By Steve Newton
Three days ago I called Jack Semple up at his home in Regina, Saskatchewan, for an interview to help promote his show at Vancouver’s Rickshaw Theatre on August 31 (with guest Don Alder). In preparing for the chat I spent a lot of time listening to the Canadian guitar wizard’s latest CD, In the Blue Light, which was easy to do, since it’s a damn good album.
Checking out the CD cover and booklet, it’s hard not to notice that they feature no less than eight photos of Semple with the same guitar–a woodgrain Stratocaster with a black pickguard and rosewood neck. Turns out it’s also the instrument he’s shown playing on the cover of his latest DVD, the awesome live @ village guitars.
He adores the instrument, obviously–and not just because B.B. King signed it in 1995. But it’s not like its a particularly valuable vintage model or anything. In fact, Semple doesn’t even know what year it was made.
“Maybe 25 years ago my wife gave me EMG pickups for my birthday, which I put in. Other than that it’s just a stock Strat. And I don’t really know what year it is, because it got stolen, and the thieves scratched off the serial number so it wouldn’t be identified. I know it’s a late ’70s, or maybe mid-’70s Strat. I’ve never taken the neck off; I don’t even know if the serial number is on the heel of the neck there. It might be. One day I’ll find out maybe.”
No matter when his prized six-string was manufactured, Semple will just keep on using it to make incredible guitar-based music–as he has for over 40 years now. He’s a Strat man, through and through.
“I think the Stratocaster’s the best designed electric guitar that’s ever been made,” he raves. “I mean it’s indestructible–unless you’re Jimi Hendrix. It just feels great; it’s just part of my anatomy. You know I got a [Gibson ES-] 335 for Christmas a couple years ago, but nothin’ feels better than the Strat. It fits my fingers.”
For more from Semple–including his fondness for Aussie wunderkind Tommy Emmanuel, and the tragedy he faced as a teen–stay tuned.