As the new Farida GNA TV models near completion, Sam Salisbury caught up with Freddie Cowan for a chat about guitars…
With a packed summer schedule that sees The Vaccines play gigs and festivals across Europe and the US, taking in Glastonbury, The Rolling Stones’ Hyde Park gigs and V Festival on the way, guitarist Freddie Cowan is a very busy man.
Somehow, he managed to design an amazing new guitar whilst dealing with sell-out gigs, and hit albums, too. The Farida GNA TV is a beautiful thing to behold.
Freddie managed to find some between the many gigs, to answer a few questions about how he arrived at his finished, stunning guitar design.
Hi Freddie. Your new guitar has been getting a lot of attention ever since the first images of the prototype appeared. I guess you could say that it’s a slightly more unusual design – what made you decide on this body shape?
Freddie Cowan (FC) : At the end of the ‘Come Of Age’ sessions, Ethan Johns gave the band a guitar that was the same shape. So, when I saw the GT model it felt like the right way to go.
Aside from the body shape, how many other guitars have influenced aspects of this model?
FC: Predominately my Strats, which, to me, are the most versatile of guitars. I seem to live mostly on the middle pickup, and there aren’t many other solid body guitars that incorporate that 5-point switching approach.
When did you first start playing the guitar?
FC: Since before I can remember it was always part of my life – but I guess I didn’t start playing properly until I discovered a real love for guitar music, around the age of 12.
Which players would you say have had the greatest influence on your playing since you picked up the guitar, back then?
FC: Early on it was Jimmy Page, Hendrix, Richards… the usual suspects. Now, I would say my favourite player is Robert Fripp. I’m always hoping to hear a different approach, and he never disappoints.
The switching options on the guitar seem to match the slightly more left-field design of the guitar. How did you arrive at such and unusual pick-up and wiring combination?
FC: I wanted a heavier sound, so I chose the humbuckers, but I was very aware I didn’t want too much of a rock tone, so, the wiring was designed to lighten the sound a little.
The second wiring option is really a nod to the origin of the GT’s shape – the old National and Airline models made by Sears in the 50s and 60s. There’s an enormous palate of sounds to play with.
Yeah, we noticed! What was your first impression of the prototype?
FC: It was love at first sight really. Very easy to play, and the sound was spot on.
How well has the Farida’s sound fitted in with the band live?
It’s taken the place of the Strat in all the one-guitar songs, and the heavier stuff off the second album. It occupies a lot more space. Our soundman loves it…
You made a few changes to the original prototype- what were they, and why did you make them?
FC: I wasn’t happy with the colours and scratch plate. Basically it sounded better than it looked, so we got to work fixing that.
The new look is great.
There are two versions of the GNA TV – a first for an Artist Designed Farida model. What was the reasoning behind this?
FC: Quite simply, to make one more affordable – but there are very few differences between models. Essentially, the deluxe comes without a Bigsby and the pick-ups are made in house (*The Pro model has Seymour Duncan SH2 Jazz pickups – Joe).
How did you find the design process?
FC: Enjoyable. Sam at Farida is an utter saint – we must have been working in this for nearly a year together!
Thanks for your time, Freddie.
The Deluxe model is priced at £399, with the Bigsby and Seymour Duncan equipped Pro model priced at £899. No more than 25 individually numbered units will ever be available of these guitars.
For more information or to pre-order, call our customer services team on 01925 582420.
Joe is a contributor for the Dawsons Music blog. Specialising in product reviews and crafting content to help and inspire musicians of all musical backgrounds.