Premier Guitar features affiliate links to help support our content. We may earn a commission on any affiliated purchases.

CBGB Founder Hilly Kristal Dies

Club Owner Changed Face of Music

New York, NY (August 30, 2007) - 75-year old Hilly Kristal has died, ending a long bout with lung cancer. As founder of CBGB, a world-famous punk club in New York, he gave a number of unknown bands the critical stage time that would lead to their fame. CBGB was originally a country joint -- the acronym stood for “country, bluegrass, blues and other music for uplifting gourmandisers.” Founded in 1973, the club found its own niche as the era’s music was in flux. Hill took a chance on energetic acts that were exploring new sounds with fewer chords, outlandish distortion and a raw edge that was 180 degrees from disco. Bands like the Ramones, Blondie, The Patti Smith Group, Television, the Shirts and Talking Heads started their careers there.

The actual club embodied the spirit of punk music. Located in a neighborhood at Bowery and Bleecker Streets in Manhattan’s Lower East Side, the drugs and criminal activity kept the straight-laced crowd away. Inside, it was 165 feet long and a mere 25 feet wide. Graffiti and caked gunk were left untouched. The bathrooms were hideous. For the emerging punk scene that took great care to avoid anything shiny and commercial, it was beautiful.

Hill’s battle with the building’s owner became very public as the club’s lease rate increased over the years, reaching astronomic numbers ($35,000 per month) as efforts to gentrify the neighborhood began attracting real estate moguls willing to pay exorbitant amounts for a piece of the action. The club closed in October of 2006 with performances by Patti Smith and Blondie’s Deborah Harry. Kristal dismantled the bar and other parts of the club, including the famously gross urinal in the men’s room, and shipped them to Las Vegas where he was hoping to re-open the club somewhere along the strip.

Despite the uncertainty of CBGB''s future in Las Vegas, the club is likely to maintain a visual presence in the music industry. The black CBGB t-shirt continues to be a staple of rock n’ roll wardrobes, as it has been for decades. CBGB continues to be sold online and at a retail location between 2nd and 3rd Avenues in New York City.

With a team of experts on hand, we look at six workhorse vintage amps you can still find for around $1,000 or less.

If you survey the gear that shows up on stages and studios for long enough, you’ll spot some patterns in the kinds of guitar amplification players are using. There’s the rotating cast of backline badasses that do the bulk of the work cranking it out every day and night—we’re all looking at you, ’65 Deluxe Reverb reissue.

Read MoreShow less

Amazon Prime Day is here (July 16-17). Whether you're a veteran player or just picking up your first guitar, these are some bargains you don't want to miss. Check out more deals here! https://amzn.to/3LskPRV

Read MoreShow less

A technicolor swirl of distortion, drive, boost, and ferocious fuzz.

Summons a wealth of engaging, and often unique, boost, drive, distortion, and fuzz tones that deviate from common templates. Interactive controls.

Finding just-right tones, while rewarding, might demand patience from less assured and experienced drive-pedal users. Tone control could be more nuanced.

$199

Danelectro Nichols 1966
danelectro.com

4.5
4
4
4.5

The Danelectro Nichols 1966, in spite of its simplicity, feels and sounds like a stompbox people will use in about a million different ways. Its creator, Steve Ridinger, who built the first version as an industrious Angeleno teen in 1966, modestly calls the China-made Nichols 1966 a cross between a fuzz and a distortion. And, at many settings, it is most certainly that.

Read MoreShow less

The author standing next to a Richardson gunstock lathe purchased from Gibson’s Kalamazoo factory. It was used to make six necks at a time at Gibson in the 1950s and 1960s.

Keep your head down and put in the work if you want to succeed in the gear-building business.

The accelerated commodification of musical instruments during the late 20th century conjures up visions of massive factories churning out violins, pianos, and, of course, fretted instruments. Even the venerable builders of the so-called “golden age” were not exactly the boutique luthier shops of our imagination.

Read MoreShow less