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Fender California Stratocaster

...essed to find a used one for that price. However, you can find an assembled-in-America Strat that feels just like a ’62 reissue for less than $475. That guitar is the Fender California Strat, and it’s one excellent value. We’ve covered various Stratocasters here, and for good reason – the Strat works. After gigging for almost 30 years, I’ve come to the conclusion that a Strat is probably the single most versatile electric guitar you can own. I’ve...

Gibson’s Mighty F-5 Mandolin

...me F-5s as well as H-5 mandolas featured fern abalone peghead inlay). The F-5, H-5, and K-5 featured hand-engraved tailpiece covers with a “The Gibson” logo and the metal hardware was silver plated with the exception of gold plating on a few 1924 models. The rich Cremona brown sunburst varnish finish is very distinctive of the Loar models and was not a catalog standard color on any other Gibsons of this time period, although it was available as a...

J. Howard Foote Parlor guitar

...s granted a patent for a novel bracing system that was basically a hybrid X- and fan-bracing pattern. According to the patent, it was intended to distribute the treble frequencies more evenly over the guitar. According to Michael Holmes’ list of American manufacturers (see mugwumps.com), Bini may have built guitars until 1901 or later. John Howard Foote is equally mysterious. He apparently was a musical instrument importer and retailer with shops...

Ibanez MC500 Musician

...emark infringement for copying Gibson headstocks. The end result was an out-of-court settlement, and despite what you read on the internet, this was the only copy-guitar “lawsuit” of the ’70s. By ’78, the Japanese makers were selling new designs based on evolving tastes. Resorting to lawyers didn’t accomplish anything except to create new areas for Japanese successes! Ironically, Ibanez, the focal point of the American counterattack because of its...

’53 Gibson Les Paul Junior

...han a double-pickup guitar, but the quality of sound produced by one single-coil P-90 is as good as the lead sound on a double-pickup guitar. Just as most jazz players use only the rhythm pickup and have no need for a double-pickup guitar, many rock and blues players find that a single pickup in the lead or bridge position meets all of their requirements. From a functional point of view, this early Les Paul Junior is fully comparable in quality to...

Martin D-18VE

...rtin guitars from the 1930s and early ’40s. But our test D-18VE will go toe-to-toe with an old Martin dread, straight out of the box. It’s an impressive display of what dreadnought tone is all about. And after a few years of playing… well, stand by! Combined with Martin’s Thinline Goldline Plus bridge pickup is Fishman’s Ellipse Blend system, a new design that uses a condenser microphone attached to a tiny gooseneck that floats inside the body, vi...

Tony Joe White – Uncovered

...brainchild of Tony Joe’s son, Jody White, who reveals himself to be a first-rate producer here. The aforementioned Cale co-wrote the eerie “Louvelda” – with his whispery vocal and ornamental, fuzzed guitar complementing White’s trademark fuzz-wah squawk. Mark Knopfler and Eric Clapton turn in fine appearances, on “Not One Bad Thought” and “Did Somebody Make A Fool Out Of You,” respectively, and, besides “Georgia,” White reprises his early-’70s tun...

John 5 – The Devil Knows My Name

...ollowed by the unaccompanied “Bella Kiss,” featuring harmonics, pedal steel-like bends, and Hedges-styled tapping. John’s adaptation of Guns ‘N Roses’ “Welcome To The Jungle” is the CD’s first single, but there are better songs here; “Jungle” doesn’t translate to an instrumental that well. “Dead Art Plainfield” is a stronger rock riff. Mr. 5 shows that he’s more than a mere shredder, displaying tasty country fingerpicking on Chet Atkins’ “Young Th...

Dave Alvin – West of the West

Dave Alvin is one of America’s best songwriters, and as such runs the risk of alienating casual fans when he does an album of covers. But then again, maybe not… The idea with his newest disc, West of the West,, is to pay tribute to songwriters from the West Coast, where Alvin grew up. That means is you get stuff like “California Bloodlines” from John Stewart, with its gorgeous changes and nice, melodic lead guitar from producer/string-wizard Greg...

Lucy Kaplansky – Over the Hills

...the most surprising choice. Originally released on Roxy Music’s Avalon choc-a-block with synthesizers and atmospheric effects, Kaplansky’s version strips the gothic artifice to reveal good bones. Her rendition of the Johnny Cash classic “Ring of Fire” brings the song back to a female perspective that’s closer to June Carter’s original concept than Johnny’s macho stance. The strongest original song on the album is “Amelia” which paints a heartbreak...
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