The Current's Guitar Collection: Dan Rothman of London Grammar

  1. Listen London Grammar: 'Hey Now' performed at The Current

    Apr 16, 2014

London Grammar have been tearing up the charts in the U.K., and they continue to make a splash in North America. On their most recent North American tour, they trekked from Vancouver to the Twin Cities, where they played a sold-out show at the Varsity Theater and stopped in to The Current's studio for a session and interview with Jill Riley.

London Grammar's Dan Rothman, after shooing away his playful tour manager Andy Sweeney, took some time to tell us about his new guitar, a Gretsch BST he had recently acquired in Los Angeles.

Tell us about the guitar you're playing.

It's a Gretsch Beast, 1980, apparently. Well, I'm not actually sure of the exact date of it, I think it's either '79 or '80. Apparently there's not that many of them, but I just found it randomly in a shop called Sam Ash in L.A.

Was it one of those on-tour impulse buys, or were you looking for a new guitar?

I needed a second guitar. We'd been having this problem; I play a Fender Strat usually, but we'd been having some problems with the intonation on a couple of the tracks. Plus, I don't have a guitar with humbuckers on it, so I needed a second guitar with humbuckers, which is slightly better for the intonation for some of the songs. I play a lot of the stuff quite high up on the neck, so it was kind of a needed purchase.

When you were in Sam Ash, did you try a number of guitars before picking this one?

To be honest, it was funny, it was like I literally walked in — because we'd spent about an hour in Guitar Center and not really found anything and then walked into Sam Ash and I just saw — in fact, Dougie, our stage manager, just picked this up and he said, "You should try this!" because I'm quite short and it's got quite a small body and I quite literally just kind of fell in love with it when I picked it up and then got it.

So it was great, and for a good price.

What was about this guitar that made you fall in love with it so quickly?

The tone of it, and to be honest, the feel of it as well. It's really nice; the neck is particularly thin on it, and it's very lightweight as well, so it was easy to play, so I quite like that.

And then plus, the tone was nice and because it has a humbucker, it doesn't buzz too much. I've been having this problem: When you have lights on stage, my Strat just makes this terrible buzzing sound, and this guitar doesn't seem to buzz that much, so that was a plus as well.

It looks as though you like the action [i.e. the distance between the fingerboard and the strings] a little bit higher?

Yeah, well, we had to raise the action because for some of the higher stuff, it was choking out at the bottom of the neck, so it was kind of like a quick fix to raise the action whilst we are in America and then I'll have it set up properly when we get home.

I think it's another eight or nine shows before we go home, something like that. [Note: one of which included this performance on Late Show with David Letterman]

Anything else to say about the Gretsch?

It's cool. I'm glad to have it. It's a bit unusual looking; we thought it was quite ugly when we first got it, but it's kind of grown on me. I like it -- it's a bit of an ugly duckling!

It almost looks as if you might have made it in woodworking at school.

It does, doesn't it? It really does! It's cool — I like that about it, though. It's kind of cool. When people look at it, they'll think, "What is that? It's a bit unusual?"

Do you typically write on your Strat?

I did, yeah; obviously I didn't have this guitar when we were writing the record. But we were saying, it would be nice to use this on the second album because with the humbucker, it'll be a slightly sort of harsher tone, which wouldn't be such a bad thing either, you know, give it slightly more of an edge when we're playing, which would be cool.

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  • London Grammar perform in The Current studio On only their second tour in North America, London Grammar have been playing a string of sold-out shows, including one at the Varsity Theater in Minneapolis. The platinum artists stopped in to The Current's studio to play some songs and to chat with Jill Riley.

3 Photos

  • London Grammar's Dan Rothman in The Current's studio
    London Grammar's Dan Rothman in The Current's studio (MPR photo/Nate Ryan)
  • Close-up of Dan Rothman's Gretsch BST guitar -- with humbuckers.
    Close-up of Dan Rothman's Gretsch BST guitar -- with humbuckers. (MPR photo/Nate Ryan)
  • Dan Rothman's Gretsch guitar in its case.
    Dan Rothman's Gretsch guitar in its case. (MPR photo/Nate Ryan)
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