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Name: Bill Follett

Hometown: Calabasas, California

Guitar: Plectron Labs Prototype #1

After a California wildfire destroyed his home and all his instruments, a guitarist took matters into his own hands and started building for the future.

This adventure started with an event that none of us ever want to experience. I had 10 minutes to gather a suitcase, some pictures, and choose one (and only one) guitar to save. It was 2 a.m. at our home in the mountains on the outskirts of Los Angeles when we got the call to evacuate immediately because of an approaching wildfire. We had to fit whatever we could into our cars. I left some expensive guitars, including two that I’ve had for over 40 years, but brought my number one, my Reverend Spacehawk. We lost the house and everything in it. I replaced a number of guitars with insurance money, but still, my desire for guitars vastly outpaced my budget. Then Covid hit.
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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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A major redesign of a Bad Cat flagship yields a familiar but more flexible range of Brit tonalities.

A well-conceived reboot of a beloved amp. Great clean and lead tones. Tasty tremolo and reverb.

Shared EQ settings sometimes require compromises.


Bad Cat Black Cat


Bad Cat has won over a lot of players in the time since the California maker built its first high-quality, hand-wired amplifiers in 1999. Then, the company was an unapologetic follower of the Matchless template (which itself borrowed more than a little from Vox). And in fact, the two companies have a lot in common. Bad Cat hired Matchless co-founder Mark Sampson to design Bad Cats at a time when Matchless was on hiatus, and Bad Cat amps from the period were even built with Matchless-branded signal capacitors in their circuits.

If Bad Cat were a bit derivative at first, they consistently evolved, regularly adding features and altogether new designs. The new lineup is totally revamped, however. And while they use old model names like the Cub, Lynx, Hot Cat, and Black Cat model names, each amp has new features and is built around circuit-board construction. Thankfully, the new Black Cat’s many British-flavored sounds are good enough that you probably won’t think too much about details like point-to-point versus circuit-board manufacturing.

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The Michael Landau Signature Strat comes equipped with noiseless single coil and humbucking pickups, vintage-Style Hardware and a faded "coma" red finish.

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The guitar is also available with the Custom Shop Artisan Aged option, a treatment applied entirely by the hands of master artisans using proprietary techniques.

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