Talent for mysteries, passion for guitars, best-selling Novelist Jonathan Kellerman is a lifelong lover of the guitar. A player for 46 years, to him, the guitar is not only a device for release and inspiration, but a true passion. • “After I finish writing, the first place I head is the guitar room, for an

Mick Ralphs Home Thumb

Mick Ralphs

Back To Bad Co., And Beyond

Guitarist Mick Ralphs, whose pulverizing riffs were first heard in the late ’60s in the original Mott the Hoople, has charged back into the limelight. Mott was a ferocious quintet, and one of the most highly-underrated bands of that era. Ralphs’ six-album experience in the band was followed by his tenure in Bad Company, a

Victoria Silver Sonic

Victoria Silver Sonic

Sonic Intoxication

For nearly 20 years, Victoria Amplifier Company has been making head-turning retro-styled amps. Mark Baier and his crew recently introduced the Silver Sonic, a lower-watt version of their popular Golden Melody amp that pulls together a host of features and circuit cues from the golden era of tweed amps. The Silver Sonic sports an elegant

Frenzel FM-DP1 Tube Preamp

Old-School Bang Without Breaking the Bank

For five decades after he built his first guitar amp in 1952, Jim Frenzel designed tube and solidstate equipment for the military, FAA, and Texas Instruments. But it wasn’t until 2001, after his retirement, that he returned to tube guitar amps. Frenzel’s philosophy is pretty straightforward; he designs and builds amps that easily dial up

Carr Skylark

The Carr Skylark

Desert-Island Amp

The Carr Skylark Price: $2,390 (list) Contact: www.carramps.com If you could own only a single guitar amp – horror of horrors! – Steve Carr’s new Skylark just might be the one. When it comes to building modern boutique amps inspired by classic vintage designs, few people have the mojo like Carr. He founded his concern

1933 Gibson L-5 “Special”

Though many collectors focus on instruments in fine original condition, every so often one emerges that, regardless of condition, is no less exciting than a paleontologist finding the “missing link.” Everything there is to know about the Gibson L-5 designed by Carl Kress can be learned from this example, with the model designation “Special” hand-written

Steve Wariner

The C.G.P. Connection Willie G. Moseley

Steve Wariner is among the handful of guitarists designated as a certified guitar player (C.G.P.) by Chet Atkins. The last guitarist to receive the personal honor, Wariner served a pallbearer at Atkins’ funeral in 2001. He also performed at the service. In the dozen years since the release of No More Mr. Nice Guy, Wariner

Magnatone Varsity

Magnatone Varsity

Less is More, Plus

Magnatone Varsity Price: $1,699 (list); $1,799 (as tested) Contact: www.magnatoneusa.com 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

BASSMAN-HOME-MAIN-THUMB

1964 Fender Bassman

1964 Fender 6G6-B Bassman Preamp tubes: four 7025 (12AX7 types) Output tubes: two 5881 (a more-rugged 6L6 type), fixed-bias Rectifier: solidstate Controls: Bass Instrument channel: Volume, Treble, Bass; Normal channel: Volume, Treble, Bass; shared: Presence Output: 50 watts RMS Utter the word “Bassman” in guitar circles, and most players’ minds rush to the tweed-covered 4×10″

Strobel Rambler Travel Bass

Traveling in Style 

As a rule, travel guitars and basses are intended to help one keep up their chops while on the road for work or vacation. But Florida-based Strobel Guitars strives for something a bit more on the professional end of the spectrum – a travel bass that easily breaks down to fit into carry-on luggage, yet

Robert Cray

Robert Cray & Hi Rhythm
Sweet Soul Music

Robert Cray’s new album with producer-drummer Steve Jordan and the Hi Rhythm section is a no-brainer slam-dunk – and a brilliant collaboration. Together with Cray’s indelible hybrid of R&B, blues, and soul-drenched vocals and Jordan’s historic knowledge of “The pocket,” it just works. And it begs the question, “What took them so long?” Recorded at

Alan Sparhawk

Lowdown

Blame it on a guitar. For Low’s Alan Sparhawk, the inspiration behind the band’s latest album, Ones and Sixes, came in part thanks to a new six-string. He had been playing a series of Les Pauls, but recently found a ’60s Danelectro Convertible with one of the famed lipstick-tube pickups mounted in the sound hole.

Terry Burrows

The Stratocaster Manual, The Les Paul Manual

Two boards, three pickups, some hardware, and various electric bits and pieces: Stratocasters are simple creations at heart. But setting one up perfectly, repairing it – especially stageside in the heat of a gig – and modding it are all art forms. These two manuals offer hard-won wisdom. These are not books about how to

Echopark Traditional American Acoustic

Small-Body Stunner

Echopark Guitars is the brainchild of Gabriel Currie, who opened the establishment in 2006, after many years of working as a builder and repairman. Currie’s first offerings were electric instruments that have found their way into the hands of Joe Perry and Brad Whitford from Aerosmith, as well as Jakob Dylan of The Wallflowers. But

MTD Kingston Rubicon 6-22

MTD Kingston Rubicon 6-22

Crossing the Rubicon

MTD Kingston Rubicon 6-22 Price: $999 Info: www.mtdkingston.com Intuitive, player-oriented design, prime materials, and first-class execution distinguished Michael Tobias’s work even before he began concentrating on innovative electric basses in the late 1970s. And let’s not forget Michael Tobias Designs (MTD) helped introduce the newfangled term “ergonomic” to electric guitars and basses. The Kingston Rubicon

Fender’s “First-Gen” Strat

The Fender Stratocaster is arguably the most popular electric guitar model in the world. From the time of its introduction in 1954, no other electric has outsold its archetypical design. And unlike its fellow archetype, the Gibson Les Paul and its numerous variants including the Junior, Special, Standard, and Custom, the Stratocaster was always been

Taylor 814ce

Taylor 814ce

New Life at 40

Taylor 814ce Price: $4,378 (list); $3,399 (street) Info: www.taylorguitars.com Of all the guitars in Taylor’s product line, the 814ce is one of the most popular. Most manufacturers are loath to fix something that isn’t broken, but Taylor went back to the drawing board and for their fortieth anniversary designed an all-new Taylor 814ce. While longtime

Eric Johnson

Getting Up Close With Eric Johnson

Eric Johnson’s latest release, Up Close, is his most lively studio project to date. With a looser vibe and the luxurious tones we’ve come to expect from Johnson, it gets closer to that happy place between immaculate execution and spontaneity. Johnson invited Steve Miller to sing and Jimmie Vaughan to play guitar on a cover