Watch Jacob Collier get wild with his custom Strandberg 5-string and unleash his inner child on new single WELLLL

Jacob Collier plays his custom five-string Strandberg
(Image credit: Tom Bender)

Jacob Collier has just dropped the video to his latest single, WELLLL, a track co-written with former American Idol contestant and alumni of the Fender Next programme’s class of 2022, Remi Wolf. And it features one of the most intriguing electric guitars we have seen in recent times – a custom-build Strandberg with Boden body but only five strings.

It’s not unusual per se that Collier should reach for the guitar, or for Collier to summon the guitar into his writing. John Mayer laid down a stellar guest solo on last summer’s single, Never Gonna Be Alone. 

Similarly, Steve Vai appeared on Djesse Vol 2. track Do You Feel Love and will be returning for Djesse Vol. 4. Collier even shared a teaser on Instagram of Vai’s upcoming guest spot, as he and Vai workshop a solo in G major with Collier calling out the plays. 

A DigiTech Whammy pedal applies the pitch-shifting madness. But even in this context, WELLLL is a change of pace for Collier. It is explicitly a guitar track.

“This song is a collage of catharsis – a convergence of many musical materials I haven’t explored until now,” says Collier. “It features my custom-designed 5-string electric guitar, made by Strandberg, and harkens back to much of the rock music I loved as a child. It’s a song about being a child, being wild, and listening to your heart. I can’t wait for you to hear it.”

Jacob Collier plays his custom five-string Strandberg

(Image credit: Tom Bender)

Collier is the type of polymath musician that you can never be sure what instrument he is going to play onstage. He could be behind the piano, on the mic with a bass guitar, but if he is playing his new single, WELLLL, the chances are he will have the electric guitar, and it’ll be this five-string custom-build from Strandberg.

Even by Strandberg’s standards, this is an audaciously spec’d instrument. Where some guitar players seek out extended range guitars to find new ideas, Collier has narrowed the options down to five strings.

Other players have done something similar. Bob Marley was known to play an acoustic guitar with five strings. Keith Richards’ most-famous Fender Telecaster, Micawber, has the low E string removed. Max Cavalera uses just four strings – no unwound top-end for him. While Grace Potter muted the top two strings on a Martin acoustic while tracking her forthcoming new album, Mother Road.

But Collier’s rationale behind the custom-build leaving off the high E string remains a mystery. It looks audacious. It sounds it too. You can hear it and see it in action in the video above, and add WELLLL to your streaming platform of choice now. 

Jonathan Horsley

Jonathan Horsley has been writing about guitars and guitar culture since 2005, playing them since 1990, and regularly contributes to MusicRadar, Total Guitar and Guitar World. He uses Jazz III nylon picks, 10s during the week, 9s at the weekend, and shamefully still struggles with rhythm figure one of Van Halen’s Panama.