The Coulter Company

More Rarities from the Pacific Northwest

The eye-catching and technologically innovative stringed instruments created by Frank Evans Coulter in the early 20th century are so exceedingly scarce that few guitar enthusiasts have laid eyes on one. Indeed, their rarity is conveyed by one simple fact – only a couple dozen Coulter instruments – including an Hawaiian-style guitar, a tenor guitar, a

Fletcher Bright and Bill Evans with Norman and Nancy Blake

Songs That Are Mostly Older Than Us

  This jam session recorded in veteran fiddler Fletcher Bright’s living room in Lookout Mountain, Tennessee, exudes a warmth, passion, and joyfulness that’s right in line with the old-time music, fiddle tunes, and bluegrass the quartet plays. Banjo man Bill Evans organized proceedings, rounding up old friends Norman and Nancy Blake. They cut these 16

Oddfellow Napoleon Boost

Oddfellow Napoleon Boost

Little Dictator

Oddfellow Napoleon Boost Price: $119.99 (list) Contact: www.oddfellowfx.com Overdrive is one of the guitarist’s great joys. Unlike flat-out distortion, overdrive is a broad tonal palette, from clean and full to huge and rockin’ – and every shade in between. Oddfellow’s Napoleon Boost aims to give players a simple but powerful overdrive in a small-footprint chassis,

Jorma Kaukonen

Hot Tuna, Part 1

Guitarist Jorma Kaukonen and bassist Jack Casady have been playing music together for 53 years – 40 of them as Hot Tuna. What started as an acoustic splinter group from their gig with Jefferson Airplane morphed into both acoustic and electric variations and myriad combinations.Released on the heels of Tuna’s successful “blues tour” with Charlie

GIFFIN VITKA

Giffin Vikta

Feelin’ Special

Giffin Vikta Price: $2,295 Contact: premierbuildersguild.com. Roger Giffin is a guitarmaker to the stars, having built for Eric Clapton, Pete Townshend and John Entwistle, Mark Knopfler, Andy Summers, David Gilmour, and many others. He also ran the Gibson Custom Shop in California for many years before striking out on his own. Now producing his own

Vega Model 120

Viewed from our contemporary perspective, it’s difficult to fully appreciate how different the music scene in general – and the guitar scene in particular – was back in the early part of the last century. When the electric guitar hit the ground as a viable entity in the mid 1930s, everything was up for grabs…

Wangs #2204 HW

Chinese Rocks

Even as new technology spawns new sounds, ease of use, and portability, there remains among guitarists a predilection for technologies of old. New sounds are inevitably compared to the earthy musical landscape of the classic era. After all, amp manufacturers got it extremely right in the 1960s and 1970s and an entire industry has ballooned

GODIN-HOME-MAIN-BIG

Godin’s A4 and A5 Ultra SA

Brave New Basses

Godin A4/A5 Ultra SA Price: $1,395 (A4 Ultra SA fretted); $1,645 (A5 Ultra SA fretless) Info: godinguitars.com. For years, Godin Guitars has been finding creative ways to improve guitar and bass design, often by working directly with musicians. This has resulted in numerous breakthroughs typically packaged in traditional-appearing instruments. A good example is their A

Ronnie Baker Brooks

Times Have Changed

Second-generation bluesman Ronnie Baker Brooks’ first album in 10 years blends the soul of Chicago, hot guitar licks, and old-school Memphis R&B. Produced by Steve Jordan and recorded at Royal Studios in Memphis and Blackbird Studio in Nashville, this disc shows Brooks at his most soulful. As a self-described bridge between the past and the

The Electro-Harmonix Germanium 4 Big Muff Pi

Smooth Successor

Electro-Harmonix Germanium 4 Big Muff Pi Price: $133 (list)/$99.75 (street). Contact: ehx.com. The Big Muff Pi overdrive is the effect stompbox that put Electro-Harmonix on the map, and in the decades since its introduction, it has undergone changes both subtle and substantial. Today, the company’s lineup includes no fewer than 10 versions including the newest,

Kurdt Vanderhoof

These Go to XI

When it comes to thrash metal, the “Big 4” – Metallica, Slayer, Megadeth, and Anthrax – get credit for popularizing the style. But there were other trailblazing bands at the dawn of thrash, including Metal Church. The band recently issued its 11th album, XI, which included a reunion with singer Mike Howe. We recently spoke

Martin 0-42

The Martin 0-42

Through the years, Martin’s dreadnought, OM, and 000 guitars may have gained the most notoriety. But for the sweetest and best-quality sound, Martin itself recommends the size 0, exemplified by this 0-42. There’s obviously a catch to that statement, since only two of Martin’s current offering of over 200 models are size-0 guitars. The recommendation

Gibson Basses in The ’70s

Gibson Basses in The ’70s

Plucky Trio from the “Downer Decade”

Guitar enthusiasts have long heard that the 1970s were the “downer decade” for Fender and Gibson, both of which introduced a few duds and struggled with quality control. Their travails continued until both were sold to new owners – Fender in ’85, Gibson in ’86. Exemplary of those unsuccessful instruments was a trio of solidbody

Joe Louis Walker

Indisputable Cred

Joe Louis Walker has enjoyed a long and enviable career making artistically satisfying music while entertaining audiences all over the world. He’s a genre-busting artist who knows how to please an audience while keeping his eye on the prize. His latest album, Everybody Wants A Piece, continues the saga of the forward-thinking bluesman. Walker once

Hornby Skewes Zonk Machines

Hornby Skewes Zonk Machines

Fuzz Bonk

In 1965, fuzz was the “it” sound. Guitarists had recorded with fuzz before, of course, but after Keith Richards plugged into a Maestro Fuzz-Tone on “(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction,” its sound was suddenly essential. In England, finding fuzz was an endeavor; the Maestro was expensive and difficult to track down. As a result, even

Radial Headload Guitar Amp Load Box

Taming a Shrew

As low-power amps gain in popularity, one wonders what will happen to all the 50- and 100-watt amps starting to gather dust in storerooms. Radial Engineering’s Headload attenuator/load box to the rescue! The Headload’s attenuator section gives the player the option of dialing up 1% to 100% of the amp’s output (120 watts max) to his

Kiko Loureiro

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

Hank’s Protos

How Hank Garland Helped Gibson Develop Two Models Not Called Byrdland

There are guitars, there are great guitars, there are great historic guitars and there are great historic guitars bearing deep provenance. And then there are guitars of such immense mystique, provenance, and cultural significance they are transcendent, shattering ceilings set by previous standards. Two such instruments were crafted by Gibson at the height of its