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    Eric Clapton’s “Blackie”
    This may well be the most desirable Fender Stratocaster on the face of the planet. And it happens to be a beat-up mongrel assembled from parts taken from three 1950s guitars. Nevertheless, Eric Clapton's "Blackie" is one of the most recognized celebrity-associated instruments in the...
    DeTemple Spirit Series Stellacasta
    DeTemple Spirit Series Stellacasta Price: $9,000 (list) Info: www.detempleguitars.com As an accomplished musician since the 1960s and more recently as a guitar builder and vintage collector, Michael DeTemple has long been aware of the demand for guitars that retain the sound and feel of vintage instruments but...

    Tedeschi Trucks Band

    You might get the idea that the band led by husband-and-wife team Derek Trucks and Susan Tedeschi are feeling a bit laidback on their...

    Tommy Emmanuel

    Tommy Emmanuel cautions against using “the V word” – virtuoso – when describing his work. “I want to make musical statements that stand...

    Rivera Shaman Series Pedals

    Rivera Shaman Series Pedals Price: $299 each (street) Info: www.rivera.com. With roots stretching to the late ’70s, SoCal-based Rivera Amplification is best known for their handbuilt-in-the-U.S.A....
    BILL KIRCHEN

    Bill Kirchen

    Telemaster Offers A Word To The Wise

    Trying to top 2006’s Hammer Of The Honky-Tonk Gods, Bill Kirchen’s eighth solo album, would seem a mighty tall order. Then again, he set what would have been a surprisingly high bar for anyone else with his ’94 solo debut, Tombstone Every Mile. Word To The Wise (Proper American) manages to push the Tele-toting “King […]

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    Buddy Holly’s ’58 Magnatone 280

    1958 Magnatone Custom 280

    When guitarists talk tremolo or vibrato, you can bet the magnificent Magnatone amps will find their way into the conversation. The watery, warbling “true vibrato” that the larger Magnatones are capable of producing is never forgotten by players fortunate enough to have experienced it. In searching to expand the Magnatone legend, the subject is likely […]

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    Les Paul

    2007 Hall of Fame Player

    In 1952, Gibson’s new Les Paul model was becoming one of the company’s most popular guitars, and though there was no way of knowing it at the time, it would ultimately achieve mythical status in the realm of the electric solidbody – and do much the same for the man whose name it carried. Lester […]

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    Echopark Ghetto Bird

    Sweet Emotion

    Echopark Ghetto Bird Price: $6,800 (as reviewed) Contact: www.echoparkguitars.com You know you’re holding something special when the guy who previously borrowed your review guitar was none other than Aerosmith guitarist Joe Perry, who apparently used this very Echopark Ghetto Bird – officially called Ancient Sinker Redwood Case Study #002 – for some recent recording work. […]

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    ESP GL-56

    Is it Really Vintage?

    Like the “aged” guitars crafted by Fender and Gibson, this ESP solidbody looks like an ancient road warrior, one that’s gigged from Texas to Tijuana and back again, 200 nights a year. The GL-56 is actually a fresh entry in ESP’s line of George Lynch guitars, this one sporting the appearance of a modded old […]

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    1905 Gibson F-2

    In the opinion of most American mandolinists, Gibson brought mandolin design to a level of perfection in 1922, with the introduction of the Master Model F-5. It wasn’t much earlier – 25 years or so – that Orville Gibson created the F model as one of two mandolin body styles (the other being the symmetrical […]

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    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 […]

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    Carl Verheyen

    The Tools of Trading 8s

    Carl Verheyen is a member of that elite (and shrinking) group of musicians known as “session guitarists.” Super-qualified pickers, they’re the hired guns brought in for the most demanding and important recording dates. They command triple-scale fees, but work in a pressure cooker where time is money, where skillsets call for expertise in blues, jazz, […]

