- This article is about the instrument. For the song, see "The Guitar". For transcribed chords and tablatures to They Might Be Giants songs, see Guitar Tabs
Guitars have been prominent in They Might Be Giants songs, both on stage and in the studio, since the band's start.
Co-founding member John Flansburgh is the main guitar player. In the late 90s, Dan Miller joined as lead guitarist. Other guitar players have worked with the group over the years, including Eric Schermerhorn, Jay Sherman-Godfrey, and Jonathan Gregg. John Linnell has also played guitar on occasion, notably in "The Big Big Whoredom", "Mainstream U.S.A.", "Mr. Klaw", and "West Virginia" from his State Songs album.
John Flansburgh[edit | edit source]
Flansburgh has used a variety of guitars, including:
- Coral Longhorn (hollow body electric, sunburst) - There are two different, but similar Coral Longhorns used in videos. Flansburgh owns the one used in "Purple Toupee" (1988) and "The Guitar" (1992). The one in "Don't Let's Start" (1986) was borrowed, and has different knobs, pickups, and no pickguard.
- Danelectro 56 U2 - a black lefty guitar henceforth seen only in the video for Tender Is The Mind
- Danelectro 59 DC - John has played two, both right-handed guitars strung upside down. He plays a gold one in the video for "Birdhouse In Your Soul" (1990), there is photographic evidence of a black one as well
- Danelectro Longhorn (black solid body) - Used in the video for "They'll Need A Crane" (1988)
- Eastwood Airline Bighorn (green) - Bought in August 2012, in time for International Lefthanders Day.
- Fender Jazzmaster (candy apple red, built by Dennis Galuszka in the Fender Custom Shop) - Purchased in October 2007. A backwards Fender logo was added to the headstock at the request of Flansburgh. John has used this guitar for majority of the first leg of the Join Us tour.
- Fender Stratocaster (pink) - Used during a live performance for Everything Right Is Wrong Again - this guitar is right-handed but strung upside-down.
- Fender Telecaster - Flansburgh owns two different ones. The first one was purchased in 1986 and is maple sunburst with a pearl pickguard. The second one was purchased in September 2005, built by Dennis Galuszka in the Fender Custom Shop, reliced, and is sonic blue with a white pickguard, though it has greened from age. The sonic blue Telecaster has been favored in frequent live performances.
- Fernandes Guitars Telecaster (black) - A right-handed guitar, seen in early promotional photographs with a white THEY sticker and later turned into the “'Chessmaster prototype' realized with foam core and duct tape" and used in the "Rabid Child" video (1985?).
- Gibson ES-335 (cherry red) - Flansburgh has currently owned two different ones. In the 1980's, John had the similar Gibson ES-330, a right-handed guitar which he played at El Grupo De Rock And Roll show, but it was stolen from his apartment. The current one was purchased in the mid-90s with slightly different pickups and pickguard.
- Gibson L1 acoustic guitar - Custom built during the John Henry sessions
- Gibson L48 - According to Flans, this guitar, which is occasionally seen in promotional photos and rarely at live performances, was purchased with his first Bar/None royalty check.
- Gibson Les Paul (gold top; sunburst) - Used in the "Doctor Worm" video (1999)
- Gibson SG (white)
- Gretsch Bo Diddley prototype (firebird red) - Borrowed for use in the video for "(She Was A) Hotel Detective" (1986)
- Gretsch 6118 (smoke green) - Used on stage in 2001, and depicted in Mink Car promotional photos
- Gretsch 6120 (orange) - Used at an appearance on The Early Show in 2002 and shot for an unknown magazine
- Jerry Jones Guitars Guitarlin (blood/creamburst finish) - Used in "Snail Shell" (1994) and "Albany" (2004)
- Epiphone Les Paul Special II (heritage dark burst) Used in a live performance of I Palindrome I.
- Mojo Chessmaster (gold, designed by Flansburgh and built by Chris Cush of Mojo Guitar Shop) - Used live during the Apollo 18 tour and appeared in music videos from 1992-2011. While he still owns the guitar, it has been semi-retired from live shows.
An image posted to Instagram in 2018 also depicts an elusive left-handed Fender XII, a Hofner Club Bass, and a righty Fender Precision Bass. Flans has used an actual lefty P-Bass on stage at some bookstore shows circa 2008.
Flansburgh has spoken at length about the difficulties of playing right-handed guitars strung for left-handed players.
Dan Miller[edit | edit source]
Miller has used:
- Gibson ES-335 (yellow) - Used in the video for "Cloisonné" (2011)
- Gibson Les Paul Deluxe (goldtop) - Dan's live guitar rig since 2005
- Gibson SG Zoot Suit (rainbow) - Purchased in 2010
- Fender Stratocaster (black) - Dan's live guitar rig since 1999. The neck single coil pickup is replaced with a humbucker pickup
- Fender Telecaster (red) - Dan's live guitar rig since 1999. Also used in videos for "Fake-Believe (Type B)" , "D Is For Drums", "Robot Parade (ABCs Version)", "Sleepwalkers (ABCs Version)" (2005)
- Hamer SATQ (no pickguard) - Miller has owned a sunburst one in some shows in 2001.
- Danelectro Baritone - Dan's original guitar. In the early 2000s, it was used as a MIDI guitar for live performances, often on songs such as "She's Actual Size".
- Epiphone Acoustic (yellow orange)- Used in live performances when acoustic guitar is featured on certain songs.
- National Val-Pro 82 map guitar (scarlet) - played on The Tonight Show and occasionally appears as a stunt guitar at hometown shows
- A yet-unidentified natural brown Gretsch single cutaway hollow body with a Bigsby and two humbuckers, which was used during the first leg of the 2018 tour