Learn how to re-create the sound of Franz Ferdinand duo guitarists Alex and Nick .Read about the Telecaster and Hagstrom guitars they used for the debut album ‘Franz Ferdinand’
Franz Ferdinand’s self-titled debut in 2004 was chockfull of incisive post-punk forays. Six-string Jedi Masters Alex Kapranos and Nick McCarthy wield their guitars like light sabres on the majestic ‘Take Me Out‘ and ‘Matin饼/strong>’, whilst ‘Darts Of Pleasures‘ is one of the many tracks that give a big nod to the brand of edgy, jangly funk pioneered by ’80s Glaswegian indie stalwarts Orange Juice and Fire Engines.
If you’re looking to emulate Nick, you can get lucky in a Scottish charity shop like he did or pay 800-1,000 for Hagstrom P46. This quirky Swedish maker is famous for it’s weird’n’wonderful guitars with an array of buttons and options. Often weighty, contrary blighters, you either love them or hate them. Frontman Alex’s favourite riff machine is his ‘70s Telecaster Deluxe. Unlike normal Teles, these have two humbuckers (two-coil pickups) instead of the standard single-coil pickups, which usually makes for a warmer, beefier sound – with some raunchiness thrown in. Expect to pay around 500 for a new one, more if you want an original ’70s one. On the amp front, the FF duo use Fender DeVilles. For those looking to get the “wobbly” sound at the beginning of ‘Take Me Out’, you’re best off getting a Hughes & Kettner Tube Rotosphere MKII rather than trying to build or buy a ‘Leslie’ (i.e. a type of rotating speaker cabinet).
In The Studio
‘Franz Ferdinand‘ was recorded in Sweden with Cardigan’s producer Tor Johannsen at the controls. The band were in hog heaven with all the Hagstroms and strange old equipment knocking around, and learned the importance of honing in on frequencies – cutting down the bass, midrange of instruments as required – rather than capturing a broad spectrum of sound to ensure everything in the final mix was essential and cut through. The band and producer were also united on the need to drive equipment to the edge of its capabilities and beyond (e.g. using it too loud for too long or pairing it with inappropriate equipment) in a bid to get new sounds.
“It’s really good to have interlocking rhythms,” states Alex. ‘Paul plays one hit, I play the next, then the bass plays the other one: like standard funk rhythm.” As for Nick it’ll be a rare thing to catch him playing an actual, full-on chord, preferring to stick to single- or two-note lead lines at the very most. This again narrows the sonic range to hit home that much harder. And you don’t even need to run up and down the fretboard, the intro to ‘Take Me Out‘ is yours by playing the seventh, ninth and tenth frets on A string (the second one away from your chin) in the right order.
Harmonics. The theory behind them fills many books, but to get the point turn your guitar and amp as high you can and play an open string. Now lightly put a finger on the string at the 12th fret, but don’t let it touch the fretboard. Hear the difference? Congratulations, you’ve just played a harmonic. Integrate it into your playing and you can add all sorts of interesting variations to your sound.