Readers’ Choice Awards

The American Acoustasonic Telecaster uses a revolutionary Fender and Fishman-designed Acoustic Engine to deliver new sonic expression from the studio to the stage. The Mustang Micro personal amplifier offers a selection of tones and plugs directly into a guitar.

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The Vintage Guitar Hall of Fame is filled with legendary names – players who inspired generations of followers to pick up that guitar and play! Inductees are chosen by VG readers and visitors to VintageGuitar.com who want to recognize their heroes for their musicianship and innovation. Readers also select Album of the Year, and Player of the Year in four categories. See prior inductees.

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Danny Gatton, Mike Campbell, Pat Martino (top), Robben Ford, Tony Rice (middle), Ron Wood, Roy Buchanan, and Vince Gill.

2021 Readers’ Choice Awards (Jan 2022)

Nominations are solicited from editorial contributors and visitors to VintageGuitar.com, then a list of finalists is compiled with input from VG staff. So, please take a minute to vote below for an instrument, person, and music in all eight categories! Deadline for entries is March 25, 2022. New inductees and contest winners will be announced in the May issue.
  • Danny Gatton His uncategorizable playing style meshed country, rockabilly, and jazz. Dubbed “The Humbler,” he honed his chops in clubs in his hometown Washington, D.C. area (including with his own Redneck Jazz Explosion band, where he traded licks with steel-guitar legend Buddy Emmons) before being noticed by bigger names in the business including Les Paul and Eric Clapton. In 1990, he was nominated for a Grammy for Best Rock Instrumental Performance for the song “Elmira Street Boogie.”

    Mike Campbell Tom Petty’s sideman going back to their earliest days in Jacksonville, he was the creative spur who co-wrote “Refugee,” “Here Comes My Girl,” “You Got Lucky,” and the lick seared into every guitarist’s brain, “Runnin’ Down a Dream.” Throughout the Heartbreakers’ run, his leads were an integral melodic element, often making the songs identifiable before a lyric was sung. Outside the group, his session playing likewise boosted the work of Don Henley, Stevie Nicks, and others. With Petty and Heartbreakers, he’s in the Rock Hall of Fame.

    Robben Ford A five-time Grammy nominee, his use of space, time, chord voicings, and diminished passing tones has mined the sweet spot between sophisticated jazz harmony and traditional blues. With a reverence for B.B. King, Mike Bloomfield, John Coltrane, and Paul Desmond, he built a career on artistic integrity, mirroring his influences without mimicking them. A sought-after session player, he backed Miles Davis before recording a string of critically acclaimed solo albums straddling blues-rock, jazz, and fusion. Today, he shares his knowledge via video, online lessons, and clinics.

    Pat Martino Raised by a jazz-loving father who sang in clubs, Martino was just 15 when when he moved to New York City in 1961, to play guitar professionally. His career flourished for two decades as he backed renowned horn players and pianists while also releasing 12 solo albums. In 1980, he nearly died after suffering a seizure due to congenital arteriovenous malformation. Surgery left him with amnesia and no recollection of his career or how to play. Devoting himself to re-learning, his next album was the 1987 live effort, The Return. He would release 15 more, the last being Formidable, in 2017. He died in November of ’21, leaving a legacy and musical philosophy that will inspire generations of jazz guitarists.

    Ronnie Wood Born in London’s Hillingdon section, at 17 he was playing guitar with a band of locals inspired by R&B and smitten with the rock music imported from the U.S. In ’68, he was recruited to play bass in the Jeff Beck Group, then jumped back to guitar in The Faces. When that group dissolved in the wake of Rod Stewart’s exit, fortunate timing saw Wood replace Mick Taylor in the Rolling Stones. Therein, he has played guitar, slide, steel, pedal steel, sitar, and a B-bender’d Tele. He has recorded seven solo albums; 2010’s stylistically diverse I Feel Like Playing includes appearances by Billy Gibbons and Slash. He has twice been inducted to the Rock Hall of Fame.

    Tony Rice Influenced by Clarence White’s flatpicking, he became a master guitarist and vocalist with a complex musical vision that transcended bluegrass while embracing jazz and modern folk music. For most of his career, Rice played the Martin D-28 that once belonged to White; his rhythm playing was smooth and propulsive, and as a soloist, his superbly articulated solos were marked by cascades of well-chosen and cleanly picked notes that often injected new harmonic ideas that have inspired today’s best young fingerstylists, including Bryan Sutton, Molly Tuttle, and Billy Strings.

    Vince Gill The Oklahoma native grew up playing bluegrass (including a stint in Ricky Skaggs’ Bone Creek) and absorbing the sounds of his heroes, including Buck Owens. He recorded three albums with ’70s country-rockers Pure Prairie League, then moved to Nashville to work sessions, write songs, and back Rodney Crowell and Emmylou Harris. His name ranks among the world’s best guitarists (in any genre) and his credits include 26 million albums sold, 18 CMA awards, membership in the Grand Ole Opry, and 20 Grammys.

