunings. Most of the quotes are Lee's though it seems Thurston was present too.

LEE: "The guitar is used in a very limited way by 99% of the people that use it. One tuning, one conceptualization, barre chords, lead riffs - shit like that. Our conception is that the possibilities are unlimited."

Classic SY tricks are revealed, like jamming screwdrivers or drumsticks under the strings to create a second bridge (usually at the 9th fret) or tapping the back of the neck or body produces haunting wind chimes.

Lee discusses a song where "I played the guitar and Thurston played my amp, doing the modifications." This refers to the end of "Justice is Might" though the song is not mentioned.

GEAR MENTIONED
The article mentions multiple guitars:

  • Gibson Marauder
  • Fender Telecaster Deluxe
  • Fender Jazzmaster
  • Kapa Minstrel
  • "a dozen-odd Japanese cheapos stacked like cord wood"

  • Fender Super Reverb
  • Fender Twin Reverb

    At the time, the band was "rarely" using effects, instead relying on their amplifiers. LEE: "The guitar/amp interaction is a big thing. The amp is part of the instrument."

  • TUNINGS MENTIONED
    A couple of classic tunings are revealed:

  • GGDDD#D# ("Kill Yr Idols")
  • F#F#F#F#EB ("Death Valley '69" "Brave Men Run" "Halloween")

    LEE: "Every time we write a song, we make up a tuning for it. Sometimes it's a tuning we already have, sometimes it's a brand new one. We don't have any guitars in normal tuning now at all. It's not because we're against it; it's just the way things have evolved."

    LEE: "Sometimes Thurston will play a riff on one guitar in a certain tuning, and I'll make up a different tuning that somehow goes with it, though not through any chord theory or anything like that."

  • NOTES
    This is a continuation of a 2-part series covering downtown New York bands and is almost certainly the first article on Sonic Youth in a guitar magazine. This article focuses on pre-EVOL Sonic Youth, Rat-At-Rat-R, Swans and Live Skull. SY's portion covers eleven paragraphs and is a fine introduction to their sound. It discusses the "noise rock" label, how they consider themselves right between John Cage and John Fogerty, the early Branca influence, and a number of guitar tricks and tunings. Most of the quotes are Lee's though it seems Thurston was present too.

    LEE: "The guitar is used in a very limited way by 99% of the people that use it. One tuning, one conceptualization, barre chords, lead riffs - shit like that. Our conception is that the possibilities are unlimited."

    Classic SY tricks are revealed, like jamming screwdrivers or drumsticks under the strings to create a second bridge (usually at the 9th fret) or tapping the back of the neck or body produces haunting wind chimes.

    Lee discusses a song where "I played the guitar and Thurston played my amp, doing the modifications." This refers to the end of "Justice is Might" though the song is not mentioned.

    GEAR PHOTOS
    The article features two live photos by Monica Dee, from the Peppermint Lounge in New York, possibly February 14th 1985 or July 5th 1985, depending on who's on drums! Lee's playing his Kent, Kim has her Ovation, and Thurston is probably using his GDD# guitar at the time...

    GUITAR PLAYER
    FEBRUARY 1989
    "SONIC YOUTH: A METHOD TO THEIR MADNESS"
    by Joe Gore

    NOTES
    This is a very nice Daydream Nation era piece with several extensive sidebars dedicated to the band's gear, tunings, and even some tablature. The three guitar players are also interviewed together after a show. The article opens with Thurston recording some screams into his Sony walkman to play during the gig while they change guitars. The band discuss their influences, cyberpunk, improvisation and their songwriting process in general.

    GEAR MENTIONED
    The article mentions many of the guitars used by the band, though often doesn't specify who used them. Thurston is pegged as the bigger supporter of the Jazzmaster, having recently purchased a reissue.

  • Fender Jazzmasters (1)(2) (3) (4)
  • Fender Jaguar
  • Fender Mustangs (1) (2) (3)
  • "a pair of identical Telecaster Deluxes" (1) (2)
  • Fender Duo-Sonic
  • "a Mustang/Telecaster hybrid" (??)
  • Strat-style Fernandes
  • Univox Plexiglas Dan Armstrong copy
  • Quest refitted with Ibanez pickups
  • Ovation Viper
  • Drifter
  • '76 Gibson Thunderbird bass
  • Rickenbacker bass
  • Ovation bass

    LEE: "One thing we hate is locking tremolos. We'd never buy a guitar with that. The Jaguar and Jazzmaster never go out of tune, and the Mustangs are pretty reliable, too. The Jazzmaster pick-ups sound a little thin to my ear, but Thurston somehow manages to get a lot of meat out of them." (Indeed, Lee shied away from the Jazzmaster until he first started putting Tele Deluxe pickups in them in the mid-90s.)

    The Drifter, pictured in a promo shot with Daydream Nation under its strings along with the drumstick, is showcased as the "sickest" guitar, explaining that Lee pulled out the frets years ago as a microtonality experiment, and it's now fitted with 4 bass strings and Thurston uses it as his drumstick guitar.

  • Peavey Roadmaster Amplifier w/ 4x12 cab (THURSTON)
  • Peavey Roadmaster Amplifier w/ 6x10 cab (LEE)
  • Fender Super Reverb (blackface) as extension cab (LEE)
  • Peavey Encore 65 (THURSTON, to play his Sony Walkman thru onstage)
  • Marshall Jubilee Bass Series head w/ Dietz 2x15 cab (KIM)

    LEE: "Most Peaveys are horrible but they made that one great series of top-of-the-line six-tube killer-watt amps."

    LEE's PEDALS:

  • Pro-Co Rat distortion box
  • Boss Compressor/Sustainer
  • Morley volume pedal
  • Fender DGC1 delay (should be DGL-1 digital delay)

    THURSTON's PEDALS:

  • DeArmond volume pedal
  • MXR Blue Box ("just as a goofy thing")

    KIM's PEDALS:

  • Aria MP-5 Metal Pedal
  • Dunlop Cry-Baby wah wah

    As in the earlier issue, the band discusses their dislike towards relying on effects, though you can see they're starting to adopt them. THURSTON: "They just get in the way. I'm more interested in the organic side of sound, like tuning. Pedals are a deviation. If you use them, then you're listening to the effect and not the guitar; they become the dominant factor in the sound."

    Both guitarists use medium gauge Jim Dunlop picks (Thurston .60 mm, Lee .88 mm), while Kim uses a Gibson heavy gauge (featured as a gnarled stub in the issue's fold-out poster of famous picks).

  • TUNINGS MENTIONED
    A multi-page subsection is devoted to the band's tunings and even features some rare Sonic Youth tablature! It also mentions their guitars being restrung with specific gauges marked on the headstocks.

  • EEEEF#F# (LEE: "Cross the Breeze")
  • ACCGG#C (THURSTON: "Silver Rocket" "Candle")
  • AAEEAA (LEE: "Silver Rocket")
  • GGDDD#D# ("Cotton Crown" "Brother James" "Total Trash") (THURSTON: "The Wonder")
  • GABDEG (THURSTON: "Teenage Riot")
  • GGDDGG (LEE: "Teenage Riot" "Eliminator Jr")
  • F#F#F#F#EB ("Death Valley '69")
  • EBEEAB (LEE: "Kissability" "Eric's Trip" "Hey Joni")
  • D#D#C#C#GG w/ screwdriver @ 9th fret (LEE: "I Love Her All The Time")
  • GGC#DGG (LEE: "The Wonder")
  • CCEBGD (THURSTON: "Cross the Breeze")

    Thurston's intro for "Silver Rocket" is tabbed in the proper tuning and in standard tuning, which is a great way to showcase the power of their tunings. The chorus riff is also fully tabbed for both guitars and bass in the correct tunings. Thurston's intro riffs to "Candle" are also tabbed, as is his chorus for the "The Wonder". Thurston's "Teenage Riot" intro is tabbed, as are his and Lee's parts for the verse.

  • GEAR PHOTOS
    The first picture is from a series Monica Dee did of the band posing with all of their guitars (previously discussed in a 2010 update). If anyone has any other pix from this session, please let me know! A Pat Blashill photo from the Daydream Nation tour is also included (Thurston is using the Drifter so the band is playing "Eric's Trip"). Kim's Gibson Heavy pick gets a spotlight on the pick poster!

    MUSICIAN
    MARCH 1989
    "SONIC YOUTH'S DISTORTED TRUTH"
    by David Browne

    NOTES
    Written by future SY biographer David Browne, this is a good 3-page intro to the band (including Steve) circa Daydream Nation, focusing primarily on their newfound "major label" status having signed to Enigma(!) and some discussion of their songwriting process. It's not heavily gear-focused beyond a small sidebar, but it's an interesting read that ends with the band facing pushback from their label over the artwork for The Whitey Album.
    GEAR MENTIONED
    The article has a brief sidebar called "Totaled Trash" discussing the band's gear.

    "...18 of them, each tuned differently, are taken on the road. Most are gutted and remade by the band, but Ranaldo and Moore generally start with Fenders: Tele Deluxes, Mustangs, Duosonics, a Jaguar and a Jazzmaster."

  • Harmony Les Paul copy
  • Univox Plexiglas Dan Armstrong copy
  • Drifter
  • Rickenbacker bass
  • Ovation bass

  • Fender digital delay
  • Boss compressor
  • Morley volume pedal

    These 3 pedals are all Lee's, mentioned in the other 1989 article above.

    Kim mentions using a Marshall head and "some kind of cabinet". The guitarist's amps aren't mentioned.

    D'Addario and Ernie Ball are the preferred strings. Picks are listed as Dunlop .73 and .88 rather than .60 and .88 in the Guitar Player article.

    Steve plays a five-piece wood fiberglass Pearl kit he's owned since the age of 13, with Zildjian crash, ride, and hi-hats. He uses wood-tipped Promark sticks.

  • TUNINGS MENTIONED
    No specific tunings are mentioned in this article.

    INTERNATIONAL MUSIC & RECORDING WORLD
    MAY 1989
    "PA COLUMN"
    by David Anthony

    NOTES
    This article actually focuses almost entirely on the soundboard and PA system used by the band for their March 22, 1989 London performance. While the band's 19 oddly tuned guitars are acknowledged, most of the piece addresses the band's live sound. Terry Pearson, SY's longtime soundman, talks about the desk he used for this show and how their instruments were mixed, as well as which outboard effects were used. The specifications for all of the PA cabinets and the band's on stage monitors (speakers and desk) are also given.

    To summarize:

    Terry would know which guitar went with which song and alter its volume and tone on the FOH mixing console to keep the sound balanced. He used a SoundCraft 800B 24:8:2 desk. Lee and Thurston each had a channel, and both changed their amp settings about 2 or 3 times during the show. Kim had two channels, one a DI before her wah and distortion pedals, and one a mic on the amp itself. The drums had two channels, as did the vocals.

    Drawmer noise gates and Yamaha SPX 90 reverbs were used gently on the drums, and a Yamaha Rev 7 was used for vocal reverb, along with a Roland SDE3000 for very short vocal delay. BSS compressors were used on the vocals and bass DI.

    The on-stage monitors used a SoundCraft 800B 24:8 desk. Peter Van de Velde ran this console, with similar effects to the FOH mix - Yamaha Rev 7 on Kim's vocal, Drawmer noise gate on the drums, BSS compressor on the bass DI, lead guitar, and all vocal mics. The six on stage wedges each contained 2 x 15" Electro Voice bass speakers and a 2" Beymer compression driver. The drum fill was a TM54 which used 15" and 10" Turbosound speakers and a 1" JBL compression driver while the side fills were two TM53 cabinets (also used in the FOH mix).

    Note that this is just pertinent to the one show and may have all been venue supplied equipment, but it's interesting to see a feature on this side of the band's sound, particularly from relatively early in their career!

    GEAR MENTIONED
    There are no specific SY guitar notes in this article.

    TUNINGS MENTIONED
    No specific tunings are mentioned.

    GEAR PHOTOS
    The picture that accompanies the article is presumably from the show, and features Lee tossing his Harmony Les Paul while Thurston and Kim are in the background with the "Duo Sonic" and Thunderbird bass. Hey, does Lee have a DS-2 now?

    GUITAR WORLD
    FEBRUARY 1990

    NOTES
    While there's no SY feature in this issue, Thurston pops up twice: once in a section featuring many artists giving their "best of" lists, and once in a piece on "Four Players That Will Matter In The Nineties" alongside Living Colour's Vernon Reid, Testament's Alex Skolnick, and Winger's Reb Beach (whose quote is hilarious). It's pretty cool to see Thurston getting some recognition in a pre-Goo guitar magazine.

    GEAR MENTIONED
    Well, Thurston is certainly pictured with many guitars! In the first shot he's playing the Eterna, and in the second shot he's holding the classic blue Jazzmaster while the headstocks of the Firebird, another Jazzmaster, a Tele Deluxe, and both of Lee's Mustangs are also visible.

    TUNINGS MENTIONED
    No tunings are mentioned.

    GEAR PHOTOS
    Both photos are by Michael Lavine.

    GUITARE & CLAVIERS
    DECEMBER 1990
    "GUITARRORISTE"
    by Marc Zisman

    NOTES
    This is a French magazine featuring a one-page interview with Thurston. He discusses signing to Geffen, being "cousins" to artists like Dinosaur Jr and the Pixies, the Guitarrorists compilation, and being a fan of Nirvana, classical music, and rap.

    GEAR MENTIONED
    Thurston mentions a few of the instruments he uses:

    THURSTON: "We use guitars as tools. We do experiments on them. [smile] We torture them! On average, I use six different ones. I play as well with a Fender Jazz Master as with a Fender Jaguar. Also, a Fender Duo Sonic and a Drifter. They are all tuned differently. I admit I have a preference for the Jazz Master because of its size, among others. In fact, I don't like guitars for what they are, for the object they represent. Their sounds interest me, that's all. I'm not like Ricky Nelson. I do not collect them for their aesthetics. I connect them, in general, on a huge Marshall JCM 800. A distortion pedal is enough for me for the effects."

    TUNINGS MENTIONED
    No specific tunings are mentioned.

    GEAR PHOTOS
    Thurston is shown in two live pix with his Ibanez Roadstar, but I think he only used it regularly in '87 so I'm not sure when/where the pix are from...

    SONICS
    MAY 1991
    "KOOL YOUTH"
    by Geoff Wood

    NOTES
    This is an Australian publication, and SY are actually featured on the cover (pre-dating the full cover story in Guitar Player by a few months). It's a good 2-page introduction to the band in the Goo era, touching on the band's usage of screwdrivers and alternate tunings, as well as a couple of paragraphs detailing the back catalog. Goo is discussed, with some commentary by Thurston on the 48-track production, the Carpenters influence, and hanging with Public Enemy.

    GEAR MENTIONED
    The topic of gear is casually brushed over (often the case with some of these guitar mags - irritating!), summarized as follows:

    "The equipment they use is regular stuff: Fender Jaguars and Jazzmasters put through old Marshall 100-watt heads and two cabinets. Kim prefers the Fender Precision and a BC Rich for bass. Steve Shelley pounds whatever he can get his hands on. Nothing new here."

    TUNINGS MENTIONED
    "Unorthodox tunings" are referenced but no specific tunings are mentioned.

    BASS PLAYER
    MAY/JUNE 1991
    "SLAMMIN' THE SONIC SLAB""
    by Joe Gore

    NOTES
    This is a very cool page-and-a-half interview with Kim by Joe Gore, who also interviewed the band for many issues of Guitar Player. It might have been excerpted from the band interviews he did for the August '91 issue, but it came out first and stands up as a separate piece. Kim discusses elements of her playing style as well as the meaning behind various tunes on Goo.

    KIM: [re: becoming more conventional e.g. locking in with the kick drum] "Maybe, but those songs - like "Mote" and "Disappearer" - are my least favorites to play. I prefer the freer ones, like "Cinderella's Big Score". The only really difference is that you can hear the bass this time. We've always tried to make records that sound good, but I don't think they've actually been very good. Sister has a great sound, except the drums, which are like cardboard. On Daydream Nation, the vocals suck. And Goo doesn't have enough dynamics - that's what happens when you mix democratically."

    KIM: "I try to find something that goes with what both Lee and Thurston are playing. They have very different styles, so I often come up with things that are less than specific. Actually, guitar was my first instrument, and I think of my instrument as a bass guitar. I like playing up high along with the other guitars - it's more like an orchestra or something. Bass is a very limited instrument, but I like that kind of creativity: working within limitations."

    KIM: [re: becoming a better bass player despite underground roots] "I'm not a better bass player. I don't know any more about the bass than when I started. To me, a bass is a piece of wood with four strings - I just try to get as much resonance as possible."

