From the origins of country-rock to Jimmy Page, Metallica, and a slew of modern country-pickin’ wizards, the string bender lends unique sounds to any form of music by giving players an “extra hand.”

Kiko Loureiro

Metal-Fusion From Brazil

“When I would play with musicians from the neighborhood, I noticed that my passion for Brazilian music was making me different from other guys,” explains guitarist Kiko Loureiro, a player who found his niche by combining his Brazilian heritage with his love of metal, shred, and fusion. His current album, Sounds Of Innocence, seamlessly blends

Revisiting The Jazzmaster

While volumes have been written about its more-famous sibling, the Stratocaster, surprisingly little attention is paid to the Jazzmaster – Fender’s top-of-the-line guitar when it was introduced in 1958. Then, again, maybe it’s not so surprising… Out of the gate, the Jazzmaster was ill-conceived by Leo Fender and his design crew. As evidenced by its

Magnatone Varsity

Magnatone Varsity

Less is More, Plus

Magnatone Varsity Price: $1,699 (list); $1,799 (as tested) Contact: Magnatone earned a cult of admirers in the mid 20th century. Buddy Holly and Lonnie Mack used the company’s amps, and Neil Young still has a 280 Stereo model in his live rig. The company went out of business in the ’70s, but the beloved

Steve Khan


Steve Khan has spent the last few albums mixing Latin music and jazz. The project has worked beautifully, culminating in this effort that takes tunes from Thelonious Monk, Bobby Hutcherson, Ornette Coleman, Steve’s dad Sammy Cahn, and others and mixing the styles in a way that lets Khan and band shine. Let’s talk about Khan’s

The Minus 5 and the Monkees

Of Monkees and Men, Good Times, etc.
Monkee Business

The 1960s – that halcyon decade which Americans today are most inclined to reconsider with dewy eyes – is in the midst of a retrospective heyday. Assuming the Stones’ ill-fated NorCal bacchanalia in December ’69 represents the final nail in the coffin for this parade of 50th-anniversary observations, we have another three years of Aquarian

Eric Sardinas

Eric Sardinas

Resonator Rock

Resonator/slide specialist Eric Sardinas is no blues curator. While he pays homage to the music that inspires him, Sardinas is a fiery super nova that performs with a personalized blend of soulful musicality and showmanship. He and his band, Big Motor, unleash high-intensity blues-rock with an earthy accessibility and raw power driven by his resonator.

Letritia Kandle

and the Magnificent Grand Letar

The story is really about two people, Kandle and Paul Warnik, a steel-guitar historian/collector who was haunted by a photo in Tom Wheeler’s American Guitars showing a young woman from decades past posed in front of a multi-neck steel guitar. Its caption reads, “Teacher Letritia Kandle poses with National’s Grand Letar Console Steel.” Though he

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Electro-Harmonix Soul Food, Nano Big Muff

Add OD, To Taste

Price: Soul Food, $89.25 (list), $62.81 (street); Nano Big Muff, $95.64 (list), $69.80 (street) Info: Guitarists have an insatiable desire for overdrive and distortion pedals, and manufacturers seem to be responding with more models every day. Two of the latest to roll out are the Soul Food and Nano Big Muff stompboxes from Electro-Harmonix.

Peekamoose Model 3

Modern Retro

There’s no shortage of cool, retro-looking solidbodies on the market today, from the big guys as well as the increasing numbers of boutique builders. Cool looks are great, but for any object to truly arouse passion, form must follow function. Built by Paul Schwartz in New York City, the Peekamoose Model 3 blends classic design

The MXR M234 Analog Chorus and M87 Bass Compressor

Opposite Ends

MXR M87 Bass Comp and M234 Analog Chorus Price: $318 (M87 Bass Compressor), $170 (M234 Analog Chorus). Info: For decades, players in virtually every musical genre have been familiar with MXR pedals; the name connotes a solid road-warrior stompbox associated with great tones from ’70s through today. The Analog Chorus M234 is designed to

Echoplex EP-2 Feature Home Page Vintage Guitar magazine

Echoplex EP-2

Sam Phillips didn’t invent tape echo with his mid-’50s recordings of Elvis, but he just as well may have. So influential, so inspirational were those songs – with their warm, glorious slap-back echo created in Sun’s control room by two jerryrigged tape recorders – that budding rock-and-rollers everywhere had to have it. With the arrival

Blackberry Smoke Unplugs

Ds and LGs

By sound and association, Blackberry Smoke walks a fine stylistic line. A good ol’ rock band when it started rollin’ in Atlanta 15 years ago, its following has more recently grown in front of crowds gathered to see headliners like country superstars Zac Brown Band and Eric Church. So, it sort of made sense that

Buzz Osborne

Heavy Bass

Over the years, fans have come to expect the unexpected from the Melvins. But they just may have outdone themselves this year, with the arrival of two albums – one started nearly 20 years ago and another that features the two main Melvins, singer/guitarist Buzz Osborne and drummer Dale Crover, joined by a host of

Tim Sult

Heavy-Duty Metal

With a new Clutch recording, the listener always knows what lies in store – colossal riffing, valley-deep grooves, and manly-man vocals – and the band’s 11th studio album, Psychic Warfare, doesn’t disappoint. Comprised of Neil Fallon (vocals/guitar), Tim Sult (guitar), Dan Maines (bass), and Jean-Paul Gaster (drums/percussion), Clutch has been at it since 1991, succeeding

Gemma Ray

The Exodus Suite

Gemma Ray might rock the neo-’50s look, but she’s no Wanda Jackson wannabe; her songs and guitar work are not held in check by any known musical category. Instead, the tunes are like escapees from the expectations and trappings of mainstream pop. And she’s been prolific, cutting six previous albums as well as several EPs.

Fenders American Vintage Series

Devilish in Detail

Fender American Vintage Series Price: $2,400 retail/$1,999.99 street (’52 Telecaster); $2,874 retail/$2,299.99 street (’59 Stratocaster); $2,874 retail/$2,299 street (’65 Jazzmaster and ’56 Stratocaster) Contact: When it introduced the American Vintage reissue guitars (one Telecaster, two Strats) in 1982, Fender put itself back the game among serious players. In the three decades since, the series

Blackberry Smoke

Like An Arrow

The Atlanta band walks the line between blues, alt country, and Southern rock on their fifth studio album, getting lower down and rocking harder all the way. The quintet lives to play, touring and recording constantly. But instead of getting stuck in a groove, this new album may just be their most adventurous – and

Betty Davis and Mahalia Barnes

The Columbia Years 1968-1969, Ooh Yah: The Betty Davis Songbook
Nasty Girl

Betty Mabry was known far and wide by the sobriquet of the Nasty Girl. She earned the moniker for being too wild for her men to handle – and among her men were Miles Davis (whom she married in 1968), Jimi Hendrix, and Sly Stone, none of whom were exactly slouches when it came to