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Monthly Archives: December 2009

Gibson F-5 1923


1923 Gibson F-5. Gibson F-5 mandolins signed by Lloyd Loar from mid 1922 to 1924 are considered the Holy Grail by most American mandolin players. Within that group of grails, however, are a few that to bluegrass aficionados are the holiest of the holy. These F-5s have a date of July 9, 1923, and were […]

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Bo Diddley


Bo Diddley. Photo: F. Scott Schafer. Rock-and-roll pioneer Bo Diddley died of heart failure June 2 at his home in Florida. He was 79 years old. Born Otha EllasBates in Mississippi in 1928, in the ’50s, Diddley adapted the blues and folk music of his native state and combined them with African rhythms to devise […]

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J. Howard Foote Parlor guitar


Ca. 1875 J. Howard Foote Parlor guitar, SN 654. Photo: Michael Wright. P.T. Barnum probably didn’t coin the classic modern truism “There’s a sucker born every minute,” even though it does fit well with the Barnum legacy! Most of us know Barnum because of his traveling circus, The Greatest Show on Earth, later the Barnum […]

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Gibson’s “blond” J-35


Photo: Kelsey Vaughn, courtesy George Gruhn. In the world of vintage guitars, people tend to use the words “blond” and “natural” interchangeably to describe a finish with no stain or pigment. However, in some cases, blond is a distinct color, different from natural. The standard for blond finish is, of course, “Tele blond,” the yellowish […]

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Paul Reed Smith #11


The eleventh instrument made by Paul Reed Smith, from 1977. Photo by Whitney Lane. Rick Kennell, bassist for ’70s prog-rockers Happy the Man, was one of the very first players to jump aboard the Paul Reed Smith bandwagon. After learning to play bass on short-scale Fender Mustangs and Gibson EB-0s, in HTM Kennell used two […]

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Alvino Rey’s “Mini” Gibsons


Alvino Rey’s 1936 Gibson mini guitar. From its beginnings, Gibson has built custom orders and unique instruments for specific artists, sometimes by request, other times to lure a potential endorser. Manufacturers have always known that a popular player seen in public or shown holding an instrument in print (or on TV) can be key to […]

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Schecter Yngwie Malmsteen


1986 Schecter Yngwie Malmsteen For most of the 1970s I didn’t listen to or play electric guitar music of any kind, only acoustic music. I did, on occasion, read about it. Then, in 1981, I decided I needed to ride a stationary bicycle. The only way I could do it was to listen to music […]

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Jerry Douglas – Glide


Fans may argue whether Jerry Douglas is the greatest dobro player of all time, but few will dispute that he’s the finest player of his generation. Pioneers such as Bashful Brother Oswald and Mike Auldridge could swing, but Douglas is the first who can shred, slide, and shimmy. Douglas’ nickname, “Flux,” stems from his ability […]

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Doitsch Hawaiian Guitar


1939 Doitsch Hawaiian Guitar. Photo: Michael Wright. If there’s a foundation for the enthusiasm for vintage guitars, it’s based on a somewhat arbitrary hierarchy of brand identity. That is to say, a Gibson or a Fender is by common understanding superior to, say, a Harmony guitar, and therefore more desirable. Some of this is simply […]

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Rusty Truck


Jakob Dylan, Gillian Welch, Lenny Kravitz, T-Bone Burnett, Willie Nelson, and even Matchbox 20′s Rob Thomas all have a hand in producing, singing, and playing on this expanded edition of Rusty Truck’s debut. The band is helmed by Mark Seliger, former photographer for Rolling Stone. With that kind of gig it can’t be hard to […]

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