Readers’ Choice Awards

LAST CHANCE to Vote for a chance to win a Grez Folsom guitar valued at $2,680!

With its basswood body, mahogany neck, ebony fretboard with 25″ scale, jumbo frets, Lollar Firebird neck pickup, Fralin Tele pickup at the bridge, and a nitro finish in Pearl Metallic Grey, the Grez Folsom offers classic tones with the feel of a handmade instrument. At just under seven pounds, The Folsom has a stout feel without being heavy. Learn more at www.grezguitars.com.

Eric Johnson (top left), Danny Gatton, Allan Holdsworth, Rory Gallagher, Freddie King, Albert King, Jerry Garcia, and Joe Pass. Eric Johnson: Max Crace. Danny Gatton: VG Archive. Allan Holdsworth: VG Archive. Rory Gallagher: Harry Potts/Wikimedia Commons. Freddie King: Lionel Decoster/Wikimedia Commons. Albert King: Grant Gouldon/Wikimedia Commons. Jerry Garcia: Carl Lende/Wikimedia Commons. Joe Pass: Hans Bernhard/Wikimedia Commons.

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. For a list of prior inductees, visit www.VintageGuitar.com/readers-choice

From these nominations, a list of finalists is compiled with input from VG staff. Please vote here for an instrument, person, and music! Voting makes you automatically eligible for a chance to win a Grez Folsom guitar valued at $2,680!
Deadline for entries is extended to January 21 January 25, 2021. The contest is open to everyone, but void where prohibited. New inductees and contest winners will be announced in the April ’21 issue.

2020_Nov_2020_Readers_Choice_Awards

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 January 26, 2021. New inductees and contest winners will be announced in the May issue.
  • ERIC JOHNSON The acclaimed Austinite rose to prominence with the Grammy-winning instrumental “Cliffs of Dover,” on which his ’54 Strat and ’60s 335 sing like a violin. Eschewing the image of “Texas guitarslinger,” he’s adept at blues but can readily render sounds influenced by Wes Montgomery, Jerry Reed, or Lenny Breau. Introspective and mild-mannered, he cares deeply about every facet of his music, and his impact is today reflected in the work of a generation of players including Eric Gales and Joe Bonamassa.

    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 in 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.”

    Allan Holdsworth Emerging in the late ’70s, his genius was revealed via stints in Tempest, then deepened in the bands Bruford and U.K. In the early ’80s, he launched a solo career and created his own improvisational language exhibited on a series of albums that became the stuff of fusion legend and proved hugely influtential on players including Eddie Van Halen, Frank Zappa, and Rush’s Alex Lifeson. An artist to a fault, Holdsworth was sensitive and savagely critical of his own work despite the fact he existed within his own creative universe and cared little about commercial success.

    Rory Gallagher Grounded in the blues but informed by jazz, the Irish-born guitar hero was accomplished on acoustic, electric, and slide guitar as well as mandolin (along with a handful of non-stringed instruments). His very worn trademark late-’50s Strat was plugged into a vintage Fender, Vox, or occasional Marshall, with nothing but a cord connecting them. Renowned for their authenticity, his albums have sold in quantities numbering 30 million.

    Freddie King The Blues Hall of Fame and Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee is a Texas native who spent a few formative years in Chicago. Eventually favoring a Les Paul and ES-345, he recorded blues tunes that had immeasurable impact on a generation that included Eric Clapton. Skipping the blues revival wave of the late ’60s/early ’70s like peers B.B. and Albert King, his renowned instrumentals reached the ears of a young, white audience alongside those of the Ventures and Fireballs. He even scored a hit with “Hide Away,” which made the Billboard Top 40 in 1961.

    Albert King A singular influence on generations of players including Stevie Ray Vaughan, Jimi Hendrix, and Eric Clapton, King was born on a plantation in Mississippi and grew up immersed in gospel. He made a guitar from a cigar box, piece of a bush, and strand of broom wire before buying one for $1.25. Being left-handed, he learned by playing a righty guitar upside-down and used his fingers and thumb to pluck strings. Signing with Stax in 1965, he recorded a string of hits beginning with “Laundromat Blues,” “Crosscut Saw,” “Born Under a Bad Sign,” and others featuring his widely imitated guitar work on his famed Gibson Flying V. He’s in the Blues Hall of Fame, Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, and Memphis Music Hall of Fame.