    Roy Buchanan He emerged as a kid from the Ozarks with prodigious ability and flare for copping Roy Nichols’ style – until he discovered the blues. As a teen, he began to develop a unique, unbounded style that touched on virtually every pop-music genre. With his renowned ’53 Tele, Buchanan employed an arsenal of technique with an emotive force that sang, soared, screamed, whispered and wailed. His work is exemplified by his first two solo albums and remained top-notch until his passing in 1988.

  • Bill Finnegan, Nat Daniel, Ned Steinberger, and Robert Keeley.
  • Nat Daniel As a teen, he developed an interest in radio that spread to guitar amps. In the mid ’30s, he began building amps of his own design, which led to founding Danelectro, maker of the budget instruments that launched thousands of players. He holds patents on tremolo and reverb amp circuits, as well as a combined bridge/tailpiece for guitars, but didn’t even pursue patents on several amazing innovations including the six-string electric bass, the 12-string electric Bellzouki, the “amp in case” rig, and the acoustic/electric “convertible” guitar.

    Ned Steinberger A trained sculptor and woodworker/cabinet maker, Steinberger met luthier Stuart Spector at a woodworking co-op in 1976. Fascinated by ergonomics, he conceived ways to improve the way guitars and basses fit the human body; his previous work creating shells for car seats led him to consider carbon fiber for instruments because of it high stiffness-to-weight ratio. The result was the NS bass, which lacked a headstock and placed the tuners at the end of a very small lower bout. At the height of its popularity, it was played worldwide and in music videos by Sting, the Rolling Stones, Dixie Dregs, Rush, and others. The guitar version’s Trans-Trem was also evolutionary.

    Bill Finnegan Setting out to build an overdrive pedal that re-created the sound of his Twin Reverb driven to its sweet spot, guitarist Finnegan teamed with an electronics engineer to create the Klon Centaur. Launched in late 1994, its immediate popularity forced Finnegan to quit his day job and become a one-man shop; using germanium clipping diodes, a cast enclosure, and custom-made knobs, by 2008, he hand-built approximately 8,000 Centaurs before devising the mass-produced KTR version. Today, originals are amongst the most sought-after effects pedals.

    Robert Keeley A third-generation electronics engineer, Keeley has been enthralled by electronics since childhood. As a college student, he built home-audio amplifiers and tube guitar amps for friends. One day, he cracked open his Ibanez Tube Screamer to see how he could improve its bass response and add range to its Gain control. The result had friends and other players wanting the same, and he founded an effects company built on the concept. After several years specializing in mods, in 2001, they turned to making original boxes including compressors, boosts, modulation, delay/echo, and wahs.

  • Gibson ES-330, Guild F-512 , Gibson F-5, and a Marshall JCM 800 2203.
  • Gibson ES-330 Released in 1959 as a cheaper alternative to the ES-335, it had the same 1.25"-deep body but was otherwise very different – the most pronounced change being its P-90 pickups and a neck that joined the body at the 16th fret. Its lack of a center block made it more prone to feedback, which pushed away players of popular ’60s blues-rock. Today, semi-hollow collectors see it as an important piece, and a (much) more-affordable alternative to the 335.

    Gibson F-5 Instroduced in 1922, the Style 5 Master Model series of four instruments designed by acoustical engineer Lloyd Loar was a platform for innovation. Loar moved the mando’s bridge closer to the center of a graduated/tap-tuned top, gave it f-shaped sound holes on each lower bout rather than the center oval, put parallel tone bars under the top instead of one small cross bar, then extended and elevated the fretboard, freeing the top to vibrate. In the eyes, hands, and ears of players and collectors, no mandolin comes close.

    Marshall JCM 800 2203 When it hit the market in 1981, the JCM 800 series represented a departure from Marshall’s ’60s/early-’70s amps, which were tame until pushed hard. Players wanted hotter front-end gain and greater control over output, and the 800 delivered. Introduced mid-decade, the 100-watt 2203 Lead Series, with its Master Volume control, became symbolic of stadium rock a la Slash in GnR, Zakk Wylde with Ozzy, Kerry King in Slayer, and countless others. When most think “cranked Marshall,” this is the amp.

    Guild F-512 The ’60s folk revival reignited the 12-string sounds created by Leadbelly and Blind Willie McTell, and major builders responded with new instruments. Though it followed Gibson’s B-45-12 and Martin’s D-12 to market, Guild’s jumbo-sized F-512 had a rosewood body and ornamentation that rivaled the competition. In the hands of Pete Townshend, Brian May, Tim Buckley, John Denver, and Dan Fogelberg, it kept the 12-string in the minds of players through the ’70s. Stevie Ray Vaughan did his part, as well, when he used the fanciest version (JF65-12) on a rippin’ “Rude Mood” to open an early episode of MTV’s “Unplugged” in 1990.

  • Billy Strings - Renewal, Samantha Fish - Faster, Black Keys - Delta Kream, and Christone “Kingfish” Ingram - 662, and Tedeschi Trucks - Layla Revisited (Live at LOCKN’).
  • Player of the YearVG’s Player of Year nominations are chosen by staff and followers of VintageGuitar.com and based on each players’ efforts (recorded, live, etc.). We offer nominees in four categories.

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Readers’ Choice Awards is sponsored by The Official Vintage Guitar Price Guide 2022.