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    Eric Clapton’s “Blackie”
    This may well be the most desirable Fender Stratocaster on the face of the planet. And it happens to be a beat-up mongrel assembled from parts taken from three 1950s guitars. Nevertheless, Eric Clapton's "Blackie" is one of the most recognized celebrity-associated instruments in the...
    DeTemple Spirit Series Stellacasta
    DeTemple Spirit Series Stellacasta Price: $9,000 (list) Info: www.detempleguitars.com As an accomplished musician since the 1960s and more recently as a guitar builder and vintage collector, Michael DeTemple has long been aware of the demand for guitars that retain the sound and feel of vintage instruments but...

    Tedeschi Trucks Band

    You might get the idea that the band led by husband-and-wife team Derek Trucks and Susan Tedeschi are feeling a bit laidback on their...

    Tommy Emmanuel

    Tommy Emmanuel cautions against using “the V word” – virtuoso – when describing his work. “I want to make musical statements that stand...

    Rivera Shaman Series Pedals

    Rivera Shaman Series Pedals Price: $299 each (street) Info: www.rivera.com. With roots stretching to the late ’70s, SoCal-based Rivera Amplification is best known for their handbuilt-in-the-U.S.A....
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    Heil Talk Box

    When Peter Frampton began using the Heil Talk Box in 1974, he remembers it being viewed with skepticism as an “alien effect.” Similar contraptions had been around since 1939, but few people recognized them or their otherworldly capabilities. Frampton had yet to record with it, so when he used it onstage, it caused a furor. […]

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    Zakk Wylde

    Stripped Down BLS for Unblackened

    When Zakk Wylde was asked to record a new DVD/CD package, he decided to give his Black Label Society fans something different – Unblackened, a live acoustic/electric performance featuring Wylde on guitar and piano, with BLS bandmates bassist John Deservio, guitarist Nick Catanese, drummer Chad Szeliga, keyboardist Derek Sherinian, and vocalist Greg Locascio. The package […]

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    Tele of Two Legends

    The Amazing Story of One Unique Fender

    One day in the mid 1950s, up-and-coming thoroughbred jockey Bill Shoemaker – long before he gathered 8,833 career wins (including 11 in Triple Crown events) while running more than 40,000 races – was playing host to his friend, western swing bandleader Hank Penny, who had come calling with a special gift in a brown case. […]

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    DoleSonic Half Back Stack

    Tone Meets Crafts-manship

    Shaw Audio Bass 130 Price: $1,350 Contact: www.tremcaster.com, phone: (330) 608-2043 In a day where gear companies often focus on utilitarian products, it’s nice when high-end craftsmanship rears its head. Ken Doles and the crew at DoleSonic Amplifiers are a good example with their latest offering, the Half Back Stack. A Class-A/10-watt offering, the amp […]

    Jim Singleton

    Jim Singleton

    Clarksdale Collaboration

    A connoisseur of vintage gear, VG readers may know Jim Singleton as the main man at Jim’s Guitars, in Pennsylvania. His drool-worthy displays at guitar shows are habitually filled with fine classic instruments and amps. In addition to his business persona, Singleton is a talented guitarist and singer, and he recently released a blues album […]

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    Randy Rhoads

    Diary of an Axeman, 30 years Later

    (RIGHT) Rhoads’ polka-dot guitar was built in 1979 by Karl Sandoval, with a mahogany body, modified ’60s Danelectro non-adjustable maple neck with a rosewood fingerboard and bow-tie inlays, two DiMarzio humbuckers (PAF in the neck position, Super Distortion in the bridge), separate Tone and Volume controls, a standard vibrato, and a selector switch on the […]

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    Music Man HD-130 Reverb

    1977 Music Man HD-130 Reverb Preamp tubes: solidstate preamp circuit with 12AX7 phase-inverter tube. Output tubes: four 6CA7 (similar to EL34) Rectifier: solidstate Controls: Volume, Treble, Bass on “Normal” channel; Volume, Treble, Middle, Bass, Reverb, Intensity, Speed on “Reverb/Tremolo” channel; shared Master. Output: 65 watts or 130 watts RMS. Intended to be the masterpiece of […]

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    Buck Owens and The Buckaroos

    “A Bunch of Twangy Guitars”

    Buck Owens’ track to stardom had an unorthodox start and believe it or not, his singing didn’t launch that journey as much as his guitar skills; it started when another singer needed a lead guitarist on short notice. With his second Capitol recording session looming in September, 1953, Tommy Collins, a cast member of Southern […]