    This last comment (and likely many others!) did not please Mr. David W. Carr, who had a letter to the editor published in the Sept/Oct 1991 issue of Bass Player. His "Sonic Slam" is worth preserving: "Kim Gordon, the bass holder in the politically correct rock band Sonic Youth, seems proud of the fact that she knows nothing more about the bass now than she did ten years ago. In Joe Gore's interview, she says a bass is nothing but "a piece of wood with four strings on it" and states that she doesn't need to know anything about the formal language of rock bass because it was developed by men. This is nothing more than bohemian posturing and a feeble attempt to appear socially significant. It's also the wrong messsage to send to young players who should seek as much knowledge as possible about every facet of playing. I'm no techno-wiz myself, but even I know that ignorance is not bliss - it's just ignorance."

    GEAR MENTIONED
    Kim gives a rundown of her Goo-era set-up:

    KIM: "I recorded Goo with an early '70s Fender Jazz Bass. Onstage, I play a cheesy B.C. Rich bass. It looks pretty cool, and I don't have to worry about destroying it. I play through a Cry Baby wah and a Turbo-Rat distortion - I use it on a slightly distorted setting for just about everything. I have a MESA/Boogie 400+ amp with a 4x12 guitar bottom and another cabinet with an 18."

    TUNINGS MENTIONED
    The article opens with a few paragraphs on SY's sound & history, specifying that while Lee and Thurston use alternate tunings, Kim uses standard tuning.

    GEAR PHOTOS
    An Ebet Roberts photo of Kim playing her B.C. Rich bass, date unknown.

    GUITAR PLAYER
    AUGUST 1991
    "SONIC YOUTH: SWILLING THE SONIC STEW"
    by Joe Gore

    NOTES
    The band finally get a cover story! Well, Thurston at least - holding his "battle-scarred Harmony", the original SY guitar. Another great Joe Gore article, 10 pages of interview, photos and more tablature! This is a Goo era piece, opening with a review of the climax of the April 6th 1991 show, opening for Neil Young. The 3 guitarists are all interviewed, following up on the '89 story with lots of interesting gear info.

    THURSTON: "As we got into using different tunings for different songs, but didn't yet own a lot of guitars., we'd have to spend five minutes tuning up between each song. So I started playing a tape of "Not Right" by the Stooges, and it made people stick with the show. I started using other things, like Ratt's "Round and Round". When I played that, all the kids in back ran up front yelling "Ratt! Ratt!" We really got off on it too, because we like seeing our show as a continuous piece of music. On the Neil Young tour, we used Black Sabbath's "War Pigs", Gerardo's "Rico Suave", some Karen Carpenter, and Artikulation, a György Ligeti electronic piece from 1958."

    THURSTON: "For "Scooter & Jinx", I 10'ed everything on my amp. There's no guitar, just amp sound, and at the end you can hear a pop where the amp blows up. We just ran it to tape, 24 tracks. And the long ending of "Mote" has to be one of the loudest takes anyone has ever made - just saturated, broiling guitar. I had a guitar in front of a Marshall stack, going through a bunch of boxes that boosted the sound. I'd just stand there, bending the neck. We could only leave the amp on for a few seconds at a time, because it was so preamp-overloaded that it would have just popped. It was brutal! I've never heard anything like it!"

    GEAR MENTIONED
    The band is directly asked about guitars, amps, and effects in the interview rather than being listed in a side column. The tally of touring guitars has risen to 25 since the last piece.

    GUITARS

    LEE: "Jaguars and Jazzmasters are our favorites, because you can play on the length of string behind the bridge, they have a light, comfortable body shape, and the tremolos are pretty good - we hate string-lock tremolos of any sort. We've also used a lot of Telecasters and Tele Deluxes, and I've come to appreciate Gibsons lately. It's funny - the one guitar we've never had in the band is a Stratocaster."

    KIM: "Onstage I play a cheesy B.C. Rich bass, but I recorded Goo with an early-'70s Fender Jazz Bass."

    AMPS

    THURSTON: "...vintage Marshall 100-watt amp"

    KIM: "A MESA/Boogie 400+ amp with a 4x12 guitar bottom and another cabinet with an 18."

    LEE: "A Fender 4x10 Super Reverb souped up by Harry Kolbe, with two stock speakers in the top, two heavy-duty Electro-Voice speakers below. I also have a stock Fender Concert. Both are pre-CBS blackfaces."

    EFFECTS

    THURSTON: "I have a Turbo-Rat, which I use as a preamp to my vintage Marshall 100-watt amp, and I also use a DOD fuzzbox. But basically effects are like legalese to me - I just don't want to know about them."

    KIM: "I play through a Cry Baby wah and a Turbo-Rat. I use a slightly distorted setting for just about everything."

    LEE: "I'm playing through five pedals: an MXR phase shifter, a Cry Baby, a DOD Digital Delay - not as good as my Fender delay, which broke - a Tube Works distortion pedal, and a BOSS CS-2 compressor."

    TUNINGS MENTIONED
    Though partially a rehash of the February '89 article, there is a separate section dedicated to tuning and tablature.

  • CCEBGD (THURSTON: "Cross the Breeze" "Disappearer")
  • GGDDD#D# (THURSTON: "Cotton Crown" "The Wonder" "Brother James")
  • EGDGED (THURSTON: "Dirty Boots" "Titanium Expose") (KIM: "My Friend Goo")
  • F#F#GGAA (THURSTON: "Schizophrenia")
  • EG#EG#EG# (THURSTON & LEE: "Expressway to yr Skull")
  • F#F#F#F#EB (THURSTON: "Kool Thing" "Mary-Christ" "Death Valley '69")
  • ACCGG#C (THURSTON: "Silver Rocket" "Candle" "Cinderella's Big Score")
  • GABDEG (THURSTON: "Teenage Riot")
  • EEBBEF# (LEE: "Dirty Boots")
  • GGDDGG (LEE: "Tunic" "Teenage Riot")
  • GGC#DGG (LEE: "The Wonder" "Hyperstation")
  • GGDDFF (LEE: "Mote")
  • EBEEAB (LEE: "Kissability" "Eric's Trip" "Hey Joni")

    THURSTON: "My favorite new tuning from Goo is one Kim came up with: E, G, D, G, E, D with the second string tuned below the third...I like it because it relates to traditional tuning - it has a low E, and you can barre across the middle strings like in open-G tuning."

    This time, the intro to "Cross the Breeze" is presented in its correct tuning and in standard tuning, once again providing a clear picture of how important their tunings are. Thurston's main riff for "Cotton Crown" is tabbed, as is his verse and harmonic section of "Schizophrenia". The intro to "Dirty Boots" is tabbed along with the verse riff (which also features Lee's guitar). Most of Thurston's part for "Expressway" is also transcribed, along with some of Lee's flourishes.

  • GEAR PHOTOS
    The cover photo features Thurston with his Harmony Bobkat, from the same session as the Guitar (Japan) issue below. The band was also photographed together (Thurston's wearing the same shirt), and Lee is holding his competition Mustang. Pix from this session end up in a lot of these mags...

    GUITAR (JAPAN)
    SEPTEMBER 1992
    "KOOL HIP AND DIRTY"
    by Mariko Kawahara

    NOTES
    This is the first instance I've found of Sonic Youth appearing in a Japanese guitar magazine, and it is quite the feature, including interviews with Thurston and Lee followed by a 5-page "playing analysis" that opens with a large alternate tuning tutorial before offering tabs of various Goo and Dirty riffs divided into categories like "chord" "arpeggio" and "solo". While the cover (Thurston and that Bobkat again!) indicates that the material is "excerpted from Guitar Player magazine U.S.A.", there was never really a Dirty-heavy Guitar Player feature. After translating the article, I didn't really notice many similiarities to any other pieces I'd read from this era.

    The interview with Thurston is much longer than Lee's, and there's also a sidebar called "Thurstons' Favorites In Japan", highlighting the Boredoms and Keiji Haino. The playing analysis stuff is really cool to see, including parts of "Sugar Kane" "100%" "Dirty Boots" "Drunken Butterfly" "Wish Fulfillment" "Theresa's Sound-World" and "Purr"! Lee's awesome "sugar Kane" solo is tabbed in both the correct tuning (well, almost...) and standard tuning for comparison. Unlike future Japanese features, it doesn't have any awesome gear pictures, but it's still a lot of quality content.

    Because of the kinda jumbled translations I can get the gist of the interview, but not really provide confident quotes. Thurston talks about the guitars he used on Dirty, "Standard Kim Tuning" aka EGDGED, not remembering which guitars go with which tunings go with which songs are on the album, other classic tunings, changing gauges but not knowing which gauges he uses, all explained by having a roadie on tour for the past 2 years (Keith Nealy, I believe? I don't think Jim Vincent had come onboard yet...), other bands or guitarists he's a fan of (Butthole Surfers, Einstürzende Neubauten, Boredoms, UFO or Die, Cows, Tom Verlaine, Robert Quine, Sonny Sherrock, Lou Reed, and My Bloody Valentine), amps and effects, drumsticks and string behind the bridge, John Coltrane, playing with Lee Ranaldo, touring with Neil Young, working with Butch Vig, and Ian MacKaye's guest appearance on "Youth Against Fascism".

    Lee talks about Thurston.

    Just kidding - but it's a much shorter interview! He discusses tunings as well as players he likes such as Tom Verlaine, Leo Kottke, Django Reinhardt, Jerry Garcia, and d Boon. Some 20th century composers also get a credit - John Cage, Karlheinz Stockhausen, György Ligeti, Eric Satie, Harry Partch and Steve Reich. He also talks about his approach to soloing, in particular "Chapel Hill", but I can barely make sense of it... There's some amp and effects stuff that I can discern, which we'll get to below...

    GEAR MENTIONED
    Both interviews do address their gear, which I'll try to summarize:

    THURSTON

  • Jazzmaster w/ Tune-O-Matic bridge (used for Dirty)
  • "hand-crafted" Fender Telecaster (used for Dirty)

    He talks about how everyone in the rock world played Stratocasters until Guns n Roses came along and then everyone started playing Les Pauls, but pictures of Sonic Youth and Dinosaur Jr playing Jazzmasters and Jaguars in music magazines helped drive the popularity of those instruments.

    He mentions modifying the Jazzmaster by adding a Tune-O-Matic bridge, changing the pick up, removing the pickguard, setting the "on/off" and "volume" switches to "on".

  • 2 100-watt Marshall heads

  • Turbo Rat "as a 2nd fuzz box" (I think he means in addition to amp distortion?)

    "I'm just trying to keep it very basic and simple. I just want to be on stage with me and the amp."

    LEE

  • "A lot of Fenders - Jaguar, Jazzmaster, and Telecaster Deluxe are all pretty good"

  • Fender Super Reverb ("all my life")
  • Fender Concert Reverb ("all my life")
  • MESA/Boogie MKIII ("in my new work")
  • "I used an Orange head for a heavy song"

  • DOD Analog Delay "is one of the best effects I've ever seen" (wait til you discover that AD80, Lee!)
  • Rat distortion
  • Cry Baby
  • MXR Phase Shifter "I think the phase shifter was important for this album"

  • TUNINGS MENTIONED
    Thurston discusses a few tunings in his interview, and the "Dirty Works" feature reveals even more!

    Thurston initially cites EGDGED (the "Standard Kim" tuning - unless "Standing Kim" really is a correct translation?) then mentions GGDDD#D# and F#F#F#F#EB as other favorites. Actually, he just calls it the "Brother James" tuning, but is specific about the "Death Valley" tuning (which is also how it's described).

    In the "playing analysis" feature, each tuning is listed for the various songs tabbed out, with one minor error. There are arrows indicating whether to tune the string up or down.

  • EGDGED
  • GGDDD#D#
  • F#F#F#F#EB
  • ACCGG#C
  • GGDDGG
  • EEBBEF#
  • GGBBGA - should be GGBDGA
  • GABDEG
  • F#F#GGAA

    Other than the error in Lee's "Sugar Kane" tuning, and tabbing one guitar in F#F#F#F#EB for "Drunken Butterfly", this feature is pretty much spot on!

  • GEAR PHOTOS
    The cover and band shots are both from the same sessions that were used for Guitar Player '91 etc... Thurston w/ his Harmony Bobkat, Lee with his competition Mustang. Two cut-outs from the "100%" video shoot are also included, Thurston with his Firebird and Lee with the mystery Musicmaster.

    GUITAR THE MAGAZINE
    SEPTEMBER 1992
    "YOUTH OF TODAY"
    by Cliff Jones

    NOTES
    This article contains an interview piece with Thurston, Lee, and Kim along with two sidebars. The interview is fairly standard (though the band is persistently referred to as "The Youf") while the sidebars delve into gear and tunings.

    GEAR MENTIONED
    A sidebar entitled "Sonic Gear Guide" (hey!) provides the meat of this article. As usual, much of the focus is on Jaguars and Jazzmasters...

    THURSTON

  • Jaguars and Jazzmasters

  • Turbo Rat

  • Marshall 100-watt head (broken)
  • Peavey Roadmaster head
  • Marshall cab

    LEE

  • Jaguars and Jazzmasters
  • "a Les Paul for a video we did with Iggy Pop"
  • Travis Bean
  • a few Fender Telecaster Deluxes (1) (2) (3)

    LEE: "The Trem on the Jazzmaster is still the best designed trem there is. Floyd Rose can fuck off as far as I'm concerned! The Jags and the Jazzmasters are so reliable both mechanically and tuning wise. I wish all my guitars had that bridge and tailpiece configuration you get on those Fenders."

    LEE: "The bridge of the Jazz and Jag is the greatest, and we like to play the guitar behind the bridge action. I've got one guitar where I put a single coil pickup behind the bridge. The thing is that we mostly take the pickups out and put humbuckers in. The controls get taken out too - guitars tend to get banged around and to have the delicate electronics playing up is a drag so they have to go. We give all the pickups out and give em to J Mascis. He has to have originals, but he's still looking for the right pair."

  • Analog Delay

    LEE: "I got a few delays including this great analogue one. I did have a Fender analogue delay but it went all crispy on me so it went. I'd love to get another but they don't make 'em anymore."

  • MESA/Boogie Mark III
  • black faced Fender Deluxe (previously)
  • Super Reverb (previously)

    KIM

  • Gibson Thunderbird

  • Hendrix Octivider (presumably Hendrix Octave Fuzz)

    KIM: "I have a rack with this Hendrix Octivider on it and that really is the biggest colour to my sound. It's like the ultimate distortion machine and I used it on Theresa's Sound World."

  • MESA/Boogie amp w/ 18-inch speaker system
  • Marshall bass stacks (used previously, especially on tour)(

  • TUNINGS MENTIONED
    A sidebar titled "The Kids Are Alright" touches briefly on tunings.

  • F#F#F#F#EB ("Death Valley '69" "100%")

  • GEAR PHOTOS
    There are 3 live pix of Thurston with his sunburst Jazzmaster, one of Kim with her Thunderbird bass, and one of Lee with..a guitar. Not sure when the pix are from, though.

    GUITAR PLAYER
    OCTOBER 1992
    "THE GRUNGE & THE GLORY"
    by Tom Wheeler

    NOTES
    This is an article collecting "distortion tips from the loud & mighty" boasting "trade secrets from 31 Oracles of Overdrive". One of these oracles happens to be Lee Ranaldo, who contributes the following:

    LEE: "In our early days we were into playing off of the chaos element of unpredictable equipment. When we'd tour Europe using different amps every night, we knew if we turned them all the way up, we'd get some raggedy-ass sound that was wonderful in at least some aspect. But now, as our songs get more specific, we're more into having things under our control, though we'll never be hi-fi gearheads.

    Our sound initially came out of being so supercharged by the notion of playing live that we just cranked the amps. With those fine old Fenders, you just turn them to "10," and you don't need much else. That, plus the Rat and Turbo-Rat pedals that Thurston, Kim, and I have all used, has generally been the source of our distortion.

    Amps have become so high-tech, with various stages of gain, preamp, and master volume. Now distortion is more of a contrived science, created with a pedal or a special amp setting. But old amps, even the no-name ones from the '50s that I've been collecting lately just sound great when they're turned up all the way.

    In the studio, Thurston and I tend to go with our tried-and-true favorite amps. He still uses a Marshall stack, though for the new record [Dirty] I switched from my old blackface Fender Super Reverb and Concert pair to a MESA/Boogie Mark III. Since I got it, I've tried to rely more on the channel switching than the Rat pedal. The amp plays like a dream, though I did augment it with other things, like the vintage Orange head I used for the real overdriven stuff. It's a little rattier-sounding than a Marshall, though not in a low-tech sense. The presence knob really gives you incredible control over the quality of the sound. For certain things, man, there's nothing that can touch that amp - it's God's gift to distortion."

