How a Guitar Mod by Keith Richards changed the guitar cosmos.
A myth is a story that is unique and, in its embellishment always offers new fuel for legendary additions. The story surrounding the myth of the legendary Keef Micawber guitar, which Keith Richards once received as a gift from Eric Clapton for his 27th birthday, provides the tinder for the creation of legends around the magical instrument. The Rolling Stones were preparing to record „Exile on Mainstreet“ when the magical story began that made the band, and with it the Micawber, a myth.
It was at the time when Keith Richards began to take an interest in the Telecaster. In the late 1960s. In search of new sounds, he experimented with open tuning. He modified his Micawber Telecaster with different modes. This was the beginning of the typical Rolling Stone sound.
The legendary mod that happened out of boredom
It seems that around 1967, Keith had a hell of a lot of time on his hands and out of boredom started to „tweak“ his new Telecaster. The original model was fitted with a typical single coil pickup in the neck position. Keith found it „too little bite“ and replaced it with a 50 Gibson PAF humbucker before the big „Rolling Stones America Tour 1972„. And to „put one more on it“, Richards put the pickup in the wrong way round, with the magnets in the opposite direction. More mods followed. For example, the conversion of the brass bridge with the individual string riders into a five-sided tuning, which made the low E string obsolete. Or the exchange of the classical tuners for the Sperzel locking tuners, which were more modern in the 1970s.
„It was this crazy customer request that challenged us to recreate the Keef Micawber in loving detail to the original in its distinctive look, superb playability and amazing sound. And what can I say? We succeeded.“DET Moews
Keef Micawber – the Butterscotch Blonde
To this day, the Micawber is one of Keith Richards‘ favorite guitars. Whether in the studio or live on stage, the Butterscotch Blonde is his favorite. And you can see it in her face. Naturally acquired mods, such as the absence of the black dot in the 17th fret, bear witness to the guitar hero’s excessive playing. As do the decades of hard-earned playing marks on the guitar body’s chafed wood. The blonde is alive. She may have aged, but her cult status has been more than helped by that. And so, the blonde will remain what the band from which she was brought to life has long been. A myth.