The history of this guitar begins with what was probably a mistake. At each of the concerts in Green Day’s 21st Century Breakdown World Tour in 2009 and 2010, Billie Joe Armstrong gave a guitar to a fan, an instrument that the pope of punk pop had certainly touched but without much intrinsic value. And then, one evening, some very lucky fan walked away with this superb Strat. Did Armstrong make a mistake in the heat of the moment, or was it the ultimate punk act of generosity towards the fans? Whichever the case may be, that event ultimately led to this wild beauty joining the Matt’s Guitar Shop collection.
We know that Billie Joe is a fan of the Les Paul Junior model, but he has always remained faithful to the guitar that brought him success in the ‘90s, the famous Blue. This custom Strat covered with stickers has the particularity of having a Seymour Duncan SH4 humbucker in the bridge position, a pickup whose enormous output level perfectly matches the band’s taste for heavy distortion. This 1970 Olympic White Strat is a variation on the Blue theme, a way to find your familiar points of reference on another guitar. There we find the famous SH4 which is the only connected pickup and is linked directly to the volume knob, all on a changed pick guard. The neck has been refretted, the logo on the headstock replaced (for a transition model), and the saddles replaced with graphite ones, a good way not to break too many strings when you hit them as hard as Billie Joe does. A vintage Strat transformed into a real punk machine.
Group : Green Day
Main guitar : Gibson Les Paul Junior
An absolute “must-hear” track : East Jesus Nowhere
The dirty rock kid, the eternal teenager who appeals to punks and goths alike, the Pete Townshend of the 2000s... Billie Joe Armstrong, singer and guitarist of the Green Day trio, is a character who never ceases to be fascinating. His right hand is a real riff machine, and he has restored respect for the aggressive and energetic rhythmic playing of Californian punk.
Armstrong started Green Day in 1986, with Mike Dirnt already on bass. The current drummer, Tré Cool, arrived in 1990, and the band has remained the same since then. The band has had colossal success on several occasions, and you have to admire their achievement in creating two peaks in their careers ten years apart; an unexpected and very rare phenomenon. Their first huge success was the album Dookie in 1994 (10 million copies sold), propelled by the single Basket Case. Their second triumph came in 2004 with the rock opera American Idiot and its 16 million albums sold. The recipe (big riffs and choruses to make a whole stadium sing along) remains the same, with a few additions that hit the mark, including a taste for acoustic ballads that got them huge hits with Wake Me Up When September Ends and 21 Guns.
In addition to Green Day, Billie Joe Armstrong is also part of the punk band Pinhead Powder. That lineup also includes Jason White, who tours with Green Day as an additional guitarist. On the softer side, he also recorded a duet tribute album to the Everly Brothers with Norah Jones, the magnificent Foreverly in 2013.For that acoustic album, he played a Gibson Everly Brothers, which makes sense. But his preference as a guitarist is above all electric and simplistic. He is known for his love of the Les Paul Junior model, either single cut or double. He has even had two signature Gibson models with a single P90 pickup, but has also been seen with Telecasters, Les Paul Custom Black Beauties, and a breathtaking array of other beautiful guitars. And among all that, his most famous guitar—the one he already had for Dookie and which represents his unalterable punk spirit—is of course Blue, a kit Strat covered with stickers and whose only pickup is an active humbucker in the bridge position. Simple, direct, and effective, like its owner.