    GUITAR SCHOOL
    NOVEMBER 1992
    "PRIME CUTS: SONIC YOUTH"
    by Daniel B. Levine

    NOTES
    This short piece opens with a single paragraph on page 12 before continuing all the way on page 134 (of a 136-page magazine). Interviewed before the July 3rd, 1992 CBGB show, Thurston and Lee offer their take on some key tunes from the band's history.

    On Sonic Youth:

    THURSTON: "We didn't know anything about studios then - the fact that it was 24-track meant nothing to us. We did everything in two days. We tracked everything the first day, did a couple of vocal overdubs, and mixed it the next day."

    On "Running Scared" (aka, uh, "The Burning Spear"):

    THURSTON: "That was the first song we ever wrote. It was really weird, because I always thought that the first time we'd record, the first thing I'd want on the album would be a huge "E" chord. But it wasn't - it was a drum. I really worried about it. I'd think, "Wow, the first thing is this drum smash." Now I'm really glad we did it, because the drum is the original instrument.

    We decided that since we had cheapo guitars that nobody else would play, we'd use them prepared in weird ways. This song is basically a drum stick stuck under the 12th fret that's chimed with another drum stick. And Kim and the drummer at the time, Richard Edson, played this kind of reggae beat, which was something we were very into. There was some really radical reggae music around that time that everyone was into. It was much more fresh then, so people were experimenting with it."

    On "I Dreamed A Dream" (closer..):

    THURSTON: "That's in standard tuning. Much of the first record is in standard tuning. It wasn't until after this record was completed that we really got into creating new tunings. "I Dreamed A Dream" came out of a picking thing we did. Richard Edson wrote the lyrics, which was very strange. Usually, I'll write the lyrics or Kim or whoever is singing, but never the drummer."

    On Confusion Is Sex:

    LEE: "It was during this album that we really started working with alternate tunings. That's partly because of the cheap guitars we were using - they really wouldn't do normal-tuning things, so we'd do other things with them. There was no hope of getting them to play "G" and "A" and "C"."

    On Kill Yr Idols:

    LEE: "We did this live to two track, in opposition to the crazy eight-track recording of Confusion is Sex. There weren't any overdubs, and we all had really cool parts. Those songs were mostly just two guitars in unison tuning. It was just three songs, but it was a good bridge."

    They also discuss Bad Moon Rising, EVOL, and Sister "Into the Groovey" and "Teenage Riot" but nothing is particularly quoteable.

    On "My Friend Goo":

    THURSTON: "Kim wrote that because she was worried that we were writing too many four- and five-minute songs. She said, "Hey, we have to write some two-minute jobbers." She sat down with the guitar, wrote that song and showed it to us. I find it very difficult to play her songs because she has a very strange sense of rhythm. It sort of puts me off. Kim plays with this other girl named Julie. I've tried to play with them but they have this very weird, female-rhythm thing going. They play together very well, but I can't play with either of them.

    I used to play the bass on that song, and a lot of the time I couldn't start it because I couldn't get the Kim rhythm thing going. It turned into kind of a joke."

    Thurston goes on to comment about "Kool Thing" "100%" and "Sugar Kane", but again, nothing too revelatory.

    GEAR PHOTOS
    The large photo is another one from the Aldo Mauro session I mentioned in the Guitar Player '91 section, of the band w/ Lee's competition Mustang. The two inset live photos are by Bob Leafe, perhaps Goo-era? Thurston is using his blue Jazzmaster w/ a drumstick, Lee is working the slide on his first Jazzmaster.

    GUITAR WORLD
    NOVEMBER 1992
    "HOW TO PLAY DIRTY AND INFLUENCE PEOPLE"
    by Alan Di Perna

    NOTES
    I think this might be the first SY article in Guitar World, and it's an excellent read! All 3 guitarists are interviewed and discuss the recording of Dirty and associated gear/tunings/etc, along with the band's influence on other bands and the cost of vintage Jazzmasters, Kim's perceived frontwoman status, and which record was noisier: Goo or Dirty?. There is also a sub-article digging deeper into the band's Dirty era gear.

    GEAR MENTIONED
    The article mentions multiple guitars:

    THURSTON

  • several Fender Jazzmasters (1) (2) (3) (4)
  • one Fender Jaguar
  • two Tele copies (1) (2)

  • Turbo Rat

  • "I don't know anything about guitars or amps, I just know I need a 100-watt tube head."
  • Marshall head
  • Peavey Roadmaster head
  • a few new Marshall cabs

    LEE

  • 3 early-70s Fender Telecaster Deluxes (1) (2) (3)
  • Fender Jaguars (1) (2)
  • Fender Jazzmasters (1)
  • Travis Bean
  • Gibson SG

    Lee specifies that most of his Jaguars/Jazzmasters have DiMarzio Super Distortion pickups in the neck position.

  • Cry Baby wah
  • MXR Phase Shifter
  • DOD Analog Delay
  • DOD Digital Delay

  • MESA/Boogie Mark III
  • Marshall 4x12 cab
  • vintage Orange head

    KIM

  • Gibson Thunderbird
  • B.C. Rich bass
  • '64 Fender P-bass
  • Eterna

    KIM (re: BC Rich bass): "That bass always stays in tune. You can throw it on the ground, walk on it - anything. It sounds horrible; it has no tone whatsoever. But it's really loud. Then I have an old '64 P-bass, which I bought because I thought I'd record with it. And I did use it on one song. It's really easy to play, but I missed the Thunderbird's low end."

    KIM (re: "Creme Brulee"): "Yeah, it was just me. I just started playing something and Steve was playing along. Thurston was just doing some feedback on the guitar, making some weird sounds. And Lee turned on the tape machine. So we recorded it in our eight-track studio at our rehearsal space."

  • Turbo Rat
  • Dunlop Jimi Hendrix octave fuzz

  • MESA/Boogie amp w/ 18-inch bass cab and 4x12 guitar cab.

    For the Dirty recording sessions, both of Kim's cabs were miked, and she also sent a clean DI straight from her bass to the board. KIM: "That's the basic setup. Then I have this other box, a Hendrix octave divider that I use to get ultra-distortion, like on "100%" "Stalker" and "Theresa's Sound World". Actually, it just works like an extra distortion pedal."

  • TUNINGS MENTIONED
    The band discusses a few tunings in this interview.

  • GGBDGA (LEE - "Sugar Kane" "Genetic")
  • GABDEG (THURSTON - "Sugar Kane" "Teenage Riot")
  • AAEEAA (capo 3) (LEE - "Theresa's Sound-World")
  • F#F#GA (KIM - "Drunken Butterfly")

    LEE: "We used fewer new tunings than we have in the past. I think we've consolidated our approach in that area. Our whole thing isn't about searching for new tunings anyway. We utilize them when appropriate."

    THURSTON: "On a couple of songs, like "100%" and "Youth Against Fascism", I discovered it doesn't matter what tuning I'm playing in! It's based more on the way I'm attacking the strings with a slide and where on the guitar I'm playing. Those songs are very abstract with regard to which tuning I'm using, although in "Youth Against Fascism" I do play some chords. But as far as new tunings go, I don't think I used any."

  • GEAR PHOTOS
    The article features two very cool live shots from the July 3rd, 1992 CBGB gig, a secret show performed as Drunken Butterfly. In both songs it looks like the band is playing "100%", Thurston with his blue Jazzmaster and slide, Lee with his red Travis Bean, and Kim with her P-Bass. If you look behind them you can see many other guitars waiting their turn in the racks on either side of the stage! Also visible are some effects, Lee's DOD 2-second delay, Crybaby, and I'm not actually sure what the other footswitch is? It doesn't look like his Real Tube distortion. I don't think that's a Turbo Rat at Thurston's feet, either...any suggestions?

    GUITAR PLAYER
    DECEMBER 1992
    "ALTERNATE TUNINGS: THE NEW SCHOOL"
    by Alan Di Perna + Joe Gore

    NOTES
    This article focuses on alternate tunings and contains interviews with members of Sonic Youth, Pearl Jam, Soundgarden, My Bloody Valentine, Curve, and Swervedriver. Some tablature is also offered.

    The SY content is about 6 paragraphs including an interview with Lee discussing string gauges, the joy of open tunings, and some specifics from new release Dirty. There's also a separate page of instruction based on their tunings, including a riff inspired by GGDDD#D# and a rough stab at Thurston's "Teenage Riot" riff.

    GEAR MENTIONED
    This article mentions no specific gear.

    TUNINGS MENTIONED
    A number of tunings are mentioned, though there are some mistakes.

  • EGDGED (THURSTON: "Dirty Boots" "Chapel Hill" "Wish Fulfillment" "Swimsuit Issue")
  • EEBBEF# (LEE: "Dirty Boots" "Chapel Hill" "Wish Fulfillment" "Swimsuit Issue")
  • F#F#F#F#EB (BOTH: "Kool Thing" "Death Valley '69" "100%" "On The Strip")
  • ACCGG#C (THURSTON: "Silver Rocket" "Theresa's Sound World")
  • AAEEAA (LEE: "Silver Rocket" "Theresa's Sound World" (capo 3))
  • GGDDD#D# (BOTH: "Brother James" "Cotton Crown" "Orange Rolls, Angel's Spit" "Youth Against Fascism") ("The Wonder" "Hyperstation")
  • GABDEG (THURSTON: "Teenage Riot")

    There are some inaccuracies here. Both "On The Strip" and "Youth Against Fascism" are in the "Silver Rocket" tunings, rather than the tunings listed in the article. I'm also fairly certain that Thurston uses F#F#F#F#EB for "Wish Fulfillment", at least the demo "Guido" including on the deluxe set...

  • GEAR PHOTOS
    One cool pic of Lee w/ his second Tele, not sure when it's from though...

    GUITAR FOR THE PRACTICING MUSICIAN
    DECEMBER 1992
    "GUITAR MAYHEM AND MADNESS"
    by HP Newquist

    NOTES
    This is a short hype piece focusing on the more extreme elements of SY's sound (noise, screwdrivers, drumsticks, metal, etc). There are some cool pictures from the July '92 CBGB gig but otherwise it's not particularly noteworthy.
    GEAR MENTIONED
    This article does not mention any specific gear, though photos of the band playing "Silver Rocket" show Lee's Fernandes, Thurston's red Jazzmaster, and Kim's Thunderbird bass.

    TUNINGS MENTIONED
    One tuning is mentioned:

  • F#F#GGAA - no specific song
  • GEAR PHOTOS
    The article features two live photos by Kristin Callahan, and this is interesting...while these pix and the ones included with the November '92 Guitar World issue are both taken at CBGB, they're all wearing different clothes so I guess they're from separate gigs...but I'm only aware of the one CBGB gig in that whole era (July 3rd, 1992), and both sets of pics do seem to be from the Dirty timeframe. Here, Thurston has his red Jazzmaster and a Turbo Rat, Kim is playing the Thunderbird bass, and Lee is using his Fernandes - the key clue being the capo on its headstock, which was only used for "Theresa's Sound World". I'm kinda stumped...it kinda looks like the Lee/Kim pic is "Silver Rocket" but that song isn't present on the July '92 set...any ideas?

    SONICS
    APRIL 1993
    "A DIRTY LOOK"
    uncredited

    NOTES
    Another appearance in Sonics, this time just a single page feature. Thurston is interviewed again, discussing the process of making Dirty from 8-track demos to working with Vig and Wallace to Mike Kelley's art (including the infamous "dirty" tray liner). It's actually a pretty solid piece with some great info from Thurston.

    THURSTON: "This time we got to use a 24-track studio - Magic Shop NYC. It has an old broadcast Neve desk - early 70s model. It was a beautiful wooden thing and it was way more hot than anything else we've used. But then, we do something different on every record so I doubt we'd go to the same place next time. For Dirty we also had a producer and that was a first for us. It's not as if we've been anto the idea in the past, it's just that we never knew anyone. To find someone who would do more than engineer, someone who could organize the day-to-day events, make sure we were playing to the best of our abilities and be in tune with our music took ten years. Butch [Vig] has been producing punk bands in his little studio in Wisconsin for years. When we finally did meet it was really interesting."

    "However, it was Andy Wallace, the mix engineer who had a lot to do with the sonic quality of Dirty. He'd done this Slayer album that sounded great so we wanted to work with him. But then he wasn't consistent - some of the mixes sound very different and I'm not sure if that's a good thing or not."

    GEAR MENTIONED
    Thurston offers up the few details he can remember:

    THURSTON: "I don't think that specific amplifiers and guitars are all that important - our sound's kinda there already. We don't work technically, songs and sounds develop organically in the rehearsal/studio environment. Frankly, I think it's the recording process and the studio environment that makes the real difference. However, we do know what gear works best for us now."

    "I used an old Peavey Roadmaster head for most of my parts which I had plugged into a Marshall quad box. I'm still using the Fender Jazz Master I've had for years. Lee, our other guitarist uses effects but he changes them so often I lose track."

    TUNINGS MENTIONED
    No tunings are mentioned in this article.

    GUITAR THE MAGAZINE
    MAY 1994
    "BRING THE NOISE!"
    by Cliff Jones

    NOTES
    This is a nice Jet Set era piece that features Thurston and Lee discussing the songwriting and sonic approach to the album, as well as their respective solo endeavours. Two sidebars address tunings and the studio process. An interview with Glenn Branca follows the SY article.

    LEE: "Everything sounded so great just listening back through the desk without any effects or EQ on it, flat, that we thought, "Why try to better that, introducing mixing and EQ and all that shit? We always used to listen to our stuff back through the desk like that so why don't we do an album that's this simple?" We didn't do many overdubs - I think there are about four in total - and the mistakes are all still in there, so we did some rough mixes: half hour, just banged 'em out so we could listen at home. And when it came to mixing we spent two weeks in a big old, expensive studio where we mixed Dirty and tried to get some real proper mixes done, and at the end of each day after working for 12 hours on each song we said we still liked the half-hour one we did at the other place. Perverse! We ended up doing all the songs but on the record there are a lot of rough mixes because they sounded better."

    GEAR MENTIONED
    The article mentions no specific gear!

    TUNINGS MENTIONED
    A sidebar called "Twisted Tunings" features some good quotes from Lee:

    LEE: "I think Thurston and I are equally prone to guitar overkill. I think I actually have more guitars than him now but on this record we used a lot less, that's for sure. Between us it was about ten in total instead of the 20 or 30 we normally do. There are a lot less tunings on this album, too. Rather than try and spend time switching guitars we kept the one we had and carried on. It made it a lot more fun that's for sure; it can get boring constantly switching guitars for the sake of it."

  • F#F#F#F#EB ("Death Valley '69" "Kool Thing")
  • DDDDD#D# ("Brother James" - should be two low Gs, not two low Ds)

    LEE: "We also use a whole bunch of G-related tunings: F# C on the low end and regular G tuning from there." (Huh?)

  • GEAR PHOTOS
    I'm pretty sure the Thurston Drifter pic is from the same set used in the '92 issue of Guitar the Magazine (where Thurston's playing the sunburst Jazzmaster). The same photo used in the May '89 International Musician and Recording World article is printed here, possibly from London '89? The pic of Lee (and Kim) replicated twice here may be from '92, Lee is playing his red Travis Bean.

    GUITAR PLAYER
    JULY 1994
    "KILL YR TUNINGS"
    by Joe Gore

    NOTES
    Another essential Joe Gore piece, this time focused on the recording of Experimental Jet Set, Trash and No Star. The interview was conducted with the 3 guitarists in early April 1994. It's a shorter article than previous stories in Guitar Player, but it still manages to pack in a lot of information. You can tell the band is getting a little fed up with all the focus on their tunings, and that they wanted a considerably more direct approach on writing, recording, and mixing the new album.

    Lee's .73mm nylon pick also makes the "pick poster" centerfold in this issue.

    GEAR MENTIONED
    The article mentions multiple guitars:

    THURSTON

  • a couple of Jazzmasters
  • Carson J Robinson acoustic for "Winner's Blues" (belongs to Lee)

  • Sovtek Big Muff
  • 70s Mu-Tron Fuzz/Wah (likely the Wah/Vol)
  • Mu-Tron phase shifter (likely the Mu-Tron Phasor II)
  • Turbo Rat

  • 160-watt Peavey Roadmaster
  • '60s Marshall 4x12 bottom

    LEE

  • Gibson Les Paul ("almost all my parts on the record were written on it. I love it so much; everything it does is perfect.")
  • early-70s Fender Tele Deluxes
  • aluminum-necked Travis Beans

  • Maestro ring modulator
  • Ibanez AD80 analog delay

  • Fender Tone Master

    KIM

  • Fender P-Bass

  • MESA/Boogie amp "and some tube direct box"

  • TUNINGS MENTIONED
    A number of tunings are mentioned but not necessarily linked to songs - frustrating, since so many Experimental Jet Set... songs still have unconfirmed tunings.

