Unique Sounds: The history of Ronnie Wood’s electric guitar

The history of rock n roll can be endless. It dates back from slavery entering American soil influencing the many faces of sorrow to live up to their destiny, documenting it in raw sounds that would evolve and mutate over time. These sounds, from the river, the church, the market, the horses, the carriages, everything influenced the way we listen to rock n roll, not as a music genre, but as an ever-evolving cultural movement. And the electric guitar is part of this.

Inarguably, Ronnie Wood from The Faces and most notably, The Rolling Stones, puts it this way:

The blues echoes right through into soul, R&B and Hip hop…You can’t turn your back on the blues..

As music lovers, we spend our lifetimes trying to comprehend the reason behind liking a song so much. It all comes down to serendipity. The right place at the right time (and with the right instrument).

The evolution of the electric guitar has depended on the human touch, enabling technological advances to convert these 6-string instruments into a symbol of rock n roll. To begin with, we start with the unique Zemaitis Electric, used by the Mr. Wood himself, with which he recorded well over 20 albums and has toured with the band for decades.

Ronnie Wood and Zemaitis Guitar

With a long career including playing with Jeff Beck, The Faces, and Rolling Stones, Wood actually began playing bass guitar for The Byrds. It’s nor surprise that Ronnie Wood’s riffs are very heavy rhythmically speaking, tied always to a strong bass and kick drum. After two years of relative success, Wood and Rod Stewart formed a new group, The Faces, and a strong friendship and working partnership began since then. Even though they did reach a high level of success, The Faces split in 1975. Yet, their sound, including that of Ronnie’s guitar, influenced many generations across western countries, including Colombia, where new bands were formed such as The Speakers and The Flippers around the mid 60’s (but that’s another story).

I’ve got my own album to do

The amazing connections that came out of this split were unimaginable. Ronnie Wood decided to produce the first of seven solo studio albums, titled “I’ve got my own album to do”, with former bandmate Ian McLagan, as well as former Beatle George Harrison and Keith Richards of the Rolling Stones. A pivotal friendship indeed, that of Richards and Wood, which led him to joining the Stones when Mick Taylor left the group.

Tony Zemaitis

Mr. Zemaitis, a British guitar maker was born in 1935, and later founded his guitar-making company in 1965. Despite his death in 2002, his company is headquartered in Tokyo, Japan, and managed by his son Tony Zemaitis, Jr.. Initially a cabinetmaker, Mr. Zemaitis (senior) had acquired excellent woodworking skills after a five-year apprenticeship in addition to being a superb musician. During the early 1960’s, his guitars were bought by prestigious and recognized musicians like George Harrison, Eric Clapton and Marc Bolan. Something that definitely catches the eye are the elaborate engraved metalwork on the guitars (done by Danny O’Brien), as seen on Ronnie Wood’s guitar. Some of the most beautiful engraving can be seen on Ronnie’s 1978 Zemaitis Electric.

Amazing instrumental craftwork, exquisite musicians, and years and years of guitar sounds.

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