Cure, The (Robert Smith)/Guitars used on Disintegration


hiya Wid,

Sorry to bother you with another question so soon. I know a reasonable amount about The Cure's gear, particularly live, but just nowhere near as much as you!

I know live around the time of Disintegration Robert was using the Newport and Bass VI but the film clip for Fascination St shows him with a Coral electric sitar. Do you know if this is what was used on the recording for some of the riffs?

Also, was the body of the album recorded with the Newport and the Gibbo Chet Atkins? Or something else.

I've tried looking but can only find interviews in guitar mags in English (which I am fortunate enough to have picked up in second hand bookstores) from 1992 onwards.

Many thanks for your efforts again.


Hi Paul,

Thanks for the question. No worries, I must have answered a couple of questions in the last year and they were yours ! Ahahahahah !

What's quite amazing, despite Disintegration was recordad at the peak of the curemania is that very few info leaked from the studio : no real reports before the tour rehearshals, it all remained really confidential (which by this time was a performance !).

So it's really all about assuming the kind of gear they used during this recording. A thing for sure is that it mainly revolves around Fender Bass VI. I remember about an article published by French magazine "Guitares & Claviers" (might be may 89 issue) where Smith said the musical skeleton of the LP was mainly Bass VI. No wonder, it can be heard all around. If you want some more info here is an interview of producer Dave Allen, remembering about Robert's 6 Fender Bass VI used in the studio (only one being extensively used) : . No mystery, Fender Bass VI is the backbone of this LP.

As for other guitars, I really think the National (not a Newport, bu a Val-Pro 88) was used during the recording sessions. I can't see why Smith would have suddenly relied on that guitar for concerts if it had not been the signature sound of the album. All in all, concerts sounded pretty much like studo recordings. So I might be wrong, but I really think it was used on the album. Its array of sound is really amazing with the piezo pickup at the bridge : I'm quite sure Smith used this one.

As for the Coral Sitar, I also think it was used. The most obvious is on "Pictures of you" where it can be heard clearly (even though it was played with a synth onstage, maybe with the same sample used 2 years earlier on "If only tonight we could sleep", even though no Ensoniq Mirage was not used in 1989... but Roger's wide rig could play any sample by then). I'm not so sure about "Fascination street", but Porl's main riff might be doubled with a Coral Sitar (very low in the mix, though). Porl played a Coral Sitar for sure on stage, try and find Paris concerts encores : "All cats are grey" is full of Coral. Further use on the record, it is really hard to say.   

Other guitars ? Well, I'm quite sure a Fender Electric XII was used for "Pictures of you". Porl played it live with a Danelectro Bellzouki 12-string guitar, but the original recording sure doesn't sound like a Dano.

I really doubt a Gibson Country Gentleman (C. Atkins) was used during these sessions. This guitar came later in 1992. In this 1992 interview, Smith stated it was his "new guitar" ( If a Gibson was used by Smith, I'd say the black SG Custom would be the most likely (and here again, that's more a guess than anything else).

Not to be forgotten is Smith's Custom Legend 12-string (model 1759) on "Homesick".

Other guitars again ? Well, everything and anything they had by then and before. Porl for sure used his Gibson ES-175 and 345, but where and when ? Good question only someone being in the studio could answer ("Fascination Street" is definitely 345). Also most certainly, there is some Fender Telecaster around (once again, this twang on "Pictures of you" is unmistakable). I don't think Smith's Jazzmaster were used there.

All in all, drown any guitar in heavy modulation effects (this LP sure drips with AMS 1580S), reverbs and delays, and you'd get the same result. This album soaks CE-2 / CE-3 / BF-2 and also most certainly DC-2 (or Roland SDD-320 in the studio). Another thing for sure is that Smith used a Boss DSD-2 or DSD-3 pedal (quoting him "a clever Boss sampling delay"). Listen to the bass riff on Disintegration : no doubt the DSD was used in there.

Also, a funny thing : it looks like Allen sampled Boris's kick and that a single sample was used all over the album. Hard to believe, but might be part of the legendary sound...    

Hope the answer helps.


Cure, The (Robert Smith)

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READ THIS CAREFULLY BEFORE ASKING !!! I will answer any kind of query about their music & instruments. I won't answer questions about private life. Just don't ask or the questions will be rejected. Be sure I won't waste my time explaining why. I'm not able and (above all) not willing to answer questions about their wives (please subscribe to the Sunday Sun for this kind of questions, you may find answers). Sounds crazy to write that but I've received some really stupid queries about this subject lately... Other point of interest before you send questions : I'm not a psychanalyst. All questions revolving around you loving Robert as a dad (or lover) are no questions but matter of fact. I'll be delighted not to answer these queries... Last but not least : I won't answer people who don't even care reading replies (yeah, strange, but some "people" do that, showing the interest they put in their own questions and how the respect the time given by volunteers...). No read or rate ? no further questions answered !


Cure fan since 1981, semi-pro musician


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