Career in gear: Stone Sour's Christian Martucci shares the guitars he can't live without
Those of you at war with the bank balance and sworn off gear for a while should maybe sit this one out. Christian Martucci, guitarist for Stone Sour and avowed gear enthusiast is a bad influence.
Sure, he has learned over many years that comfort and feel is all important to him in a guitar, and he'll sound like Christian Martucci no matter what. But he certainly hasn't learned impulse control.
As he explains, he's the sort of player who walks into the store for a pack of strings and walks out with an SG without even playing it. He sounds like our sort of player...
Stone Sour's Hydrograd Deluxe edition is out on 31 August via Roadrunner Records, and available to preorder now (opens in new tab).
1980 Gibson Les Paul Custom Silverburst 'Shandi'
“That guitar belonged to RJ Ronquillo, and he owned that guitar for several years, played with it in a million bands, and I always had my eye on it. I loved the guitar.
“He came and helped out Stone Sour on our Canadian tour, and while we were out there together he mentioned that he was planning on getting rid of it. I just begged him and begged him. [laughs] He eventually gave in and I ended up with the guitar. It’s an amazing instrument and you don’t come across them very often.
“When I got the guitar from him it had a Seymour Duncan ’59 in the bridge and it had the original 'Shandi'-era neck humbucker that came with it. When I got the guitar, the first thing I did was I put a DiMarzio Super Distortion in the bridge and I put a DiMarzio Air Norton in the neck. And it wasn’t because the pickups in it sounded bad or anything - it was just that I have a specific thing that I like, and for me it really brought the guitar to life."
1978 BC Rich Mockingbird & 1997 BC Rich Mockingbird
“When I was a kid, I came across an ’84 BC Rich Mockingbird. I had some cheaper guitars at the time, but I traded them for it and it was my favourite guitar, and to make a long story short it ended up getting stolen when I lived in New York City as a kid. And I tried to replace it for years, and as the years went on the kept getting more and more expensive and I couldn’t afford one...
“Fast-forward to Stone Sour: I have a friend, Ricky Mahler, and he used to be the guitarist in a band way back called Circus Of Power, and he called me up and was like, ‘Hey, man, I’ve got this killer Mockingbird in the original colour. It’s a ’78.’ I basically traded in seven guitars for this thing!
“So the one that I have that’s the ’78 it was made by Bernie Rico and it’s probably, in terms of recording, it’s absolutely one of my favourite guitars. It just records great. It’s all over the last Stone Sour album.
“That guitar is completely stock. It has a Super Distortion in the bridge, an original, and it has a DiMarzio PAF in the neck. It’s just a great guitar. Solid koa, which is not the easiest thing to get guitars made out of now for whatever reason.
"Corey Taylor knows how much the guitar means to me and he had come across a ’97 Custom Shop that was actually built by Bernie Rico Junior and gave it to me for a Christmas present. I think it’s really cool that I have an original ’78 that was built by Bernie Rico Senior and I have a ’97 built by his son. It’s one of the most generous gifts I’ve ever received from anyone.
“He knows a little bit more about the back story; my original Mockingbird that’s gone now, not to tell you a sob story but we really did not have money at all growing up, and my dad really worked hard, worked a lot of extra hours to pay the difference so that I could get that thing, so when it got stolen it was pretty devastating! And it wasn’t that expensive at the time.
“It was before Slash used one on the You Could Be Mine video, so it was probably around ’91, ’92 when I got the guitar, and it was only $700, which seems incredibly cheap now because it’s probably worth five grand now. But at the time $700 might as well have been $7,000 in my house. The guitar meant a lot to me and to lose it was pretty crushing.”
Charvel Blood Splatter Custom Shop, hand-built by Grover Jackson
“That guitar to me is the epitome of everything that a Super-Strat is supposed to be. Well, first of all, it was handmade by Grover Jackson, which is very cool. Like, when you pop the neck off to adjust the truss rod, his initials are on the inside of the neck. He's initialled it with a pencil.
“It's another guitar that's been extremely valuable in the studio because it has this sound to it that cuts through the wall of guitars that we lay down when we record. It's a great guitar for tracking leads. A lot of the solos on Hydrograd were played on that guitar.
“The pickup in it is an old Allan Holdsworth Seymour Duncan model and the thing that's cool about that is that a lot of people think that Jake E Lee used the JB way back when, and from what I heard he actually used an Allan Holdsworth pickup. I'm more into the more Gibson-esque construction now but, regardless, that guitar will never leave my side. It sounds great. It rings for days."
1995 Gibson Jimmy Page Les Paul
"I didn't know at first when I picked it up that it was a Jimmy Page Les Paul. I was just like, 'Wow, man, the neck's really thin and comfortable. It almost feels like a Charvel neck.' It was unique-sounding. It was one of the first of 420 that I think were his actual spec.
"Unfortunately, the guitar had pretty strange pickups on it. It had a Gibson 500T in it, which is not like a bad pickup or anything, but it's not really a sound I would associate with Jimmy Page. So I put a set of Arcane Triple Clones in the guitar, just because I wanted it to have that PAF sound. If I'm going to play a Jimmy Page Les Paul, it should sound like Jimmy Page. It's only appropriate! [laughs]"
2018 Marvin 'Martucci' Moswrong
"My friend Keith Horne owns Marvin guitars, and I've known him for a long time. The guy is incredible. He builds incredible guitars. I love Mosrites, 1960s Mosrites, and I ended up buying one a few years ago, and when I got it I was like, 'Well… It looks cool!' But I didn't really think it sounded that great, and it didn't really play that great, either.
