Chris Bell’s guitar


Chris Bell guitar


Jody Stephens of Big Star put this picture on Facebook the other day.  It’s his 1970 Yamaha FG-180, which is in the guitar shop for some light restoration.  This is about as close to a relic as you will get.

The guitar originally belonged to Chris Bell, who used it on Big Star’s #1 Record.  One tempestuous afternoon at a Big Star rehearsal, something was said which caused Andy Hummel to punch Chris Bell in the face; Bell retaliated by smashing Hummel’s bass.

Hummel then went out to Bell’s car and used a screwdriver to put four holes where no holes should be  in the Yamaha – hence the strips of gaffer tape.  Bell wasn’t too upset, he just charged a new guitar to Hummel, who kept the modified Yamaha, then later gave it to Jody Stephens who was learning to play guitar and used it to write “For You.”

Yamaha guitars are great.  I’ve got a six-string seven or eight years younger than this which plays beautifully and sounds great.  The frets have been filed and polished once in the thirty-odd years it has been “my” guitar.  So I’m glad to finally believe that a Yamaha was used in the creation of Big Star’s #1 Record.

Chris and David Bell once stayed about half a mile from where I live when passing through Edinburgh…

3 thoughts on “Chris Bell’s guitar

  1. Hi Stuart, great blog by the way! I’ve been meaning to leave a comment for ages but never quite find the time or anything interesting to say. I REALLY wanted to comment on your music retail piece but, like you said, I’m not sure I had anything to add. The only thing I will say is that for over a year I’ve been meaning to get someone to video me browsing through albums in a record shop because those days are clearly numbered (indeed, I may have missed my chance) and that would be something to show the grandchildren (“in my day we used to do this” … “zomg grandbizzle Turner, how old is you bruv?”).

    Anyway, as you know I now love guitars with a passion (my first recording will be coming soon, just “laid down” the vocals man). My first guitar (a Fender CF-140S 6-string acoustic) cost £150 (and I’m currently trying to work out if I can fit a week’s worth of pants and socks into its case so it can be my luggage when I come up for this year’s festival). So what do you reckon’ I should be thinking about buying next? A nicer acoustic or should I get an electric? What did you do?


    1. Alec, thanks for your comments.
      I’m glad you’re still loving guitars, last time I saw you you were in the first throes of passion.
      As to where you should go with it now, I guess you need to just figure out why you’re playing and enjoying it so much in the first place and then do more of it, better. What is it you want to achieve, if anything? Who do you want to play like? And if you’re just doing it for its own sake, that’s good as well, maybe better.
      Having said that, I can’t really advise you what to buy next (again, if anything – your new Fender may be Your Guitar) – the only time I’ve ever bought an instrument with a purpose in mind, it was just the wrong thing and luckily I was able to give it to someone who is making use of it. Instruments have just tended to present themselves to me, so I guess I was lucky to come across My Guitar fairly early in life.
      It’s amazing how much other stuff you can get in a guitar case apart from the guitar, so no worries there for August I would say…


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