Well folks we all know what great guitars have been designed and created over the years, but there were some vessels of musical expression in the guitar world that were, lets say a stroke of mistaken genius. In this column I’ll discuss some of the mistakes that we have more or less taken for granted, and I also give some of my own mistakes that might work out for you.
Mike Stern is one of those lucky few: a guitarist who can do it all. Though he’s known for the depth and precision of his jazzy ballads and rip-snortin’ fusion instrumentals, he’s equally respected for the woozy bends and woody tone of his paeans to the greats of blues and rock. Listen to any of his many excellent releases (all of which remain active in the Atlantic catalog), and you’ll caught by the power of his deceivingly subtle blend.
I’ve been playing the electric twelve string guitar professionally for the last 16 years in my band The Carpet Frogs. Guitar players have often complimented me on the tone of my electric 12 string and have asked me how I get that “authentic” sound! For me, it all started with the two Godfathers of the electric 12 string: George Harrison of the Beatles and Roger McGuinn of The Byrds. Obviously, the first ingredient is a great 12 string. The Granddaddy of them all is the Rickenbacker 12 string.
I was determined to find something that would allow for my inner bass player to come out – and then I discovered the wonderful world of baritone guitars. You know, those extended scale things with strings as thick as a bass that are an octave lower than a regular guitar. Yes, Nirvana was at hand!
Last month guitar legend Link Wray passed away at his Copenhagen home at the age of seventy-six. A master of raw tone and minimalist riffs, Link Wray was the great grandfather of the power chord.
That’s the case with jazz guitar great John Abercrombie. It’s amazing to think that in his playing one can discern the influences of so many great players yet immediately tell, from the very first note, that none other than he could be playing.
I believe this story happened in about 1966, during my last year of high school at Paradise Valley High in Phoenix, Arizona. I was a wannabe rock ‘n roll guy and like most of my friends, always had a few guitars lying around. I had this one friend, Richard Guimont, who was not a musician, but his Mom just happened to own JD’s night club in Scottsdale.
Possibly no other single event inspired the creation of more garage bands than the first Ed Sullivan show featuring the Beatles. And likewise, probably no single company furnished more of the guitars and amps for young musicians than the Sears & Roebuck Company. While most of us would rather have started out with the Gretsch, Rickenbacker, Hofner, Vox and Ludwig gear we saw the Fab Four using, due to price and availability, it was the Sears catalog that supplied our first six-string.
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