Sonic Youth debut Signature Fender guitars

Moore with his Jazzmaster, Ranaldo with his 'Jazzblaster'
Moore with his Jazzmaster, Ranaldo with his 'Jazzblaster'

Since their first gig three decades ago, New York's Sonic Youth have broken most rules known to music, and in partnering with Fender on their own line of signature Jazzmaster guitars, Thurston Moore and Lee Ranaldo are continuing that trend.

"When Fender came to us with an offer to make signature models of our Jazzmaster guitars we jumped at the chance," Moore and Ranaldo said in a joint statement.

"These are the guitars that have defined the sound of Sonic Youth for more than 20 years." the duo said. "Although we love all guitars (yeah, they do - check out their beyond extensive gear guide), Jazzmasters are the ones we've modified and perfected for our uses over the years."

They're streamlined, baby

"We couldn't wait to get our hands on these axes. The prototypes of our Fender models have already been thrust into action" Thurston Moore and Lee Ranaldo

The guitars are manufactured to Ranaldo and Moore's personal specifications, with custom-voiced pickups. Both guitars are electronically streamlined, with no rhythm circuit and a one-volume knob.

Moore's Jazzmaster is green, while Ranaldo's 'Jazzblaster' is blue. Each guitar will come with a 24-page color 'zine designed by Ranaldo that the Fender website calls "the definitive insider's guide to all things Jazzmaster in the world of Sonic Youth."

"Lee and Thurston have always heavily modified their Jazzmaster guitars," says the description on, "simplifying and stripping them down to the essence, leaving just a three-way switch and a volume knob." Although both guitars share similarities, Ranaldo and Moore's hand-tooled customizations of bridges, pickups, frets and the pickguard make them each unique.

Moore and Ranaldo were so smitten with the prototypes, they even used them in the recording of their new album, The Eternal. "We couldn't wait to get our hands on these axes," they say on the Fender site.

"The prototypes of our Fender models have already been thrust into action during the recording of our latest album, and have already begun to acquire the scrapes and scarz of live performance."

Joe Bosso

Joe is a freelance journalist who has, over the past few decades, interviewed hundreds of guitarists for Guitar WorldGuitar PlayerMusicRadar and Classic Rock. He is also a former editor of Guitar World, contributing writer for Guitar Aficionado and VP of A&R for Island Records. He’s an enthusiastic guitarist, but he’s nowhere near the likes of the people he interviews. Surprisingly, his skills are more suited to the drums. If you need a drummer for your Beatles tribute band, look him up.