Davy Knowles’ current go-to axe is this 1966 Fender Telecaster.

The bluesman goes back to basics with his coalescing live band to capture a raw, late-’60s vintage vibe on his third solo LP.

Davy Knowles was barely 20 in 2007 when his former band Back Door Slam’s debut album, Roll Away, hit the streets and Knowles hit the road—which proved an eye-opening experience for a youngster from the sheltered environs of the Isle of Man. Though he's traveled many miles since, his sound still harkens back to his homeland on his third studio album, Three Miles from Avalon, premiered here exclusively by Premier Guitar.

The eight-song set summons the spirit of late-’60s, powerhouse British blues—the kind played by Peter Green’s Fleetwood Mac and the legendary Irish firebrand Rory Gallagher—and explores the genre’s enduring themes, like blackmail, gambling, and regret.

Guitar beacon Joe Satriani called 2009 tourmate Knowles his “favorite modern bluesman.” That’s not a light compliment, and Knowles hasn’t stopped building upon his chops. Following his sophomore solo album, 2014’s The Outsider, came an ambitious full-length documentary Island Bound, which follows the migration of indigenous music from Celtic and European cultures, and explores the influence of roots music on contemporary popular music.

Knowles chose his current hometown of Chicago, the capital of electric blues, to record his new collection, which he co-produced with engineer Anthony Gravino. After extensive touring, Knowles’ says his band is hitting a stride. “The band and myself have racked up a lot of playing time together, and we have really started to gel,” he says. “I wanted to capture that ‘live’ feel in the studio.”

A self-professed rabid vinyl collector, Knowles set out with a specific sound in mind. “My favorite sounding records are certainly older ones, recorded to tape, with minimal fuss or overdubs,” the bluesman continues. “I wanted that lovely warm, vintage sound that only tape and glowing tubes can do.”

Knowles’ current go-to guitar is a 1966 Fender Telecaster, and while the band went for a stripped vibe, Knowles found inspiration in a pedal by Foxrox Electronics, called the Octron. The octave-up and octave-down pedal became the catalyst that helped him finish the album’s third track, “Falling Apart,” which features a dark, driving, ominous riff that recalls Jimmy Page’s haunting tone on “Dazed and Confused.”

Avalon features a few tips of the hat to Knowles’ heroes, including a reworking of Willie Dixon’s “What in the World,” while the track “What You’re Made Of,” pays homage to the late Gallagher. “Rory has been a huge influence for me—his energy and drive were so mesmerizing,” says Knowles. “I wanted to get back to that high-energy, big guitar riff style of writing.”

Equipped with noise reduction and noise gate modes, the Integrated Gate has a signal monitoring function that constantly monitors the input signal.

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Luthier Maegen Wells recalls the moment she fell in love with the archtop and how it changed her world.

The archtop guitar is one of the greatest loves of my life, and over time it’s become clear that our tale is perhaps an unlikely one. I showed up late to the archtop party, and it took a while to realize our pairing was atypical. I had no idea that I had fallen head-over-heels in love with everything about what’s commonly perceived as a “jazz guitar.” No clue whatsoever. And, to be honest, I kind of miss those days. But one can only hear the question, “Why do you want to build jazz guitars if you don’t play jazz?” so many times before starting to wonder what the hell everyone’s talking about.

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A modern take on Fullerton shapes and a blend of Fender and Gibson attributes strikes a sweet middle ground.

A stylish alternative to classic Fender profiles that delivers sonic versatility. Great playability.

Split-coil sounds are a little on the thin side. Be sure to place it on the stand carefully!

$1,149

Fender Player Plus Meteora HH
fender.com

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After many decades of sticking with flagship body shapes, Fender spent the last several years getting more playful via their Parallel Universe collection. The Meteora, however, is one of the more significant departures from those vintage profiles. The offset, more-angular profile was created by Fender designer Josh Hurst and first saw light of day as part of the Parallel Universe Collection in 2018. Since then, it has headed in both upscale and affordable directions within the Fender lineup—reaching the heights of master-built Custom Shop quality in the hands of Ron Thorn, and now in this much more egalitarian guise as the Player Plus Meteora HH.

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