“Let’s car test it,” says the Whigs’ drummer Julian Dorio to guitarist-singer Parker Gispert. The two walk out of Los Angeles’ Sound Factory recording studio and into their rental car, a Chevrolet HHR, parked in the driveway. The temperature outside is hovering in the high 90s, and inside the car it’s absolutely torturous. They crank the latest mix of “Rock the Vibration,” one of roughly ten songs that will comprise their sophomore album and debut for ATO Records. The two feel that it’s important to listen to each song mix on a variety of different devices—headphones, professional speakers, crappy portable stereos—as a typical listener doesn’t have the speaker setup as the one inside the Sound Factory. These car tests will continue for another week.

The Whigs’ sound, while varied, is still wholly their own, a power trio that sees all instruments mixed equally to deliver jangly, catchy rock that owes as much to the players’ Southern heritage as it does to their contemporaries like the Strokes or Kings of Leon.

Back inside the comfy air-conditioned studio, Gispert tinkers around with one of producer Rob Schnapf’s (Elliot Smith, Beck) guitars, a vintage ’60s Gibson ES-330, as he sips a Tecate and talks about the new album.

“I used the 330 a ton on this record,” says Gispert. “I love it. It has these P-90s in it, which are insane pickups. These are Rob’s guitars, all of these,” he says, gesturing over a wide array of options that the producer has brought in for him to consider.  “The 330 has a lot of character; that’s something that’s so important. I love Les Pauls and I love SGs. Both have their own special sound.  Same with an L6-it sounds like an L6 to me. For strummy stuff, it really works well.”

The subject of an L6 is a sticky one for Gispert:  His prize L6-S Deluxe was stolen in San Francisco earlier this year, and he hasn’t yet rebounded from its loss.

“It sucks because they’re such unique guitars. There are a lot of frets and I feel like they’re closer together, too. It has extra frets, 24 or 25 I believe. It just has two knobs and a toggle switch. It’s pretty simple, but a real loud guitar, which I like. If you find a guitar that’s naturally loud before you plug it into an amp, that’s the key.”

Gispert shoves the shaggy hair off his face and takes a sip of a beer. “I found my L6-S Deluxe in a guitar store in Atlanta when I was in high school. It’s just a really easy guitar to play and it’s super light. I like being able to fling the guitar around. If you’re on tour and you’re playing 250 shows in a year, you don’t want to put a 20-pound weight on every night.”

“I like the strum of the L6 because I’m not a lead guitar player,” Gispert continues. “The bass carries a lot of the melody more than the guitar does in our music. It’s tough to find the right guitar for what we do. For whatever reason, the L6 worked really well with just being a clear, strumming guitar, and that’s why I was attracted to it. There’s actually one song on the record that I can’t play on another guitar (“I Never Want to Go Home”). I have to have an L6. ”

Dorio comes into the studio and sits down, fiddling with his Georgia Bulldog baseball cap. Schanpf is right behind him, tossing a baseball into a mitt. “We’re running terribly behind,” Schanpf says with a wry smile. They’ll need to mix a song-and-a-half a day to meet the following week’s deadline, which both Schnapf and engineer Doug Boehm claim is doable. In the meantime, Schnapf shows Gispert the correct finger positions for a slider, curve and knuckleball.

As he heads into the mixing room, our beers finished, Gispert cracks a crooked smile. “I just wish I could find my L6,” he says in a Georgia-drawl. “A guitar like that is like a friend: hard to replace.”