Very young kids, pros looking for fresh voicings, and guitarists who’ve sustained fretting-hand injuries will all find something powerful here to explore.

Album

Harvey Reid
The Liberty Guitar Album
Woodpecker Records

Until you know the backstory, Harvey Reid's new collection of solo guitar instrumentals sounds like the superb discs he has been releasing for 35 years. Featuring moving lines, bluesy riffs, and rich, colorful chords, the tunes are melodic, expertly arranged, and fingerpicked with soul and skill—classic Reid.

But he performed the 14 pieces, which include both traditional music and such modern classics as “All I Have to Do Is Dream” and “Moon Shadow,” with only two fretting fingers—his 2nd and 3rd. Reid undertook this exercise in digital restraint to illustrate the power of a new tuning he stumbled across while working with a partial capo.

He calls it Liberty Tuning, and it requires only one subtle change from standard tuning plus a strategically placed partial capo. Reid says you can put a guitar into Liberty Tuning in about five seconds—no restringing required. Very young kids, pros looking for fresh voicings, and guitarists who’ve sustained fretting-hand injuries will all find something powerful here to explore. You can learn about Reid’s Liberty instructional books and song collections at libertyguitar.com. Meanwhile check out this track and marvel: Yes, that’s just two fretting fingers and no overdubs.

Must-hear track: “Fields of Gold”

Plus, the Fontaines D.C. axeman explains why he’s reticent to fix the microphonic pickup in his ’66 Fender Coronado.

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I have a love-hate relationship with acoustic guitars. My infatuation with the 6-string really blasted off with the Ventures. That’s the sound I wanted, and the way to get it was powered by electricity. Before I’d even held a guitar, I knew I wanted a Mosrite, which I was sure was made of fiberglass like the surfboards the Beach Boys, Surfaris, and the Challengers rode in their off time. Bristling with space-age switchgear and chrome-plated hardware, those solidbody hotrod guitars were the fighter jets of my musical dreams. I didn’t even know what those old-timey round-hole guitars were called. As the singing cowboys Roy Rogers and Gene Autrey strummed off into the sunset, the pace of technology pushed the look and sound of the electric guitar (and bass) into the limelight and into my heart. Imagine my disappointment when I had to begin my guitar tutelage on a rented Gibson “student” acoustic. At least it sort of looked like the ones the Beatles occasionally played. Even so, I couldn’t wait to trade it in.

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Need an affordable distortion pedal? Look no further.

We live in the golden age of boutique pedals that are loaded with advanced features—many of which were nearly unthinkable a decade or so ago. But there’s something that will always be valuable about a rock-solid dirt box that won’t break your wallet. Here’s a collection of old classics and newly designed stomps that cost less than an average concert ticket.

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