A guide to the gear of indie rock's coolest frontman.
Does anyone hate the Arctic Monkeys? Nope. You just simply can’t, and it’s all because of Alex Turner, the inimitable frontman who for a decade now has been the face of indie rock.
Although it was initially his witty, sardonic lyrics and tongue-in-cheek songwriting that put the band on the global map, Alex Turner has evolved into a swaggering, guitar shredding rock god is certainly one of indie rock’s best success stories, with their 2013 album AM cementing Arctic Monkeys as being one of the biggest bands in the world today.
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Today, we pay homage to the ever-classy Alex Turner with this week’s Gear Rundown.
From around the release of Humbug onwards, Turner has frequented a sunburst Fender Jazzmaster for live performances with both Arctic Monkeys and The Last Shadow Puppets. The specifications of the neck and the black pickguard suggests that the instrument is a vintage reissue, with our best guess being an AVRI 1962 model.
Warmoth Custom Jazzmaster
In addition to his name brand Fender Jazzmaster, Alex Turner also owns a custom-made Warmoth Jazzmaster that sees a heap of live use with Arctic Monkeys. It features a walnut body paired with a humbucker in the neck and what looks to be a vintage foil pickup in the bridge position.
Gibson Les Paul Custom
Around the recording of their fourth LP Suck It And See, Turner began transitioning into Gibson territory with a vintage Les Paul Custom, which he typically uses live for the band’s heavier material from Suck It And See.
Prior to acquiring his Les Paul Custom, Turner was commonly seen playing a 1970s Ovation Viper, a bit of an oddity from the predominantly acoustic-based company.
Vox Starstream XII
Around the recording and touring of AM, Turner fully embraced the quirkiness of the twelve string 1960’s Vox Starstream for the ballsy swagger of ‘Do I Wanna Know?’ and ‘R U Mine’, with the sound of the guitar playing a huge role in the massive success of the former track.
1978 Fender Bronco
Back when the Arctic Monkeys were just a rowdy indie-rock band and not the hottest rock n’ roll act on the planet, Alex Turner used to play a funky little Fender Bronco, a short lived single pickup student guitar from the 1970s. Turner frequented his Bronco around the recording and release of 2007’s Favourite Worst Nightmare, and while it’s fallen out of use in recent years, it still seems like it’s one of his favourite instruments, appearing in the 2013 music video for ‘Arabella’.
Even before the release of the band’s raucous 2006 debut Whatever People Say I Am, That’s What I’m Not, Turner became an instant indie icon with a high-strapped Fender Stratocaster in the music video for ‘I Bet You Look Good On the Dancefloor’. It’s fairly obvious Turner was channeling some serious Strokes vibes in this video, but that’s okay, we all did at one point.
Since the early days of the band, Turner’s acoustic sessions have been a huge favourite with fans of the band, with various videos racking up millions of views across YouTube. Turner tends to favour vintage Gibson and Epiphone guitars for these sessions, and can commonly be seen playing a Gibson J-45 – like when he did this sultry Tame Impala cover for Triple J back in 2014.
Back in the band’s early days, Turner used to play through a hefty Orange AD30TC 2×12 combo amp, pushing the overdrive of the amp to maintain his jagged, jangly tone. Later, he would make the switch to a Vox AC30, maintaining a similar overdriven tone from the amp.
As his finances and taste in tone grew over the years, Turner began implementing more sophisticated amps into his setup, including a super rare Selmer Zodiac Twin 30. Hailing from the ’60s, the Selmer Zodiac Twin is coated in the rarely seen finish of crocodile skin, and is highly regarded for its classic British sound – the amp was also used by The Animals for the iconic intro for ‘House Of The Rising Sun’.
While touring Whatever People Say I Am, That’s What I’m Not back in 2006, Turner appeared to play an extremely modest pedalboard onstage, using two ProCo RAT 2 Distortion pedals and a BOSS TU-2 tuner to their maximum effect.
For Favourite Worst Nightmare, Turner would often swap out a RAT for an Ibanez TS808 Tubescreamer to experiment with different tones, as well as adding a Danelectro Reel Echo, EHX Deluxe Memory Man, and a Hughes and Kettner Tube Rotosphere.
On Humbug, Turner changed up his board by adding a variety of different effects, including a Roland CE-1 Chorus Ensemble, a Morely Line Switcher, an EHX Holy Grail Plus, and a Coopersonic Dual Distortion Valveslapper.
Around the touring of AM, different stylistic changes in the band’s sound required Turner to add further pedals to his board, such as an original EHX POG, a MXR Micro Amp, an EHX Hum Debugger, and a Fulltone Mini Dejavibe Chorus/Vibrato.
For more Alex Turner content, see him being a meme for four minutes here.