’10,000 Confused People Just Staring at Me’: Bumblefoot Recalls His Guitar Falling Apart Mid-Show

Ron “Bumblefoot” Thal looked back on one of his weirdest on-stage moments. While appearing in a recent edition of “The Heavy Hooks Show,” Bumblefoot recalled how one of his guitars started falling apart during a live set, right at the moment when he was doing his solo spot.

“I had this guitar that looked like a foot,” Thal recalled while recalling some of his “Spinal Tap moments” over his career (transcribed by Killer Guitar Rigs). “It looks like ‘The Adventures of Bumblefoot’ character on that album — like this human foot with black and yellow stripes, a stinger, and bee wings.”

Ron Thal (Bumblefoot) interview (2023)

The album Ron mentioned here is his debut solo record from 1995. And the foot-shaped guitar is something he had from the late 1990s, but we’ll get to that later.

“I had a guitar that was like it,” he continued, “where you push down the vibrato bar and it would make the wings pop out. So I was taking the solo — I think it was either in Istanbul or Athens; I forget which one, it was one of those shows — and I’m on stage by myself.”

Bumblefoot didn’t mention which band it was or when this happened. It was most likely with Guns N’ Roses in the mid-2000s, but we’ll also get to that later. He continued:

“And it’s one point I’m just making all these crazy noises with the guitar, and then suddenly, I see the bottom wing just going [down]. It’s just sitting there, and it’s just flopping down.”

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And things weren’t looking good for his flying foot guitar at that moment, as he recalled:

“I look at my feet, and I see all these pieces of little strips of wood at my feet. I’m like, ‘Oh, no’. And I just look up and I see 10,000 confused people just staring at me, like, waiting to see what I do next.”

Fortunately, Ron is a down-to-earth guy, and he knows how to deal with this properly:

“And I think I did some kind of little dance. Then I went like that, I walked off, I switched guitars, and then I just kept playing and did everything.”

Ron Thal - Guitar Demonstration January 2008

The guitar in question, which was falling apart in his hands as he was playing, was initially conceived by Patrice Vigier, the man behind French guitar brand Vigier Guitars. Speaking to Ultimate Guitar a few years ago, Bumblefoot shared the story of how it came to be:

“That guitar was Patrice’s idea. It was at that first dinner meeting. I had an idea of a guitar shaped like a 3D map of France that was filled with wine and had a spout to pour it into a glass. Patrice had the idea of the ‘Flying Foot’ guitar. We went with it.”

“They unveiled it at NAMM in Jan 1999. It was amazing, better than I imagined! When you press down the vibrato bar the wings would pop out of the sides. All wackiness aside, it was a great guitar. Excellent sound and felt great to play. That was my new main guitar for the next 10+ years.”

Bumblefoot Jams Rock + Metal Classics on Hello Kitty Guitar

The same source also mentions this story of the instrument falling apart. And as he revealed in an older interview, this was in Athens, Greece. According to what he said, this was eight years after the instrument’s initial launch, so it was likely sometime around 2007. Ron said:

“The ‘Bumblefoot’ guitar, I’m sort of keeping in retirement right now. Eight years of beating the crap out of it and taking it everywhere. One night in Athens [with Guns N’ Roses], I hit the bar to make the wings pop out, and it just broke open, and the wings fell on the ground.”

Bumblefoot - Sweet Child O'mine solo

On his website, Ron said of this flying foot guitar:

“This guitar gets some funny reactions. At the airport, when it goes through the X-ray machine, it’s always the same confused look — you’d think airport security never saw a bag with a giant electronic foot in it. At NAMM shows, kids always laugh at the guitar – then I open the wings, and they really laugh. If something makes kids laugh, keep it.”

Photos: Ch Villa (Ron Thal 2013)

Author

  • David Slavkovic

    David always planned for music to be nothing more than a hobby. However, after a short career as an agricultural engineer he ended up news editor at KillerGuitarRigs, senior editor at Ultimate-Guitar.com, as well as a freelance contributor to online magazines such as GuitaristNextdoor.