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Guitar World
Guitar World
Jonathan Horsley

Bush’s Chris Traynor got the Fender Custom Shop to make him a baritone version of Keith Richards’ Micawber Telecaster

Chris Traynor of Bush, playing his 1968 reissue Gibson Les Paul Custom, with his Custom Shop Micawber baritone inset

Chris Traynor of Bush has been showing off his live rig for the band’s current US tour, and among the electric guitar treasures onboard is a special replica of Keith Richard’s famous number one Telecaster, aka Micawber, that Traynor had the Fender Custom Shop make for him. Except there’s a twist – Traynor’s Micawber is a baritone.

Richards, arguably the most high-profile Tele modder of all time, would surely approve of this reinterpretation of his favorite instrument as a baritone guitar. As Traynor explains to Premier Guitar in a Rig Rundown segment, there are so many guitars on tour these days because there are so many different tunings. 

He’s packing a trio of baritone Teles – one of which is fretless, another a once-affordable Blacktop version – alongside a couple of Gibson Les Pauls, a couple of Gibson SGs, and a Squier Vintage Modified Baritone Jazzmaster for good measure. But it’s the Micawber baritone that really catches the eye. Tuned C to C, used for Heavy Is the Ocean, from The Art of Survival, it’s a dead ringer for the Rolling Stones guitarist’s Micawber.

Though look closer and there are some telling differences besides the longer scale and the fact that Traynor has all six strings on his. Traynor’s Micawber has a traditional three-barrel saddle ashtray-style bridge whereas Richards modded his with a brass plated bridge with brass individual saddles – only five ‘cos there are only five strings.

Traynor says he was inspired by his regular Blacktop Baritone Telecaster. When Fender asked him if there was anything he would like, he asked for another one, but to give it the Micawber vibe.

“I told them I’d pay them to make me a baritone that looked like Keith Richards’ guitar,” he says. “This has a stacked humbucker in it, and even though it is a stacked humbucker – and I always find this with stacked humbuckers – [it] still has a single-coil quality… They’re not as fat, but it really works with the song. It’s a really cool guitar. It’s very light for a baritone, and it’s got a really good feel to it.”

His tan leather guitar strap is pretty cool too, which has a buckle to make to look like Duane Allman’s. From the sublime to the ridiculous, but in a good way, Traynor also has a Baritone Tele that was assembled from all kinds of parts, featuring a low-wind pickup at the bridge, and a light switch. It’s not strictly fretless. It does have three. But we’ll let Traynor explain the thinking behind that one. You can watch him play it on Jimmy Kimmel Live! below.

Traynor also reveals that “his favorite guitar in the world” is his player’s grade 1963 Gibson SG Junior, and that while he’s not going to be playing it on these dates, he will be sending it to Cesar Gueikian at Gibson. Why? Perhaps for a special signature run. That would excite anyone looking for a stripped-down workhorse for P-90 rock ’n’ roll.

“It’s a killer neck, and you know the thing about P-90s is it’s no bullshit,” says Traynor. “Like, you got it, and you gotta get it out of the guitar, and I like that. When we did the 25th anniversary of [debut Bush album] Sixteen Stone, every one of those songs was in E, so I would just play that guitar the whole set, and there is just something about, this is what you have [and] having to get it done about a guitar like that. I just like Juniors. It’s you. Juniors are like horses – I am into horses lately – so it’s always you, not the horse, and if you can’t get something out of the guitar it’s you not the guitar.”

As for Rossdale’s side, his tech walks through his guitars for the tour, which includes a Fender American Professional II Stratocaster HSS, custom SG and Jazzmaster, and of course the famous purple ’66 Fender Jazzmaster, once owned by Joe Walsh, who just happen to sign the guitar when Rossdale was getting it verified. Walsh might have played it on Hotel California but Rossdale was not impressed.

“Here’s something I’ve never told anyone and it’s brilliant,” Rossdale told Guitar World in October 2022. “I sent the guitar over for Joe to verify and look over with his tech, who has probably been with him since forever. And he sent it back signed with his name on the actual guitar. 

“As soon as I saw it, I had to get that shit off. I’m a professional musician! I don’t give a shit, this is just for my kids to sell when I’m dead… wake up, I don’t care! [laughs]”

You can check out the full Rig Rundown above. Bush’s tour picks up on April 26 at the Hampton Beach Casino, New Hampshire. See Bush for full dates.

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