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James Bay reveals the story behind his Epiphone signature guitar

Laura  Barnes
James Bay reveals the story behind his Epiphone signature guitar

Last month, we reported that Epiphone has introduced a new limited edition James Bay "1966" Century archtop Outfit, inspired by the musician’s own vintage 1966 Epiphone.

The platinum-selling songwriter is seldom seen on stage without his 66. The new limited edition model was directly inspired by Bay’s original, which was carefully photographed and measured for accuracy by Epiphone’s famed team of luthiers at the firm’s headquarters in Nashville.   

Speak recently to MI Pro’s sister publication Music Week, Bay revealed the story behind his love for the original guitar.

“The one [the signature model] it’s modelled on the 66 original, the old one that I’ve had it since 2013. I found it when I went to New York for the first time. I went to meet a label with my managers and we had a bit of downtime in between hanging out with this label and I was desperate to go to a guitar shop,” said Bay.
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“I saw it and played it for a bit, and it sort of blew my mind. And I thought, I’ve got to come back one day – my goal is to come back to New York for some musical reason, and my goal inside that goal is to buy this guitar. I certainly couldn’t afford it at the time!

“Long story short, we had a great time with this label – I actually ended up signing to that label, which was lovely and serendipitous. When I got home from that trip, nothing had been confirmed, but we just knew that we liked each other. When I came back, my manager said ‘there’s a big package for you in the office, don’t know what’s in it, but come and have a look’ – and it was the guitar.

“I hand on heart don’t remember telling the label directly about this incredible guitar I’d seen – I remember we had this big long dinner and night of hanging out, but they said they remembered hearing about it, so it must have been part of some conversation we’d had. They went and grabbed it, and I’ve had it ever since. I wrote my entire first album on it, and I’ve played it ever since.”

Bay revealed that he had always dreamed about having his own signature model.

“In relation to that story [the guitar] means a lot, but also on this whole other level. I was 10 or 11 when I started playing guitar, and it wasn’t long after that I was reading every guitar magazine, reading up on all the great guitar players, and eventually about signature models etc. And I would dream about doing the same one day,” said Bay.

“I thought it might be something I’d get to do five or 10 albums in, you know ‘OK, this guy has been around for a bit’. So to have done one album and to have kind of dedicated this music to that guitar, and that guitar this music, it was very cool that they recognised that, and thought ‘well what about doing a signature model?’.”

Bay’s signature 1966 Epiphone Outfit includes a Kinman Noiseless "Sweet Neck" P-90 single coil pickup, a 60s era Rosewood bridge with brass wheels, Wilkinson machine heads, USA electronics, and a 60s era-inspired hard case.

A hand signed Certificate of Authenticity, artist photo and a recreation of Bay’s own custom strap are all included with the guitar.

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Tags: epiphone , music week , Signature guitar , James Bay

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