Why Mike Rutherford Plays $140 Guitar at Genesis Shows
He discovered the Squier Bullet Stratocaster during lockdown in South Africa and was so impressed with its performance that he’s added several more to his road rig.
“I’ve just bought him a couple of others which I’ve found rather cheaply in the clearance section at Guitar Guitar in Newcastle [England],” his roadie Steve Prior told Guitar Player in a recent interview. “They were only about [$138] each! I mean they’re unbelievably good guitars for the money. ... His favorite one is an unusual color; it’s a limited-edition finish called Sonic Grey. … Mike bought the guitar in a shop in Cape Town because he forgot to take his black Clapton Strat with him on a visit. He actually bought two.
“Sitting at home in Cape Town … Mike just fell in love with it, playing along to his laptop and relearning all the Genesis songs. That was him for almost all of the first lockdown because he wasn’t allowed out of Cape Town. … He came back saying how much he loved this guitar.”
Prior noted that he’s upgraded some of the guitar’s hardware “just to make it more reliable for the tour,” and he’s improved the electric pickups ‘“in case we get any interaction with the stage's enormous 70-feet LCD screen” – something most instruments at that price level would never have to deal with. “He can’t put the Sonic Grey one down,” the tech said. “It’s the first guitar he wants to play every day, and he uses it for some big songs in the Genesis set including ‘No Son of Mine’ and ‘Mama.'”
He explained that Rutherford wasn’t bothered by the entry-level reputation of Squier, which is owned by the Fender company. “I asked him if he’d like me to take the Squier decal off the headstock, but he said he wanted it to stay," Prior said. "Fender are probably over the moon about that!”