  • BEDDBB (KIM: "Skink" "Bone" + Free Kitten)
  • EEBEG#B (THURSTON: "Winner's Blues")
  • GGCGCD (LEE: "about 60% of Experimental Jet Set...")
  • GGBDGA (LEE: not specified)
  • C#F#C#F#A#B (LEE: not specified)
  • EEBBEF# (LEE: "Sweet Shine")
  • GGDDD#D# (THURSTON: "Brother James" "I used a lot of the Brother James tuning" on Jet Set...)
  • EGDGED (THURSTON: "Dirty Boots" "Skink" "Screaming Skull" "Tokyo Eye" "Sweet Shine")
  • CGDGBB (THURSTON: "I'm using Pavement's tuning for every song I'm writing now...")

    Kim gets her tuning slightly wrong, it's actually BEGDBB - the G note making a key difference in trying to learn these songs! She also mentions playing guitar on "Skink", but she plays bass on the live versions and it sounds like bass on the record, too. She may have mixed it up with "Quest For The Cup".

    Also, Thurston almost certainly uses F#F#F#F#EB rather than EGDGED for "Sweet Shine".

  • GEAR PHOTOS
    Another pic from the Aldo Mauro series is featured, and this time Lee makes the pick poster!

    CONFUSION IS NEXT: THE SONIC YOUTH STORY
    OCTOBER 1994
    "CHAPTER 13: THIS GUITAR KILLS CONFORMISTS"
    by Alec Foege

    NOTES
    Chapter 13 of the band's first biography is dedicated to their gear, tunings, and unorthodox approach to playing guitars. Drumsticks, screwdrivers, and Branca, oh my! There are some interesting quotes about various songs, some that still have me scratching my head to this day (like the description of "Destroyer" and Thurston's recollection of "She's In a Bad Mood", but we'll talk about that another time). Also discussed is the band's practice of playing various tapes through their amps over the years while retuning or changing guitars. Mike Watt praises Kim's bass playing, and Kim recalls the Harry Crews tour with Lydia Lunch. The chapter closes with Epic Soundtracks recounting his experience recording Fall covers with SY for a Peel session in '88.

    GEAR MENTIONED
    The chapter mentions multiple guitars:

  • Fender Jaguar
  • Drifter
  • Ovation Viper
  • Gibson Marauder
  • Duo-Sonic
  • Univox Plegiglas Dan Armstrong
  • Fender Telecaster Deluxe
  • 12-string Kapa Minstrel
  • Fender Jazzmaster

  • TUNINGS MENTIONED
    A few tunings are mentioned.

  • F#F#F#F#EB ("Brave Men Run" "Death Valley '69" "Kool Thing" "Mary Christ" "Self-Obsessed and Sexxee")
  • D#D#C#C#GG w/ screwdriver @ 9th fret (LEE - "I Love Her All The Time")
  • GGDDD#D# ("Brother James")
  • ACCGG#C (THURSTON - "Silver Rocket")
  • AAEEAA (LEE - "Silver Rocket")

    "Self-Obsessed and Sexxee" is actually in GGDDD#D# (Thurston) and GGCGCD (Lee).

  • THE WHOLE GUITAR BOOK
    1994
    "SUBVERSIVE GUITAR"
    by Alan di Perna

    NOTES
    This is a special publication released by Musician magazine. SY are featured in an article on "subversive guitar" techniques, alongside quotes from Pete Townshend, Eugene Chadbourne, Adrian Belew, Paul Gilbert, Marc Ribot, and more. Thurston offers his thoughts on musique concrete & the logic of tunings, while Lee discusses the benefits of having a pick-up behind the bridge. The SY content is very minimal.

    LEE: "Having pickups on both sides of the bridge gives you a lot of interesting options. Normally, when you play behind the bridge, you're vibrating the main part of the string indirectly, so it gets this weird resonance as the vibration goes across the bridge to where the pickup is. But with a pickup behind the bridge, you can play back there and have the sound be very direct. Conversely, you can play conventionally in front of the bridge but have only the behind-the-bridge pickup on, so you have long stretches of string doing that resonant thing."

    GUITAR FOR THE PRACTICING MUSICIAN
    AUGUST 1995
    "SIX-STRING SEX TOYS"
    by Pete Prown

    NOTES
    This is a piece about various unorthodox objects one can use to coax sound from a guitar. Alongside peers such as Branca, Jimmy Page, and Van Halen, Lee and Thurston are given a paragraph saying what you'd expect: they like Jazzmasters & Jaguars, drumsticks & screwdrivers, and weird tunings. That's it!

    GEAR MENTIONED
    Same old: "Fender Jazzmasters and Jaguars".

    TUNINGS MENTIONED
    One gets mentioned!

  • F#F#GGAA

  • GEAR PHOTOS
    At least this article offers another great Monica Dee photo, this time from an '86 CBGB gig if the maple fretboard on Thurston's Ibanez is any indication. Lee's picture is more current, probably '92?

    GUITARE & CLAVIERS
    SEPTEMBER 1995
    "TEENAGE RIOT ET AUTRES CONTES"
    by Marc Zisman

    NOTES
    This is a French magazine featuring a lengthy interview with Lee and Beck during Lollapalooza. They're kind of being interviewed and kind of interviewing each other, it's pretty fun! It's extremely light on guitar or keyboard discussion, though. Lee enthusiastically raves about Neil Young, the idea of Pavement as a backing band for Beck, and delves deep into Beck's influences and musical inspirations (before revealing his own).

    LEE: [re: how much of SY's music is improvised] " People always imagine that we arrive in the studio or on stage, that we plug in the amps and that we improvise while grinding our strings and guitars (laughter). That's not true. Simply, before recording, the structure of the pieces is very precise. We know that we start from a well defined point A and that we must get to a Z Point also well defined. It only prevents it remains the fair when you record, that at any time there is one that stops to put a disk and so on. But between A and Z, there can be good slices of freedom, improvisation. And in more than a decade, it hasn't really changed. Improvisations may evolve depending on what you listen to a moment gives. For example, right now I'm in my music phase from Indonesia and India. Then with Thurston, he is always tres Cage and Xenakis branches. Which doesn't stop us from listening to pop. Once, in concert, we sometimes had fun passing tapes between our tracks. A little Janet Jackson, Madonna, Pat Benatar... " [forgive the robot translation imperfections!]

    GEAR MENTIONED
    No gear is really mentioned, but when asked whether they still compose on guitar, there's this exchange:

    LEE: "Always. We wanted to have fun and make a record with Thurston and me on the piano and Kim and Steve on the bass and the drums (laughs). But Kim didn't agree too much."

    BECK: "But you've already done things on the piano, haven't you?"

    LEE: "There's some on Secret Girls on "EVOL", on Providence on "Daydream Nation" and on the cover of The Carpenters."

    TUNINGS MENTIONED
    In a rare instance, I don't even think the concept of alternate tunings is mentioned at all!

    GEAR PHOTOS
    I'm not even sure which guitar is on the receiving end of Lee's screwdriver abuse here, maybe the Les Paul or SG?

    GUITAR PLAYER
    NOVEMBER 1995
    "THE SONIC RAMBLINGS OF LEE RANALDO"
    by Jas Brecht

    NOTES
    This is a cool interview with Lee that discusses his solo collection East Jesus as well as Washing Machine. It has many interesting bits of info on tunings, riffs, songwriting, recording, and gear.
    GEAR MENTIONED
    There are some pretty specific tech details for a few songs:

    LEE (re: "No Queen Blues"): "It's a Les Paul with an additional pickup between the first two. It's played with a lot of the treble rolled off, so it's really warm and round and not too biting. The first minute or two of that song - where all the scratchy stuff is happening - that's an 8-track demo. And then right as it kicks into the song proper, it's cross-faded to the 16-track mix. At the beginning it's pretty ratty and lo-fi, but as the first vocal hits, just about all the instrumentation except my guitar becomes 16-track. For the first verse, we kept my 8-track lead lines. When the second verse hits, I'm back in the 16-track domain as well, so another tonal shift happens. I'm really proud of the way we managed to seam that one together."

    LEE (re: "Washing Machine"): "I play the Travis Bean with that tuning we talked about earlier, and then in the section where it drops down briefly to just bass and drums, I swap over to a Les Paul in a G tuning for the second half of the song. That gives it this really cool tonal shift, because in the first part Thurston and I are playing in these F# tunings. So Thurston shifts keys to G, but I actually shift guitars. I do it every night onstage."

    LEE: "We have two of the creepiest pedals on this record that you could ever imagine or desire. One is an old Maestro ring modulator that I use a lot these days when I play solo. I used it on the record on a bunch of different places, and I really love it. It's got that real outer-spacey kind of sound. The other device, which I use for the middle break of "Junkie's Promise" and Thurston uses at the head of "Diamond Sea" for another kind of a wah-wah sound, is a really bizarre pedal called something like the Ludwig Phase II guitar synthesizer. It comes in a little metal suitcase, and you unfold one side that becomes a wah-wah kind of footpedal with a bunch of switches on it. Then you lift back a plate on the top, and there are all kinds of modifying sliders for envelope and stuff like that. It's really a sick thing. I've never seen anything like it before, and it's capable of all kinds of insane, crazy phasing and wah and synthetic kinds of sounds. It's gorgeous. Thurston plays it onstage, and we're looking for another one so we can each have one."

    LEE: "I really love this amp that I used on the last two records. It's a Fender Custom Shop model called the Tone Master. That's pretty much my amp of choice these days. It's almost too loud at 100 watts, and I was talking to them about putting in a switch to step it down to 50 watts. I use Fender Custom Shop cabinets - a 4x12 and a 2x12 with little legs on the side so you can lean it back. I also use a Fender reverb unit that's a copy of the original late '50s unit, since the Tone Master doesn't have a reverb unit inside of it. That's pretty much my setup at the moment."

    TUNINGS MENTIONED
    A couple of tunings are mentioned:

  • CGDGBB "Pavement Tuning" - LEE: "Thurston uses that tuning almost exclusively on his solo record, and I love that tuning - I like to play around with it at home - but we didnt use it at all on our record."
  • F#F#F#F#EB - (BOTH: "Death Valley '69" "Saucer-Like")
  • EF#AF#EB - modified version of F# tuning used "for a bunch of the songs on this record" (should actually be AF#EF#EB)

    LEE: "On "Saucer-Like" we're probably in the same tuning, what we used to call the "Death Valley" tuning. It started out as a low pair of F#s, double F#s in the middle, and then E and B on the high end. For a bunch of songs on this record I altered it so the bottom string of the low two pairs changed. I think it ended up being EF#AF#EB."

    I always interpreted this quote literally, that Lee is using the same tuning as Thurston for the album version of "Saucer-Like", but maybe he meant that his was modified. He does indeed use AF#EF#EB (not EF#AF#EB) on all live versions.

  • GEAR PHOTOS
    The article features one pic of Lee playing his Travis Bean.

    MUSICIAN
    DECEMBER 1995
    "THE IMPORTANCE OF BEING SONIC"
    by Mac Randall

    NOTES
    This is a fantastic 10-page cover story on the Washing Machine LP. The entire band were interviewed 2 weeks after Lollapalooza '95 ended, just before the album itself was released. They discuss the writing and recording of the album as well as the Lollapalooza tour. Coco and Jerry Garcia get a mention, too.

    LEE: "Thurston generally brings in more riff-oriented stuff, I bring in more chord changes, and Kim brings in weird note patterns. But since almost everything this time came out of tumbling jams, it's harder to discern who came up with what. We don't do lyrics until the music's all written, so nobody comes in with a riff and two verses. It's dealt with at first on a purely musical level."

    GEAR MENTIONED
    The article mentions multiple guitars:

    THURSTON

  • Fender Jazzmasters
  • Fender Jaguars

    THURSTON (re: his preference of Jazzmasters/Jaguars): "It's because they're long. I'm a big guy, and I like long necks. But I'll play anything except a Steinbrenner."

  • Mu-Tron Wah-Vol

  • "I absolutely do not favor one amp over another. I don't even know what I use. I've told my guitar tech to black out the brand names so I don't know what I'm playing through."

    LEE

  • Mid 70's Gibson Les Paul Custom
  • 4 mid-70s Fender Telecaster Deluxes (1 2 3 4 )
  • 3 aluminum-necked Travis Beans (1 2 3?)
  • Early '80s Fender Strat bought just this summer ('95) (?)
  • Gibson RD-1

    LEE (re: his Les Paul): "It's been through a lot; when we went on tour with Neil Young in '91, the headstock broke three or four times and Neil's tech had to glue it back together."

  • Realtube distortion
  • DOD 2-second sampling delay
  • Maestro ring modulator ("turn it on and you're instantly in outer space")
  • t.c. electronics phase shifter
  • an old pinkish-purple Ibanez analog delay ("Lee's personal fave")

  • 100-watt Fender Tonemaster head
  • 4x12 and 2x12 Fender(?) cabinets
  • seperate reverb unit
  • Acquired just before recording Experimental Jet Set...: "The Tonemaster's great, because it's simple - one volume knob, not five fucking gain controls."

    KIM

  • Mid 70's Gibson Special
  • '66 Fender P-Bass

  • both instruments go through a bass amp which she chooses not to identify.

  • All 3 guitarists use Ernie Ball strings, bought in bulk in gauges between .014 and .056.

    STEVE

  • Brady kit
  • 5 1/2" x 14" snare
  • 12x12, 14x14, and 16x16" toms
  • 22" bass drum
  • Also has older Gretsch and Ludwig kits but "the Brady is the biggest, the most involved, the most '80s rock".

  • Zildjian cymbals
  • ProMark 5A sticks

  • TUNINGS MENTIONED
    Tunings aren't discussed extensively in this article, except in a general sense. This is unfortunate as several Washing Machine tunings are still unconfirmed.

  • THURSTON: "I only use four different tunings in Sonic Youth. For my solo stuff, I use a fifth tuning and just about everything's in that. But it isn't even my tuning. I stole it from Pavement."

  • F#F#F#F#EB (THURSTON: "Death Valley '69" "Kool Thing" "Washing Machine")
  • AF#EF#EB (LEE: "Washing Machine")

    The F#F#EB tuning is the only of Thurston's alleged 4 tunings specified, but it is erroneously attributed to "Washing Machine" where Thurston actually uses GGDDD#D#. Lee does use AF#EF#EB on the song, though he switches to another guitar in GGCGCD after the first part of the song (this is discussed elsewhere in the article). However, the article says the A note in Lee's tuning is the same as the open A string on a bass, which is incorrect - it's tuned up 2 1/2 steps from E to match the regular A string on a guitar.

  • Kim uses one tuning consistently, the same she uses with Free Kitten, but won't reveal it. "A lot of the strings are very loose" is her only clue. (It's BEGDBB, and she's right.)
  • GEAR PHOTOS
    The photos accompanying this article were probably all taken at Lollapalooza, but I'm not positive. Kim's P-bass, Thurston's white Jazzmaster, and Lee's Les Paul are all showcased.

    GUITAR WORLD
    DECEMBER 1995
    "FOUNTAIN OF YOUTH"
    by Robert Palmer

    NOTES
    Another Guitar World piece, this time focused on Washing Machine and consisting of an interview with Thurston and Lee done during Lollapalooza in Atlanta, August 5th 1995. They discuss the songwriting process with alternate tunings and how they keep track of new riffs and ideas. They also delve into both Thurston and Lee's early musical backgrounds, interests in jazz, improv, Velvets, surf... Kim's presence on guitar is a topic, as in all articles from this era, where Lee always points out the missing bottom end when they finally went to mix. Another common theme in this era is how happy he is with the Washing Machine material and finished album, and the production/song structure of the last few albums is discussed.

    This a fairly academic piece, and while interesting to read, there is not a single piece of gear or tuning mentioned in this nearly 10-page Guitar World feature!

    GEAR MENTIONED
    The only mention of specific gear is Lee talking about Kim's new role on guitar:

    LEE: "Well, we took a year off from the band, and during that time Kim played a lot of guitar with her band, Free Kitten. She came up with some tunings she was really fond of, and found a guitar she fell in love with, a Les Paul Special. I think for awhile now she's been wishing that maybe the bass wasn't always in standard tuning, or that she had somewhere else to go instrumentally besides that bass guitar thing. So when we started rehearsing she said, "I think I'll play guitar," and she started doing it more and more."

    TUNINGS MENTIONED
    No tunings are mentioned in this article.
    GEAR PHOTOS
    Danny Clinch photos of Lee and Thurston posing with their Travis Bean and white Jazzmaster appear alongside live shots of Thurston and his Jaguar, and Lee using his redhead Jazzmaster and possibly the Fernandes?

