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This guitar certainly sounds superb, and thanks to its fine tonewood ensemble—which consists of a korina neck and body, figured maple top, and Brazilian rosewood—it looks great, too.

When it comes to electric guitar materials, choose the wood that looks good.

Nothing raises the hackles of electric-guitar players like the subject of tonewoods. Maybe that’s why I like to talk about the subject. Unlike many, I enjoy being proven wrong, and believe me when I tell you that, despite my decades of experience, it happens on a regular basis. And despite what may appear to be factual science, there’s also something that can change one’s opinion on matters that don’t get discussed: The practical application of the matter at hand.

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Support your local independent venues. They are citadels of community and creativity. And they need your help.

An important part of my music education started when I began sneaking into clubs when I was 16. I was a tall kid, and usually had no trouble walking in. It’s not surprising these venues were lax about checking IDs, since back then more than a few tolerated weed-smoking and other shenanigans. But I was there for the music, where it was raw and unproven and just a few feet away, and I quickly learned you didn’t have to be on TV or play arenas to be great. Connecticut-area outfits from the Scratch Band (featuring a pre-fame G.E. Smith) to the Simms Brothers Band to Saucers became my new heroes.

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When Louis Cato received this Univox LP-style as a gift in high school, it needed some major TLC. A few years later, it got some practical upgrades and now makes regular appearances with Cato on The Late Show.

Photo by Scott Kowalchyk

The self-described “utility knife” played drums with John Scofield and Marcus Miller and spent time in the studio with Q-Tip before landing on Stephen Colbert’s show as a multi-instrumentalist member of the house band. Now, he’s taken over as the show’s guitar-wielding bandleader and is making his mark.

It’s a classic old-school-show-biz move: Bring out the band, introduce them one by one, and build up the song to its explosive beginning. It’s fun, dramatic, audiences love it, and that’s how every The Late Show with Stephen Colbert taping starts.

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