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Author Archives: Bob Dragich

Ronnie Earl

Stratocaster Royalty

For someone who has been a professional musician for more than 30 years, Ronnie Earl is going through a remarkable production period in his career. In just the last three years, he released his first live DVD and companion CD, 2008′s Hope Radio, followed by the CD Living in the Light in ’09 and now, […]

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Taylor Classic, Custom, and Standard

Worth the Wait

Taylor SolidBody Classic. For years, Bob Taylor fended off the question, “When are you going to build a solidbody guitar?” Well-known as a builder of top-notch acoustics, for his company, Taylor Guitars, the step seemed logical and maybe even a little overdue. And when Taylor released the semi-acoustic T5 three years ago, it was greeted […]

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Mercury Magnetics Fender Champion 600 Conversion Kit

Now It's a Champ!

Fender’s tiny Champion 600 is aimed at the guitarist who requires rich power-tube distortion at low volume levels. With just one 6V6 power tube putting out five watts, getting the little Champ to scream is no problem. Introduced after Epiphone’s similarly-sized Valve Junior, the Champ 600 has a smaller (6″ compared to the Epi’s 8″) […]

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The Mercury Magnetics Epiphone Valve Junior Mod Kit

Small Cha-Ching, Big Bling

Last year, Epiphone tossed a small pebble into a large pond with the introduction of its Valve Junior amplifier – and its launch caused a tsunami. Available as a stand-alone head or a 1×8″ combo, the Junior was as basic as an amp could be for something that still produced sound. With just two tubes, […]

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PRS David Grissom Trem

"Swiss Army" Axe

PRS David Grissom Trem David Grissom is at or near the top of any list of significant Texas guitarists, having toured or recorded with artists ranging from Ringo Starr to the Dixie Chicks and Buddy Guy. He has also penned songs for Trisha Yearwood, John Mayall, and his own band, Storyville. Paul Reed Smith Guitars […]

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76 Watts the Hard Way

The VG Low-Watt Boutique Tube Amp Shootout

For many electric guitarists, the sound coming out of an amp is just not happening until power-tube saturation enters the tonal spectrum, with the richness and warmth you just don’t get with pedals and preamp overdrive circuits. And there’s only one way to get the big bottles rockin’ – turn up the volume! Doing this […]

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Allen Amplification Accomplice Jr.

Raw and Ready

Allen Amplification Accomplice Jr. First impressions of Allen Amplification’s new Accomplice Jr. begin to form even before you open the box – it’s so light you might think (as we did), “Did they ship just a head?” But our fears were assuaged when we cracked open the box to reveal a gig-ready 1×12″ combo that […]

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Blackstar Artisan 15 and 30 Amps

Boutique Tone, Bargain Pricing

Blackstone Artisan 15 Started a few years ago by a group of former Marshall employees, Blackstar Amplification’s Artisan series, comprised of 15- and 30-watt combos and a 100-watt head, is just becoming available in the U.S. The combos are two-channel amps, and they share a number of impressive features, including hand-wired turret circuit boards, control […]

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Epiphone Valve Junior and Valve Special amps


Epiphone Valve Junior Through the years, a number of amplifier manufacturers have tried their hands at producing budget tube amps. The problem with the vast majority of these items was that they were not primarily tube amps, they were primarily low-budget amps. Their main audio function was to give the listener the distinct feeling that […]

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Vox Cooltron Pedals

Look, Ma! No AC Cords!

We’ve harped on the fact before that there are so many great-sounding overdrive/distortion pedals on the market today. And regardless of whether they employ silicon or germanium transistors, guitarists generally feel distortion from a pedal should be produced exactly like distortion from a great amp, meaning it has to start with a vacuum tube. Tube-driven […]

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