A Sublime Axology
For all you guitar junkies out there, here's a short side-article from an October 97, Guitar World magazine. It tells about Brad, and Eric's guitars.
Dan McDonald isn't a world famous guitar builder. He's not even regionally famous. Still, the guitar he built for his friend Brad Nowell- which he affectionately calls "the brown guitar"-- has been seen and heard by millions. A veteran of the Orange County band scene, McDonald played with longtime friends Eric Wilson, and Bud Gaugh in a band called Juice Bros. and did guitar repairs for friends before working for Sublime as the band's guitar and bass tech.
But McDonald had always wanted to make a guitar from scratch. Coincidentally, by early 1993, Nowell was desperately in need of a guitar. "He completely thrashed his Ibanez. It was hardly working."
McDonald built the "brown guitar" as a gift. "I wanted to build him something that he'd really love. That he'd use all the time," he says. Months later, McDonald emerged with the famous "brown guitar." It's a relatively straight-forward design; Honduran mahogany body and a maple neck with an ebony fretboard, Floyd Rose tremolo system, Gotoh tuners, and two humbucking pickups--a Seymour Duncan JB in the lead position and a leftover from a trashed Dean guitar for the neck. For the guitar's finish, McDonald used a water-based powder pigment that he let soak in the wood.
Nowell used his new guitar almost exclusively on the band's recent self-titled album (on which McDonald cites "Wrong Way" as being the song that best captures the instrument) and as his main stage guitar from 93' onward. Plugged into a Mesa Duel or Rectifier half-stack, it was the only axe Nowell needed for Sublime shows. "Actually," comments McDonald, "I would always have to keep the brown guitar up and running because when he'd break a string or if it went out of tune--which usually happen--I'd hand him the Ibanez and he'd look at me like 'Jeez!,' and he'd go back and fuck with the equalization on the Mesa."
McDonald also built Eric Wilson's green, ripper-inspired bass. Built entirely of Maple with an ebony fretboard, it uses a G&L humbucker in the middle and a Dimarzio Model 1 for the neck. Plugged straight into a SVT head and cabinet, "the green bass" was Wilson's favorite instrument; his workhorse Music Man was relegated to "backup" status. For the album, Wilson used the "green bass" for the reggae and dub-influenced songs, and the Music Man on punk tunes.