The Current's Guitar Collection: Jason Loewenstein

jason loewenstein telecaster
Jason Loewenstein's Telecaster in The Current's studio. (MPR photo/Nate Ryan)
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Jason Loewenstein is a multi-instrumentalist best known for his work with Sebadoh and the Fiery Furnaces. When Jason visited The Current's studio with Sebadoh, we had a chance to talk to him about his red Telecaster guitar. Here's what he had to say:

Tell me about your Telecaster.

It's a red American Standard — it's the cheapest American-made Tele model you can get. I've been really geeking out on Teles lately because I've had a Mexican Telecaster for the last 20 years and loved it, but then I wanted to get a little more twang. So I've been trying to figure out which Teles make the most twang. Obviously, newer ones have higher frets on them so you can get a little snap out of it.

I also bought a B-bender Telecaster a few months ago — the system that tunes the B-string a full step up so you can do country-style steel bends and things like that, but it actually made me realize I need to learn how to play guitar better before I get these toys involved with it, before I can really sound like a steel player. It's not just a trick I can turn on, you know!

Do you remember where you bought it?

I bought it from a guy on Craigslist just a couple of months ago. A guy from Gravesend, Brooklyn — I thought that was pretty spooky! But he was a regular weekend-musician guy who's had to tone it down because he's getting older, he's had a family and stuff like that, but the guitar was in perfect condition. I didn't haggle with him; he was giving me a square deal. It's a very nice guitar — I love Telecasters, and I like them to have good karma, so I paid the guy full price!

What do you like about the tone of Telecasters?

I think it's that they're so simple. I've been taking them apart lately, and it makes me even more enamored of them because it's two chunks of wood — I mean, yeah, there's luthiers involved, but this is not the most involved piece of machinery. It's a really simple working instrument. I love it because it's simple. I love it because it can sound a million different ways. And it really sheds a light on your bad playing; if you play a clean Telecaster, everyone will know you have no tact. It's made me want to be a better guitar player because it makes things much more naked.

Have you written any songs on this guitar?

This guitar wants to be friends with me. I take it into the hotel room every night — I bring it everywhere with me now. So yeah, tunes are starting to come out of it right away. It wants to be friends.

Sometimes people talk about how "the guitar finds you." Is that true here?

I don't mean to be goofy, but I think this is one of those cases, because I bought a beautiful B-bender guitar and I can't get along with it at all. There's nothing wrong with it — it's one of these things where it sounds like I'm talking about a girl: "Hey, it's not you, it's me."

But this red one — it's been saying "hello" and smiling at me ever since I bought it. There's no better creative conduit than that.

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  • sebadoh, jason loewenstein
    Jason Loewenstein playing bass during Sebadoh's in-studio session at The Current. (MPR photo/Nate Ryan)

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