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    Each year, Vintage Guitar asks fans to select Readers’ Choice winners for Player of the Year in four categories, Album of the Year, and Artist of the Year, which is drawn from artists featured in the magazine. Included are selections for the VG Hall of Fame, which annually inducts two players, an innovator, and an instrument. In 2018, nearly 5,000 votes were tallied via the magazine’s traditional written ballot and online at VintageGuitar.com. Here, we proudly present this year’s winners.

    John Lee Hooker

    The Modern, Chess & Veejay Singles Collection 1949-62
    Mr. Boogie

    John Lee Hooker was the bridge between country blues and electric blues, something elegantly captured during a 53-year career. The son of sharecroppers, he melded field hollers, Delta blues, talking blues, and what became called Mississippi “hill country” blues into the electric postwar era with records like “Boogie Chillun” and “Sally Mae” from 1949. Those

    Robert Randolph

    Soul Power

    “I wasn’t really a Coltrane fan, but when I heard Kind Of Blue I was like, ‘Hell, as long as it’s got soul.’” For sacred-steel specialist Robert Randolph, it’s all about soul. After absorbing the philosophy of his church and using his talent to create a hybrid of uplifting secular music, Randolph has just released,

    Dale Watson

    Dale Watson

    Honky-Tonk Hammerin’

    Dale Watson remembers well a conversation he once had with Leo Fender. “Leo gave me a guitar, and it was so shiny and new, I said, ‘Well, I just hate to take this out and play it and get it all scratched up.’ And Leo said, ‘Well, then, give it back. I like knowing that

    Fender Deluxe Reverb

    Vintage Guitar magazine Hall of Fame 2011 Instrument

    In the June ’07 issue of VG, amp profiler extraordinaire Dave Hunter said of the Fender Deluxe Reverb, “If guitarists were to vote for the one ‘best amp for all occasions,’ [it] would very likely earn a majority decision’.” And while this year’s nominees in the VG Hall of Fame “Instrument” category pitted the “DR”

    Bobby “Blue” Bland

    The Guitarists of Blues’ Crown Prince

    On June 23 of last year, the blues lost one of its greatest singers with the death of Bobby “Blue” Bland at age 83. Best known for a 20-year run with Duke Records that yielded such classics as “I Pity The Fool,” “I’ll Take Care Of You,” and his reworking of T-Bone Walker’s “Stormy Monday

    Forty Quid of Klunk

    Tales of the Harmony Bass

    Duh-Duh-Duh-Duh-Duh, Klunk! It’s not the most artful musical introduction, but it was effective. And by the time a screaming Hammond organ slides in over the pounding bass-and-drums, most listeners are hooked. The song is “Gimme Some Lovin” by the Spencer Davis Group, and the 1966 record is a showcase not only for the vocals and


    Gibson EB-2

    Kalamazoo’s Biggest Bass Innovation?

    In the mid 1950s, Gibson president Ted McCarty was paying close attention to two new instruments impacting the musical-instruments market – the solidbody electric guitar and the electric bass. Both had been developed by an upstart company called Fender, and Gibson’s original solidbodies, the Les Paul guitar and Electric Bass (VG, February ’06) were introduced

    The Fender Bullet Deluxe/JP-90

    No Frills, Didn’t Fly

        Fender has tried more than once to market basses with a low-budget vibe. And while the idea is laudable, most of the offerings never really caught on. In the early ’80s, Fender – then owned by CBS – was on a downward slide thanks in part to quality-control issues and uninspired products. And

    Arlen Roth

    No Stone Unturned

    To guitarists raised on his “Hot Licks” instructional video series, session and touring great Arlen Roth is something of a legendary figure. His latest release, Paint It Black, is the third in a series of instrumental albums that takes a fresh look at timeless songs by preeminent figures in pop music. As its title infers,

    Jack Casady

    Hot Tuna, Part II

    Jazz bass great Anthony Jackson (August ’11) once told Bass Player magazine, he was drawn to Jack Casady’s “big, rich, metallic sound with a full bottom and a curious, guitaristic way of playing.” When Jackson saw Casady perform live, he was “struck by his dignity and serious mien.” For about 45 years, Casady has been

    The Story of Albanus Guitars

    Windy-City Wonders

    “Art for art’s sake.” The expression is common. But how often is it practiced? In a basement studio on Chicago’s North Side, Carl Johnson epitomized the maxim while building archtop guitars bearing the Albanus brand from the 1950s until the ’70s. Rather than seek fame or fortune, Johnson was content to live modestly and draw pleasure watching

    Susan Tedeschi and Derek Trucks

    Susan Tedeschi and Derek Trucks

    Minds Made Up

    Collaborations have rendered some of the greatest tunes in the history of music. Whittle the subject to “just” guitarists, and the truth remains – two are often better than one. The axiom is holding true for Susan Tedeschi and Derek Trucks. Each a top-tier star in their own right, the two, now married for more

    dunlop slash Way Vintage Guitar magazine

    MXR Slash Octave Fuzz SF01/Slash Cry Baby Classic SC-95

    Slash ’N Burn

    MXR SF01 Slash Octave Fuzz Price: $129 (street) Contact: www.jimdunlop.com Slash Cry Baby Classic SC95 Wah Price: $129 (street) Contact: www.jimdunlop.com MXR’s new Slash Octave Fuzz pedal employs three fuzz “flavors” – Sub-Octave, Fuzz, and Octave Up – that offer a palette of distinctive, utilizable sounds. The pedal, built with analog circuitry, true-bypass switching, and

    The Watkins Clubman

    The hokey, amphetamine-tempo’d folk music known as “skiffle” was all the rage with Britain’s youth in 1955, and rock and roll barely yet a glimmer in the collective eye, when this outrageously stylish Watkins Clubman hit the scene. Admittedly, the Clubman’s chintzy, pre-rock aesthetic is a big part of what makes it so appealing. Dubbed

    Giffin Vikta

    Feelin’ Special

    Giffin Vikta Price: $2,295 Contact: www.premierbuildersguild.com Roger Giffin is a guitarmaker to the stars, having built for Eric Clapton, Pete Townshend and John Entwistle, Mark Knopfler, Andy Summers, David Gilmour, and many others. He also ran the Gibson Custom Shop in California for many years before striking out on his own. Now producing his own

    James Burton

    James Burton

    In rural Louisiana in the early 1950s, it was no small feat when a family scraping by to survive bought a new Fender Telecaster for their 13-year-old son, especially when that $280 had been set aside to buy a car so their father could stop thumbing a ride to work. Guy and Lola Burton, however,

    Squirrel Nut Zippers

    Beasts of Burgundy

    Rare it is when a band forms, blows the doors off with their music, falls apart, regroups – and hits new highs. In fact, this first new album from the Squirrel Nut Zippers in 18 long years just may be one of their best. Like their landmark 1996 album Hot, this is a kaleidoscopic whirl

    Various Artists

    Orchestral Maneuvers

    Yes’ Chris Squire didn’t intend to make a masterpiece with 1975’s Fish Out of Water, but he inadvertently did – and knew it. For the ensuing 40 years, the late bassist never dared make another solo album, well aware he couldn’t top himself. Fortunately, the landmark is now reissued with 5.1 Surround remix, vinyl, and