Author Archives: Jim Hilmar

Gretsch Country Gentleman


Consider American guitar manufacturers that have been in business during the last 100 years and the different instruments they’ve produced. Only a handful  have become cultural icons – given no information except “Les Paul,” “Stratocaster,” “Telecaster,” and “White Falcon,” even non-players can identify them as guitars. It’s not uncommon to hear “Telecaster? That’s a Fender […]

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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 […]

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Gretsch Jet Firebird

One of the flashiest Jets in the Gretsch Company’s Air Force

Given the number of jet-related model monikers in Gretsch’s 1950s and ’60s catalogs, one might get the impression the company built airplanes. There were the flashy “fighters” like the Duo-Jet, Silver Jet, and Jet Fire Bird. Then there were the sturdy, reliable “tankers” represented by laminated archtops like the Corsair and the seldom-seen Jet 21. On the “commercial” […]

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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 (more…)

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The Robin Nolan Trio – Swings & Roundabouts


If you like gypsy jazz and you haven’t heard The Robin Nolan Trio, you should. Solo guitarist Nolan is joined by rhythm guitarist Jan P. Brouwer and bassist Paul Meader on Swings & Roundabouts (CD RNT3), the third CD from this (more…)

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Rockabilly Rarities – Volume Two


Rockabilly Rarities Volume Two picks up where Volume One (“Spotlight,” June ’99) left off and features 30 tracks of rockin’, shakin’, foot-stompin’ music. Great/obscure labels like Bakers-field, Sure, Rebel, Cherry, Jan, Fox, Testa, Note, and Meteor are represented along with plenty of fun artists/groups including Larry Terry, Bill Woods, Wayne Williams and The Sure (more…)

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Leon Rhodes

Country-Jazz Genius, Terrific Texas Troubadour

Leon in full Texas Troubadours stage attire with his cherry red Epiphone Sheraton, circa 1965. Photo courtesy of Leon Rhodes. Leon Rhodes has worn a lot of hats during his long and successful career in the music business. (more…)

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Speedy West and Jimmy Bryant – There’s Gonna Be A Party…


Longtime readers of this column know how much I love Speedy West and Jimmy Bryant. Through the years I’ve had the pleasure of interviewing/profiling Speedy (Feb. ’94) and “SPOTLIGHTlighting” Jimmy (Dec. ’94) and Speedy (June ’95). (more…)

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