Who built the Smashing Pumpkins' mystery guitars?

(Image credit: Jeff Hahne/Getty Images)

The Smashing Pumpkins’ Summer Tour 2019 finishes up tomorrow night when they headline the Shoreline Ampitheatre, in Mountain View, California. 

Expect the hits, a few deep cuts, too. And maybe keep an eye out of a couple of new as-yet-unnamed electrics that suggest James Iha and Jeff Schroeder might have some new signature gear soon.

But from whom? 

Iha and Schroeder have been pictured playing singlecuts with unbranded headstocks that look very much like prototypes. The guitars share a body shape, with a dramatic perpendicular cutaway on the treble side. This body profile is reminiscent of the Reverend Guitars' Charger body profile, like that used on Reeves Gabrels' signature Reverend.

Take Exhibit A, above. This picture of Jeff Schroeder was taken at the PNC Music Pavilion on 20 August 2019 in Charlotte, North Carolina.

We have the Reverend Charger-esque body, with an open-coil humbucker in the bridge, a single-coil-sized rail humbucker in the neck. And there's a vibrato, but that's little help. But then the headstock has the squared-off hockey-stick vibe of vintage Yamaha, and maybe a little Pacifica too. The switch on the shoulder recalls a Fender Jaguar's rhythm/lead control.

Then there is Exhibit B, below. Here is a picture of James Iha from the same performance.

(Image credit: Jeff Hahne/Getty Images)

Note: the body profile is the same, as is the headstock but it is unclear whether Iha has a vibrato unit there, and this has a dual-humbucker configuration with a three-way toggle switch in the shoulder position. 

In an Instagram post, Iha was photographed using a similar guitar but in a darker finish. 

A post shared by The Smashing Pumpkins (@smashingpumpkins)

A photo posted by on on Aug 27, 2019 at 10:52am PDT

Time will tell as to the full spec and manufacturer. We would say Yamaha if pushed. But with NAMM 2020 not that far away, it looks like Iha and Schroeder were given some prototypes to road-test before finalising a signature model. 

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.

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