Rick Froberg’s Harmony Bobkat

A guitar owned by one of my favourite singers & guitarist… the awesome Rick Froberg.

Last night, I had the absolute pleasure of sharing a gig with one of my favourite bands, the Obits… fronted by Rick Froberg, aka the singer from Drive Like Jehu & the Hot Snakes. I’d met Rick back in 2005 when my band supported the Hot Snakes on their Aussie tour, so it was really cool catching up with him again and talk guitars. He’s such a chilled out dude… it was a great day.

Rick’s weapon of choice is a Harmony Bobkat, loaded with Dearmond Goldfoil pickups, which basically ARE the Hot Snakes (and Obits) sound.

These pickups are kind of a cross between a P-90 and a Danelectro lipstick singlecoil.I first heard about them as Speedo had them fitted to his Dragon Les Paul, and that guitar sounds amazing.

So I copied the idea and shoved one into my Les Paul Custom. It transformed the whole guitar… instead of a muddy neck humbucker (which I hate) the guitar now has twang and clarity. These pickups are just beautiful sounding.

Rick says they vary a bit, so he has a stash of them at home that he has collected over the years. This particular BobKat was bought very cheap from eBay, due to the previous owner getting ripped off by an unscrupulous guitar repairer. He’d played the guitar in a guitar store (or something) then by the time he got it home found that the Goldfoils had been replaced for some dead pickups. Not happy, he sold it off cheap. Rick got it and fitted two of his spares into it and it sounds great! This guitar through a Fender Deluxe Reverb (no pedals) has THAT Obits sound.

These guitars are very light… I thought they were made of ash or light maple, but Rick pointed out that they’re plywood with a laminate around the edge to hide the cheap wood. This also has a pretty big neck, which Rick prefers.

Rick mainly plays with the neck pickup for his rhythm sounds, then hits the bridge for his twang ‘lead’ parts. I asked if he breaks strings much as he really hits his guitar hard, but he says that due to the wooden bridge, that isn’t a problem.This guitar is pretty stock… original tuners and bridge. The only thing Rick has done is make a new scratchplate for it.

Rick also tried out my Maton Fyrbyrd (which I was playing that night) and loved it.

He was really surprised that Australia had made such cool guitars in the 60’s (he’d never heard of Maton) and spent some time playing through my amp, trying out the pickup combinations and the rotary choke switch. He loved the neck, as it felt a little similar to his BobKat. It was a bit wild seeing Rick playing some Obits-style riffs on my guitar and through my amp… it sounded like Rick. Just goes to show that it’s all in the fingers.

He asked me to keep a look out for a Fyrbyrd for him if one comes up for sale, but when I told him what they were going for now he said not to worry. I said if I found a cheap one… it’s his. Thanks to Rick & The Obits for a great night. I’d been looking forward to this gig for months and it didn’t disappoint. Now, roll on December and the Hot Snakes!