You might be surprised, but Eddie Vedder plays a lot of instruments, including different types of ukuleles. His music knowledge is a vast one and he lets it show through the instruments he plays. You will find more information about his style and instruments in this article.
As the vocalist of Pearl Jam, Eddie most often plays the electric guitar. Although when the band first started, the two guitarists Gossard and McCready had their respective roles, lead and rhythm, Vedder started to play guitar too and the trio had to accommodate for all of their styles. Sometimes the other 2 guitarists will pull back, allowing Vedder to perform some solos or some small parts.
His style of play resembles punk-oriented music, and that style helped the band progress through the years. Interestingly enough, Vedder said that through this style of play he hoped to make the music that the band produced less catchy, allowing them to steer away from unwanted attention from mainstream media and listeners.
He said that they didn’t want too much popularity, and that’s why they decided to do things their own way, although that may have resulted in fewer fans.
Amongst his electric guitars, one that he uses the most is a modified Telecaster. He often uses custom Telecasters and some of the ones he likes the most are black and fit a P90 pickup in the neck position.
He also uses a lot of Gibson standard models, but modified ones too. He does have a preference to modify his guitars and he rarely uses basic models. For the slower songs, he prefers using a Stratocaster, especially in live performances.
Although not really acoustic, hollow-body electric guitars are something that Vedder likes to play too. Most often he plays them in his solo tours, along with some great acoustic models. In terms of hollow-body instruments, he prefers the Gibson models as well, but when it comes to truly acoustic guitars, his tastes are varied.
He isn’t really known for being the best acoustic player, although he does do a great job when playing, just not that spectacular. That’s why his acoustic guitars aren’t known as well, but he tends to use older models, some of them being from the ’30s.
Vedder does like signature models when it comes to acoustic guitars and that’s why he owns and plays the Gibson J-180 Everly Brothers Signature guitar, and the Gibson J-200 Pete Townshend Signature Artist Series.
Tenor ukulele and the tululele
In an article in 2011, Vedder said shortly why he liked the ukulele – because it’s an activist instrument. That is one main point in his career, his viewpoints about society and his activist stance. He doesn’t always agree with the American system and how it impacts people’s lives and he tries to show that in his music.
This is where the uke comes in handy, especially when taking into account how he got to play the instrument. He first got one in the mid-’90s in a convenience store in Hawaii and took it as a small tool to help him in his travels and in songwriting. Proof of how much he got to like this instrument is in his second solo album named Ukulele Songs.
He was mesmerized by the instrument when he found a local guy playing it. The man was named Eddie and he looked like all he did his entire life was fish, but when he started playing “I Can’t Help Falling in Love With You” by Elvis on the ukulele, Vedder was impressed. He then acknowledged that the small instrument offered so many possibilities.
The artist uses the uke because he hopes it will inspire anyone to step away from their routine, television, and computers, and make some music of their own. It’s also a great instrument because it always brings a good mood amongst friends.
Furthermore, he says that the uke is something that helped him in his life and career, and if it wasn’t for the ukulele, he would have turned up a different person. That can be seen in the Ukulele Songs album, where you can feel that the music is more personal, a collection of mostly love songs.
One funny thing about the ukulele is that it always makes people sing along, as Vedder says. It appears to be such a small instrument, and the one who plays it seems that he or she needs help, so people just start to sing, to help out. Vedder uses this in his tours and plays the uke to provide something new to Pearl Jam encores.
The ukulele is an instrument that shows modesty, and that’s something that appeals to Vedder, using it to show his fans his appreciation. It’s always cool when an artist puts out an impressive guitar solo, but it’s more touching when the artist can connect to the people through the help of a small instrument.
Nowadays, Vedder prefers playing the Mya-Moe Striped Myrtle Tenor Classic Ukulele. He also got a gift from Mike McCready, his band-mate, in the form of the DeVine Tenor Ukulele. But even with ukes, Vedder can’t keep it to the basic ones, and he got some modified models as well. He likes playing the tululele, which is still a ukulele, but a Telecaster-shaped one.
This instrument combines the sound of the Hawaiian culture with the looks and feel of the classic electric guitar. The custom-built model from Earnest looks very much the same as the Telecaster electric guitar Vedder uses in his live shows.
Mandolin and banjo
Just before his solo tour that took place in 2008, Vedder released a song named Rise, which is played on mandolin. The whole album named Into the Wild is his debut solo album and is based on his contribution to the movie with the same name. As you might expect, the song and the album have a folk sound, and the mandolin is great for that.
In his tour meant to promote the album, Vedder also used a mandolin when playing this song, and the Collings MF F-Style model is the one he chose for the live shows.
The mandolin is a stringed instrument, most often played with a pick or plectrum, and it has 8 strings. These are usually tuned in perfect fifths, and when played, the instrument sounds like something between a guitar and a banjo.
Speaking about the latter, Vedder also played the banjo in his live tour, for the song “If you want to sing out, sing out”, which was a cover of Cat Stevens’ song from 1972. Associated with folk music, this instrument was great for the artist’s tour. Many rock artists including The Eagles and Led Zeppelin have used it with great effect in their recordings and live performances.
One of the less-known instruments that Eddie Vedder plays is the electric sitar. This is a combination of a guitar and a sitar, which is a traditional musical instrument originating from India. Because the classic sitar is very large and thus not so practical for live performances, many newer models of electric sitars often resemble the general shape of electric guitars.
The original sitar is a very complex instrument to learn, and if you ever hear Indian music, you should know that the “bending” sound that the music is known for, is mainly produced with the help of this instrument.
Modern electric sitars make the job of the player a lot easier. They have six strings, like the electric guitars, and only those are meant to be played. But they also have some sympathetic strings, that will produce sound when the body of the instrument resonates, and these strings give the effect and sound of the sitar.
Vedder plays this instrument in some live performances, and he’s seen playing one in a live version of the Pearl Jam song, Who You Are.