    Jerry Garcia He grew up in the San Fransico Bay area hearing country rock, blues, and R&B thanks to his older brother. After playing piano as a child, he took up banjo then, in high school, grabbed a guitar as he became increasingly interested in blues. Heavily influenced by Chuck Berry and Bo Diddley, he began performing at local clubs. In ’65, he formed the Grateful Dead, where he played a variety of instruments including guitar and pedal-steel during long, improvisational jams. He was inducted to the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 1994.

    Joe Pass Given his first guitar at age nine, he taught himself to play and by 14 was performing with bands in Pennsylvania. After high school, he traveled with jazz groups and moved to New York City. Heroin addiction set him back a decade, but he cleaned up and in the early ’60s recorded a series of albums that led to tours, TV and recording sessions, solo recordings, and work in the Grammy-winning The Trio. With the Pablo label, Pass’ lightning-quick chordal work and solos dressed albums by Benny Carter, Milt Jackson, Herb Ellis, Zoot Sims, Duke Ellington, Dizzy Gillespie, Count Basie, and six albums with Ella Fitzgerald.

  • Edward Van Halen Enshrined in the VG HoF as a player in 2013, he was equally noted for the “superstrat” – a guitar form he created to make the sounds he envisioned as a teenager. With a humbucker at the bridge, modded vibrato tailpiece, and locking nut, it altered the very history of the instrument. After accidentally discovering the effect of running improper voltage through his Marshall amp, he plugged into a hardware-store device that let him control the volts to tweak his tone. Both were nascent steps that ultimately led to a brand of guitars and amps.

    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.

    Joe Naylor The son of a classical-pianist mother and bassoonist father, as a child he was enthralled by the concept of “fixing” things; within an hour of its purchase, he disassembled his first electric guitar. That penchant for tinkering led to studying industrial design, followed by founding Naylor Amps, All-Tone Speakers, Reverend Guitars, and Railhammer Pickups. Today, he’s a consultant for the companies he once owned as well as others in the music industry.

    Alexander Dumble A pioneer in the boutique-amplifier market, he began building in the ’60s and made a name tailoring amps by changing capacitors, output transformers, plate resistors, lead dress, and other elements. His client list includes names like Stevie Ray Vaughan, Robben Ford, Larry Carlton, and Carlos Santana, and his amps are among the most collectible.

    Semie Moseley He worked for Paul Bigsby and made necks for Rickenbacker before launching a guitar brand by tracing an upside-down Strat to create his first model. His Mosrite company offered well-made instruments with a comfortable, thin body fancied with a German carve, low frets, a narrow neck, and hot pickups. Connecting with the the Ventures – the most popular instrumental-rock band ever – was a brilliant business move.

  • 1964 Epiphone Casino, ’58 Gibson Les Paul Special, Ibanez Tubescreamer, ’38 Martin 000-28.
  • Epiphone Casino The budget version of Gibson’s ES-330, it’s a true hollowbody with chrome-covered P-90 pickups. Though louder and brighter than the 335, its lack of a center block makes it more prone to feeding back. Its big break came when Sir Paul (McCartney) scored a used one in the mid ’60s before the other Beatles asked the company for a few. Today, Epi makes several versions.

    Gibson Les Paul Special When Fender introduced the Strat, Gibson’s Les Paul Standard was suddenly deemed stodgy, heavy, and over-priced. The company’s response came in the form of a stripped-down, slab-bodied, plain-Jane version priced for beginners. Introduced in 1954 as the Les Paul Junior, it had full scale length, set neck, and single-coil P-90 pickup. Thanks to strong sales, Gibson installed a second P-90 in ’55 and called it the Special. It’s now among the most-coveted vintage screamers.

    Ibanez Tube screamer A star in the stompbox world, it was introduced in the late ’70s as a “tube simulator” when solidstate amps ruled the roost. Its voice largely the result of a simple clipping circuit, tone hounds began to pay more attention after Stevie Ray Vaughan used one to record Texas Flood, relying primarily on its Tone knob to tweak the distortion and bass/treble balance at the front end of his rig.

    Martin 000-28 Introduced as a 12-fret/slot-head, in mid ’34 it was given a longer 14-fret neck that, in combination with its 15" body, Adirondack spruce top, and Brazilian rosewood back and sides, proved popular.

  • Marcus King El Dorado, ERic Johnson EJ Vol. I, Joe Satriani Shapeshifting, Larkin Poe Self Made Man, and Jason Isbell & the 400 Unit Reunions.
  • 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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  • This article originally appeared in the January 2020 issue of Vintage Guitar magazine. If yes, watch for an email notification of when it's available in our store.
  • This question is sponsored by The Official Vintage Guitar Price Guide 2020 and required to enter the giveaway.

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