Each year, the NAMM Foundation gathers artists, fans and music-industry professionals for an evening celebrating the achievements of producers, engineers, creators, and companies. This year’s NAMM Technical Excellence & Creativity Awards (TEC) ceremony will take place January 21 in Anaheim, honoring technical achievement in 25 categories and creative achievement in eight categories. The Radial Engineering JDX Direct-Drive Amp Simulator

In the late ’50s and early ’60s, Gibson was apparently convinced the Vari-Tone switch was the way of the future, with its instant access to six different tones. But a high proportion of players who clocked serious miles on their ES-345 and 355 guitars had the switches disabled (and the guitars rewired to mono!). As

Saga of Ted Newman Jones

A Guitar for Mr. Richards

The Saga of Ted Newman Jones

For anyone who visited the tiny workshop inhabited by guitar builder Ted Newman Jones in the 1970s and ’80s, two things were obvious – his appreciation for the fine tonewoods that covered the walls, and his affection for Boudreaux, the Black Lab/Golden Retriever cross that kept him company. Humble digs, they lent no clue to

Martin OM-18P Plectrum Guitar

Martin OM-18P Plectrum Guitar

While the most commonly played and collected Martin guitars have a six-string neck, the company has also made a number of historically noteworthy four-strings. Beginning in the 1920s and carrying into the ’60s, it produced several tenor guitars. In the ’30s, it offered plectrum guitars in an era when tenor banjos and guitars were far

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

Oddfellow Caveman Drive

Oddfellow Caveman Drive

Tone Evolution

Oddfellow Caveman Drive Price: $174.99 (list) Info: www.oddfellowfx.com. Handmade in California, the Oddfellow Caveman Drive is a boutique pedal whose simple layout belies its tonal complexities. But even before hooking this stompbox into your signal chain, right off the bat, you have to dig the cardboard box in which it comes. Sure, this looks like

Strymon Flint Tremolo and Reverb

Our Man Flint

Strymon Flint Tremolo & Reverb Price: $200 Info: www.strymon.net. In just a few short years, Strymon has established itself as a premier developer of pedal effects. With boxes like the highly praised El Capistan dTape Echo, they’ve cut out a niche building DSP effects that recapture the sounds of iconic analog gear with remarkable authenticity.

NANCYWILSON

Nancy Wilson

Sister Act

After the release of the acclaimed Red Velvet Car in 2010, sisters Ann and Nancy Wilson and their band, Heart, could have rested on their laurels. Instead, the sisters went straight to work with producer Ben Mink on a set of songs that flowed from the collaboration. Where Nancy’s guitar contributions on Red Velvet Car

JOHNNYSMITH-HOME-MAIN-BIG

The Guild and Gibson Johnny Smith Models

The name “Johnny Smith” is synonymous with class, elegance, and style. Most guitar players are familiar, if not with the man or his music, certainly with the guitars that bear his name. The instruments reflect Smith’s unique approach to playing and jazz guitar, in particular – ultra-smooth and restrained, yet sophisticated. From the Gretsch Synchromatic

Brown’s Guitar Factory Lap Steel

Steel Yourself

At the beginning of amplified music, one of the first instruments to get a magnetic pickup was the Rickenbacker “frying pan” lap steel – the first of many electrified lap steels made at one time or another by guitar companies including Gibson, Fender, and, of course, Silvertone. Attend a guitar show today, and you’re likely

The Pigtronix Envelope Phaser 2

Sophisti-Phaser

Pigtronix Envelope Phaser II Price: $249 (street). Contact: Phone (631) 331-7447; Pigtronix.com. Pigtronix effects are known not only for their tones, but their sophistication. So it’s no surpise that the Envelope Phaser II has a potentially daunting array of control knobs and switches, some with familiar names (Sensitivity, Depth, Speed), others less common (Resonance, Staccato,

Reverend Descent H90 Baritone

Deep Twang

Electric baritones have increased in popularity for the last 20 years. Filling the gap between standard-tuned electric guitar and bass, these solidbodies are useful among those in the roots-rock set (surf and country, in particular), as well as anyone in the metal and post-grunge camps. With its single-coil pickups, Reverend’s Descent H90 is designed for

Arliss McMinn and the California Playboys

The "Fenderized" Teens

“What started in California?” you ask. The list includes a broad range of inventions, fads, pop culture, and social movements. The Golden State brought forth Levi’s, iPhones, surf music, hot rods, low-brow art, Eichler homes, and of course, electric guitars. A list of the latter includes Rickenbacker, National-Dobro, Mosrite, a bunch of lesser-known brands, and

Marty Walsh

Marty Walsh

With a Little Help From Friends

Marty Walsh has plied his trade for decades, though relatively few may be familiar with his efforts. A Los Angeles native, the guitarist gravitated to his father’s old Martin when he was 15. The first guitar he called his own was a Gibson ES-1403/4 he bought from his brother and eventually traded (and $10) for

Neil Giraldo Home Main

Neil Giraldo

Road Routine

The hard-driving husband-and-wife rock act that hits the stage as Pat Benatar and Neil “Spyder” Giraldo is responsible for more than a handful of stalwart classic-rock jams. For the past 15 years, Benatar and husband/guitarist/producer/co-writer Giraldo have spent many of their summers touring, then scratching their itch to perform with one-off and weekend gigs throughout

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

Fender “Wide-Panel” Twin

The Fender “Wide-Panel” Twin

While Fender’s high-powered 5F8-A Twin of 1958-’60 (VG, March ’09) has been much raved about in recent years, there’s a lot to be said for a Twin that’s closer to the origins of the breed. An (arguably) more-playable amp for the average guitarist, the low-powered 5E8-A of 1956-’57 is the most copied among boutique builders,

Jack Bruce

Jack Bruce

Surging Septuagenarian

Bassist/vocalist Jack Bruce, who turned 71 in May, recently released Silver Rails, his first solo album in a decade, with songwriting help from several longtime collaborators. Bruce recruited numerous guitarists for the project, as well one of his offspring, and the results exemplify the styles of the participants. “I was thrilled that all of the

The Highwaymen

American Outlaws

Country’s first supergroup emerged from a 1984 Johnny Cash Christmas special taped in Switzerland. Along with Marty Stuart, the guests were longtime Cash pals friends Kris Kristofferson, Waylon Jennings, and Willie Nelson. The concept made sense to veteran Memphis producer Chips Moman, who supervised the music for the show. The quartet soon had an album