Cure, The (Robert Smith)/Bob's obscure guitars
Good day to you,
I was wondering what you knew about the Dubrille guitar which Robert received? Porl got one too around 88/89.
I spoke with Phillipe after one of my gigs (and was lucky enough to use one of his custom amps!) And he told me about making it for Robert.
I thought you might have some info about Robert & Porl's use of these instruments around that time.
Thanks for your question.
All I know about these guitars made by French luthier Philippe Dubreuille for Smith and Thompson appeared in the press round 1989 or 1990. I remember the French magazine "Guitares et Claviers" reported about this guitar (Smith's one).
The story says that Dubreuille met Smith and Thompson backstage after a concert in 1989. He brought a guitar and a book of his models. Thompson was immediately really interested in trying one. So Dubreuille was invited to come back to attend the soundcheck the next day in order to allow Porl to play a kind of double cutaway Les Paul. I don't know if it was taken the same day, but I remember a picture showing Smith and Thompson trying Dubreuille's Telecasters fitted with Dobro resonator. All in all, there are pics showing this double cutaway Les Paul-ish guitar was used in France in June 1989. I don’t know much about its specs, though, except it’s certainly mahogany with a single bridge pickup (looking like a TV Jones TV-HT), single pot (certainly volume), a strange kind of Bigsby B5-ish tremolo and that the hardware was gold plated.
As for Smith’s one, it was delivered a bit later, just in time for the American leg of the Prayer Tour (some pictures show that the guitar was used on-stage at some point between the end of August and September 1989). At the beginning, Smith was hesitating between a large hollowbody and a violin shaped model. Dubreuille came back with a large hollowbody, inspired by Gretsch guitars (as Smith eventually requested, even though the end result is very far from ant known Gretsch, ahahahahah !). For this one, the specs revolves around thinline maple top / back and sides body, mahogany neck and center block, ebony fingerboard with special « half moons » inlays and a single really large Dubreuille’s signature soundhole. By Smith’s request, the guitar was fitted with a humbucker at neck position and 2 single coils pickups in bridge and middle positions (looking like Telecaster neck pickups, but just because they feature nickel covers, so do not take that for sure). All pickups are Seymour Duncan. The electronics include 3 mini toggle switches (I assume they are pickups on / off). The guitar was also fitted with a Bigsby B7 tremolo. Dubreille stressed on the point that he had to work hard on it because Smith used heavy gauge string sets (11-56). Of course, the guitar came in black, which is the only finish accepted by Smith for his axes (at least by then).
Smith allowed Dubreuille to make 25 of these, but I have no idea if he ever reached this number (however good the guitar is, one has to say it’s really strange looking, certainly not Mr Everybody's guitar). The price quote by 1990 was £5500 (sorry Mr Everybody...), so I guess it remained quite confidential. Anyway, it would be interesting to know if there still are some opportunities left to get a copy of it (at a price that may now reach the £10K neighbourhood, geee...).
If you want to see some pics of these guitars :
Porl’s one : https://www.google.fr/search?q=Porl+thompson+dubreuille&biw=551&bih=400&tbm=isch&tbo=u&source=univ&sa=X&ei=cendVIW-B4ee7gb88YDoDQ&ved=0CCMQsAQ&dpr=0.9 (second pic appearing is the one)
Smith’s one : https://www.google.fr/search?q=Porl+thompson+dubreuille&biw=551&bih=400&tbm=isch&tbo=u&source=univ&sa=X&ei=cendVIW-B4ee7gb88YDoDQ&ved=0CCMQsAQ&dpr=0.9#tbm=isch&q=robert+smith+dubreuille
This website shows interesting pics too : http://www.musiquiatra.com/index.php?/topic/46923-dubreuille-guitars-london/
Also, The Cure 2004 self-titled CD came with a bonus DVD featuring some « faux live » videos of the recording sessions. Smith’s Dubreuille can be seen and heard there, drowned in Smith’s hopeless wah experiments, playing an instrumental version of « The Promise ». Quite sure this video can be found on Youtube.
As for saying these guitars were used extensively during the 1989 tour or later, it's harder to say : all I can tell you is that I personally never saw them used on stage, except on pics and only in 1989 (even though I saw The Cure quite a large number of times between 1989 and 2000).
Here you are, I hope the answer helps.