Premier Guitar

Staff Picks: It's Evolution Baby!

May 11, 2013

You know what they say: Learn from the past so history doesn’t repeat itself. In this spirit, PG editors, the reader of the month, and guitarist Keaton Simons discuss innovations from guitar’s past, present, and future. Send your own thoughts to info@premierguitar.com.


Matt Hayward -- Reader of the Month
What are you listening to?
Comedian Doug Stanhope’s The Great White Stanhope, my friend Chad Channing’s band Before Cars, and my own band Lace Weeper’s new EP, Tusk, released this month.
What era or decade do you think was the most interesting for guitar and why?
“True art should reflect decay.” No decade captured that more than the ’90s. Fed up with the MTV music-video saturation of the ’80s, I think the ’90s returned a valuable element of rock to the mainstream market that was essential.


Tessa Jeffers -- Managing Editor
What are you listening to?
The special, swinging vibe of young slide-guitarist Luke Winslow-King’s Delta-dirt-meets-gentle-folk on The Coming Tide.
What era or decade do you think was the most interesting for guitar and why?
Reading Pete Townshend’s memoir, I’m fascinated by the firsthand glimpse into the Wild Wild West landscape of the electric guitar in the early ’60s (Jim Marshall, a young drummer experimenting with double-stack amps, etc.). No strict guidelines or schools, anything went—the playing was loud and raw, authentic rock being invented.


Keaton Simons -- Guest Picker
What are you listening to?
The Wood Brothers, Ways Not to Lose. It’s down-home swampy blues with deep sophistication. Gets me right in the gut every time.
What era or decade do you think was the most interesting for guitar and why?
The 1960s, because artists were pushing the boundaries of electric guitar. With brilliant people like Jimi Hendrix, Eric Clapton, Pete Townshend, etc. paving the way, electric guitar hasn’t been the same since.


Andy Ellis -- Senior Editor
What are you listening to?
Frank Vignola and Vinny Raniolo, Melody Magic. Stunning, masterfully played arrangements of enduring classics infused with the spirit of flamenco and jazz manouche.
What era or decade do you think was the most interesting for guitar and why?
The late 1800s—when gut strings gave way to steel strings in America. Factory-made flat-tops and archtops defined folk, blues, and jazz, ultimately spawning the electric guitar. We take modern guitar sounds for granted, but the revolution began when we started stringing up with steel.


Chris Kies -- Associate Editor
What are you listening to?
Queens of the Stone Age’s single “My God Is the Sun” is making me drool like Pavlov’s dogs for … Like Clockwork.
What era or decade do you think was the most interesting for guitar and why?
I’d want to be in the eye of the storm in ’71–’72 for my two fave Stones LPs, ’77–’78 to rip power chords alongside Joe Strummer and Glenn Danzig, and ’91–’92 to welcome Pantera’s thrash and the Northwest grunge assault.


Charles Saufley -- Gear Editor
What are you listening to?
Kurt Vile and the Violators Wakin’ on a Pretty Daze. Kurt and collaborators Jesse Trbovich and Rob Laakso are masters at converting Vile’s evergreen tunes and sweetly sardonic turns of phrase into hazy, drifting reveries. Pretty Daze pretty much turns everything into lazy afternoon porch sit. Get it before summer hits.
What era or decade do you think was the most interesting for guitar and why?
The future. Stoked to hear what’s next.


Shawn Hammond -- Editor in Chief
What are you listening to?
Kings of Leon, The Collection Box. Mock the 2010 pigeon-poop gig all you want, these five albums are still chock-full of rad tunes, smart guitar parts, and tasty tones.
What era or decade do you think was the most interesting for guitar and why?
All eras have innumerable gems. Find new stuff via friends, authoritative sources, and cool tech gadgets. Most importantly, keep an open mind and push yourself to listen to new things. There are a zillion ways for guitar to be compelling.


Rich Osweiler -- Associate Editor
What are you listening to?
Junip, Junip. The Swedish trio’s sophomore effort is a menu of soft, atmospheric drone rock done right. Blending thoughtful acoustic work with a drenching of Moog tones and patient but driving beats, it’s the perfect backdrop for José González’s trance-inducing vocals.
What era or decade do you think was the most interesting for guitar and why?
A valid case could be made for so many decades, but the ’60s gave us more in terms of innovation and rule breaking than any other.


Jason Shadrick -- Associate Editor
What are you listening to?
Josh Smith, Don’t Give Up on Me. With his latest, Smith’s Albert Collins-meets-Steve Cropper style is in full force, making one of the better blues albums released this year.
What era or decade do you think was the most interesting for guitar and why?
My vote would be for the period between 1971 and 1976. Just far enough away from the psychedelic ‘60s and before corporate rock took hold.