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    Tommy Smith

    Leogun’s Led Zep Connection

    Some of the loudest buzz – literally and figuratively – in music surrounds the London-base power trio Leogun, fronted by guitarist/vocalist Tommy Smith. The band’s neo-retro sound has drawn comparison to Led Zeppelin, but Smith is influenced by a long list of names. “I’m lucky I was brought up in a household where music was […]

    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: www.bigknobpedals.com 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 […]

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    The Charvel Model 4

    Certain guitar brands develop a mystique among aficionados – sometimes it’s even deserved! Somewhere on this continuum lie Charvel USA guitars made in the early ’80s in San Dimas, California. Curiously, that “San Dimas guitar” mystique didn’t rub off to its foreign cousins like the Model 4 – the fine Japanese-made Charvels produced beginning in […]

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    ’53 Gibson Les Paul Junior

    Gibson’s records tell us the Les Paul Junior was introduced in 1954. But here we have what appears to be a 1953 example. This instrument has no serial number on the back of the peghead, though the tone and volume pot codes indicate they were made in 1953, and the guitar differs in specifications from […]

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    Chris Dreja

    Yardbird Recall

    Chris Dreja had a front-row seat to rock-and-roll history, playing rhythm guitar and bass in the Yardbirds behind Eric Clapton, Jeff Beck, and Jimmy Page. Today, Dreja still plays with the vaunted Brit-pop group, co-leading the band with original drummer Jim McCarty and cranking out ’60s anthems like “For Your Love” and “Heart Full of […]

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    Bruce Kulick

    Wielding Power On BK3

    With his new album, BK3, Bruce Kulick brings out the big guns on what he calls his “…strongest solo disc ever.” Collaborating with friends old and new, he infused their personalities to create an album diverse in style and tones. He also raised the bar on his own musicianship. Kulick recently took us behind the […]

    Bruce Bouillet

    From The Shadow Of Racer X

    Former Racer X guitarist Bruce Bouillet overcame carpal tunnel syndrome to return to his first love – shredding. Now, he’s back with a third solo album The Order Of Control, a hard-hitting concept record with big ideas, fat tones, and impressive production. Before carpal tunnel forced him to stop playing, Bouillet played on albums by […]

    Leslie West

    Leslie West

    Still Climbing!

    Leslie West is renowned for his iconic tone and revered as a forefather of classic rock. A true survivor, he’s adjusting after a life-saving leg amputation, but forging ahead and inspired to continue making music. West filled us in with a rundown of the tracks on his aptly titled latest release, Still Climbing. “I started […]

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    Dan Auerbach

    Black Keys’ Road Map Back to Blues, British Rock

    Forget about the classic quartet. Forget the power trio. Forget any preconceived shortcomings you may have concerning a rock-and-roll duo. There’s no denying it – the Black Keys crank out impressive noise. As one half of the band – drummer Patrick Carney – once joked, “We’re normally a 12-piece jazz big-band, but the other 10 […]

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    Tremcaster Single Ninety

    Best of Both Worlds

    Tremcaster Signle Ninety Price: $1,250 Info: www.tremcaster.com. Today’s guitar market is one of extreme preferences. For some, the idea of countless options and exotic woods and craftsmanship is the name of the game. For others, the tendency is more toward “aged” instruments that recall days gone by. What often seem to be missing on this […]

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    Fender’s J Mascis

    Fender’s J Mascis Artist Jazzmaster - J’s Rockin’ Axe

    Introduced in the late 1950s as Fender’s “jazz guitar,” the Jazzmaster was also supposed to compete in the market with Gibson’s semi-hollow ES line. But despite its very specific moniker, the guitar never caught on with the jazz crowd. Lucky for Leo, the Jazzmaster was hijacked by many of the top surf and instrumental bands […]

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    The Gretsch Round-Up

    In 1954, what could possibly be more “contemporary Western” than a Gretsch Round-Up? Introduced in 1954, the Round-Up (listed in Gretsch literature as model PX6130) and the Rancher (PX6022) were trend-setting instruments with eye-catching finishes and ultra-hip-looking appointments. Appropriately, Western-designated models were the company’s first two instruments to be adorned in a sharp looking “modern […]