PJH GUITARS: Meet ze Monstas
from Guitar Player, Ocotber 1995
by Joe Gore
With John Parish playing Polly Harvey's guitars (an early-'70s hollowbody Gretsch Broadkaster, a '65 Fender Jaguar, and an Eros Mark II Gibson SG copy with all the strings tuned to A in various octaves) as well as the late '60s Fender Telecaster that Polly has often borrowed for recordings, the old PJ Harvey guitar sound is alive and well. Polly and John used those instruments while recording To Bring You My Love, along with Polly's no-name Spanish guitar, whose parts John renders live on a Sadowsky electric nylon-string. My standard-tuning guitars are a late-'60s Gibson Trini Lopez and a new G&L ASAT. I tune my Paul Chandler-modified bottom-of -the-line Fender Strat a fourth below standard tuning, and my semi-acoustic Baldwin Virginian has the same A-octave tuning as Polly's Eros. My low tuned guitars are fitted with strings gauged .015 through .060.
John and Polly used various Marshall heads for the album. I opted for a Mesa Blue Angel, but sneaked in a cheesy old solid-state Baldwin Professional ("Maniac") and one of those toy Marshall belt-buckle amps ("Working for the Man"). We used Marshall 4x12s in the studio. John's live head is a Marshall JCM 800, while I go with the Blue Angel. John and I both tour with Marshall 2x12 cabinets, which are positioned in front of us, pointing back towards the band. Our bandmates would disagree, but our stage volume is relatively modest.
John's effects include an MXR Distortion+, a Boss DS-1 distortion, a Demeter Tremulator tremolo, and a Boss Analog delay. I have Boss octave and analog delay pedals, a Cesar Diaz Texas Tremodilo tremolo, a Fulltone Deja Vibe clone, and two distortions: a Prescription Electronics Experience Pedal and a Tubeworks Real Tube. (our brilliant and eco-conscious guitar tech, Barry Nicol, has crafted custom power supplies for both of us so we don't waste batteries.) In the studio I also used a sicko Maestro Rhythm 'N' Sound pedal and this amazing Jim Dunlop Jimi Hendrix Distortion. It was broken and would only emit hideous barfing noises of the sort heard on "Meet Za Monsta." This irreplaceable treasure was lost in transit, along with all my pedals and gadgets - take a bow, American Airlines!
John and Polly usually use picks; I don't. John sometimes strums with a delicate pastry brush ("The Dancer"), while I prefer a heavy-handed house painter's model. John has been known to weave a broken guitar string through the strings near the bridge for an extra-crappy tone, and when I run out of ideas I'm not above turning to cheap stunts like playing slide with a kitchen knife ("C'mon Billy"), attaching alligator clips to the strings ("Down By The Water"), or making little toy dinosaurs roar through my pickups ("Long Snake Moan").