This electric violin was custom built for me by Nick Tipney of Vector Violins in Nova Scotia, Canada. It has five strings, the traditional four of a violin with the addition of the low C string of a viola, thus giving me a violin/viola hybrid. The wood used is the customary spruce top, with a beautifully figured maple on the back. The instrument is hollow, which makes it lighter than solid body electric violins. That was a factor important to me considering the comfort of playing a heavy instrument for long periods of time. The violin can sound just like an acoustic violin, and I think this is due to the construction being similar to acoustic violins. I can also run it through my Midiverb IV effects processor and get a variety of modern sounds. The spectacular color was mixed just for me. I sent him a photograph of a tropical butterfly called a Blue Morpho, and he matched the color beautifully.
We’ve always been labeled an “acoustic” band, but with Josie’s electric violin being such a prominent part of our sound, I’m not so sure that applies anymore. Regardless, I still play acoustic guitars almost exclusively in Perpetual Motion. There are a couple of exceptions: on “Unexpected Anticipation” from Surfing On Cloud Nine, I played my guitar solo on my Ibanez Artist AS200 that I’ve had since 1983. Ibanez now calls it the JSM100 (John Scofield Model). It’s Ibanez’s version of a Gibson 335. Recently I have used my Guild Brian May Signature Guitar on “Terminal Velocity” from String Theory. Guild no longer makes the Brian May guitars, as they are now being produced by Burns Guitars and Dillion Guitars. I got mine in 1991 when Guild came out with their second version (the first was released in 1984). Of all the Brian May Signature Guitars that have been released, the second run of the Guilds are the closest to Brian’s original “Red Special”. I played it through a Vox Brian May Special Amp (what else?!). Queen bassist John Deacon built an amp out of radio parts and a stereo speaker cabinet that runs on a 9 volt battery. Brian May has used it extensivley for recording for over 30 years. He calls it the “Deacy” amp, after it’s maker, and Vox is now making a copy of it. It has a few more features than the original “Deacy”, like volume and tone controls and it runs on electricity instead of a battery. For a 10 watt amp it has a lot of power! Click the links if you are interested in finding out more about Brian May’s guitar and amp.
For live performances I play through an AER acoustic guitar amp. I use the Compact 60 Model, which is just like Josie’s Compact Mobile, but without the battery. These are incredible little amps; very small and lightweight, but with lots of power and amazing sound. I used to play through an SWR Strawberry Blonde acoustic amp, and while it was nice for when Josie and I played as a duo, it lacked the power I needed when we play with the full band. For effects I use an Alesis Midiverb III, as well as the on-board effects on the AER.