Used by Lee: 1981-2011

  • 1981 -- EADGBE (The Burning Spear, I Dreamed I Dream, She Is Not Alone, I Don't Want To Push It, The Good and the Bad, Cosmopolitan Girl, Destroyer)
  • 1982 -- EADGBE (The Burning Spear, I Dreamed I Dream, She Is Not Alone, I Don't Want To Push It, The Good and the Bad, I Wanna Be Yr Dog, Shaking Hell, Making the Nature Scene) & EADECD (Confusion is Sex, World Looks Red)
  • 1983 -- EADECD/EADGBE (World Looks Red, Confusion is Sex, Shaking Hell, Making the Nature Scene, I Wanna Be Yr Dog, The Good and the Bad)
  • 1985 -- D#D#C#C#GG (I Love Her All The Time) & EADECD/EADGBE (World Looks Red, Confusion is Sex, Making the Nature Scene, Burning Spear)
  • 1986 -- F#F#GGAA (Tom Violence, White Kross, Burning Spear) & EADECD (World Looks Red)
  • 1987 -- F#F#GGAA (Tom Violence, White Kross)
  • 1989 -- F#F#GGAA (White Kross) EADECD (World Looks Red) & EADGBE (I Wanna Be Yr Dog)
  • 1990 -- EEBBEF# (Dirty Boots) & F#F#GGAA (Tom Violence, White Kross)
  • 1991 -- F#F#GGAA (Tom Violence, White Kross)
  • 1992 -- F#F#GGAA (Tom Violence, White Kross, Drunken Butterfly)
  • 1993 -- F#F#GGAA (Tom Violence, White Kross, Drunken Butterfly)
  • 1995 -- F#F#GGAA (Tom Violence, White Kross)
  • 1996 -- F#F#GGAA (Tom Violence, White Kross)
  • 1999 -- F#F#GGAA (Tom Violence, White Kross)

    STOLEN 1999, RETURNED 2005

  • 2006 -- D#A#D#BC#F# (Rats, Jams Run Free)
  • 2007 -- D#A#D#BC#F# (Rats, Jams Run Free)
  • 2008 -- D#A#D#BC#F# (Jams Run Free)
  • 2009 -- D#A#D#BC#F# (Jams Run Free)
  • 2011 -- F#F#GGAA (Tom Violence, Drunken Butterfly)


  • As far as I can tell, this is a 70s Thinline Telecaster body (after they started using the wide range humbuckers), but the neck is from a Telecaster Deluxe.
  • Lee owned this early '70s Tele for nearly 20 years, dating back to pre-Sonic Youth days. It was his primary "screwdriver guitar" in the early 80s, shuffled tunings in the late 80s and basically remained in F#GA until it was stolen on July 4th, 1999 in California. It was surprisingly returned to the band in 2005 along with his 'Target' Travis Bean, which was in considerably worse condition. The Tele was returned to playable condition and though 'Shaking Hell' and 'World Looks Red' became staples of the 'Rather Ripped' tour, this guitar was instead used in a new tuning for 2 Rather Ripped tunes.
  • Per Lee in JRNLS80s: "i bought it during the second FLUKS period in a music store in Endicott, NY. i think it was an even swap for the cream-white tele i had had up til then, and it certainly blew that gtr away, w its double humbuckers and 'f-hole'. Because the varnish had a big scratch throught it they swapped me for the cream tele and very little cash, i kept the old case and walked out, unbelieving, w an amazing deal."
  • Gauges: .046 .046 .026 .026 .017 .017 (F#GA)
  • Brown finish before theft, now blue
  • F-hole
  • 2 humbuckers
  • Originally had a maple fretboard neck, which was replaced with a rosewood fretboard neck at some point between 1987 and 1989
  • Originally had pearl pickguard, sometimes no pickguard, then black pickguard added circa mid-80s
  • 1 slider switch
  • 2 knobs
  • Circular sticker (unknown)
  • Infinity sticker
  • USA flag sticker
  • Serial # -- 370090
  • Played by Lee in "Death Valley '69" & "Mildred Pierce" videos
  • Listed as "F.HOLE" on '95 set lists.
  • Listed as "TELE 2" on '99 set lists.
  • Kurt Cobain borrowed this guitar to guest with Mudhoney on 'The Money Will Roll Right In' during their opening set for Sonic Youth in Castaic Lake on September 26th, 1992.
  • Thurston also seems to have borrowed it when playing with Even Worse in February 1983! I guess maybe his Harmony wouldn't hold standard tuning anymore? Nor would the Drifter, or Knox...hmmm...

    Return to the Sonic Youth Gear Guide.

  • 1989?


  • close-up of body
  • close-up of tailpiece/bridge pickup

    Kurt Cobain playing this guitar during Mudhoney's opening set for SY on 09/26/92

    Thurston using the Tele with his hardcore band Even Worse in February 1983.