Bat Strat

From SPCodex, The Smashing Pumpkins wiki
Bat Strat
Guitar used by Billy Corgan
No. of frets21
PickupsLace Sensor
Year built1990
First played1991–1992
Last playedJuly 27, 2010

The Bat Strat is a famous 1957 Fender Stratocaster reissued guitar built in 1990, owned and played by Billy Corgan. It was his go-to guitar for most of the 1990s. Outfitted with Lace Sensor pickups, it is far from an average Stratocaster. It gets its name from the many stickers of bats on the body of the guitar. In later years, it also had the famous "BORN TO LOSE" sticker on it, which became a motto so-to-speak among fans, with dedicated merchandise and a Bat Strat mini replica released in June 2023.[1][2]

The guitar was chiefly used live during the Siamese Dream and Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness eras, but Corgan has been on record stating the Bat Strat can be heard as early as the Gish-era tours, and after Mellon Collie it would be used again to record Zeitgeist, Teargarden by Kaleidyscope, Oceania and Monuments to an Elegy.

Siamese Dream era[edit | edit source]

Corgan and his Bat Strat, August 14, 1993

During the recording of Siamese Dream, Corgan no longer had his go-to Stratocaster used on Gish, as it was stolen after a 1992 show in Detroit. He instead used what later became known as the Bat Strat.

The guitar began as a 57' American Vintage Reissue (AVRI) Stratocaster with a two-tone tobacco sunburst body with Lace Sensor pickups. The pickups are Lace Sensor Blue in the neck position, Silver in the middle, and Red at the bridge position,[4] though black in color. This unadulterated early version, which Corgan played heavily during the Rock Invasion tour, is commonly confused as an Eric Clapton reissue. However Corgan's guitar has 21 frets, while Clapton's have 22.[5] It has the stock vintage tuners, and a Gotoh hipshot drop D tuner installed aside the low E. Being an AVRI, the guitar had only a three-way pickup selector switch, which Corgan personally replaced with a five-way switch.[4]

As for the finish, the guitar had red Shaprie around each Lace pickup and some around the knobs and the switch. The pick guard was originally a one-play stock whiteguard, but was at some point colored in with black felt or whiteboard marker, explaining why it seemed to frequently rub out.

Eventually the sunburst body was completely covered with silver paint, though finish was somewhat lumpy at first. Towards the end of the Siamese Dream era and into the Mellon Collie era, the finish appeared more uniform as if it was sprayed on. It is known that Corgan would color in his pick guards after shows, so it is likely he personally resprayed the guitar.

Sometime during the Siamese Dream era, the "Honk If You Hate People Too" sticker first appeared on the body, along with the Frances Meyer bat stickers which gave the guitar its name. After much playing, the guitar would see wear below its left horn on the body and the marker would fade, only being present on the right corners of the guard and the center by the pickups. A "BORN TO LOSE" vinyl sticker would soon replace the previous bumper sticker, and a square sticker on the bottom center would be added at some point. This was the state of the guitar as of the band's performance at the 1994 MTV Music Video Awards.

Mellon Collie era and beyond[edit | edit source]

Bat Strat with the "Squier" logo duct taped over.

Corgan resprayed the bottom front of the body, re-adding the "BORN TO LOSE" and bat stickers. The guitar would keep this general form throughout the Infinite Sadness tour, except the pick guard was never colored black again and the bat stickers would slowly peel off. This created a stencil-like cutout where the bat stickers used to be.

Later during the Infinite Sadness tour, Corgan had Graph Tech saddles installed. The original stock AVRI neck was completely replaced with a Squier neck. As Squier was and to some degree still is a budget guitar, Corgan put duct tape over on the headstock to hide the logo, and wrote "CORGAN" (or possibly "CROGAN" or "CPOGAN") on it. The hipshot drop E tuner was also missing during this time.

The last time the guitar was known to be played live was the July 27, 2010 benefit show at the Metro. Speculation suggests Corgan had no gear for the show as it was planned last minute, so he ended up pulling a lot of dated gear out of storage, including the Bat Strat. The guitar appeared nearly identical as it did in 1996, except much of the spray paint had worn and turned into more of a concrete gray color. The pick guard had also lost most of its black marker, practically becoming solid white again. The "BORN TO LOSE" sticker was mildly worn down and creased. The Graph Tech saddles had also been replaced with standard issue Fender saddles.

A photo of the guitar from sometime after the Metro fundraiser showed it had a new, a spaghetti logo-issued neck, which is possibly an AVRI neck or original late 50s / 60s neck as Corgan has been known to use. The black roller string tee was reinstalled, along with vintage tuners and the original low E Gotoh hipshot drop D tuner.

References[edit | edit source]

  3. Kareska, Christopher. "The Gear of The Smashing Pumpkins". Reverb. Retrieved August 18, 2023.
  4. 4.0 4.1 Schiebel, Christopher (April 3, 2023). "Billy Corgan Guitars and Gear List (2023 Update)". Guitar Lobby. Retrieved August 18, 2023.
  5. "Smashing Pumpkins Billy Corgan "Bat Strat" ?". The Gear Page. Retrieved August 18, 2023.