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Gear Review: Miggs Frontman Don Miggs on His 1959 Fender Jazzmaster Guitar

Miggs frontman and lead songwriter, Don Miggs, chats with us about his 1959 Fender Jazzmaster guitar and how it works into his band Miggs’ music, and their latest single “Walls Come Down.”



Don Miggs is a proficient musician and songwriter who’s rock band, Miggs, released their latest single, “Walls Come Down,” on August 25, 2014 via Elm City Music. Running 3:52 in length, the song is a perfect example of the type of upbeat, radio-friendly rock you’d encounter on any of Miggs’ releases. We caught up with Don to discuss gear, more specifically, his 1959 Fender Jazzmaster guitar.

What one piece of gear do you use to obtain your signature sound?
Miggs: The beauty of Miggs is we don’t stick to one thing, really, but the 1959 Fender Jazzmaster makes me feel like I can play just about anything I hear in my head.

What about it makes it so important to you?
Miggs: It’s just an old, old piece of wood with strings on it so it’s as close to natural as you can get.

How was this gear used during the recording of your latest album?
Miggs: A lot! LOL I couldn’t find a reason to turn it away. Of course with such a beautiful collection, I wanted every guitar to make the recordings so had to gently tell it to go sit in the case for a while. It wasn’t happy.

How do you recreate your album (guitar/vocal/bass) tones in your live set?
Miggs: We try to consider playing live when we record. Thankfully, we all like clean, classic tones with great amps and effect pedals and what we record with is usually in our rigs for touring.

What are the major pros and cons?
Miggs: Bringing out vintage gear is always a challenge because they are usually a little more finicky with weather and need to be watched more closely for theft reasons.

Do you have a backup for this gear, if so, what?
Miggs: I bring several great guitars out that get the job done in a pinch. For the 59 Jazzmaster, I may bring a later model. Thankfully, I have a bunch to choose from!

How long have you had it, how do you use it, would you ever change it?
Miggs: I got the 59 from Rudy at Rudy’s Guitars in Soho NY. He insisted it was magic and wasn’t wrong. I bought it about 5 years ago and use it like it’s meant to be used–all the time. I do have a habit of falling in and out of love with guitars and do not doubt a new one will come along but this guitar plugs in straight and sounds great…

Give us your best “gear goes wrong” story.
Miggs: I have too many with effect pedals, amps, wireless units working for soundcheck and then hitting the stage to open for Maroon 5 and nothing…only to figure out someone else on the tour had the same wireless and had the pack on. Well, I didn’t know and we only had 22 minutes (yeah, 22 minutes) so I’m freaking out pulling every pedal apart, flipping the amp, trying 3 guitars and finally plugging in direct (poor, beautiful pedalboard being bypassed and trashed) and going as raw as you can to play through it. It wasn’t pretty but we have fans who say that was their favorite miggs show! With guitars, I’m pretty anal about making sure they work but I don’t change strings on tour unless my guitar tech INSISTS on it so I’ve played songs where multiple strings have broken and by the end, it’s a very out-of-tune ukelele. Oh well.

Any final thoughts or comments on the gear?
Miggs: Gear is only as important as you make it. It doesn’t make the musician, only accents it. I will play whatever I am given if the choice isn’t there for something better. That said, go vintage to really experience the thrill of what someone before you felt with a guitar. They have a story and a life and your job is to figure it out. Corny? Maybe…but it’s gotten me to play way more than some shiny new guitar I got from (insert your local music shop here).

Check out the song “Walls Come Down”

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