    THE COMPLETE BOOK OF ALTERNATE TUNINGS
    1995

    by Mark Hanson

    NOTES
    This is a book about alternate tunings. I remember seeing it when I was a pre-internet teenager and being stunned by all the SY tunings, then forgetting about it over time... Finding it years later, it was slightly disappointing - while there are indeed tons of tunings listed, they are all clearly taken from issues of Guitar Player magazine listed above, including multiple errors that serve as clues. It's still a pretty solid book that spends some time exploring various alternate tunings before dedicating the rest of its pages to an alphabetical list of many artists and any kind of alt tuning they use.

    There are two full pages of Sonic Youth tunings, which is pretty awesome, but there are numerous errors that make it apparent these are all lifted directly from Joe Gore's excellent Guitar Player articles from '89, '91, '92 and '94.

    GEAR MENTIONED
    No gear is mentioned in this book.

    TUNINGS MENTIONED
    Imagine being 13 and seeing all this stuff! I think I may have even brought a piece of paper to the bookstore to make notes...

    No player is specified for any of these tunings, just Guitar 1 and Guitar 2.

  • BEDDBB - Bone, Skink
  • GGDDD#D# - Brother James, Cotton Crown, Hyperstation, Orange Rolls, Angel's Spit, Total Trash, Youth Against Fascism
  • AAEEAA - Candle, Cinderella's Big Score, Silver Rocket, Theresa's Sound-World
  • ACCGG#C - Candle, Cinderella's Big Score, Silver Rocket, Theresa's Sound-World
  • EGDGED - Chapel Hill, Dirty Boots, My Friend Goo, Screaming Skull, Skink, Sweet Shine, Swimsuit Issue, Titanium Expose, Tokyo Eye, Wish Fulfillment
  • EEBBEF# - Chapel Hill, Dirty Boots, Sweet Shine, Swimsuit Issue, Wish Fulfillment
  • CCEBGD - Cross the Breeze, Disappearer
  • EBEEAB - Eric's Trip, Hey Joni, Kissability
  • EG#EG#EG# - Expressway to yr Skull
  • GGC#DGG - Hyperstation, Total Trash
  • D#D#C#C#GG - I Love Her All The Time
  • F#F#F#F#EB - Kool Thing (both gtrs), Mary-Christ (both), On The Strip (both), 100% (both)
  • GGDDFF - Mote
  • F#F#GGAA - Schizophrenia
  • GGDDGG - Tunic, Teenage Riot
  • GABDEG - Teenage Riot
  • EEBEG#B - Winner's Blues

    You can cross reference these to the Guitar Player summaries above to see the similarities.

  • CHITARRE
    JANUARY 1996
    "NEW YORK, NEW ROCK..."
    by Francesco Adinolfi & Giuseppe Barbieri

    NOTES
    This is an Italian magazine featuring a five-page interview with Thurston. They talk about Jerry Garcia, not competing with the mainstream, New York, Italian jazz, and the importance or lack thereof of Sonic Youth.

    GEAR MENTIONED
    I could be mistaken, but I don't believe any gear is mentioned in the article.

    TUNINGS MENTIONED
    A separate sidebar delves into the band's tunings, though they are all listed in scale format (Do Re Mi Fa...). I'm wondering if something is lost in translation, as there are some notable errors...

  • GGBDGA (LEE: "Sugar Kane" "Genetic")
  • GABDEG (THURSTON: "Sugar Kane" "Genetic" "Teenage Riot" "Providence")
  • F#F#GA (KIM: "On The Strip" "Swimsuit Issue")
  • AAEEAA (LEE: "Theresa's Sound World" w/ capo 3 "Silver Rocket")
  • ACCGG#C (THURSTON: "Theresa's Sound World" "Silver Rocket")
  • GGDDD#D# ("Orange Rolls, Angel's Spit" "Youth Against Fascism" "Kill Yr Idols")
  • CGDGBB (Thurston's recent solo album but not on Washing Machine)
  • F#F#F#F#EB ("Saucer-Like" "Death Valley '69)
  • EF#AF#EB ("Washing Machine" or Washing Machine)

    Aside from bizarrely suggesting a tuning for "Providence", it also cites Kim as using an alternate bass tuning on "On The Strip" and "Swimsuit Issue", but she actually plays guitar on both songs. The alt bass tuning F#F#GA is actually used on "Drunken Butterfly". Some of the language surrounding the CGDGBB tuning and the reference to EF#AF#EB suggests to me that this piece was drawn from Lee's November 1995 Guitar Player interview (and the Dirty tunings may come from an earlier interview?).

  • GEAR PHOTOS
    The article features five live shots by Carlo Sperati, from what looks like the Dirty era (November '92 Italy tour?).

    GUITAR
    MARCH 1996
    "THRASHING MACHINE"
    by HP Newquist

    NOTES
    This is a single-page overview of Sonic Youth's career that touches briefly on almost each album or era, from Branca roots through Washing Machine. It's a nice enough piece, but there's no quotes from the band and it offers little new information.
    GEAR MENTIONED
    This article does not mention any specific gear.

    TUNINGS MENTIONED
    A few tunings are mentioned:

  • GABDEG - (THURSTON: "Teenage Riot" "Sugar Kane")
  • F#F#GGAA - no specific song
  • GDDDDG - no specific song, likely supposed to be GGDDGG
  • GUITAR 8 BOOK (JAPAN)
    1996?
    "KOOL YOUTH"
    by Geoff Wood

    NOTES
    20 years ago I bought three pages from eBay that contained amazing pictures of SY's guitars, and a lot of Japanese text. I never really knew where they came from, someone had clearly removed them from a book or magazine and sold them on their own. I scanned them way back when and they served a fine foundation for this website.

    I've now come to discover that these pages were taken from a Japanese book called something like "The Guitar 8". It may be #8 in a series, I'm not sure. I'm apparently missing the first page, which is just a live picture and some text (I guess there was something more important on the other side to be sold in a separate auction). The text I've translated seems to begin mid-description of the white Jazzmaster, so I don't think much of importance is missing. Each guitar pictured is studied and given some background and tech specs. I assume the photos were taken at one of the band's January 1996 Japan gigs, considering the presence of the "Junkie's Promise" guitar among other clues.

    GEAR MENTIONED
    As you can see, almost every one of the band's touring instruments is given an individual portrait. Featured, in order:

  • Fender Jazzmaster (white)
  • Fender Jazzmaster (seafoam)
  • Fender Jazzmaster (red)
  • Fender-ish Jazzmaster (blue)
  • Fender Mustang/"Duo Sonic"
  • Fender Jaguar (red)
  • The Original Drifter

  • Fender P-bass (sunburst)
  • Gibson Les Paul Special

  • Gibson Les Paul Deluxe
  • Fender Telecaster Deluxe
  • Fender Jazzmaster (sunburst)
  • Travis Bean Artist
  • Fender Telecaster Deluxe
  • Fender Jaguar (leopard)
  • Fender Mustang (red)
  • Guitar Castle HOPF Telstar

    I will definitely be adding more detail from this article in the future...

  • TUNINGS MENTIONED
    Things start promising when Thurston's white Jazzmaster is revealed to be in GGDDD#D#. Things then get confusing when his seafoam "GABDEG" Jazzmaster is said to be in EGDGED, while his red Jazzmaster which actually is in EGDGED isn't mentioned. Beyond that, no tunings are shared.

    GEAR PHOTOS
    Now this is how you do it!!


    GUITARE & CLAVIERS
    MAY 1998
    "ART SONIQUE JEUNE DENTELLE"
    by Vincent Hanon

    NOTES
    This is a French interview with Lee and Thurston about the A Thousand Leaves/SYR era. There's not much gear talk, but it's a good read. They discuss improvisation, their history with Wharton Tiers, Don Fleming's assistance with vocals, the plethora of recent French references in the band's work, deciding what belongs on an album versus an SYR release, Allen Ginsberg, the New York music scene, etc etc... Thurston also mentions releasing an album called "Second Hearts" comprised of outtakes from the Psychic Hearts sessions! (Please note all quotes are translated from French -> English by a robot.)

    LEE: [re: level of improvisation on A Thousand Leaves] "All our songs have a degree of improvisation. But one obeys a very precise structure, one does not barge into something that one has not tried before. That's why they're real songs. But in each of them there is a space that musicians can occupy if they have the right idea at the right time. We refer to a very specific skeleton. This is what keeps the song on the ground, which allows it not to fly away and never come back."

    LEE: [re: how vocal roles are divided] "When it's an impossible song to sing, I usually stick with it. Each writes his own words. We customize. As for the choice of songs, it is determined quite naturally. Sometimes it seems very obvious to all of us."

    GEAR MENTIONED
    The only specific gear reference comes in response to a question about the "vocoder" sound on "Hits of Sunshine". Thurston says it's Kim's bass with a Jimi Hendrix Octave Fuzz, if he remembers correctly...

    However, the interview opens with Thurston reading an issue of the magazine (which translates to "Guitars & Keyboards")...

    THURSTON: "Our debut, we had a keyboard with us, Ann Demarinis. But she quickly left. She thought we weren't going anywhere..."

    LEE: "It's me who plays the keyboard parts on the latest album. "

    TUNINGS MENTIONED
    No tunings are mentioned, but the band is asked whether they discovered altered tunings while working with Glenn Branca.

    THURSTON: "Glenn was more formal than we were about how to use the tunings. His way of using them was done in a perfectly conscious way. We knew perfectly well that people had been using weird tunings for years. People like Joni Mitchell, Keith Richards. Neil Young or old blues players on the slide. To my knowledge, Glenn was the first to use it in such a formal way, to formalize the whole thing in order to include it in a way of his own."

    LEE: "A Thousand Leaves is the album where we used the least number of different tunings. Before, it is true that on stage, we changed guitar for each track, simply because we used a max of different tunings. The tones of this last album are much more similar to each other than on our previous albums.

    GEAR PHOTOS
    Two pretty cool pix appear in this article. The shot of Lee using a screwdriver on a red SG is interesting, only because I thought this one always had a humbucker in the neck position. He did use one on "I Love Her All The Time" in '92, which would make sense w/ the screwdriver... The pic of Thurston is probably circa '87, when the blue Jazzmaster only had the single bridge humbucker, a scrap of pickguard, and everything else was hollowed out.

    GUITAR PLAYER
    AUGUST 1998
    "OVERTONE PLAYGROUND"
    by Kyle Swenson

    NOTES
    This is a good A Thousand Leaves era piece featuring all 3 guitarists with some interesting bits of info about the process of recording Silver Sessions, reducing the amount of tunings used, song structure, and, of course, Glenn Branca. There is also a sidebar with very detailed info on the band's gear and tunings!

    LEE: "For example, we just did a studio project where we turned up all the amps and just filled the room with sound. The guitars were leaning up against the amps, but nobody was touching anything./ If you stood in the room, you'd hear this massive hum from all the different instruments. But if you walked across the room, the sound would actually change depending on where your body intersected the sound waves. This wasn't because you were hearing things differently from another spot in the room; this was because your physical body interrupted the sound waves and altered the beating patterns. The tonal change was real - but it was also very nebulous, and almost mystical."

    THURSTON: "We amassed all these different tunings as we were developing our style of guitar playing and I used to feel like it was so cool that we were doing this. But all the tunings became really burdensome because it required us to have a different guitar for each tuning. Also, a lot of our songs depended on specific guitars. We'd write a song with a cheapo guitar tuned in a certain way, and the song wouldn't sound right unless it was played with that guitar. We discovered you couldn't use the same tuning on another guitar and expect it to sound the same. For right now, I've kind of settled on two tunings."

    LEE (re: "Female Mechanic Now On Duty"): "That song has the only bit of music that wasn't recorded in our studio. Towards the end, there's a part where this other section comes jarring in. That stuff was recorded when we played this live TV show called Sessions at West 54th Street. We really loved the way the taping came out, so we just spliced part of our TV performance into the song. "Female Mechanic" has that episodic thing going on. Each one of the song's sections could be used to write a completely different song - if we were a normal band, that is!"

    GEAR MENTIONED
    The article mentions multiple guitars:

    THURSTON

  • Fender Jazzmaster w/ Seymour Duncan Jazzmaster Quarter-Pound pickups

  • Sovtek Big Muff
  • ProCo Turbo Rat
  • Dunlop MXR Blue Box
  • Dunlop MXR Phase 90
  • Mu-Tron Vol-Wah
  • Mu-Tron Octave Divider (I wonder if this is supposed to be the Hendrix Octave Fuzz?)

  • 160-watt Peavey Roadmaster w/ a '60s Marshall 4x12 cabinet

    Also mentioned: "generic hammer and metal files" (actually used on "Heather Angel").

    Strings: Ernie Ball, gauges .014-.056

    LEE

  • Fender Jazzmaster
  • '70s Fender Telecaster Deluxe
  • Travis Bean

  • Mu-Tron Bi-Phase
  • Maestro Ring Modulator
  • Overdrive Electronics Valve Grinder

  • Fender Tone-Master 100-watt head w/ 4x12 and 2x12 cabinets

    Also mentioned: "Dunlop metal slide"

    Strings: Ernie Ball, gauges .017-.062

    KIM

  • Gibson Les Paul Special
  • Yamaha Pacifica
  • Fender Precision Bass

  • Dunlop Jimi Hendrix Octave Fuzz
  • ProCo Rat
  • Electro-Harmonix Big Muff
  • homemade Dinosaur distortion

    KIM: "I have this incredibly loud, homemade distortion box called a Dinosaur. It's about the size of an old MXR stompbox, and if you turn it up more than a little bit, it will cause your amp to explode. I'm almost afraid to plug it in anymore, so I've started using it as a slide."

  • MESA/Boogie Bass 400+ head w/ 1x18 and 4x10 cabinets

  • strings: Ernie Ball

  • TUNINGS MENTIONED
    Kim and Thurston's tunings for A Thousand Leaves are included, but only some of Lee's are mentioned. No songs are specified.

  • DADGGB - KIM
  • CGGDDD - KIM
  • EGDGED - THURSTON
  • CGDGBB - THURSTON
  • GGDAGA - LEE
  • GGDGGA - LEE
  • GGDAGA# - LEE

  • GEAR PHOTOS
    I think the pics are mostly from the '96 Tibetan Freedom Concert but I could be wrong...Thurston's white Jazzmaster, Lee's Les Paul, and Kim's Les Paul Special are all depicted.

    TOTAL GUITAR
    AUGUST 1998
    "A THOUSAND LEAVES"
    by Hendrik Tuxen

    NOTES
    This is a cool article on A Thousand Leaves, Lee was interviewed and provides some good quotes. The Branca backstory is revisited, as well as Television and other early influences. The need for alternate tunings due to cheap guitars is a common theme in these articles. Lee also touches on the band's evolving song structures and pop music in general, and names some of his favorite guitarists at the time: Stephen Malkmus, Loren Mazzacane Connors, and Keiji Haino. A sidebar on tunings and a discography are also included.
    GEAR MENTIONED
    As with almost every SY article, Jazzmasters and Jaguars are the focus, with a bit of explanation. Lee also shares his love of Fender amps.

    LEE: "Both Thurston and I gravitated to the Jaguar and the Jazzmaster, cause we liked the way they were shaped, and it seemed like they had all the different elements of a guitar construction that we liked to use. They had the space behind the bridge where you can play on the little strings, and they had the kind of tremolo bar which we favour quite a bit. I think those two guitars, the Jaguar and the Jazzmaster, are pretty much exclusively what we use. We use other guitars, but I think that those two are our favorites just because they have the right set-up.

    I like that set-up of tremolo bar far better than all these high-tech sophisticated systems, or the kind that's on the Strat. The ones on the Jaguar and Jazzmaster are just really cool. Especially the only ones from the '60s, which are really well made, and then they're just great to play. The two guitars are really similar, the Jazzmaster has a little bit longer neck and a longer scale, so there's more room to freak out on, which is nice."

    LEE: "I just like Fender Amps, whereas Thurston plays Peavey amps with Marshall cabinets. I'm using a Fender Custom Shop amp; in general Fenders has always been the best sounding amps to a large degree, as far as I'm concerned."

    TUNINGS MENTIONED
    A sidebar on tunings claims "Here are a few of his favorite weird tunings, taken from his recordings." Curiously, some of the tunings listed are Thurston's!

