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Guitar smashing: cool or not cool? A Fender exec weighs in

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Phoebe Bridgers before smashing her guitar on SNL; Will Heath/NBC

Of all the many music debates of 2021, perhaps the most heated topic was whether or not it’s cool to smash a guitar, spurned on by Phoebe Bridgers destroying hers during her Saturday Night Live performance, and eventually led to her calling David Crosby a “little b****.”

As the EVP of Product at Fender, Justin Norvell is constantly working with guitars, so ABC Audio asked him if he had a take in the great guitar-smashing discourse.

“The guitar is what I call a sonic paintbrush,” Norvell replied. “It’s something for an artist to use, to create with.”

He continued, “So while people look at a guitar being smashed and [say], ‘That could go to someone else,’ or whatever, in that moment and what [an artist is] doing and how they’re feeling, if [smashing a guitar] encapsulates part of that [performance]…”

Norvell, who called ABC Audio to speak about Fender’s new Kurt Cobain Jag-Stang guitar, fondly remembers the Nirvana frontman’s penchant for guitar-smashing.

“I was lucky enough to go to a Nirvana show and did see Kurt smash a guitar over one of the In Utero angels at  their first show of the In Utero tour,” he recalled.

Ultimately, Norvell feels smashing a guitar is a “long-standing tradition” in rock.

“We’re all right with it,” he said. “But we also take a lot of pride in what we’re building and what we’re making. So there’s always a balance that we have to strike there.”

The Kurt Cobain Fender Jag-Stang is available now, but you might want to think twice before smashing it yourself — it costs $1,249.99.

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