    Gilby Clarke - Grit & Glory

    Grit & Glory

    Gilby Clarke and His Guitars

    The drive to succeed – along with certain workaholic tendencies – revealed themselves early in rock guitarist Gilby Clarke. On the brink of becoming a “problem child,” he turned the tide on misfortune after his parents’ marriage fell apart. Wanting to be closer to family, Clarke’s mother took her children from Cleveland to California, and […]

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    Michael Sweet

    Frontman, Shredder

    The yellow-and-black attack of the Christian-metal band Stryper has returned. The band’s new album, Second Coming, helps mark 30 years of preaching their metal gospel and selling more than 10 million albums worldwide. The band returns to the spotlight with a renewed sense of vigor and passion. Second Coming is 16 tracks including re-recordings of […]

    Brian Setzer

    Brian Setzer

    Rocking Back to the Future

    Brian Setzer wears several hats – rockabilly, swing, even hard-rocking Christmas music. But through it all, by and large he plays only one guitar – a Gretsch. And ideally, just a Model 6120 at that. With his new album, Setzer gets back to his roots, both in playing scorching rockabilly, but also in using his […]

    Roy Buchanan

    Roy Buchanan

    Roy Buchanan The Life and Times of Roy Buchanan By Phil Carson Roy Buchanan and his battered 1953 Telecaster guitar got inside your head and grabbed you in the gut. He had eclectic musical tastes, an arsenal of techniques, a devotion to craft, and something to say. And he said it with soul. Those are […]

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    Clapton’s Fool

    History’s Greatest Guitar?

    Eric Clapton’s The Fool. A name immediately recognizable to guitarists, yet baffling to others. What is Clapton’s Fool? Very simply, it is one of the most important and famous electric guitars in the history of the instrument. In the hierarchy of guitars, the bottom of the pyramid’s capstone is made up of guitars that are […]

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    Gibson Tal Farlow

    The Tal Farlow is one guitar in a quartet of full-depth Gibson Artists models first cataloged in the early 1960s. Introduced in ’62, it was based on the ES-350 – the guitar Farlow used with Red Norvo and his own trio in the mid ’50s. A truly professional instrument, built in the tradition of ’50s Gibson […]

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    Selmer Modele Jazz and Stimer M.10 Amp

    Electricfying Early Jazz

    In the 1930s, the quest for volume was the Holy Grail of guitar construction, as guitarists sought instruments to slice through the sound and fury of a jazz band. And when Django Reinhardt began playing his revolutionary jazz, he played it on a revolutionary new jazz guitar.

    Z.Vex Fuzz Probe

    Z.Vex Fuzz Probe

    There-Mayhem

    Z.Vex Fuzz Probe Price: $369 Contact: www.zvex.com The Z.Vex Fuzz Factory pedal unleashed sonic possibilities ranging from a horde of wasps to the (presumed) sound of the end of the world and became a go-to stompbox for extreme-rock and heavy metal guitarists. The company’s latest twist, the Fuzz Probe, takes the Fuzz Factory and adds […]

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    Johnny Smith

    An American Treasure

    Jazz guitarist Johnny Smith died at his home June 11, 2013, two weeks shy of his 91st birthday. Arguably the most respected and revered guitarist of the modern era (1950 to present), Smith was sincerely humble and reserved about his extraordinary talent. In 1999, his peers and friends celebrated his career with a gala at […]

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    The Yosco No. 2

    Tenor Banjo

    The banjo and American music cross paths in a remarkably entangled web of complexity. The banjo was brought to the New World – conceptually, at least – by African slaves who used it to create music subsequently appropriated by 19th-century white entertainers, who created blackface minstrelsy, which became the basis of Vaudeville and a great […]

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    Bergen Guitars ST and TL

    Messing with Perfection

    Bergen Guitars ST and TL Price: $2,195 (ST, base)/$2,595 (as tested); $1,895 (TL, base)/$2,295 (as tested) Info: www.bergenguitars.com. If your goal, as a solitary craftsman, is to improve upon two designs that are acclaimed paragons of industrial perfection, what do you do? Paul Bergeson, owner and luthier of Bergen Guitars in Lake Zurich, Illinois, began […]

    Gibson GA-20

    Gibson GA-20

    • Preamp tubes: two 12AY7, one 12AX7. • Output tubes: two 6V6, cathode-bias. • Rectifier: 5Y3 • Controls: volume for each channel, shared tone. • Speaker: Jensen Special Design P12R. • Output: approximately 16 watts RMS. Behold, this specimen that checks off all the right boxes for fans of vintage amps; beautifully clean, it has […]