It’s not uncommon to hear Chris Buck’s name mentioned when the subject of YouTube phenoms comes up. His superb playing coupled with his extensive knowledge of gear and guitar history make Buck a compelling content creator. But Buck is way beyond his successful YouTube channel. His playing routinely garners praise from heavyweights such as Joe Bonamassa and Steve Winwood, and his work with his band Cardinal Black has led to a #1 single and a #1 album. Buck owns an impressive collection of instruments, and one that gets a ton of action is his custom Yamaha Revstar.
“My custom Revstar has been at the heart of Cardinal Black from the word go,” he says. “It’s the guitar in the video for ‘Tell Me How It Feels’ that we used to announce the band and it’s been on every recording session and gig with me ever since: Shepherd’s Bush Empire with Myles Kennedy, the Royal Albert Hall with Peter Frampton, countless festivals around Europe, etc. More than any other guitar I’ve ever owned, it feels like my guitar.”
Despite his affinity for time-honored, vintage designs and the music created on them, Buck embraced the idea of going with something different with his partnership with Yamaha. “I thought the fact that the Revstar wasn’t derived from any of the classic guitar designs that most manufacturers gravitate towards was particularly interesting,” he explains. “It’s cool to see a company looking forward rather than back. Also, the chance to play a model that didn’t come with any baggage was refreshing. To become indelibly associated with a model of guitar is pretty rare in this day and age.”
Buck deliberately went with a goldtop vibe for his custom guitar, and insisted that his Revstar be finished in nitrocellulose lacquer. Those design considerations helped contribute to a deeper and more personal relationship with the instrument. “I love poly, but nitrocellulose has this incredible capacity to age commensurately with its owner, especially when it’s gold. The checking, the wear patterns, the slight greening—it all speaks to my shared history with this guitar and the places and climates it’s been. That will only continue to evolve. I think that’s such a cool process.”
Although he clearly had definite ideas of what his custom guitar should be, Buck was fine with letting Yamaha’s luthiers work their magic with fairly little input from him. “I was relatively specific when it came to what I was looking for, but with such situations, I’m always fearful that if I try to micromanage every detail or facet, it’ll impede the process in some way,” he says. “Most of us love and play guitars that we had zero input in designing or making, so at some point, it’s better to accept that the people who build these things for a living probably know the process better than you! Aside from the rough specs, I was happy to give the guys at the custom shop free rein. I’d rather it be a guitar that was enjoyable to make as opposed to a chore, working through a list of arbitrary requests, as I feel that’d be reflected in the outcome.”
Buck’s Revstar is all over Cardinal Black’s debut album, January Came Close, and it has been pressed into service on every gig and session since, including at such hallowed venues as Abbey Road. Fans will have ample opportunity to see and hear Buck’s beloved Revstar for years to come, as his appreciation for it, which was instantaneous, only seems to grow with time. “The first thing that struck me was how familiar it felt. It not only felt like an old guitar, but my old guitar. I’ve been lucky enough to have had a few custom guitars in the past, and there’s invariably a process of getting to know each other. But this one immediately felt like a guitar that I’d owned for years. I’ve since put several thousand miles on it and that’s only served to strengthen my connection with it.”
Enjoy the official video for Cardinal Black’s ‘Tell Me How it Feels’, in which Chris plays his custom Yamaha Revstar guitar: