Billie Joe Armstrong's New Signature Guitar Is an Attempt to Rewrite Green Day History

bille-joe-gibson-guitar.jpg
The offending axe.
green-day-sm87.jpg
Billie Joe, say it ain't so!
Other than the Les Paul -- an iconic six-string now far more famous than its namesake -- signature model guitars are generally an exercise in cynical maneuvering and kitschy accessories, put out by instrument companies aiming to capitalize on the longshot dreams of twentysomethings ignorant of the ways of credit cards, or the guilty regrets of parents looking to purchase goodwill from their neglected teenagers. Real musicians can't afford them, and those who can would rather put their own mark on a less gaudy slab of wood and wire than get sloppy seconds on someone else's Lucille.

Yet somehow, with its new Billie Joe Armstrong signature model, the respected Gibson guitar company actually did worse than the standard commercial imitation of an artist's well-worn road axe. Reprehensibly, Gibson actually tries to rewrite Green Day history with the new model.

First, the surface uglies: The new Billie Joe Armstrong J-180 costs $3,868 (not a rare price for a Gibson, but certainly an un-punk-rock one). This Green Day signature guitar is an acoustic (but have you heard its last two records?). Furthermore, it's not pretty (star inlays and a heinously large pickguard -- really?).

But it's this line of marketing copy that really offends us:

The acoustic guitar propelled Green Day's international megahit "Good Riddance (Time of Your Life)," and was a cornerstone of the band's epic 2004 release American Idiot. Through it all, Armstrong's instrument of choice has been a Gibson. [Emphasis ours.]
Except that no, actually, it hasn't. Before Green Day was the marching band for the preteen mallrats of the late '00s, the three East Bay boys rocked such notorious musical salons as Berkeley's 924 Gilman, eventually skyrocketing to fame on the strength of "Longview" and Dookie.

In those days, Billie Joe did not play a $3,000 Gibson. In fact, he played a sky-colored, sticker-laden Fernandes imitation Stratocaster. This guitar, which he named Blue, is so thoroughly associated with him that it elicited giant howls from the older members of the hometown crowd when Armstrong raised it above his head like some lost relic at last summer's Shoreline Amphitheater show. It was this Strat that Billie Joe played at Woodstock '94 (the muddy one, not the burning-shit one). It was this guitar that Billie Joe played in the "Basketcase" video. It's this Strat that he still brings on tour and pulls out for the O.G. part of the band's set.


We don't care that Gibson is trying to capitalize on the fact that Billie Joe now plays lots of Gibsons. And if anyone wants to drop $4k on a guitar that looks sorta like the one he plays in the video for that one song you hear at all graduations, good for them.

But with the band's post-American Idiot second coming, it seems a lot of people are content to forget -- or rewrite -- Green Day's first years, when they were young and careless and snotty and played fucked-up instruments that they'd abused since childhood. Billie Joe's blue Strat will always stand as a symbol of the band's salad days, when they just were extremely talented Bay Area punk kids who caught a big break. So don't try to tell us what guitars Billie Joe has played "through it all," Gibson. We remember -- though apparently you'd rather forget.

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guitar lessons london
guitar lessons london

I have been arena guitar back I was adolescent age, can acutely bethink my aboriginal instrument. This is a full-size classical guitar, a little bit big, my easily and I accept been cat-and-mouse for what seems like an eternity.

learn and master guitar
learn and master guitar

Armstrong's interest in music started at a young age. He attended Hillcrest Elementary School in Rodeo, where a teacher encouraged him to record a song titled "Look for Love" at the age of five on the Bay Area label Fiat Records. After his father died, his mother married a man whom her children disliked, which resulted in Armstrong retreating further into music.

Alex
Alex

it sounds like you guys are just bashing gibson. They picked a lot of gibson because of the kind of sound that they were looking for.

uk theses
uk theses

It's becoz Gibson makes of the best guitars EVER!!! In the whole world. Only one brand I like more than Gibson - DEAN. But it's for different style of music

penguin
penguin

Watch Green Day's Billie Joe Armstrong and director Michael Mayer discuss the band, the music, and American Idiot: http://f4a.tv/e7YCcx

anothergreendayfan
anothergreendayfan

I get where the author is coming from, but there's some good facts in the comments. When you mess with the Green Day fans, even if you're on our side, you get the horns. That said, I need to add that Billie Joe hasn't played the original Blue in probably 10 years. He's made a couple of replicas -- right down to the placement of the BJ made out of red electrical tape.

Djae Aroni
Djae Aroni

"Commercial Vomit"

I can understand why the author of this post is ticked off.

Thesessions
Thesessions

hahahahahhaha ^^ "brings tears to a lot of people, including myself" im sure that's what greenday had in mind when they first started the band.

Jamie
Jamie

This is Green Day in present times. I doubt ANYONE has the same views as when they're 16, when they're 39. If you reply with some 'they're not punk any more' bullshit, go F.O.D. The fact that they don't care about what genre they are makes them punk. The fact that they couldn't care less that there are previous 'fans' that have dismissed them. They get on with it. That's true fuckin punk rock.

Matt
Matt

"This Green Day signature guitar is an acoustic (but have you heard their last two records?)."

Have YOU? There is an acoustic layer on almost every track and in almost every riff. That gives the last two records their unbelievable sound. The acoustic layer is very prominant in "Holiday," "Know Your Enemy," "Homecoming," "Wake Me Up...,".... need I say more?

Not to mention, the acoustic encore at a Green Day show is one of the best parts of the whole show. Just Billie and his acoustic. Brings tears to a lot of people, including myself.

Richard Haick
Richard Haick

Billy has been playing a Gibson Melody Maker for just as long. I have a video from when Green Day played at our school lunch break (Pinole Valley High) in the early 90's. He also has a Gibson Signature Melody Maker model. It's not all that ugly. Gibson makes, probably, the best acoustic guitars on the market. They are all hand made, no CNC machining (For real. I went to the factory in Montana. Thanks Guitar Center!). It kinda reminds me of Johnny Cash's guitar. Also, I sold him a few vintage Gretsch guitars and a Mexican Strat. I'm not really sure anyone is rewriting history.

greendayfan
greendayfan

although i agree that 'blue' is the most ionic guitar for billie joe i think your being pretty harsh as he has found a great love for gibson and personally i think he rocks out on a gibson guitar- especially live. it doesnt have to be all about one guitar. Green Day have made amazing music with many different types of instruments and i thank them for doing so.

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