December 4, 2019

By Sara Norton


Premier Guitar’s Chris Kies caught up with Black Keys’ Dan Auerbach and his guitar tech Dan Johnson for a peek at his current live rig, which included a Gretsch Bo Diddley.

“[A Gretsch guy] saw us playing all these ridiculous guitars,” said Auerbach “So, he sent us a Bo Diddley guitar!”

Johnson stripped the original Firebird Red finish off to expose the maple grain and, with the help of a maintenance guy at the Wiltern in Los Angeles, slapped a coat of dark wood stain on it for a unique finish.

“I was working late one night, and Dan was saying, ‘You know, I kinda want it to look more like something I would be interested in,’” recalled Johnson. “He came up with the idea of making it brown. I sanded the red off the top down to the wood, and I was working on it late at the Wiltern and the night guy showed up. He saw me sanding on it. I was just finishing it and he asked, ‘Now, what are you doing?’ And I said, ‘I wanted to go to the hardware store and get some stain to do a shitty finish on it!’

“We were out in LA, so I didn’t know where a hardware store was.  So he said, ‘You should come to the basement!’ And there was a giant shelf that had the exact brown. In a half an hour, it was done.”

“This plays really good too, surprisingly good,” added Auerbach.