The Rolling Stones

Blue & Lonesome

The Rolling Stones’ first album of new material since 2005, “Blue & Lonesome,” drops today. Here’s a review by VG Music Editor Michael Dregni. Mick Jagger’s famous 1968 statement – “What’s the point in listening to us doing ‘I’m A King Bee’ when you can hear Slim Harpo do it?” – has been a (sometimes)

On this latest album, Ronnie Earl and his band freely and unabashedly mourn and honor the late David Maxwell, the Broadcasters pianist who died in 2015 at age 71. While Earl and his musicians express their grief by playing the blues simple, straight, and emotional, the opener, “Mother Angel,” offers a gorgeous, uplifting instrumental theme

While many pedal makers tinker away on effects that exhibit their personal tonal philosophies, the fact is that most don’t play gigs or compose music. Seraphim Marcopoulous of ToneConcepts was keen enough to take advantage of his professional relationships with some of the finest guitarists in the industry, asking, “What’s missing?”

Heavy Trash photo

Heavy Trash


Heavy Trash is an on-again-off-again band headed by Jon Spencer and Matt Verta-Ray. They’ve released three superlative albums of their own trademark brand of rockabilly, all led by Verta-Ray’s incisive guitarwork – usually thanks to a well-traveled vintage Gibson ES-295. Verta-Ray is also the proprietor of NY Hed Studios, a retro-modern atelier blending vintage analog


Ed Sanner

Fuzz Redux

While not well-known in California guitar lore, Ed Sanner’s electronics designs have been heard by millions of guitar fans, and he has recently returned to building unique stomp boxes. Sanner didn’t take up guitar until the age of 18, but his interest in electronics began earlier. “I used to tinker with electrical things as a

Tone Pump Solara Studio

Tone Pump Solara Studio

Clean ’N Dirty

Tone Pump Solara Studio Price: $1,099 (list) Contact: The story is a familiar one. A guy learns to repair amps and then gets frustrated with the shortcomings of the stock amps available. So he starts offering modifications to existing amps before going off the deep end. That’s when he gets the hare-brained idea to

Big Knob Pedals

Big Knob Pedals

What’s in a Name?

Big Knob Pedals Price: Tube 808, $139; Echo Flex, $149; Vibe Tone, $159; Octavius, $129 (all list) Contact: Gary Kibler started making pedals almost by accident. Originally from Los Angeles, Kibler moved to London when his wife was offered a terrific job. With a background in IT at Sony Studios, Kibler found work at

’Bursting with Surprises

’Bursting with Surprises

Celeb Guitars Make a Splash at U.K. Guitar Show

Peter Hoarty and his wife, Gail, have been hosting guitar shows in England since 1998, when they rented space to sell a few of the 50-some vintage amps and more than two dozen guitars that had begun to flow out of the couples’ house and into their garage-cum-music-room. “I began collecting valve amps at a

Dale Watson

Dale Watson

Keep On Truckin’

The seeds of the latest album from Dale Watson were sown in 1998, when he released The Truckin’ Sessions . The Truckin’ Sessions 2 followed in 2009, and now he follows with a three-CD set, The Truckin’ Sessions Trilogy . Watson says it wasn’t planned. “I really didn’t think about it until I was on


Electra MPC

Standard X340

One of the more successful Japanese-made guitar brands of the 1970s was Electra, the brand name used for electric guitars sold by St. Louis Music of St. Louis, Missouri.  If prices on eBay are any indicator, it’s clear that guitar aficionados have little appreciation about how good and innovative these guitars were. Let’s take this

Budda Verbmaster 112 Home

Budda Verbmaster 112

Versatile 18-Watter

Budda Verbmaster 112 Price: $1,800 (street) Contact: As part of its Hand-Wired series, Budda has reissued the tube-rectified Verbmaster 1×12 combo that differs from similarly powered amps because it’s a two-channel with reverb and a second (hotter) input. The Verbmaster uses the same A/B high-gain, low-wattage circuit as Budda’s Twinmaster, but with a three-spring

Univox Uni–Fuzz & Super–Fuzz

Univox Uni–Fuzz & Super–Fuzz

Full, Fat Fuzzzy

Pete Townshend sent many a guitar and amp to an early grave. But there’s no known evidence of him doing the same with effects pedals. Never mind that spearing a Rickenbacker through the heart of a Hiwatt provided much more Shakespearean drama than stomping on a lowly stompbox. Perhaps, though, he simply didn’t need to

Electrifying Sounds of Post-War Guitar

Road to Rock

The Electrifying Sounds of Post-War Guitar

Fans often mark the beginning of rock and roll as either Elvis Presley’s Sun Sessions or Bill Haley & the Comets’ “Rock Around the Clock,” both recorded in 1954. But three years earlier, in early March of 1951, Jackie Brenston & His Delta Cats were credited on a 78-rpm single called “Rocket 88.” Played in

Carvin’s GH24 Greg Howe Signature

Carvin’s GH24 Greg Howe Signature

Super Unleaded

After decades of jumping from one guitar manufacturer to another, Greg Howe recently began working with Carvin (more specifically, Kiesel) on a signature guitar. Carvin passed manufacture and sale of its guitars and basses to Kiesel Guitars. The reason for the change isn’t immediately obvious, though it makes more sense if you know that Carvin


Blackstar’s HT Series Pedals

Gain to the Third Power

Blackstar Amplification is known for its successful Artisan, Series One, and HT amp lines. Its new HT effects line includes boxes for delay, reverb, modulation, distortion, drive, and boost. All pedals in the series use a heavy-duty 6.25″ x 4.75″ x 2.25″ die-cast chassis with top-mounted controls, side-mounted 1/4″ jacks, tube window, on/off stompswitch with


George Lynch

Mr. Scary’s New Empire

George Lynch is one of the premier axe men to emerge in the ’80s. His melodic hard-rock riffs were the driving force behind Dokken and he later launched Lynch Mob while releasing several solo discs and collaborations. He recently joined with former Dokken bassist Jeff Pilson and drummer Mick Brown under the moniker Tooth & Nail


JHS’ SuperBolt and Morning Glory Pedals

Zep in a Box

Started with a quick repair to a Boss pedal in Josh Scott’s Mississippi apartment, JHS has evolved into a well-regarded and growing boutique pedal company thanks to offerings like their SuperBolt and Morning Glory. The SuperBolt is one of those pedals that tube hounds crave, one that reacts with a good amp rather than smothering

AmpRX BrownBox Voltage-Reduction Unit

AmpRX BrownBox Voltage-Reduction Unit

Vintage-Safe Voltage

AmpRX BrownBox Voltage-Reduction Unit Price: $269.00 (list) Contact: Amplifier repairman and builder Patrick Geraghty was frustrated with the sound of his own vintage-styled builds. They seemed to lack the vintage tones of the ’60s and ’70s. In addition to examining components, he also began to look at the disparity between the wall voltages of

Dallas Rangemaster

The Dallas Rangemaster

Eric Clapton christened it “woman tone.” On the famed 1966 “Beano” album, John Mayall’s Blues Breakers With Eric Clapton, the guitarist ran his Les Paul Standard into a Marshall Model 1962 JTM45 2×12 combo. Legend has it he added a Dallas Rangemaster Treble Booster to his signal path on several tracks. With the amp controls