Is Jack White Done Playing Pawn Shop Guitars?

Jack White is set to release his latest record, Boarding House Reach, tomorrow. And next month, the Nashville (by way of Detroit) troubadour embarks on a tour that will take him across North America and Europe, headlining multiple major festivals along the way.

But the guitarist, who's famous for playing plastic, pawn shop guitars, has made a stunning about-face.

For this latest round of music-making, it appears that White has abandoned his ‘60s Airline guitars for modern, fast-playing machines like the EVH Wolfgang USA Eddie Van Halen Signature and St. Vincent’s Signature Ernie Ball.

Eddie Van Halen Wolfgang
St. Vincent’s Signature Ernie Ball

In It Might Get Loud, the 2008 documentary that presented Jack White as the oddball rocker alongside The Edge and Jimmy Page, he said about his Airline, “Pick a fight with it—that’s what you gotta do. Pick a fight with it and win the fight."

But now he’s had a change of heart. In a March Rolling Stone interview, White said he was inspired to pick up a Wolfgang Special after hearing Eddie Van Halen say, “I wanted something that doesn’t fight me." White told Rolling Stone, “Those are the magic bad words that I completely disagree with. And that’s why I’m picking his guitar."

White was also moved to get a Ernie Ball St. Vincent signature for the same reason, saying, "If people only knew how hard it was on these shitty guitars …  because I didn't know!"

White shared a similar sentiment in a profile in the Tennessean earlier this week, expressing how earlier in his career, "It was, 'How can we make beauty out of these old pieces of junk?' I basically became the poster boy for that for many years. But when there's so many things going on, you have to relieve the pressure in some other way."

Now, of course, White has played some other guitars in his career beyond the iconic Airlines, like a number of Gretsch electrics and even the odd Telecaster. This newest batch, though, stands as a distinct leap into a realm of decidedly modern and comfortable instruments. Given the sound of the lead single off of the new record, it's a gear choice that doubtlessly reflects the latest musical direction of his discography.

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