  • EEBEBE - "for drone-like power chords"
  • F#F#F#F#EB - "the bottom strings are in unison, an octave below the next two. This is one of Lee's most common tunings"
  • AAEEAA - "often used with a capo around the fifth fret"
  • EGDGED - "the darker edge of retunings"
  • GABDEG - "for bright and thrashy riffs"
  • AAAABD - "wall of sound chord, bending low strings causes evil dissonance"
  • GGDDD#D# - "the bottom two strings are in unison"

    Some of these are a little dodgy...2 are lifted straight from the Bad Moon Rising CD liners (EEBEBE and AAAABD) and may not have even been used? I'm also not sure about AEA "often" being used with a capo around the fifth fret - the lone time he used a capo was @ the third fret for "Theresa's Sound World".

  • GEAR PHOTOS
    A photo from the "100%" video shoot is included, featuring Lee's weird blue Musicmaster and Keanu's P-bass. I wonder if Lee borrowed that Musicmaster? Thurston is playing his own Firebird between the pages, so who knows...The live pic shows Lee with his blonde Jaguar, unknown date.

    VINTAGE GUITAR
    AUGUST 1998
    "ALT-TUNED YOUTH"
    by Kathleen Johnson

     
    NOTES
    This is another cool interview with Lee about A Thousand Leaves, covering the evolution of the new material before diving right into gear and tunings.
    GEAR MENTIONED
    Once again, the Jazzmasters and Jaguars take focus...

    LEE: "Pretty much Jazzmasters and Jaguars. We’ve got racks of guitars in the studio, but I think all the material we’ve worked on for the last six or eight months is just Jaguars and Jazzmasters, and even then only a couple of specific ones for me and Thurston. Most of the ones we use are early-’60s. But we do have some of the reissues. We like their scale length. I think both of us have gotten super-comfortable with the body shape and the tremolo bar, and the fact you can play behind the bridge on the string and all that kind of stuff. I’ve been modifying mine for the last year or so.

    My favorite guitar sound has been from the Fender Tele Deluxes, because they’ve got the big Fender humbucking pickup on ’em. I was augmenting that with a couple of Travis Bean aluminum-neck guitars. Oddly enough, they have very similar-sounding pickups, to my ears. So for the last few years when we’ve seen a good Tele or Travis, we’ve bought it. And whenever we’ve seen those pickups for sale we’ve brought them. We’ve collected a little stash of those pickups and I’ve started putting them in the Jazzmasters and Jaguars, so I’ve pretty much got the best of both worlds. We call it the Jazzblaster."

  • Maestro ring modulator
  • Mu-Tron Phasor
  • Ludwig Phase II Guitar Synthesizer
  • DOD 2-second delay
  • Real Tube distortion

    LEE: "Outer-space kind of sounds, real high-pitched, real low-pitched? Sometimes it sounds like a crazy synthesizer or alien bleeps and blips. I’ve been having a lot of fun with that pedal. It’s a Maestro. We’ve generally been using a lot of vintage ’70s pedals [conversation switches to Ranaldo’s Mu-Tron Phasor]. I shouldn’t talk about that pedal, because I love it so much. It’s the coolest thing going. I use it all over the place on the new material. Unfortunately it’s a huge monstrosity that necessitates its own little suitcase." (he's referring to the Mu-Tron BiPhase here.)

  • Fender Custom Shop amps
  • Fender Tone Master head w/ 4x12 and 2x12 cabs

    LEE: "We have a bunch of smaller amps around we fool with for recording, but that’s the basic setup I do stuff with. I have a ’50s Fender Deluxe, a Concert, a Super Reverb from the pre-CBS days, and a bunch of weird little amps, like a souped-up old Princeton, one of these new Prosonics, some Ampeg Gemini IIs, an old Silvertone amplifier, some real cheapo 5-watt amps. They’re all useful for different things and they’re fun to have around. But we record and rehearse with our touring gear."

  • TUNINGS MENTIONED
    No specific tunings are mentioned, but they do discuss their approach to alternate tunings.

    LEE: "Sometimes it’ll happen when you pick up a guitar that hasn’t been played in six months. You strum it, and there’s a grain of something and you spend 10 minutes tweaking the pegs until it’s something a little more realized, and there you have it. Or one of us will come in with some changes in a tuning. Like, Thurston will come in and he’s got a tuning going, I’ll hear it and figure out what the root notes are basically and grab something I have in it. We play a lot of stuff in G and F sharp, and E and C. We have some guitars that are in tandem already, where he’s playing guitar X, I immediately pick up guitar Y. They’re not in the same tunings, but they’re in two tunings that work well together."

    LEE: "On the last bunch of tours, we’ve taken 25 to 30 guitars for the three of us. The reason for taking them all is because they’re all differently tuned. A couple of basses, Kim’s two or three guitars and then maybe 10 guitars for Thurston and 12 for me. And sometimes there’ll be a backup of a certain tuning if it’s one you rely on a lot, or if it’s a finicky tuning where you tend to break strings. Like “The Diamond Sea” tuning, which is a really crucial tuning and it’s used in a few different things. If that breaks in the middle of that insane middle section of “The Diamond Sea,” when you come back to the end you’re kind of lost."

    GITARRE & BASS
    AUGUST 1998
    "DIE REISE INS INCH"
    by Marcel Anders

    NOTES
    This is a German interview with the band circa A Thousand Leaves. It's a good piece that highlights the band's post-Lollapalooza path in a changing industry. They discuss the new studio, working on their own terms, and playing brand new material for large audiences. Kim talks about X-Girl and the complications of coordinating a Free Kitten tour. Thurston talks about releasing the Wylde Ratttz material, which finally happened earlier this year. He also mentions replacing Sonic Death with another fanzine called New Grass. I think we're still waiting on that.

    Following a discussion of SYR and A Thousand Leaves, Kim refers to three covers that the band recently recorded: Nirvana's "Moist Vagina", Johnny Winters' "Silver Train", and Leonard Cohen's "Dress Rehearsal Rag". I think we're still waiting on that, too!

    GEAR MENTIONED
    There is, of course, no specific gear talk in this article. Why are so many of these articles in guitar magazines "just" interviews with the band? There's often tons of great info, but when I buy a magazine with "guitar" in the title I expect some specifics. I guess I was spoiled by Joe Gore!
    TUNINGS MENTIONED
    Nothing.

    GUITAR WORLD
    AUGUST 2000
    "THE BEAT GOES ON"
    by Alan di Perna

    NOTES
    This is an interesting nyc ghosts & flowers era article that focuses on the band's recovery following the summer '99 gear theft and the effect it had on the new material. Kim's role as third guitarist is revisited once more, and Jim O'Rourke's contributions are highlighted. The fate of 90s alternative hopefuls vs the band's longevity is also discussed. There's also some really cool pictures taken in Echo Canyon!
    GEAR MENTIONED
    A sidebar discusses the band's approach to finding new/old gear following the gear theft.

    THURSTON

  • Les Paul

    THURSTON: "There were things lying around that I never knew existed. Real malfunctioning Les Pauls. I mean, I'd never touched a Les Paul, and all of a sudden, on the bulk of this record, I'm playing a very strangely tuned Les Paul with something like a .052 or .056 gauge low string tuned to a C that's dropped three or four times."

    KIM: "I don't think Thurston used any pedals on the record, 'cause he didn't have any."

  • Peavey Roadmaster

    LEE

  • 1965 Fender Jazzmaster w/ Tele Deluxe pickups
  • Fender 12-string

  • Ibanez delay pedal
  • Big Briar Moogerfooger ring modulator

  • blackface Fender Super Reverb

    KIM

  • Eterna

  • Hendrix octave divider

  • Peavey Rockmaster w/ 2 Fender 2x12 cabs

  • TUNINGS MENTIONED
    Lee mentions a couple of his tunings, but they're not quite correct:

  • C G C/C C/C G/G G#/C - (LEE: "Free City Rhymes" "Renegade Princess")
  • DDFAFD - (LEE: "Nevermind" "nyc ghosts & flowers" "Small Flowers Crack Concrete")

    Lee describes his Fender 12-string tuning as follows: "Actually, it's a 10-string tuning, because the two low strings are single and the rest are pairs. From bottom to top, it's a single low C, a single low G, a pair of middle Cs, another pair of middle Cs, a pair of middle Gs and the top two strings are a pair of A flats and a pair of Cs." The top two strings are actually A# and C, not G# and C.

    His other tuning is way off, it should be DFCDFF.

  • GEAR PHOTOS
    Check out these awesome Echo Canyon pictures! Kim has her Eterna, Lee has his white Jazzmaster, and Thurston is playing the Ampeg that Jim used on the 2000 tour. On top of that, two dozen or so of their guitars are resting in the rack (including the Univox Hi-Flyer that Thurston might be playing in the 3rd pic, which he probably just grabbed right from the end).

    TOTAL GUITAR
    OCTOBER 2000
    "SONIC YOUTH"
    by Simon Young

    NOTES
    This is a fantastic interview with Lee conducted before one of the July 2000 London shows. He talks about the gear theft, the band's songwriting and recording process, improvisation, and the All Tomorrow's Parties performance (recently released on bandcamp! get it now!).

    There's a sidebar on tunings and another on the band's approach to taking leads. But wait! There's more! This was one of those guitar magazines that came with a CD, and it contains a "Sonic Youth style" track composed by Simon Young. Tablature for the piece is also helpfully provided, on a page titled "Sonic Youth Secrets" which follows the Lee interview. The track appears on the CD in full, and then again in a backing track so you can play along as you learn. Simon wisely used CGDGBB (incorrectly citing Lee as the one who used on much of A Thousand Leaves), combining elements of "Teenage Riot" "Bull in the Heather" "Sunday" and "French Tickler".

    LEE: [re: gear theft] "In the end we found that was a really good thing, because it let us go off in different directions and it pushed us in ways that we wouldn't normally have been pushed. Although, obviously, at the time it was tons of gear and money lost."

    LEE: [re: songwriting] "Maybe someone has an idea or a riff, but we really write the music as a collective. Someone doesn't come in with a finished piece and say "Here it is, let's learn the parts and have a song." You're making it up as you go. Sometimes it seems as though the three of us playing strings are almost in our own little worlds with what we're doing. Sometimes you're cueing off each other and others you're completely ignoring everyone so you're almost playing in a three-way tandem, but eventually they lock together and fit into certain structures. Even within that, there are places in the structure where it's totally open; we start here and end up here, and how you get there is how ever it happens."

    LEE: [re: recording] "We're all in one room, there are no baffles or anything, everything's sort of bleeding together, we really don't worry about that stuff. Because we recorded from the first fledgling beginnings of the track, you get that version which is the first time the song really came together. They weren't the most perfect or most polished or even the most finished, but they had a certain kind of energy. It's not like 50 times later when you feel like they've beaten it to death. There are still some bum notes, but there's a spark that's happening where the song is actually coming into being."

    LEE: "The songs don't really find their peak or their final form until we've played them live for a few months. Sometimes they get more ferocious or whatever, because in that live context you find out more specifically what works and what doesn't. Records are more like postcards that are sliced out of a time line."

    LEE: "It takes a very good improviser for a concert not to have dull moments. Mostly when you're listening to improvised music, there are inspired moments and then there are the moments when the group is moving from one inspiration to the next. In between, there's a lot of searching and feeling the way."

    LEE: [re: ATP festival] "That wasn't an improvised gig at all. I mean, the first piece was a 20 minute long thing that we'd worked out for 12-string guitars. We loved it, we had a blast at that gig."

    LEE: [re: the role of lead guitar] "It changes from song to song, there's not a lead guitar player. It used to be that when Kim was mainly playing bass [..] we'd go in and out of that kind of thing, in a way very similar to the interaction that Verlaine and Lloyd had in Television. One moment I'm playing lead and he's doing rhythmic stuff, and the next it's reversed. Some moments we're both playing lead and there is no rhythm, or some moments we're both playing different rhythms, interactively the way Garcia and Weir would do in the Grateful Dead. Now that Kim's involved too, it's even more like that, it's like this really snakey thing, 'cos we're all playing certain parts and they lock in certain ways rhythmically. We work more with rhythm and texture than we do with rhythm and lead."

    GEAR MENTIONED
    Not much gear comes up in Lee's interview, but there is a small "Guitars and FX" sidebar on the Sonic Youth Secrets page.

  • Travis Bean
  • Musicman Stingray
  • Fender Jazzmaster

  • Big Briar Mooger Fooger ring modulator
  • "they all use distortion" - Big Muff and a Pro Co Rat

    One more gear tip - it turns out the "strange grinding" throughout "streamXsonik subway" is a heavily processed recording of an electric pencil sharpener(!).

  • TUNINGS MENTIONED
    A sidebar entitled "A Different Kind Of Tuning" discusses the band's approach to alternate tunings, including suggested gauges for restringing: .048-.052 on the bottom two, .028-.032 on the middle two, and .017-.018s on the top two.

  • GGDDFF
  • GGDDGG
  • F#F#GGAA
  • F#F#F#F#EB

    LEE: [regarding my hard work "demystifying the band's secrets"] "I don't think there's any problem, it's not the secret that makes the bands what they are, it's the artists as creative people. To give someone the knowledge of our gear or what our tunings are isn't going to allow them to do what we do, that's just beside the point, it's not about that."

  • GEAR PHOTOS
    A 2000 pic of Kim and Thurston playing "Free City Rhymes" with mustard Les Paul and black Jazzmaster is included, as well as '98-era pic of Kim using her Dyna Soar pedal as a slide for her Les Paul Special (either "Anagrama" or "Wildflower"). The same pic of Thurston with his red Jaguar is printed twice, but I'm not sure what the date is.

    TOTAL GUITAR
    AUGUST 2002
    "SONIC YOUTH Q&A"
    Phil Ascott

    NOTES
    This is a more concise interview with Lee than the previous feature, but still a good read. He discusses the process of creating new tunings and how they work within the songwriting process, Jim's role in the band and the recording of Murray Street, and the forthcoming deluxe reissues of Dirty, etc.

    LEE: [re: creating tunings] "The simplest thing is to take your mind out of standard tuning and normal finger positions and start twisting the pegs until something nice happens when you strum across the strings. The way it works for us is that once we've found a tuning we like we have to learn a whole series of finger positions. In the end, although we know what tuning we're in - in that we know what the notes are - we don't ever really talk in terms of chords at all, never "Well I'm playing a G chord now". We just know what the finger positions are and the way it sounds. So it's totally developed by ear."

    GEAR MENTIONED
    No specific gear is mentioned in the article.

    TUNINGS MENTIONED
    No specific tunings are mentioned in the article itself, for whatever reason they were saved for a review of Murray Street that appears a few pages later:

  • CGDGCD
  • DADABB
  • GGDGGA

  • GUITARIST
    SEPTEMBER 2002
    "SOUND INVESTMENT"
    by Phil Ascott

    NOTES
    I experienced confusing déjà vu while reading this article, then realized it was largely comprised of the same quotes from Lee that appeared in the Total Guitar issue above. Sure enough, Phil Ascott wrote both articles, and while there is a lot of repetition there is also some interesting new material, and much more of a focus on gear.

    LEE: "The last couple of albums have tended to have fewer tunings overall. Partly because it's fun to explore a tuning over a bunch of songs, but also because of certain touring practicalities. The more tunings you have the more guitars you have to take. I guess we've found that, although we love to take 20 or 30 guitars on the road, and do all the time, occasionally it becomes a problem just to go out and do simple little gigs."

    LEE: [re: gear theft] "As much of a drag as it was to have it stolen, in retrospect we all thought that in a certain way it was also a good thing. It forced us all to go out and try different pedals and different guitars. We had some great vintage effects pedals that have been so hard to find that we haven't replaced them. We had amps where we were really happy with the sound. But we really missed the guitars, just because we had a lot of them that had been modified. Some of them were so specific to the songs that were written on them that now the guitar's gone, it's almost like the song can't be done anymore."

    GEAR MENTIONED
    Lee's gear is discussed in the interview portion and in a small inset titled "Lee's backline" which details what he'll be taking on tour.

  • Fender Jazzmaster/Jazzblaster
  • Travis Bean
  • Fernandes Sustainer
  • Telecaster Deluxe
  • Fernandes Strat
  • Fender XII
  • Fender Jazzmasters

    LEE: "My favourite guitar for a while now has been the Fender Jazzmaster with pickups from a Tele Deluxe (known as a Jazzblaster!). I had two or three like that and they were the first ones I looked to replace after the theft. I really like the sound of the Deluxe pickups, really warm and full bodied. The other guitars I like the sound of a lot are the Travis Bean ones. They have a pickup which to my ears sounds very similar to the Deluxe."

    LEE: [re: Fernandes Sustainer endorsement] "Yeah, they gave me one and I liked it. It was a pretty interesting guitar. Ultimately I had to do a lot of modification to get what I wanted, which meant making it more like a Jazzmaster - putting that kind of tailpiece on it, that kind of tremolo arm, as well as a lot of work on the pickups. Initially I thought the Sustainer idea was good and it worked really well, but I found that in general the pickups had to be really trebly, but in the end they were actually more trebly than I liked. I do still have one of them, though two were stolen."

