Al Anderson - NRBQ's Big Man of the Telecaster - Ask Zac 99

April 17, 2020

NRBQ was one of the most talented, versatile, and wacky groups to ever play together. From 1971-1994, Big Al Anderson held the guitar seat, usually with a Telecaster in hand. Al's singing, writing, and playing helped define the group during his 23-year stay, yet he was to go on to even greater heights as a hit songwriter in Nashville, TN. In today's spotlight, we cover his story, some bits of his playing, and the gear he has used through the years.

Tom Bukovac demonstrating Al's rhythm guitar style

Here are some further comments on Al's guitars from his repairman Christian Rubenbauer:

"Ok...  from the top.... On the cover of the 45 Little Al..  he's playing a Valco Made Stencil guitar...   His mother bought him a Guild X-350 which he still has today.  The first Telecaster you mentioned in your video and the Second Telecaster mentioned is the same Telecaster.  #4943.  I named it Sweat Brown.  Its a 53' with a 70's replecement neck.  It seems that Phil Collison ran over the Guitar in its case after a show. Thus the replacement neck.  I bought it from Al around 88 or 1989. Sold it to Jimmy Velvet at the Rock and Roll Museum in Florida, then he sold it to the Hard Rock Cafe'.. god only knows where it is today.    The Early American 52' Reissue was stolen in NYC after the David SanbornIt's on Youtube, Al plays Crazy Like a Fox.. Gig along with Joey's Danelectro Longhorn Bass.  The Tele was recovered with the help of Richied Freedman of WE BUY GUItars on 48 th street.  Sadly the Bass was never recovered.  Then Al lost it again after a recording gig in the City.  In front of the record Plant.  It's lost to the wilds of NYC. Back to the 53' for a quick moment.  Danny Gatton refretted it once, and Danny told Al... all about those little white teardrop picks..  And Danny told Al, that the Comfort contour front and back, looked factory.  He wore out the space between the Trebele side of the bridge and the Control plate with his fingertips.

Oh yeah, the White Strat on Nashville Now, was a borrowed guitar from LaSalle Music in East Hartford.  He's Never been a Guitar Hound, really.  He  likes a Guitar, he generally Sticks with one.  OH yeah, That Chocolate Super was purchased at Real Guitars in San Fransisco.  he loves that place. He picked up the MOP Fingerboard parlor there also.  Gibson Gave him that Gold Top.   That Gretsch 6120 has quite a story to tell.   He bough that in an old family run store in Walpole Massachusetts.  Gave it to me for a set up.. truss rod snapped immediately.  replaced that and he's been thrilled ever since.  The Pink Pailsley IDK.. where he bought it.. I put a Hipshot Detuner on it.. The entire band preferred the BAAAAWWWWW sound of dropping to D or C.  My favorite thing Al said in regard to the Pink Paisley, was "If its good enough for James Burton, It's good enough for me."

Spotify Playlist

Gear for this video:

1957 Fender Esquire with an added neck pickup. Restoration and aging on the body by Dan "Danocaster" Strain. Bridge pickup re-wind by Ron Ellis

Strings: D'Addario NYXL 10-46

Pick: D'Andrea MH 351

Amp: Fender '62 Princeton Amp - Chris Stapleton Edition

Effects used:

Boss DM-2 Delay

Boss VB-2W  Vibrato