“There’s a certain lo-fi quality that I can’t get from my better-quality Strats”: Meet the guitarist who played a $99 Squier on a Justin Bieber song

Tom Strahle played the second-hand six-string on E.T.A., from Bieber’s 2020 album, Changes.

Paul Davids and Tom Strahle with his Fender Squier

Paul Davids and Tom Strahle with his Fender Squier. Credit: YouTube

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YouTuber Paul Davids took a trip in his latest video to meet Tom Strahle, the guitarist who played a $99 Squier on Justin Bieber’s song E.T.A.

Those with their eyes on pop culture have probably heard Strahle before without realising it. He is a guitarist, songwriter and composer for film, TV, video games and music. His work has appeared in the likes of Call Of Duty and Star Trek, and he’s also worked with Skrillex.

“I’m always on the hunt for cheap guitars,” Strahle had previously said in the comments section of one of Davids’ videos. “Usually nothing over $100. Usually Squier Strats that I string up in weird ways. But I also like to use them for pop and funk tracks.

“I wrote and played Justin Bieber’s E.T.A. with a $99 Fender Squier that I got used at Guitar Center. I still string it up with 9s. There’s a certain lo-fi quality that I love and can’t get from my better-quality and vintage Strats.”

In the video, Davids asks Strahle how he fell in love with the Squier. “I was doing a session at a friend’s house and he had one of them in the corner. I said, ‘Let me grab that,’ so I grabbed it and went ‘Wow, this is funky’,” he explained.

“I stopped by Guitar Center and I went and I grabbed every used Squier they had on the wall and I plugged them in one at a time into a Fender Twin amp [with a] clean sound, pulled out the James Brown cord neck pickup and went, ‘Nope’, grabbed another one, ‘Nope’, and then ‘Yeah, all right, that’s the one!’ They were like, ‘That’s the easiest sale we’ve ever made’.”

Davids then goes on to quiz Strahle on how he came up with the riff for E.T.A. “It started with me. If they call me and they ask for something I’m like, ‘I’m on it.’ [They wanted me to] do some gospelly R&B vibes. I immediately sat down and started coming up with vibes.

“I got a bunch of great ideas in there and this one was the seventh one I came up with that night. I thought they were going to take a four bar phrase and loop it or something but I played five minutes. I love that they didn’t loop it and used the whole thing.”

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