Group : The Smiths
Main guitar : Fender Jaguar signature
An absolute “must-hear” track : What Difference Does It Make?
As a member of one of the most important British bands of the 1980s, Johnny Marr could very well have given up in the face of the invasion of synthesisers and relegated his guitar to the rank of a discreet rhythm instrument. On the contrary, he made The Smiths’ four albums manifestos for the enormous diversity of sound that someone with a rich imagination can get out of a guitar.
And, of course, he used the chorus effect that was typical of the time, giving the music a round and warm side that many people missed. But his originality was above all in his choice of phrasings, in the way he voiced chords, his tunings and placement of Capodasters, and his intelligent and very original use of open strings. None of his guitar parts are simple, and all contain ideas that have become an integral part of the song, to the point that something is missing unless you play them exactly the same way.
The diversity of the guitars he used was a reflection of that richness of sound: Rickenbacker, a hand-crafted Telecaster, and of course his superb 1959 ES-355. When The Smiths broke up in 1987, he became a sessionist musician, and as a result he can be heard on Beck or Talking Heads tracks. At the same time, he pursued a parallel career in several groups: The Pretenders first, then The The, Modest Mouse, Electronic, and The Cribs. But the most exciting side of his musical personality is expressed through his personal projects: Johnny Marr & The Healers, for which he played a superb Cherry Red SG. Then his solo albums, on which we hear the excellent signature Fender Jaguar that bears his name. A musician like no other and who demands a great openness of mind from the fans who follow him from project to project.