A man who needs no introduction. The mysterious, twisted genius that is Bob Log III.
So last year was a pretty quiet year for me, gig wise. A few years back I was playing a gig a fortnight (at least) with my various bands, which culminated with all of them having gigs at the same time around Christmas which made things hectic to say the least. Well in the last few years, band babies (mine included) have been popping out left right and centre, so that slows everything down while us musicians try and grapple with parenthood.
One of my rare gigs last year was with my long time band, The Horrortones. This is the soul-rock band I play with my mates that is a hell of a lot of fun and totally stress free. This was the first Horrotones gig in over a year, so I was really looking forward to it. Another reason was that the headliner was going to be Bob Log III, the fighter pilot helmeted skronk blues maestro from parts unknown. I’d met Bob a few times over the years and he is one of the loveliest gentlemen that you would ever meet. Plus the stories he tells… he has played with EVERYBODY.
After a cracking gig, I tracked Bob down the next day and got him to give me the details on the guitar he was playing on the night. Bob is known for playing cheap and nasty Harmony and Silvertones and making them do things that they were never built for. In Bob’s own words, these guitars weren’t built to last 50 years. They were student guitars made quickly and out of the cheapest materials possible for the budding student guitarist to practice his Roy Rogers songs on them. And when the kid got good enough for a ‘real’ guitar, the Silvertone/Harmony was usually tossed away. And due to being so cheap, they sold tens of thousands of them.
Bob is always on the lookout for these hollowbodied beauties in whichever town he’s gigging. He says it’s very hit and miss, as some of them are just pure dogs that no matter how much tweaking and work you put into them still sound like a piece of crap. This particular example is one of Bob’s favourites.
The first thing Bob does is to fit his twin pickup system to it. This consists of a Dearmond goldfoil pickup (which you regular guitarnerd readers would know I’m a huge fan of) plus a piezo under bridge pickup. He splits the single into two amps, so that he gets the pure garage filth from the Goldfoil and the clack and clarity from the piezo. This is how Bob gets his amazing onstage sound… along with his custom made foot stomp drum/stomp box, it really does sound like a full band up there.
For all of Bob’s flailing crazy slide playing, he’s surprisingly meticulous about his guitar sound. One mod he does is to tape his strings down to stop any ghost notes. As Bob says, the only notes he wants are the ones he’s playing. Along with the tape behind the bridge, he’s also taped behind the nut.
Due to Bob’s rough playing (and belt buckles) the fragile finish on these 60 year old guitars doesn’t last very long. Add to that the litres (or gallons) of sweat that Bob sheds during a gig, these guitars usually start disintegrating after a few years. To extend the life of his tools of the trade, Bob coats the offending areas in cheap nail varnish, which he says works a treat.
Being that live music is Bob’s bread and butter, he travels the world a lot. The horror stories we hear of baggage handlers destroying Les Pauls is true (I’ve seen it first hand) so a vintage hollowbody guitar which is basically made out of sawdust and cardboard isn’t going to last too long on a 4 month international tour. To get around this, Bob has one of these beauties stashed in safe houses around the globe… ready to be called into action at a moments notice.
Thanks to Bob for sending me these photos (aren’t they gorgeous?!) and filling me in on the details. Hope to see you around the traps again soon.