Inside the latest VG
Published monthly since 1986

Author Archives: Sean OBryan Smith

Teye Guitars Gypsy Queen

The Art of Tone

Teye Gypsy Queen Price: $4,400 (as tested with metal top) Info: For Austin-based Teye Guitars, taking guitar construction to new artistic heights has been a basic tenet since their inception. Mastermind luthier Teye Wijnterp, an accomplished guitarist, forged his concept of playable art during years of touring. Today, players around the world, including Rich […]

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Shaw Audio Bass 130

Classic Tone for the Modern World

Shaw Audio Bass 130 Price: $1,995 (list) Contact: Tennessee amp builder Kevin Shaw loves restoring old cars – and creating fine-sounding amplifiers. His ToneRod SE and Fulltilt 18 helped establish him as a factor among amp builders, and his latest offering is (as the name implies) a bass head – the Audio Bass 130. […]

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K775V Kay Jazz II and K5970V Jazz Special Bass


K775V Kay Jazz II and K5970V Jazz Special Price: $1,495 (K775V Jazz II electric guitar); $1,150 (K5970V Jazz Special electric bass) Info: First heralded for their acoustics and upright basses, Kay made its mark with electric guitars played by Eric Clapton and Paul McCartney. Kay Vintage Reissue recalls that era with its K775V Jazz […]

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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: 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 […]

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Kramer 84 and Pacer Vintage

Tap, Shred, Dive!

Kramer 84/Pacer Vintage Price: $1,166 (84); $1,267 (Pacer Vintage) Info: It’s hard to think of ’80s guitars as vintage, but since all things get older, the guitars of the shred generation have indeed acquired a certain patina. And of the many wild guitars of that epoch, arguably no other manufacturer exemplified the decade more […]

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Metal Pedals’ Raw Hide, Hard Core XXX

Saddle Up!

Metal Pedals’ Raw Hide, Hard Core XXX Price: $175 (Raw Hide); $230 (Hard Core XXX) Info: For many discerning players, Dave Pantaleone at Metal Pedals is a well-known stompbox builder. His latest offerings are two distinctly different animals that offer pro-level sound and carry on with his established M.O. of solid construction, die-cast aluminum […]

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Eastman AR905SCE Uptown Deluxe

Classy Jazz Box

Eastman AR905SCE Uptown Deluxe Price: $3,650 retail Contact: Over the past few years the negative stigma attached to guitars manufactured overseas has been altered greatly. Many builders from abroad have upped their games significantly, rising from mere copycats to top contenders. One such builder that consistently proves its commitment to quality is Eastman Guitars, […]

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Epiphone Zenith Fretted and Fretless Bass

New Groove Territory

For decades, guitar players have known the name Epiphone. Renowned for making great-sounding jazz boxes like the Zephyr and Emperor Regent, which have been seen in the hands of major artists, and models like the Texan and Casino were key to the sound of The Beatles. Even blues legends like John Lee Hooker flocked to […]

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Fano Alt de Facto RB6

Classic That Never Was

Fano Alt de Facto RB6 Price: $2,495 Info: In recent years, a trend in the guitar realm has been to re-create the magic of vintage-style instruments. This has ranged from player-modded updates of classics to manufacturers painstakingly attempting to age/“relic” guitars. Dennis Fano uses both approaches in his Alt de Facto line of guitars, […]

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ZT Amplifiers Club and Lunchbox Acoustic

Big Things, Small Packages

In two short years of existence, ZT Amplifiers has found a unique place for itself in the world of boutique amplification. ZT engineering guru Ken Kantor’s flagship amp is called The Lunchbox, so named because of its compact physical size. But the moniker utterly belies the fact the amp can pump out 200 watts of […]

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