The ‘Show Us Your Junk’ series from Earthquaker Devices is a dangerous rabbit hole to fall down on YouTube. From legendary figures like Devo’s Mark Mothersbaugh to all-time great producers like Steve Albini and Sylvia Massy, the series can easily suck you in until it’s multiple hours have passed and you realise that all you’ve done is look at guitar pedals.
But the best subjects have a variety of weird and wacky finds that would make even experienced gear heads scratching their heads. That’s what Lee Ranaldo, former guitarist for noise rock gods Sonic Youth, brings to the table during his appearance on the series.
For over 30 years, Ranaldo and Thurston Moore were a two-headed monster of fuzz, noise, alternate tunings, and riffage. Although both could be aggressive and highly experimental in their playing, Ranaldo was often the slightly more technical of the two, bringing a mad scientist attitude to the band that contrasted with Moore’s wild rock and roll background.
More than anything else, Moore approaches his instruments and tools like a kid playing with his favourite toys. The smile on his face when he shows off insanely off-kilter noise boxes like the ‘Slicie’ or the clanging wall of gongs that bandmate Steve Shelley would play is proof that Ranaldo was all about having fun in his recording process.
The best item that Ranaldo highlights is a sixteen string guitar with an inlaid penis on the headstock, courtesy of Albini himself. The drone instrument was gifted to Sonic Youth as a thank you from Albini in 1990. A few months after Ranaldo’s epidote of the series aired, Albini did his own episode where he showed off a replica of the original guitar that he keeps in his own studio, Electrical Audio.
Check out Lee Ranaldo’s episode of ‘Show Us Your Junk’ down below.