The Current's Guitar Collection: Best Coast's Bobb Bruno, Eastman T386

Bobb Bruno of Best Coast
Bobb Bruno of Best Coast plays the Eastman T386 in The Current studio. (MPR photo/Luke Taylor)
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Bobb Bruno of Best Coast had wanted a sturdily built hollow-body guitar for touring. When Eastman Guitars offered him its T386 Thinline model, Bruno was willing to give it a try. He liked the guitar so much, he ended up switching the instrumentation in favor of it for Best Coast's live set.

Here's more from Bobb Bruno on his guitars and the effects he uses when playing live.

You're playing an Eastman guitar.

Yes, the people at Eastman — this guy, Alex — sent me that guitar. It arrived two days before tour. I threw it in the truck and I was like, "Oh, we'll see how I play it." I started it using it, and now it's in like half the set!

The neck feels like it was made for me, even though it's just an off-the-shelf model from Eastman. The neck is thin and feels good in my hand, so it's really easy to move around on the neck with it. I really love it.

It's the first time ever I've used a hollow-body live, but I'm really into it and yeah — I'm playing it in at least half the songs now in our set. For the older songs, I still play baritone guitar; I have a Fender Jazzmaster baritone. That's a more recent thing, too, getting the Fender one, and I love both of those guitars.

Did the Eastman just show up on your doorstep unannounced?

Well, Alex had emailed me and he was like, "Do you want to check out one of the guitars?' I knew him from when he used to work at another company, so I was like, "Yes, absolutely." So I picked that one out.

It just showed up one day; I didn't even hear the guy knock or anything. I just opened the door and the guitar in the box was as tall as me, and I was like, "Oh — whoa!"

I played it a little bit in the house and I was like, "OK, I'm going to try this live." Then after the first show with it, I decided to make a bunch of changes in our set as far as guitar switches. I've been using it a lot.

What was it about the hollow-body guitar that drew you?

I never had a nice hollow-body guitar, really. The ones I have that are nice are too fragile to take out; I feel like they would break immediately. So I was like, "Oh, here's my chance to try a new one that's probably built a lot more sturdily than the other hollow-bodies I have."

I'm really happy with it and it's so easy to play.

You say it's found its place in the live set; what did you use when recording California Nights?

For California Nights, a lot of the other guitars — I have maybe four or five guitars with me on this tour — and the two that I use a lot, which are the Gibson Joan Jett Signature Melody Maker, that's on a lot of songs on the record, and then also an Elliot Easton Signature Tikibird, which is like a Gibson Firebird that he had customized, that one I used a lot on the record, too.

It was cool to be able to bring more guitars on tour this time. Usually I've been limited to two or three because we do a lot of flying, but this time I had the luxury of being able to bring a bunch. So I change guitars pretty frequently during our set.

What does the Eastman give you that the others don't, sound wise?

It's cool because when I'm in the middle pickup selector, it's just a nice, warm, solid, kind of thick sound. But when I go to the bridge pickup, it's kind of aggressive sounding — which is what I liked about the Joan Jett guitar, but I'm kind of hesitant sometimes to take that out of the house, even though I did for this tour. But now that I have this one, I can leave that one at home and not have to worry about it.

Let's talk about effects, for a moment. You've got a lot on the board, and you've even designed some effects. But do you have a go-to combo for a lot of songs in the set?

I have a Catalinbread Talisman plate reverb, and that pretty much stays on all the time. And then Strymon El Capistan, it's like a tape-echo simulator, that I use a lot. The distortion pedal — it's an MI Super Crunch Box — that's my main distortion.

And then I have this Mid-Fi — this company that I've known forever — I wrote to the guy Doug, because he had two pedals I really liked, but I ran out of room on my board, so I was like, "Can you just put two of them in one box?" He totally did it for me. It's great because I used a lot of vintage fuzzes on the record and I just couldn't fit them all on my board, but between those two Mid-Fi pedals, I'm able to get the tones from the record and duplicate them live.

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5 Photos

  • Bobb Bruno's Eastman T386 headstock
    Bobb Bruno's Eastman T386 headstock (MPR photo/Luke Taylor)
  • Body of Bobb Bruno's Eastman T386
    Body of Bobb Bruno's Eastman T386 (MPR photo/Luke Taylor)
  • Bobb Bruno plays guitar in The Current studio
    Bobb Bruno says he felt like the neck of the Eastman T386 was made especially for him - even though it wasn't. (MPR photo/Luke Taylor)
  • Bobb Bruno plays guitar in The Current studio
    Bobb Bruno plays his Eastman T386 Thinline guitar in The Current studio (MPR photo/Luke Taylor)
  • Bobb Bruno's effects board
    Bobb Bruno's effects board (MPR photo/Luke Taylor)

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