“Now I’d like to introduce you to the band. On guitar…Buckethead! Also on guitar…Robin Finck! And playing the giant sounding baritone guitar…the incomparable Richard Fortus!” The crowd went absolutely crazy. “I know what you are asking, ‘What on earth is responsible for his amazing baritone sound?’ Let us all stand and observe a moment of silence as we pay homage to Richard’s Tom Anderson, Sparkle Gold, Baritom Classic—absolutely nothing compares.” The crowd rose to their feet as cigarette lighters ignited throughout the arena.
I awoke with a start. What an incredibly weird dream! And what band was that anyway? Oh well, it was time to head off to the Anderson factory—another joyous and musical day was at hand.
Imagine my surprise when I answered a call later that morning to hear the voice on the other end of the line say, “Hi, my name is Richard Fortus of Guns n’ Roses and I really need to get an Anderson Baritom.” After he convinced me that this wasn’t some kind of joke or another dream sequence, we got down to business. It seems as though Guns n’ Roses was to begin rehearsals very soon and Richard had a wish—a wish to play a Baritom, but he needed it as soon as possible. We wanted to oblige but it takes time to build an Anderson—even for an artist.
We needed Eric—Eric and the crack staff of Guitar Czar in Salt Lake City, Utah—Doug and Gary. His store is among an elite group of superlative Anderson Guitar dealers and was in possession of the only available Sparkle Gold, Baritom Classic in the world. They happily agreed to provide for Richard their beautiful instrument. We were very appreciative and asked that they sent it to us. At Richard’s request, Bruce swapped the stock Pearl White pickguard and three single coil layout for a Black pickguard with a single/single/hum pickup configuration to lend a bit more of a brutal look and sonic approach—although Richard was clear that his preference was for low-output vintage-type coils throughout.
Needless to say, we were very pleased when Richard called to say his new Baritom had completely knocked him out. To gain a more in-depth understanding of his Anderson experience, we asked if he would elaborate on a few pertinent points.
TAGW: What is you favorite flavor of cup cake?
Richard: Under my confidentiality agreement with Guns n' Roses, I'm not allowed to discuss preferences of cup cakes, nor any other type of pastries or baked goods and their flavors or types.
TAGW: Okay, forget that one.
Richard: What one?
TAGW: How did you get hooked up with Guns n’ Roses?
Richard: After years of their begging, pleading and general groveling, I finally succumbed and joined the band. Okay, okay…I had done a few sessions with Tommy Stinson (bassist from The Replacements) and Brain (ex-drummer from Primus). Tommy and I had been pretty good friends for awhile so when they were looking for someone, Tommy called and asked if I wanted to audition. At the time I was on the road in Europe so I had to fly from London to L.A. and then back to Ireland during a two day break. Got off the plane and went straight to the audition and then got back on a plane!
TAGW: How did you hear about Anderson guitars?
Richard: What!? You think I live under a rock or something? C’mon, I've been in every f*%@^!*! music store in this country at least twice. I've wanted an Anderson for at least 15 years!
TAGW: What made you decide you needed a Baritom at this time?
Richard: I wanted a baritone that had a longer scale and played in tune and had a humbucker in the lead position.
TAGW: Has the Baritom been a benefit to you?
Richard: The longer scale is great! It keeps the low-end really tight, not floppy at all. There is nothing heavier sounding than that guitar! Every session I've used it on, the producers lose their minds. Plus, it actually plays in tune! That's a first for any baritone I've ever used.
TAGW: Which songs do you play on the Baritom?
Richard: Haven't used it live yet with G n’ R. I'm going to use it on “Oh My God” and “Silkworms” (from the forthcoming Chinese Democracy record) live. I've used it in the studio on the new BT record and also on the new Deep Dish record.
TAGW: Are you still enjoying the pickups?
Richard: Love them. A coil tap that actually sounds good!
TAGW: Are you a native New Yorker?
Richard: No, I've lived here for the last 11 years. It is home to me, though I also have to spend a lot of my time in L.A.
TAGW: Are you rehearsing in NY?
Richard: Nope, I'm the only New Yorker; the rest of the band is west coast.
TAGW: When does the tour start?
Richard: Probably not going to start till early Fall when the record is released.
TAGW: How is the band sounding?
Richard: The band is unbelievable. It's like my dream band! Honestly, I couldn't have picked a better group of players.
TAGW: How has the sound of the band changed with you and the other guys making up the instrumentation?
Richard: It's a whole new thing. I never saw the old band. I never owned a Guns record till I got the gig. I think this is a completely different animal though. Don't know how to explain it, but I don't think there is a better guitar-band out there at the moment. How are you going to top Buckethead and Robin Finck? Playing with those guys has been the zenith of my career.
TAGW: Are you doing any singing and if so which songs?
Richard: I just sing back-ups on all the big choruses.
TAGW: What are some of your favorite bands?
Richard: Sorry man, don't have that much time. As far as new stuff that I'm listening to: The new King Krimson, The Music, Libertines, Greenhornes, Elbow, Shins, the re-issue of Ogden's Nut Gone Flake by the Small Faces, Spoon, Boards of Canada, Sigur Ros.
TAGW: If you were stranded on a desert island and could only have one guitar maker build you a custom electric guitar, which luthier would you choose?
Richard: How would I get the guitar? I'm not falling for that one!
TAGW: If you could give the world one gift, what would it be?
Richard: Actually finishing and releasing “CHINESE DEMOCRACY.”
Richard: Hope this answers everything. Damn man, I haven't had to do this much work even for the companies that give me gear for free!
• MODEL: – Baritom Classic
• FINISH: – Sparkle Gold
• BODY WOOD: – Alder
• BODY WOOD BACK COLOR: – same
• NECK WOOD: – Maple with Indian Rosewood Fingerboard
• HEADSTOCK COLOR: – Matching
• NECK BACK FINISH: – Satin
• NECK BACKSHAPE: – Baritom Standard
• NUT WIDTH: – 1 11/16ths
• SCALE LENGTH: – 28 5/8-inch
• FRETS: – Medium
• BRIDGE: – Vintage Tremolo
• TUNING GEAR: – Locking
• HARDWARE COLOR: – Chrome
• PICKGUARD: – Black
• NECK PICKUP: – SD1R-
• MIDDLE PICKUP: – SD1-
• BRIDGE PICKUP: – HO1+
• SWITCHING: – 5-Way with Master Split & Push/Pull Add-Bridge Switch—for 14 sounds
• PICKUP COVERS: – N/A
• PICKUP RINGS: – N/A
• STRING GAUGE REQUESTED: – .012-.068 Tuned B to B
• DESTINATION/LOCATION: – Guitar Czar/Salt Lake City, Utah