Rivers Cuomo, guitarist and lead vocalist for the multi-platinum rock band Weezer, has played many guitars over the course of his career. One thing most of them have in common is that they are covered with stickers. Lots and lots of stickers. Another is that many of them are constructed using Warmoth parts. The most famous of them all is the one known as the “Blue Guitar” (or as Rivers calls it in the lyrics of the 2014 hit single Back to the Shack: “the Strat® with the lightning strap”).
Rivers purchased parts for the Blue Guitar from Warmoth in 1993, just prior to the release of Weezer’s breakthrough Blue Album, and finished assembling it shortly after the album was completed. It features a Warmoth Strat® replacement body with a hardtail bridge. The electronics were simple, featuring only a single volume knob and a pickup selector switch. However, there was also a passive overdrive circuit attached to the guitars volume knob, quite probably the popular “Black Ice” mod, which allowed for low-volume crunch tones. The bridge pickup was a Seymour Duncan 59, while the neck pickup was probably a DiMarzio Super Distortion 2. It also features a Warmoth Strat® replacement neck.
The Blue Guitar quickly became Rivers’ go-to axe, and for the next three years (1994 – 1997) proved as reliable as any guitar could be. He used it for the entirety of both the Blue Album and Pinkerton tours, where it rarely went out of tune. According to Karl Koch, Weezer insider and close friend of the band, “Unless temperature conditions were extreme or Rivers bumped into something with the headstock, it wouldn’t go out of tune even once in a show. The guitar was so stable and reliable that he broke only about 6 strings TOTAL from 1994-1997, and that’s no lie! The guitar stayed in tune like no other guitar I’ve ever seen.”
Late in 1997, the Blue Guitar suffered a major blow during a show, resulting in a ten-inch crack through the entire body. According to Koch: “In ’97, we finally ordered several back-up [Warmoth Stratocaster® replacement bodies], to complement the sonic blue one. Only one, a black one, showed up before all Weezer touring stopped in August 1997. This black one went on to become Rivers main guitar for performing ‘older’ songs (the Blue album and Pinkerton are in ‘E flat’ tuning, whereas the newer stuff is not, so they need 2 sets of guitars and basses onstage).” The black guitar can be seen on the cover of Weezer’s Green album.
The two other bodies that were ordered around the same time were blue and a green. The intention was to closely duplicate the features of the Blue Guitar, but this time the bodies were ordered in Alder instead of Maple. These were put into use in 2000.
Sometime later, additional Warmoth Strat® replacement bodies were ordered, this time with a blonde finish. Like all the rest, they were soon covered in stickers. By this time, it is likely that parts from all Rivers’ various guitars had been mixed and matched, and telling where one guitar ends and another begins becomes a challenge. Reportedly, one of these blonde bodies now contains the electronics from his original Blue Guitar.
Founding Weezer bassist Matt Sharp was also a fan of Warmoth parts. When Matt became frustrated with a Jerry Jones Longhorn bass that refused to stay in tune, he acquired a Warmoth Tele® Bass replacement neck, and attached it to a black Fender Jazz Bass® body. He installed a pair of Schecter pickups. This bass can be heard on both the Blue Album and Pinkerton.
Later, he did the same thing to a blue Mexican-made Fender Jazz Bass®, switching the neck with a Warmoth Telecaster® bass replacement neck, and dropping in Schecter pickups. This became his backup bass. The black and blue “hybrids” were his two Weezer basses until he left the band.
After over two decades it is clear Weezer has left an indelible mark on the musical landscape, and Warmoth is proud to have been a key part of their unique sound.