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BLOG: Appetite for destruction

Paul Simonon takes his Fender Precision bass to task.
Paul Simonon takes his Fender Precision bass to task.

It´s one thing to break a guitar string or accidentally pull a knob off your favourite synth, but how would it feel to smash up a $1 million Stradivarius violin?

One man who knows is David Garrett, a German virtuoso who this week revealed that his favourite fiddle suffered severe damage when he fell down the stairs and landed on its case following a Christmas concert.

Reports suggest that repairs to the 230-year-old violin will take up to eight months and come at a cost of £60,000.


This was an accident, of course, but some have made the wilful destruction of their musical tools part of their shtick. Jerry Lee Lewis famously used to set fire to his piano (Ben Folds is another who's given the old joanna some grief), while Pete Townshend set a blueprint for guitar smashing that´s been followed by countless players since.

On a slightly different and strangely creative tip, Spectrasonics has been destroying instruments so that it can craft new ones, sampling the sound of a burning piano for use in its forthcoming Omnisphere synth.

So, what do you think about artists who put the hurt on their gear? Are they staying true to the spirit of rock ‘n´ roll, or is smashing up musical equipment pointless, selfish and just a little bit silly? Maybe you´ve accidentally (or purposely) damaged or destroyed your own instrument of choice?

Let us know…

By Ben Rogerson