    LEE: [re: recent recovery of gear] "We were contacted by this guy who was sure he'd seen one of my Travis Bean Artists for sale at an auction. He was right, it was my original koa wood model, so of course we bought it back!"

  • Fender Bassman head w/ 4x12 cab (possibly MESA/Boogie)

  • Moogerfooger ring modulator
  • Line 6 DL-4 Delay Modeler
  • Ibanez AD80 analog delay
  • Digitech PDS 1002 2-second delay
  • Hughes & Kettner Tube Factor

  • TUNINGS MENTIONED
    Some "recent favorites" are given:

  • CGDGCD
  • GGDGGA
  • FGCFAF#
  • DFCDFF

    In the "Style File" piece, three examples of Sonic Youth style riffs are offered in tablature form, each in their own tuning:

  • EGDGED
  • GGDDGG
  • CGDGBB

    However, the article notes: "This is only a brief introduction; check out the excellent online tutorial at: www.sonicyouth.com/mustang/tab/tuning.html" - good suggestion!

  • GEAR PHOTOS
    Most of these pics seem to be from June 23rd 2002 Bristol, with Thurston using his sunburst Jazzmaster, Kim playing her blue P-Bass, and Lee using his freshly recovered koa wood Travis Bean for "Eric's Trip" (see also: Thurston on New Drifter). I'm not sure where the pic of Lee with his white Jazzblaster is from.

    GUITAR PART #102
    SEPTEMBER 2002
    "LES INCORRUPTIBLES"
    by Rudolphe Casso

    NOTES
    This is a one-page French interview with Kim. She talks about the classic rock foundations of Murray Street, working with Brigitte Fontaine, electronic music vs noise, and Radiohead's experimentalism or lack thereof.

    GEAR MENTIONED
    No gear is mentioned in the article.

    TUNINGS MENTIONED
    No tunings are mentioned in the article.

    GEAR PHOTOS
    This is pretty cool, it's a picture of Thurston using a borrowed Gibson Marauder at the July 4th, 1999 Irvine gig, which the band had to play using all borrowed gear because, well... I still don't know who he borrowed this from!

    GUITAR PLAYER
    NOVEMBER 2002
    "CHAOS THEORISTS"
    by Jude Gold

    NOTES
    This is another solid Guitar Player feature, this time promoting Murray Street with Thurston, Lee, and Jim O'Rourke. They discuss their studio Echo Canyon extensively, with lots of info on the recording of Murray Street. The addition of Jim O'Rourke and his role in the band is explored, and he offers lots of info on non-standard guitar/sound techniques (he even gets his own sidebar! "Jim O'Rourke on Prepared Guitar"). All three do a general run-through of their current gear, though the Jazzmaster is once again the primary focus.

    JIM: "I played bass on two-thirds of the songs and guitar on almost all of them. Actually, Lee was laughing in rehearsal, because I'm often playing bass live, which means he sometimes has to play my guitar parts. It was the first time he has ever had to play parts that weren't his own."

    LEE: "We have an old 16-track, 2" Studer machine and a Pro Tools rig that are pretty much integrated. We recorded about half the stuff analog and the other half digital, and we mixed down to an old Ampex half-inch machine. Pro Tools is an amazing editing tool, but we still do plenty of editing where we're physically cutting tape, which I love to do because you arrive at things differently that way. Plus, the analog domain is where our final masters end up, and if you're mixing a song to tape like we do - in sections using a vintage Neve console - it's sometimes actually more expedient to use a razor blade than it is to use Pro Tools."

    GEAR MENTIONED
    Some gear is mentioned:

    THURSTON

  • black late '60s Fender Jazzmaster

  • Dunlop Jimi Hendrix Octave Fuzz
  • Sovtek Big Muff
  • Mu-Tron Vol-Wah

  • Peavey Road Master tube head w/ Marshall 4x12 cab.

    LEE

    LEE: "Jazzmasters and Jaguars are still our favorite guitars in terms of body length, shape, and whammy bar, but we often modify them. We rip out most of the electronics, because, to our minds, all those little switches and doodads are overly complicated and prone to breaking down. We like our guitars to be as rigorous as possible, because we tend to throw them around and beat them up quite a bit. So we often hardwire the pickups directly to the output jack. I usually try to replace the pickups with humbuckers from Telecaster Deluxes. Once I do that, I call the guitars "Jazzblasters". I also have a couple of custom-built guitars that are modeled after Jazzmasters, but have odd little touches. There's one I used a lot on the new record that has a pickup installed behind the bridge to get further amplification of those little short strings on the other side."

  • Hughes & Kettner distortion
  • Ibanez analog delay
  • Line 6 DL4 delay modeler
  • Moogerfooger ring modulator

  • Fender Super Reverb (studio)
  • blackface Fender Bandmaster head w/ MESA/Boogie 4x12 cab (live)

    JIM

  • Gibson Firebird
  • Fender Telecaster Deluxe

    JIM: "When it comes to stompboxes, however, one thing I like to do is rebuild them. For example, I once rewired a phase pedal so it made unpredictable sounds somewhat like a ring modulator. I don't always know what I'm doing or why it works, but I know what it does sonically."

  • Fender Twin Reverb

    Although Kim's gear is not covered, there is a great pic of her in Echo Canyon playing the Eterna, with her 2002 era pedal board in full display.

  • TUNINGS MENTIONED
    There are no tunings discussed in this article.
    GEAR PHOTOS
    I'm not sure where the live pictures are from, but they feature Lee and his "coral" Jazzblaster, Jim on the bigsby Telecaster (EB-2 bass in waiting), and Thurston with the black Jazzmaster. There's also two studio pix, including Lee with his coral Blaster and Kim with her Eterna and most of her 2002 pedalboard (Micro-Synth, Octave Fuzz, Turbo Rat, Hot Tubes, volume pedal, and tuner).

    GUITAR ONE
    JULY 2003
    "THE NOISE OF SUMMER"
    by Adam Perlmutter

    NOTES
    This is a brief piece on SY as part of a larger article focusing on the summer festival scene (SY were included in the Bonnaroo portion). It's a few quick quotes from Thurston, one of which is in response to "Do you have any stories of onstage disasters?":

    THURSTON: "We were playing in Portland, and there was a military stretcher in the dressing room. I got on it and [new member] Jim [O'Rourke] and [guitarist] Lee [Ranaldo] carried me onstage. As I jumped off and went to strap on my guitar, Jim picked up the stretcher - which was 20 feet tall - to move it. Then it fell out of his hands and right on top of my head, and knocked me out cold."

    I was at this show - Portland, OR, August 30th 2002 - and his recollection is mostly accurate!

    GEAR MENTIONED
    A tiny burst of gear info is tacked to the end of the article:

  • AXES: 60s Fenders; D'Addario strings
  • AMPS: Assorted Peaveys
  • EFFECTS: Electro-Harmonix Big Muff, MXR Blue Box, ProCo Turbo Rat

  • TUNINGS MENTIONED
    No tunings are mentioned in this piece.

    GUITAR BREAKERS
    AUGUST 2003
    "SONIC YOUTH LIVE EQUIPMENT IN JAPAN TOUR 2003"
    by ?

    NOTES
    This is what I'm talking about! Another phenomenal Japanese gear publication knocks it out of the park with complete photographic documentation of every guitar, effect, and amp of all FOUR guitarists. The gear was photographed at one of the band's February 2003 Japan shows, about six months after I first photographed their gear on the Murray Street tour. You can see how things changed subtly in that time...I really wish I could find one of these for their 2005 Japan tour, as I was unable to do an in-depth gear shoot for the Nurse era. Oh well...

    If the photos weren't enough, a table of the 27 songs on the band's master list for that tour is included, with a column for each of the four guitarists and which tuning they use on each song. Additionally, each tuning has a letter next to it that corresponds to the letter you see in the individual guitar pics, linking the instrument to the song/tuning. I should have thought of that!! Oh...

    New tunes "Mariah" and "1234" are curiously missing from the magazine's list, however...

    Seriously, this was well worth tracking down and I will add more details from this feature in the future - for now, enjoy the pictures and the new info!

    GEAR MENTIONED
    The band's entire Murray Street tour gear profile is photographed and described in detail. Well, except for the bass and drums...and Lee's organ.

    THURSTON

  • Fender Jazzmaster (black)
  • Fender Jazzmaster (red)
  • Fender Jazzmaster (seafoam)
  • Fender Jazzmaster (sunburst)
  • Fender Jazzmaster (gold)
  • Fender Jazzmaster (blue)
  • Gibson Sonex aka "NEW DRIFTER" (grouped with Kim's gear but we know the truth)

  • Mu-Tron Wah/Vol
  • Sovtek Big Muff
  • ProCo Turbo Rat
  • Jimi Hendrix Octave Fuzz
  • MXR Phase 90
  • MXR Blue Box

    KIM

  • Gibson Les Paul Junior
  • Musima Eterna
  • Ibanez Talman

  • BOSS DD-3 Digital Delay
  • Moogerfooger 12-Stage Phaser w/ expression pedal
  • Electro-Harmonix Micro-Synth
  • Jimi Hendrix Octave Fuzz

    It is missing the other half of her pedal board, probably Turbo Rat, Hot Tubes, DI, Ernie Ball volume pedal, and BOSS Tuner if other 2003 footage is any indication.

    LEE

  • Koll Custom F-Hole Jazzblaster (cherry)
  • Fender Telecaster Deluxe (brown)
  • Fender Telecaster Deluxe (sunburst)
  • Travis Bean Artist (yellow)
  • Epiphone Casino
  • Fender Subsonic (blue)
  • Fernandes Strat-style
  • Fender Jazzblaster (coral)
  • Fender Jazzblaster (green)
  • Fender Jazzblaster (cream)

  • Voodoo Labs Sparkle Drive
  • Digitech PDS-1002 2-second digital delay
  • Hughes & Kettner Tube Factor
  • Ibanez AD-80 analog delay
  • MXR Blue Box
  • Line 6 DL-4 Delay Modeler
  • Moogerfooger Ring Modulator w/ expression pedal

    JIM

  • Fender Telecaster Deluxe (bigsby)
  • Gibson Firebird

  • Mu-Tron Wah/Vol
  • Electro-Harmonix Hot Tubes
  • MXR Phase 100
  • Boss GE-7 Equalizer
  • Electro-Harmonix Big Muff
  • Crowther Prunes & Custard
  • Crowther Hot Cake
  • BOSS OC-2 Octave
  • Moogerfooger Analog Delay

    Since the North American Murray Street tour, Jim had ditched the Rat and Maxon Overdrive for the two Crowther boxes and a Hot Tubes, and also replaced his Small Stone with a Phase 100.

    The amplifier info is a little jumbled in the translation but the pictures should be pretty clear!

  • TUNINGS MENTIONED
    DIG THIS!

    GEAR PHOTOS
    Keep digging! And hey, there's two live pix too.

    GUITAR & BASS
    JULY 2004
    "BRUTAL HEALTH"
    uncredited

    NOTES
    This is a nice 3-page Sonic Nurse era article with a solid focus on gear and tunings. That said, Thurston and Lee are curiously goofy throughout the interview. After trashing Clapton, the focus shifts to the artists name-dropped in "New Hampshire", before laying sarcastic praise on themselves and then genuine praise for a number of radical guitarists featured at their recently curated All Tomorrow's Parties festival.

    THURSTON: "[New Hampshire]'s about the blues - and Aerosmith."

    LEE: "You know, the Steve and Joe of the lyrics."

    THURSTON: "We went to this taping of a blues convention of sorts, for that series Martin Scorsese was filming on the blues. Also, I grew up in New England in the early '80s and I've read Walk This Way about how Joe Perry and Steven Tyler grew up in New Hampshire in the late '60s - being immersed with the Yardbirds and rock-R'n'B, and how they saw Led Zeppelin in Boston and it changed their whole lives. So I threw in some thoughts about all that, as well as what the blues is now for someone growing up the city. I referenced that Scorsese event, but the main reason why I was there was to see Johnny Winter. He was my favourite guitar player - Still Alive And Well is my favourite guitar album of all time - and I'd never seen him play. And he was a no show!"

    LEE: "I was more interested in Pavement when they started kicking out because they were actually using variant tunings. Steve Malkmus is the one guy who certainly took inspiration from us, but he's made it his own thing. Keith Richards plays in open tunings and we're not beholden to him, and I don't think Malkmus should be beholden to us; there's just a kinship there."

    THURSTON: "It was kind of late in the game when I realised how strange we seemed to everybody. We'd go into these clubs with 12 guitars each with no cases, and we'd put them in drum cases onstage. And there was a part of me that did want to be part of the league of purity - just one guitar and play in normal tuning."

    LEE: "That was never going to happen!"

    GEAR MENTIONED
    In addition to a small panel titled "Vital Statistics" where some of the band's gear is summarized, there is also a large sidebar called "Jazz Club" that goes into further detail.

  • Jazzmasters - lots of 'em
  • Fender XII
  • Fender SubSonic
  • "Jazzblasters" - Jazzmasters with Tele Deluxe pickups
  • 2 replica Jazzmasters built for Lee by Saul Koll (1) (2)

    LEE: "The Jazzmaster is a really beautiful guitar to play. It's got a nice long scale and it's really comfortable. It also has all the behind the bridge stuff and a simple, basic tremolo system."

    THURSTON: "We got our equipment stolen many years ago, and [Patti Smith] heard about it and gave me this guitar. She said that her band got ripped off in '78 and she knew how horrible it was. I was so honoured I was too scared to touch it for about a year, but I took it out of its fetish corner and started using it. And I did modify it a little bit - I don't do too much to my guitars, but on some of them I gut out the electronics and go right to the tone and volume. We also change bridges to Tune-O-Matic ones."

  • Orlando MobyDick
  • Fender ProSonic

    LEE: "As for amps, Jim pushed us towards something we've been thinking of for a while, which is using smaller amps to record. So I played this little MobyDick amp made by an Italian company Orlando. It's this classic ol' Fender Bassman super hand-wired head - really great to push. In fact, Jim got one of those Jimmy Page Supro combos and he used it on a couple of things."

  • Moogerfooger Ring Modulator
  • DOD Delay
  • Ibanez AD8

  • TUNINGS MENTIONED
    A few Nurse tunings are revealed:

  • GGDGGA (LEE: "Stones" "Dripping Dream" "Unmade Bed" "...around 70 percent of the record")
  • CGDCGD (LEE: "Pattern Recognition" "Dude Ranch Nurse" "I Love You Golden Blue")
  • EG#EG#EG# (LEE 12-string, THURSTON 6-string: "Paper Cup Exit" "Expressway to yr Skull")
  • GGDDD#D# ("Brother James")
  • F#F#F#F#EB ("Death Valley '69")
  • CGDGCD

    LEE: "I think this is our first record in a while that I didn't need to come up with new tunings for."

    THURSTON: "There's also the one that I started using on Murray Street - CGDGDC - is that right? Maybe it's CGDGCD...I dunno, it's a load of C, D and G open tunings."

    LEE: "Only the roadies ever know for sure."

    THURSTON: "We have the notes taped to the back of the headstock and even know we have to look before turning to the tuner. It takes me a couple of weeks of touring before I start to remember."

  • GEAR PHOTOS
    Two live pix of unknown origin: one captures Thurston with his black Jazzmaster (and Blue Box), and Lee with maybe the Subsonic or green Blaster?

    GUITAR PART #124
    JULY-AUGUST 2004
    "UNDERGROUND'S HEROES"
    by Romuald Ollivier

    NOTES
    This is a French interview with Lee, featuring a sidebar offering lessons in sonic sounds from "Professor Lee" himself. I'll summarize for you:

    Lesson #1: Use a drumstick or a screwdriver.

    Lesson #2: Improvise.

    Lesson #3: Use weird tunings.

    GEAR MENTIONED
    No specific gear is mentioned in the article.

    TUNINGS MENTIONED
    Curiously, the two tunings that Lee refers to are represented on a scale: Sol, Sol, Re, Sol, Sol, La (GGDGGA) and Do, Sol, Re, Do, Sol, Re (CGDCGD) !                                                                                                                                                          

    GUITARIST
    SUMMER 2004
    "AVANT-GUARDS"
    by Phil Ascott

    NOTES
    This is a great interview with Thurston, discussing the gear, tunings, and recording process behind Sonic Nurse. There's also a sidebar titled "Strange Brew" that focuses on five of his favorite guitarists: J Mascis, Derek Bailey, Pat Place, Arto Lindsay, and Keiji Haino.

