We cherry-picked the essential guitar-centric happenings from Chicago’s three-day celebration, including performances from Johnny Marr, Elvis Costello, Incubus, Weezer, Bad Religion, Jesus Lizard, and more!

JD McPherson

In an old PG interview, the roots rocker confessed his love for old-school Teles. But when it came time for a Rig Rundown, he couldn’t wait to show off this custom TK Smith instrument. It’s based on the Smith Special model, but with a Gretsch Jupiter Thunderbird-style body. The bird’s-eye maple body features Smith’s custom C.A.R. pickups and a custom Bigsby-style tailpiece. TK Smith puts a hybrid set of Thomastik-Infeld flatwound strings on his guitars when they leave his shop, but McPherson said he couldn’t bend them as much as he liked so he’s using D’Addario Pure Nickel .011s.

This rare English Tonemaster was made circa 1957.

The Valco-produced English Tonemaster is a rare, lap-steel-inspired gem from the 1950s—when genres and guitar design were fluid.

The 1950s were a peculiar time for the electric guitar. Innovators, designers, and tinkerers were pushing the boundaries of the instrument, while musicians were experimenting with various playing techniques and sounds. There was an evolution of sorts (or de-evolution, depending on your slant) from solidbody “sit-down” guitars, like pedal and lap steels, to “stand-up” or “upright” solidbody electrics. If you look at an early Fender catalog—let’s say from 1953—you’ll see the Telecaster (and Esquire), the Precision Bass, and then a whole bunch of steel guitars. There was a shift underway, and many manufacturers began to blur the lines of what a guitar should look, sound, and play like.

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PRS Guitars and John Mayer officially announce the PRS SE Silver Sky, an affordable version of the original with PRS trademark bird inlays and three single-coil pickups.

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