A few words on guitar-smashing

by Greg Segal

G.S. w/ Paper Bag at FM Station, 1/10/89. photo: Chris Gruenwedel


Yes that's right. Here I'm smashing an acoustic (my specialty and my preference). But I'm pounding it and pulling it apart with my hands, rather than smashing it into the stage- meanwhile holding it up to a microphone so that the sound of wood being pulverized in time to the music will be properly amplified.

I got into this habit when George, whose job at the time involved a lot of driving, found me a battered acoustic among some curbside trash, waiting to be hauled away. He thought I might have fun smashing it up at a gig. Up to this time it was something I'd vowed I would never do. I remembered all too well wanting an instrument- any instrument- and not being able to afford one. But this was already a piece of trash and it actually took quite a bit of work to get it to the point where I could even play a few microtonal notes on it at the gig before sending it to extinction. So my view changed: I wasn't wastefully smashing something usable, I was giving an otherwise useless instrument the chance to go out in a blaze of glory. The first time I did it was more exhilerating than I can begin to explain. After that I was always on the lookout for other instruments deserving of an honorable death. I did this with Paper Bag as often as I could, and in fact the back cover of "Improvised My Ass" shows the end result of some of this handiwork. (See "Some Things About the cover of 'Improvised My Ass'" for more details.) And I never did it outside of Paper Bag- hence its presence here and not on my home page.


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