    THURSTON: [re: Sonic Nurse recording process] "The big difference was that we decided we would mix the record differently. We went to a really professional mixing studio as opposed to using our own studio. That was interesting because this time every time we pressed a button it would work! Jim O'Rourke was mixing the record and he was extremely sick, to the point where his head was passed out on the mixing desk and he was hallucinating while he was turning the knobs! Whatever sound the record has was due to his deep, deep sickness!"

    THURSTON: [re: Jim O'Rourke's experimental approach] "Yeah, he does a lot of "prepared guitar" techniques. I have no idea what he's doing. Sometimes I look over there and he has a 24-foot long tape measure and he's wrapping it around the strings. I don't know what the hell he's doing but it sounds great. I use files to get certain sounds. I place long files on top of the strings over the pickups to create sound that way. I like that sound a lot. And I still tend to bow strings with wood, like a drumstick."

    GEAR MENTIONED
    Thurston details some of his gear:

    THURSTON: "I used three Jazzmasters on this album. There's one I really like, the black '68 Jazzmaster. I played that quite a bit. But I also play it when I do solo gigs or play with different noise improvisers and I tend to destroy it, kill the frets. I need some back-ups. I gotta find a guitar I really like that I don't use all the time. But then once I really like it, I'll want to use it for Sonic Youth. It's a Catch 22."

    "The reason we started using them was because we used to use really cheap no-name guitars early on. Then when we started to be able to afford some better guitars, Jazzmasters were the ones we could afford. At the time (early to mid-eighties) the Jazzmaster was not a very important guitar; they were just giving them away. The Les Paul was the choice for rock and roll musicians. Nobody was playing Jazzmasters at the time, then we started doing it, J Mascis, My Bloody Valentine. All of a sudden it was more collectable. And now, forget it, you can't find them anywhere."

  • Peavey Roadmaster
  • Fender Princeton

    THURSTON: "On the record I used a Fender Princeton, which changed the sound of the record quite a bit. I always keep my touring rig where I record, or at least half of it. But this was the first time that I used a completely different amplifier to the one I use live. That was kinda cool. I was trying different amps and mics but that one seemed to sound best on tape. I dunno what I'm gonna do live. I'll still bring my rig, but I might actually have to bring that Princeton as a monitor amp."

  • Sovtek Big Muff
  • Turbo Rat
  • Hendrix Octave Fuzz
  • MXR Phaser Shifter
  • MXR Blue Box
  • Mu-Tron Wah-Volume

    THURSTON: "I only use those when I get in to insane parts. There's a song called "I Love You Golden Blue" where, for the whole of the intro, I do this thing where I take the guitar cord out of the guitar and I click on the Turbo Rat and the Wah setting on the Mu-Tron all the way up on high, and I plug that cord in to the other input on the amp so it loops through the amp it creates this frequency feedback that is just below dog's ears. A very high frequency, but a totally great pitch. I play with that a bit by improvising on the different pedals. That's a sound that I'm really in to right now, just rockin' that. And just playing the amplifier."

  • TUNINGS MENTIONED
    A few Nurse tunings are revealed:

  • GGDDD#D# ("Brother James")
  • F#F#F#F#EB ("Death Valley '69")
  • CGDGCD
  • EG#EG#EG# ("Paper Cup Exit" "Expressway to yr Skull")

    THURSTON: "This time I broke out a few more than usual. I'd been cutting back. I wrote a couple of songs using the Brother James tuning - GGDDD#D# - and the Death Valley tuning (F#F#F#F#EB). I may have even used the Expressway tuning (EG#EG#EG#) on Paper Cut [sic] Exit. Basically those three and the one I used mostly on Murray Street (CGDGCD)."

  • GEAR PHOTOS
    This pic previously appeared in Musician '95, I think it's from the Lollapalooza tour? The white Jazzmaster Thurston is playing was stolen by the time this article was published.

    GUITAR PLAYER
    SEPTEMBER 2004
    "OUTSIDERS"
    by Matt Blackett

    NOTES
    While not as long as previous Guitar Player articles, this is still a good interview with Lee and Thurston about Sonic Nurse with some interesting bits of info offered. The two are interviewed on June 9th 2004 before their appearance on the Tonight Show w/ Jay Leno performing "Unmade Bed". "Pattern Recognition" and "Dripping Dream" are discussed in particular detail:

    LEE: "...because certain songs definitely have a verse part and a chorus part, although we aren't always aware of that at the time. We generally don't deal with lyrics when we write. We write instrumentally, then record instrumentally, and then the lyrics are added - unless Thurston has an idea for a vocal right away."

    THURSTON (re: "Pattern Recognition"): "That song is interesting, because when I came up with it at home, I had vocals and everything. Then we started jamming on it, and everybody liked the tune, but they didn't really like what I was doing vocally. So Kim completely rewrote the vocal, and it turned it into a whole different song."

    LEE (re: "Pattern Recognition"): "I'm doing the single-note lead in the beginning. Thurston plays the harmonics, and Kim is playing the noisy slide part. Jim played bass on that song. The power chords and the question-and-answer sections in the middle are played by Thurston and me. I played one of my Jazzblasters, which is basically a Jazzmaster hot-rodded with Fender humbuckers. I plugged into a Hughes & Kettner Tube Factor distortion into a 1957 Fender tweed Deluxe and a Bassman with a Fender Custom Shop 2x12 cab."

    LEE: "We try not to go crazy with overdubs. We'll double some parts, and we'll layer things to get a certain effect. On the intro to "Dripping Dream," for instance, Jim played through a bunch of pedals to get that crazy fuzz sound. Then he layered that a few times. On the other hand, my basic guitar track on a couple of tunes was so nice that we just did some little fixes in Pro Tools. I didn't do any more actual playing at all."

    GEAR MENTIONED
    The only mention of specific gear in this article is covered in Lee's paragraph above re: "Pattern Recognition".

    TUNINGS MENTIONED
    A few Nurse tunings are revealed:

  • CGDGCD ("Stones")
  • GGDGGA (LEE: "Dripping Dream" "Unmade Bed" "Mariah Carey and the Arthur Doyle Hand Cream")
  • CGDCGD (LEE: "Pattern Recognition" "Dude Ranch Nurse" "I Love You Golden Blue")
  • F#F#F#F#EB ("Death Valley '69")
  • GGDDD#D# ("Brother James")

    There is also a very brief tab inspired by "Stones" at the start of the article.

  • GUITAR PART #149
    JULY-AUGUST 2006
    "EXPERI-MENTAL!"
    by Romuald Ollivier

    NOTES
    This is a French interview with Thurston and Lee. They talk about Rather Ripped's "classic" songwriting being experimental for them, Jim's departure, the gear theft and subsequent recovery of 3 guitars, Jazzmasters (of course), and drumstick/screwdriver techniques.

    GEAR MENTIONED
    Lee mentions that one of the 3 guitars found after the gear theft was a Telecaster Deluxe that he'd wanted. He talks of buying one on eBay for four times the price. He also mentions the various perks of the Jazzmaster's design, calling it more balanced than a Les Paul.

    TUNINGS MENTIONED
    No tunings are mentioned.

    KEYBOARDS RECORDING
    JULY-AUGUST 2006
    "SOVEREIGN DISORDER"
    by Mathieu Cuq

    NOTES
    This is a French keyboard magazine, so I was curious to see what kind of Sonic Youth content they might have. Sadly not an in-depth look at Lee's organ, instead just a Rather Ripped review centered around the April 19th 2006 Paris performance, the band's first as a quartet following Jim's departure. Quotes from Thurston and Lee appear.

    GEAR MENTIONED
    Lee discusses the band's consistent hardware: "We always play on Fender Jazzmaster guitars, Marshall amps."

    TUNINGS MENTIONED
    No tunings are mentioned.

    GEAR PHOTOS
    Just a Rather Ripped promo shot, but a nice one! Yellow Travis, Thunderbird bass, and gold Jazzmaster.

    GUITAR ONE
    OCTOBER 2006
    "UNDER THE INFLUENCE: THURSTON MOORE"
    by Bob Gulla

    NOTES
    This is a very brief piece, with a few tiny quotes from Thurston, including blurbs on his recommended artist (Richard Hell), album (Damaged by Black Flag), and song ("Rebel Girl" by Bikini Kill).

    THURSTON: [re: Rather Ripped] "We usually trick out our songwriting more, destroying the traditional aspects and reshaping our songs in risky ways. On this record, though, we let them exist in their primal state, without our getting too involved."

    GEAR MENTIONED
    No gear is mentioned, though a nice pic of Thurston mangling his blue Jazzmaster is shown.

    TUNINGS MENTIONED
    No tunings are mentioned in this piece.
    GEAR PHOTOS
    Here's the blue Jazzmaster in action!

    GUITAR PLAYER
    DECEMBER 2006
    "SONIC YOUTH ON THEIR STRIPPED-DOWN RATHER RIPPED ALBUM"

    NOTES
    Possibly the final SY feature in Guitar Player, this interview with Lee and Thurston focuses on Rather Ripped. They talk about the quick approach to songwriting and recording, John Agnello's contributions, the gear they used and some of their less known influences.

    GEAR MENTIONED
    The article mentions multiple guitars:

    THURSTON

  • "a couple of Fender Jazzmasters that I use for just about everything" (1) (2)

  • ProCo Turbo Rat
  • Sovtek Big Muff
  • MXR Phase 90
  • Dunlop JHS3 Jimi Hendrix Octave Fuzz
  • Mutron Wah/Vol

  • Fender Princeton ("much smaller than what I usually use, but it recorded great")

    LEE

  • Les Paul
  • Fender Telecaster Deluxe
  • Jazzmaster copy made by Saul Koll
  • Fender "Jazzblaster" Jazzmaster w/ humbuckers

  • '63 Fender Super Reverb ("that I busted out of its combo casing to make a separate amp head and closed-back 4x10 speaker cabinet. I did that mod primarily to keep the sound from blowing out the back of the cabinet onstage")

    LEE: "We are loyal to Ernie Ball strings, and mine are super heavy. I think the lightest string is a .017, and then down to a .058 or .062 on the low end."

    LEE: "We all use Jim Dunlop picks. Mine are these very specific red .73mm nylon picks, which are a little stiffer than the standard, gray .73mm plectrums. For me, it's the absolute perfect pick."

  • TUNINGS MENTIONED
    Lee only mentions one tuning, but it's slightly wrong:

    LEE: "The tuning is from, low to high, D or D# - I tune to D#, and Thurston usually goes for D - then C#, A#, D#, G and G."

    The correct tuning is D#D#A#D#GG (for Lee) and DD#A#D#GG (for Thurston).

    EQ
    AUGUST 2009
    NOTES
    This article focuses on the recording of The Eternal, including lots of details on mixing consoles and microphone placements. Producer John Agnello and SY's engineer Aaron Mullan are both interviewed along with Thurston and Lee. They discuss working at Echo Canyon West as well as J Mascis's Bisquiteen studio. It's interesting to get the producer's perspective on working with SY, and Aaron always has something informative to share! If you're interested in recording gear, this article is worth tracking down.

    GEAR MENTIONED
    Though the primary focus is on microphones and recording equipment, some of the band's gear is addressed:

    THURSTON

  • Fender Jazzmaster

  • ProCo Turbo Rat
  • Electro Harmonix Big Muff
  • MXR Phase 90
  • MXR Blue Box
  • Dunlop JHS3 Jimi Hendrix Octave Fuzz
  • Mutron Wah/Vol

  • heavily modified Fender Super Reverb

    LEE

  • Fender "Jazzblaster"

  • Ibanez AD80 Analog Delay
  • MXR Carbon Copy analog delay
  • Moog Moogerfooger
  • Electro Harmonix #1 Echo
  • BJF Honey Bee overdrive
  • Hughes & Kettner Tube Factor
  • 2-second sampling delay

    LEE re: "Antenna": "That's the Ibanez AD-80 Analog Delay pedal with the repeat all the way up, just twisting the delay. I usually keep it on the longest setting. You hit a note, and its feedback sounds like helicopter blades spinning. The delay time starts to rise up and get more trippy - it's using the pedal as an instrument. There might be a second delay behind that with the Honey Bee pedal overdriving it. In the lead section, I am hitting the Honey Bee, and letting the repeat control do that swoop-y echo sound, and then playing some lead with a more standard tone."

  • heavily modified Fender Super Reverb

    KIM

  • Electro-Harmonix Memory Man (for vocals)

  • Fender Twin Reverb

    MARK

  • Fender Precision bass

  • Ampeg SVT
  • B15 Portaflex

  • TUNINGS MENTIONED
    No tunings are mentioned in this article.

    PREMIER GUITAR
    AUGUST 2010
    "ZEN GUITAR FOR THE 22ND CENTURY ... AND BEYOND"
    by Charles Saufley

     
    NOTES
    Lee is showcased in this piece covering a handful of different guitarists. Jazzmasters and Jaguars, drumsticks, screwdrivers, alternate tunings, and the limitless potential of the guitar are all familiar topics, and Lee offers some good quotes.

    GEAR MENTIONED
    Some of Lee's gear is listed as follows:

  • Fender Lee Ranaldo Signature Jazzmaster
  • Travis Bean T1000A
  • Fender Telecaster Deluxe

  • Klon Centaur overdrive
  • Ibanez AD-80 analog delay
  • Digitech PDS 1002 2-second delay
  • BJF Electronics Honey Bee overdrive
  • Moog Moogerfooger ring modulator

  • 1963 Fender Super Reverb
  • Fender Vibro-King

    The article also mentions that Thurston plays an inexpensive Les Paul copy with drumsticks on "Eric's Trip".

  • TUNINGS MENTIONED
    No specific tunings are mentioned.

    FEEDING BACK: CONVERSATIONS WITH ALTERNATIVE GUITARISTS
    2012
    "CHAPTER 16: INFINITY SUITCASE"
    by David Todd

    NOTES
    This is one of the few items on this page that you can actually just go over to Amazon or wherever and buy, and I recommend that you do! In addition to a 10-page interview with Lee Ranaldo, David Todd has spoken with J Mascis, Lydia Lunch, Glenn Branca, Tom Verlaine, Lenny Kaye, James Williamson, Kim and Kelley Deal, Bob Mould, Johnny Marr, Christian Fennesz, and about a dozen more! It's a very nice 400-page trade paperback. Check it out!

    The interview with Lee isn't technically gear-related, but it's quite interesting regardless. They discuss alternate tunings, dual guitar interplay, Sonic Youth's songwriting process, NYC Ghosts & Flowers, beat poets, and the Sensational Fix exhibit. I'm not going to quote anything because it is still readily available, and I think you'd find it worthwhile if you're a fan of any of the guitarists featured.

    GEAR MENTIONED
    While the guitar in general is a topic in the interview, the only one named is (of course!) the Jazzmaster.

    TUNINGS MENTIONED
    There is some discussion about alternate tunings in the interview, but the only specific ones mentioned are in the opening paragraphs, where the author cites F#F#F#F#EB and EG#EG#EG# as two examples of SY tunings. Lee does mention that the first record was in normal tuning.

    GUITARS & HEROES
    2018

    by Julien Bitoun

    NOTES
    This is basically a coffee table book about various artists and their guitars, separated into a variety of genres. Sonic Youth get 2 pages in the "Modern Age: Grunge & Alternative Rock" section, alongside Kurt Cobain, Buzz Osborne, Kim Thayil, Jerry Cantrell, J Mascis, and others.

    Sonic Youth are, of course, representing the Jazzmaster. Most of the info seems to be regurgitated from the press release for the signature editions released in 2009, including specs on pickups, bridge, and scale. The write-up is accompanied by a page-sized view of Lee's signature Jazzblaster, which is also featured on the text page along with post-SY live pics of Lee (Barcelona 2013) and Thurston (Bilbao 2014).

    GEAR MENTIONED
    "Out of a concern for sturdiness and dependability, they have always used Fenders..."

  • Telecaster Deluxe models
  • Jaguars
  • Mustangs
  • Jazzmasters (which they were introduced to by J Mascis in the late 80s -- hmm?)

  • TUNINGS MENTIONED
    No tunings are mentioned.

    In the post-SY years, the individual members of the band have been interviewed by the online mag Premier Guitar. They're all very good articles regarding their solo work, with occasional mention of Sonic Youth. You can view them here:

  • Lee Ranaldo: Fearlessly Forward (2012)
  • Body/Head: Kim Gordon and Bill Nace's Natural Selection (2016)
  • Thurston Moore: Free Noise (2017)
  • Kim Gordon: Kool Thing (2019)

  • Thurston also gave an interesting, heavily gear-related interview to Music Radar in 2015, read it here.

    Lee did a very informative Eletronauts interview recently, read it here.

    Return to main Sonic Gear page.