The Blasters founders put aside their differences to record their first album together in 30 years—an album that muses on the music of blues legend Big Bill Broonzy.

Historically, music has provided the calm in the storm of squabbling sibling bandmates. Collaborating on songs has never failed to bring together such infamously bickering brothers as Dave and Ray Davies, Phil and Don Everly, Liam and Noel Gallagher, etc. Even Blasters founders Dave and Phil Alvin recently admitted that, though they often argue, they rarely disagree on matters pertaining to blues legend Big Bill Broonzy.

Here they pay homage to the guitarist/singer with Common Ground: Dave Alvin + Phil Alvin Play and Sing the Songs of Big Bill Broonzy, the Alvin brothers’ first album together in three decades. And they agreed to showcase the span of his songwriting styles—because Broonzy refused to adhere to the sometimes unimaginative parameters of the genre’s enthusiasts. And here they’re successful in covering the man’s versatility.

In just 12 tracks, the Alvins cover Broonzy’s signature guitar skills of the late ’20s and early ’30s, as well as the blossoming of his songcraft during the late ’30s and early ’40s. The lead track, “All By Myself,” balances a tight rhythmic strum with leads that intersect melodic flatpicking with more complex fretboard runs. Guitar playing aside, listen closely and you get a sense that the Alvin brothers also studied Broonzy’s barrel-chested vocal delivery.

A lot of you have been waiting for this penultimate step of our guitar aging project, so let’s do some damage!

Welcome back to Mod Garage. Today we’ll continue to work on our aging project, and some of you might be wondering why there was such a long break. The reason is simple: suboptimal timing from my side. The last part of this column was in the middle of autumn, and I wanted you to do the following steps outside (if possible) and not on the kitchen table. Wintertime is not the best time for such a challenge but now is a good starting point, so let’s go!

Read MoreShow less

See a sampling of picks used by famous guitarists over the years.

Marty Stuart

Submit your own artist pick collections to for inclusion in a future gallery.

Luthier Dave Helmer shows you how to cure buzzy strings, bad intonation, gnarly frets, high action, and other common troubles with off-the-shelf axes.

Guitars are the best. We love them. It’s fun to fall in love with a guitar at a store, buy it, and proudly bring it home. But we’ve all been there … where after a month that new guitar is just not playing as good as it was before. As guitar players, we know what feels good and what feels bad when it comes to playability. Maybe you have setup preferences that you like on all your guitars, or maybe you want to experiment with changes to your setup?

Read MoreShow less