True story: I once received a Christmas present from a co-worker who knew I was a music fan. The album that he bought me was the Eagles Their Greatest Hits 1971-1975.
I was gracious; I thanked him for the gift and referred to the record’s huge appeal. Privately, I thought it was a little shortsighted. I mean, I was sure that I had let on about a few bands that I like and I am absolutely positive that the Eagles never once entered into the conversation. Perhaps this is the record that people turn to whenever they’re faced with addressing someone who is a bit of a music fan; because, fuck, so many people bought Greatest Hits that it must mean that everyone who likes music loves that album.
I left the gift in its shrink rap and traded in on something more aligned with my own musical taste.
Boston-based six-string manufacturer First Act — whose $159 instruments caught Westerberg’s eye in a Wal-Mart a couple years ago — recently recruited the former Replacements frontman to design his own guitar for retail.
Featuring a slim body and “punk-rock plaid” pattern on its pick guard, the PW580 is already on sale at Amazon.com and will soon be available in Wal-Mart stores. Retail price: $159.
Westerberg wanted “…something not too heavy, that I could play quietly or full volume. It has a single pick-up, and it sort of snarls. It’s lean, clean, and mean, and it doesn’t have that big, overdriven, fuzzy sound. You can get that with an amp, but the guitar itself doesn’t put it out, and that’s what I was looking for. There’s a definite old-school thing—it belongs in a garage. It probably sounds best in a garage playing surf music or something like that.”
According to First Act: “The story goes that Westerberg was on tour somewhere in the middle of America, and he stopped into a mass retailer to buy shaving cream, and bought one of our crimson ME501 electric guitars on impulse, right off the shelf. He debuted the guitar onstage that night, and quickly brought it into heavy onstage rotation for the rest of the tour.”
Check out its specs. Has anybody out there actually heard a First Act guitar in action, or played one? How do they sound? Because this is a pretty cool thing. Although I’m not quite sure about that “punk rock plaid” pickguard…