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Canadian Musicians Show Off the Instruments They Can’t Live Without | Exclaim

Like someone who still owns the blanket they came home from the hospital with, many musicians have treasured pieces of equipment that they just can’t part with, no matter how janky and broken-down the instruments get.

We reached out to some Canadian artists about the ole reliable pieces of gear they can’t live without — and they responded with everything from toy keyboards and rickety guitar adaptors to snazzy synths and custom speaker sets. From the sleek to the extremely humble, here are the instruments that Canadian musicians have come to rely on.

Charlie Kerr of Hotel Mira
Recording King acoustic guitar

Photo courtesy of Charlie Kerr

Of all the artists we asked about their instrument, Hotel Mira singer-guitarist Charlie Kerr is the only one with such a janky instrument that he’s literally throwing it in the photo. It’s a cheap Recording King guitar purchased at Rufus Guitar Shop in Vancouver during a lockdown, and while it “started off sounding sweet,” it has since broken down to the point that the 11th fret produces only a buzzing sound.

“I wrote a lot of great songs on it, and if a song idea can still stand on its merits while being played by me — poorly — on this piece of shit, it’s probably an idea worth pursuing,” Kerr says. “I love having guitars around like a writer likes having pencils or a painter likes brushes. Of course, having a high-quality tool at your disposal is ideal, if not inspirational, but if one needs to get an idea out, in a pinch, we’ll finger paint. And I do my best finger painting on this loser.”

Hear the finished result of Kerr’s finger painting on recent singles “Fever Pitch” and “Time and Time Again.”

Stef Johnson of Mise en Scene
Simon & Patrick acoustic guitar

Photo courtesy of Stef Johnson

Stef Johnson, singer-guitarist of Manitoba indie rockers Mise en Scene, named her first acoustic guitar Doris Mary after her grandmothers. Her parents gave it to her after she began teaching herself the instrument — and now it’s so well-loved that it barely stays in tune. “I would never get rid of this guitar since I’ve written almost all my songs on it,” says Johnson. “Doris Mary will never die!” Doris Mary lives on thanks to the new singles “Nicer” and “You Feel Good.”