Perhaps the only thing you need to get that Johnny Thunders tone is anything looking like a pickup plugged into anything similar to a pickup plugged into a potentiometer knob set to full volume...but remember, that won’t even come close to what you’ll need to be Johnny Thunders; and that’s something that the innumerable imitators of our today’s protagonist have had hard time learning about since he lit up the stages in the East coast of the USA back in the 70’s alongside the New York Dolls.
However, we want to analyse that tone because we are Guitars Exchange and we need to shine a bit of light on those new imitators, yes, he still has imitators , and we want to go beyond the flashy new leather jacket and the perfectly ripped t-shirts that were secretly bought in a large department stores, we want to make it easy for these young fellows to find the gear of the guy who now shows them the way... and while we’re at it, we offer this as service to all lovers of that first punk rocker who knows what the sound of a pissed off guitar is really like.
Basically we link the image of Thunders with the single P-90 pickup Gibson Les Paul T.V. With or without stickers and with a relic based on abusing this guitar show after show, that chunk of wood, and the sound that came out of it could well deserve him the honour of being the creator of a new style called punk which would shake the whole world at the time, and whose seismic movements are still felt today.
But what we’ve been able to verify is that it wasn’t that guitar he used on his first album, New York Dolls, but rather a single cutaway Gibson Les Paul Special with 2 pickups in place of one; so for our guy from Queens to get that sound that he wanted it was evident that he had one too many pickups, and some other potentiometer knob, so he ended up going for the simplest model, two of which he may have played mainly throughout the years, both models from the late 50s.
His most distorted sounds came not from pedals but rather by cracked up the amplifier volume. We have found many photos where we can see a few Fender Twin Reverb and also some where you can clearly see a Marshall cabinet and head.
The Holy Trinity of Punk (the Ramones, Sex Pistols, and The Clash) made him a reference to imbue the material that made punk public enemy #1 in the late 70s. Little more can be said of the man who made a complete new generation believe that through attitude the world could be conquered and you could be someone in this music thing. They forgot that behind this Johnny Thunders attitude was a gigantic trove of talent... and that’s not something you can buy in a department store.