Jørgen Munkeby of Shining is a road warrior and so perhaps his range of experiences has allowed him to learn how to see the humor in the following crappy situation you’ll read about in a second. I had hit him up as part of our preliminary year end coverage to see if he had a
“road story” worth sharing that was funny from this year, considering his band has been tearing it up live in support of awesome new hard rock album Animal. Turns out he had plenty to say but it wasn’t anything a band would usually laugh about. This guy has a good attitude, even when complaining, hahaha.
I’m currently midway on a 6-week release headline tour for Shining’s new album
Animal in Europe. All shows have been great, and it’s been absolutely awesome to see
how well the new songs go down with the audience. We usually open our set with the
songs “Animal” and “My Church”, and from right from the start we see more people singing
along than we’ve ever had in our shows before, which is amazing! But the funniest thing that has happened -or maybe craziest is a more correct word? – is what happened after I broke the neck off my guitar in a show in Marseille, France, last week!
All of the instruments I use, except my saxophone, are pretty new and cheap standard
stuff, because I want to be able to get the same stuff quickly from any store or backline
rental company in case it is delayed by an airline or breaks down on tour. My two guitars
on tour has been a Gibson SG Standard and an Edwards SG guitar, which is basically a
cheap but great Japanese copy of the Gibson SG. The neck of the Edwards guitar
actually broke on the last brutal and physical note on a song during a show in
Netherlands two years ago, but was later repaired.
On the last note of our song “The Madness And The Damage Done” during our Marseille
show last week, I felt that I had been a bit controlled during the whole show because of
a bruised rib I got during a show in Paris a week before. I was missing a little bit of action and physicality,so I decided to make the last note of the song a big and aggressive one, and I raised my guitar high before the note and signaled to the band that we were going to play a heavy ending when I brought the guitar down. But during that heavy downward motion my guitar snapped in two pieces just like it had done two years ago.
Read More BELOW.
I instantly felt it, so instead of showing off with the broken guitar I just limply put it down and retuned my other guitar for the last two songs. But here comes the crux of the story: The day after the Marseille show we were going to play in Milan, Italy. I got up early and called around to the top 15 guitar shops in my Google search to ask of they had a black or a white SG guitar. I found two shops that had black SGs, so I went and bought a Gibson SG Standard for 1200 EUR.
It sounded great in the shop, and with new strings and a little bit of tweaking and intonation it felt like a great buy during the sound check too. Then, during the third song in the set the
sound started cutting out. After a few songs without playing guitar, and a few songs
trying with other cables, I gave up on the guitar and borrowed a guitar from our support
band Alithia instead (thanks for saving the night, guys!).
So there I was, with a brand new 1200 EUR guitar that didn’t work. As usual when stuff goes wrong, I can’t relax until it’s fixed, so I set up shop in the tour bus as 2 am in the night, and opened up the electronics cover on the back. And I was not prepared for what I found! Usually proud American musical gear companies boast of products that are “built like a tank” and are “military grade” (whatever that means when we’re talking about a fuzz box or a wooden guitar!).
Instead of the expected pots and wires and solder joints I instead found a freaking plastic print board with stuff soldered directly onto it, and plastic sockets for connectors. All this renders the guitar extremely susceptible to the physicality of touring life, and makes it completely impossible to figure and fix selected things that might go wrong. I also found that the guitar switch was loose and in one position a terminal was touching a pot chassis that canceled out the signal. (Obviously this should not be the case, since the switch and pots should be spaced far enough from each other so that they can’t touch.)
After my initial shock and disappointment in Gibson for turning their guitar line from professional instruments to guitars only usable by amateurs, I wrapped electrical tape around the whole switch and hoped that it would isolate it enough until I got home from the tour and could replace all the electronics in the guitar.
Our next show was in Bologna, and started out good, but just after a few songs the
same thing happened! The terminal underneath the tape was obviously sharp enough to cut through the isolation tape, and the same problem came back. Today I opened the guitar again a third time and added some custom-made isolation cushions made out isolation tape wrapped around toilet paper, and I put these on each side of the switch so it wouldn’t short circuit.
Tomorrow we’re playing again in Vienna, and I hope the new Gibson guitar doesn’t fuck up another show for us. After all you’d expect a reputable brand like Gibson to be able to deliver guitars that doesn’t have to be modified just to be able to play a show!
I am beyond words of what I saw inside this 2019 model Gibson SG Standard, and it’s
one of the most hilarious things I’ve experienced on tour. I hope Gibson goes back to the
standard way of making guitars. Yes, they’ll have to pay professionals to solder the
electronics, and they can’t rely on un-trained Chinese child labor or robots. But that’s the
cost of make a proper guitar, and also the cost of being able to look in the mirror without
being ashamed of yourself. Get a grip, Gibson! – Jørgen Munkeby