"So we were talking and he said, 'We should build you a guitar sometime.' And I said, 'What if we built a Mosrite but constructed it as if it was a Les Paul? A mahogany body, a set neck, a maple top?' A couple of month's later, he came over to my house with this purple guitar and I was just floored. It just sounds and plays amazing."
1984 Marshall JCM800
"It's completely stock. I've had this amp forever. It's been through pretty much any band that I have played with in my adult life, any album that I've played on has been with this specific amp.
"I have taken this amp to every studio, producers from Michael Beinhorn all the way to Jay Ruston, and this JCM800 has beat every single Marshall in any studio I've been in, regardless of the year, regardless of which way the inputs are going. There's just something about it.
"It's a really amazing-sounding amp. I've seen guys try to beat it in the studio and it hasn't happened yet. I don't take it on the road any more, just because I don't want anything to happen to it. As long as it's alive, it will be my main studio amp."
Zemaitis CS24WL FM
"Those are beautiful guitars, man. I have this and a Metal Front one. My friend Acey [Slade] from the Misfits introduced me to the guys at Zemaitis.
"I remember when I first saw one: a friend lent me a bootleg VHS, way back when, of a Faces show and Ronnie Wood was playing one, and I'm a T. Rex fan also, and Marc Bolan played one. Keith Richards, too. I don't know, I just thought it would be really cool to have one. They are awesome guitars."
1997 Canary Yellow Gibson Custom Shop Les Paul Catalina
"Oddly enough, I got that guitar from a store on my street of my old house in Burbank, called Imperial Vintage Guitars. This thing was hanging up in that store for a year-and-a-half.
"And to be honest with you, it was hideous at first. It had the original pickguard on it and the truss rod cover… Nobody was buying this guitar, and I used to go in there all the time and think, 'Man, this thing plays so good!' I think I traded them a couple of Les Pauls, maybe a couple of Strats that I don't play any more. I left with the guitar, got it home, and just made a few minor cosmetic changes on it. And it's a beast, man. It's sounds so good. It's definitely made it into my top 10."
Dean USA V 1977 Trans Cherryburst
"I would say, next to the '78 Mockingbird, that's almost my favourite guitar. When I was a kid in the 1980s or whatever, I saw one of those in a guitar shops and it was an actual '77, pretty much the same guitar, and I always wanted one. I love it.
"If you notice, a lot of people won't see the similarities with BC Rich, Charvel, Dean… these guitars were all sort of created in the '70s in a time when, arguably, Gibson and Fender weren't really making the greatest guitars. They were kinda like the first boutique makers. These guys made some really groundbreaking designs and really interesting guitars.
"I love the '77 V. I mean, I was born in 1977, my house was made in 1977… And the guitar is like playing an old TransAm. A lot of good stuff happened that year - unk-rock. The only thing bad that I can think of that happened was Elvis died, but a lot of good stuff happened, too! [laughs]"
Fender USA Kingman C Antigua Burst acoustic
"Here's the deal. I'm going to be honest with you; I am not a big acoustic guy. Like, I was never the guy who'd go to parties and take my shirt off and sing acoustic songs to girls! [laughs] It just wasn't my thing.
"I went in to Fender one day and that guitar was hanging up there in the showroom, the Antigua Burst. They were like, 'Oh, that was a really weird Fender Custom Shop that was built in the old Guild factory in Connecticut, when Fender still had Guild.' So it's basically a Guild with a Fender headstock, and it's painted Antigua Burst, which to a lot of people is the ugliest colour that Fender ever made – I strongly disagree with that.
"I ended up with the guitar and it's funny; this guitar made me love playing acoustic guitar, which is something that I never thought I would do. This guitar really showed me that I was being an idiot.
"I used this on Hydrograd, on the song St. Marie, and I used it on our entire acoustic EP that came out on Record Store Day. This guitar is awesome. But I'm definitely keeping my shirt on."
1998 Gibson SG Special Limited Edition
"I wasn't looking for an SG at all. I walked into the same guitar shop I got the Canary Yellow Les Paul - I went in there to buy a pack of strings or something - and as I was walking through, I caught it out the corner of my eye and I just looked at it and said, 'That's my guitar.' It was the strangest thing. I mean, I wasn't looking for an SG or anything.
"In terms of SGs, it's not like a top-of-the-line SG, but also I feel like Gibson made some of their best guitars in the '90s, and the thing that's cool about this one is that it's an SG Special but it has a lot of weird Custom Shop features, like it has a super-thick ebony fretboard, which is kind of rare for an SG. It has a really, really nice neck profile on it and the thing sounds incredible, man. I grabbed it off the wall and walked it up to the register without even playing it.
"When we were in the studio for Hydrograd, I wasn't really getting the sound I wanted in one of the lower tunings we use, so I put that guitar in the C-sharp tuning, and that is the main rhythm guitar on every low-tuned song on that album. I could see this being used heavily in the studio, possibly for the rest of my life.
"It just goes to show you, man, it doesn't have to be the most expensive guitar in the world; some guitars are just magic, and this is one of them."