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Friday, October 26, 2012

Seasick Steve: cheap guitar rocks

seasick steve, cheap guitar
seasick steve, guitar

Seasick Steve, raw and uncut on his cheap guitar

One of the biggest surprises on Lowlands 2011 and Pinkpop 2012, (major music festivals in Holland), in my opinion, was the raw and uncut performance of Seasick Steve. Guitarist-singer Seasick Steve plays bluesrock, and his cheap guitars are mostly self-constructed!

Guitar player Seasick Steve

Seasick Steve, over 70 years old, born in Oakland California, rough beard, jeans and baggy shirt, has not allways been succesful in life. He ran away from home at the age of 14, and decided not to settle down. Guitar player Steve performed for years in small bars and blues cafe's. In the 60's he even played guitar on stage with Johny Lee Hooker and Lightnin' Hopkins, but he never reached the rock-star status.
In between, as a happy Seasick Steve told in an interview he gave during Pinkpop 2012, he stayed some time in hotels, with in the back of the yard a small basketball court, but with fences around, and no "going home". Despite of that, it was ok, according to Seasick Steve.

seasick steve, cheap guitar
seasick steve, cheap guitar
Since the end of 2009, after his appearence on the Jools Holland Show, UK television, his carreer is booming, and in 2006, at the age of 65, he presented his first album. Sinece then, Steve tours a lot, mostly in Europe, with for Holland, the Lowlands 2011 and the Pinkpop 2012 highlights. Seasick Steve seems to enjoy the whole circus, happy, friendly, grateful, and after an unsettled life, he's finally getting his (guitar)act together, now living in the UK and Norway.

Seasick Steve's cigar box guitar and other cheap instruments

seasick steve cigar box guitar
seasick steve cigar box guitar
It's not only what Seasick Steve is playing, it's also what he is playing on. No fancy luxery dream-guitar for Steve on stage, Seasick does his act mostly on a cheap or self-constructed guitar. One of these guitars he became famous with, is the "cigar box" guitar, a well beloved object for photographers. This guitar sounds amazing, and only has four strings.

seasick steve's cheap guitar
seasick steve's cheap guitar
Another one of Seasicks amazing guitars is his red Fender Coronado. Seasick himself calles this guitar "the biggest piece of shit in the world". It really looks old and worn, with it's, on the body taped, old Harmony humbucker. The guitar has 3 strings, and Seasick tunes it to G. Seasick Steve playes this cheap guitar he bought for $75 on almost every gig.

The guitar Seasick Steve became famous with, due to his performance in the UK show "Top Gear", is made of two wheel-covers from an old English Morris Minor, and a broomstick.
According to Steve, this guitar is only suitable for "slide" playing.

Besides of the guitars mentioned, and some crappy other ones, Seasick Steve also uses an amazing collection of music gear and amps.  Two of these instruments are the one-stringed self-made Diddley Bow, just a piece of wood, a bottle and a humbucker, and the Mississippi Drum Machine with licence plate and carpet design.

Seasick's amplifiers are "state of the art" too: a Roland Cube, and as seen on Pinkpop 2012, some worn out, original vintage Fender Bassman's, almost as old as the master himself, real collector's items.

Seasick Steve on stage
Seasick Steve on stage

Seasick Steve live on stage

Below is a video of Seasick Steve's performance on the Pinkpop 2012 Festival in Holland. He got great reactions from the public. His live performances are raw and spontaneous, much better than the recordings killed by techniques in a studio. Enjoy, I did!

Seasick Steve on guitar, Pinkpop 2012


  1. I think you'll find that his Red Three String 'Trance Wonder' is actualy a GHI guitar made in Japan in the 60s. Not a Coronado.