During a stripped-down tour stop at Nashville’s City Winery, guitarist-producer Todd Rundgren spent nearly 40 minutes chatting gear and how he stays forward-thinking in music. In addition, bandmates guitarist Jesse Gress and bassist Kasim Sulton walk through and demo their traditional setups.
For this tour, Todd Rundgren left behind the big stage show and truckloads of gear and opted for a string of streamlined, intimate performances spanning his entire career. To make the show happen, he toured with just two guitars—his longtime No. 1 is this MIJ ’80s Fernandes P-Project “super strat.” As he tells in the video, the industry was much different in the late 1980s. He toured Japan just before the ’90s started, and he was gifted with a pile of Fernandes guitars. He took some of them back to the States and sat on them for years. He eventually got curious and started a tone shootout between all the freebies. This seafoam green model emerged victorious and was bestowed the obvious name, “Foamy.” He never really used tone knob or switches, so he had those disconnected and now it has a single volume control and a 5-way toggle. He uses D’Addario NYXL .010–.046 strings and always tunes to E.
Guitarist Jesse Gress has been Todd Rundgren’s main 6-string sideman for years. And Jesse’s go-to has been around his neck even longer. Here is his psychedelic Strat that technically contains mostly Fender parts, but as Jesse describes in the video, it was put together and stylized to his preferences by friend and San Francisco shop owner, Gary Brawer. The neck is actually one from a Jeff Beck Signature Strat and the pickups are Lace Sensors. (He eventually swapped out the roller nut for this upgraded model that has ball bearings for maintaining his secret “D note” that he gets by picking the 3rd string behind the nut.) Brawer added a pull switch that allows him to engage the neck pickup to unlock all the tonal possibilities inside the guitar. Both his guitars use Ernie Ball Regular Slinky .010s.