The Current's Guitar Collection: Ron Gallo, Fender Jaguar

Ron Gallo performs in The Current studio
Ron Gallo performs in The Current studio. (Jules Ameel for MPR)
Ron Gallo talks about his guitar playing and influences
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Ron Gallo was recently in The Current's studio, where he and his band turned in a rocking set of tunes. After the session, Gallo took some time to talk to us about his red Fender Jaguar guitar. Here's what Gallo had to say:

How long have you had this Fender Jaguar?

I got it about two years ago. I was looking for a red Jaguar for a long time, and then I found it on Craigslist in Philadelphia, and as soon as I found it, I knew it was the one. I bought it from a kid at a café.

And it came with flat-wound strings on it, which I wouldn't have thought to do, and so since then, I've just kept flat-wound strings on it.

You say you'd been looking for a Jaguar?

Yes, I was really interested in a Jaguar for a bit. I was browsing around and didn't really have much money to spend on it, so when I found this one, it was like half the price of all the other ones I was looking at. It was meant to be.

It looks pretty gently used.

It's a newer one; I actually don't know what year it is. It was probably made in the last four years or so.

What drew you to the Jaguar? Had you played one before?

I guess I was kind of drawn to the visual of it at first. And I played a few and just kind of liked the sound. They're a lot less common, I think, than say, a Telecaster. I was playing semi-hollow-bodies and stuff before then. But I think with this one, I found home here, I like it a lot.

Did you write most of your album Heavy Meta on this one, or did it come along later?

This one came along later. A lot of the songs were already written. It was on the record a little bit. I kind of got it towards the end of the recording process. But it's been the main live guitar for me. It's on the record on a few songs, but it's not all over it.

When you're writing songs, do you use the electric guitar or do you use an acoustic guitar for that?

It's always different. I like to do both. Sometimes when I'm at home, I like to just turn the amp up really loud and set up a microphone, especially when I'm home by myself and I can make a lot of noise.

So I do some writing on it, and sometimes just an acoustic guitar or a piano, or Voice Memos in my phone.

Your music seems characterized by virtuosic guitar playing and really strong vocals — you've got great range. In your artistic trajectory, which came first: guitar or singing?

I got a guitar first, and I kind of assumed the role of lead singer in a lot of my first bands, even though I could not sing at all. But I was always writing the songs, so I would always just try to sing them, and so singing for me was much harder — there was no natural ability there at all. So it was kind of an uphill learning process over the last decade or so.

And even guitar-wise, it's funny you say "virtuosic" because I know about one scale and I know some chords, and I'm much more drawn to trying to evoke primal sounds out of the instrument than trying to shred or play pretty stuff or learn a lot of theoretical things or scales. For me, it's all about the noise that you can pull out of it that may be a unique sound or more unconventional.

Who are some of your guitar-playing influences?

My favorite guitar player is probably Robert Quine, from Richard Hell and the Voidoids, and he played with a bunch of other people, too. When I listen to him, I'm like, "I kind of hear myself in this." And also his approach: it's very unconventional and kind of noisy and jagged. And before I'd ever even heard him play, I kind of already played in a similar sense. So the first time I heard it, I was like, "Whoa, this is really weird — this guy plays like a psycho, and I love it."

It's just very unconventional. It's great.


Ron Gallo - official site

Fender Guitars: Jaguar - official site

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3 Photos

  • Ron Gallo's Fender Jaguar on its stand in The Current studio
    Ron Gallo's Fender Jaguar. (Jules Ameel for MPR)
  • Ron Gallo's Fender Jaguar in The Current studio
    Ron Gallo's Fender Jaguar, with sticker of actor Jason Alexander as George Costanza on TV's "Seinfeld." (Jules Ameel for MPR)
  • Ron Gallo performs in The Current studio
    Ron Gallo plays his Fender Jaguar in The Current studio. (Jules Ameel for MPR)

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