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Ear to the Ground: Rich Robinson’s “One Road Hill”

The first single from the Black Crowe’s new solo album was haphazardly written while messing around on his son’s beat-up Baby Taylor.

Mudhoney frontman Mark Arm once joked that egos don’t kill bands—babies do. But in the case of Rich Robinson, it was his 4-year-old son who inadvertently inspired the lead track from his upcoming third solo album, The Ceaseless Sight. “One Road Hill” haphazardly began on a Baby Taylor acoustic that’s seen its fair share of banging around from Robinson’s son—it had two strings missing when the song started taking shape!

Robinson picked up the abused guitar, twisted the four remaining strings to a random open tuning, and strummed out some chords that reminded him of an old Appalachian-style song. More Fleet Foxes than Black Crowes, “One Road Hill” rings out like a timeless mountain string-band ditty—complete with a lap dulcimer, stompy front-porch rhythms, high-lonesome vocal harmonies, and melodic piano.

Anyone familiar with the solo work of brother Chris Robinson knows he tends to dig into Deadhead-friendly jamming. Conversely, “One Road Hill” spotlights Rich’s penchant for crafted arrangements. And the reset of The Ceaseless Sight is robust with catchy melodies and an arching, pastoral feel that has more in common with Neil Young than Jerry Garcia. richrobinson.net

Slinky playability, snappy sounds, and elegant, comfortable proportions distinguish an affordable 0-bodied flattop.

Satisfying, slinky playability. Nice string-to-string balance. Beautiful, comfortable proportions.

Cocobolo-patterned HPL back looks plasticky.

$699

Martin 0-X2E
martinguitar.com

4
4
4.5
4

Embracing the idea of an acoustic flattop made with anything other than wood can, understandably, be tricky stuff. There’s a lot of precedent for excellent-sounding acoustics built with alternative materials, though. Carbon-fiber flattops can sound amazing and I’ve been hooked by the sound and playability of Ovation and Adamas instruments many times.

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How do you capture what is so special about Bill Frisell’s guitar playing in one episode? Is it his melodies, his unique chord voicings, his rhythmic concept, his revolutionary approach to pedals and sounds…? It’s all of that and much more.

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U.S.-made electronics and PRS’s most unique body profile make this all-American S2 a feast of tones at a great price.

Many sonic surprises. Great versatility. Excellent build quality

The pickup selector switch might be in a slightly awkward position for some players.

$2,029

PRS S2 Vela
prsguitars.com

4.5
5
5
4.5

Since its introduction in 2013, PRS’s S2 range has worked to bridge the gap between the company’s most affordable and most expensive guitars. PRS’s cost-savings strategy for the S2 was simple. The company fitted U.S.-made bodies and necks, built using the more streamlined manufacturing processes of PRS’s Stevensville 2 facility, with Asia-made electronics from the SE line.

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A Gibson Explorer (left) and a Dean Z model.

In a legal battle over guitar body designs between Gibson and Dean, the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in the 5th circuit has ruled that Dean has the right to appeal an earlier decision by a Texas court, ordering Dean to stop selling guitars that Gibson says infringed on its iconic body shapes.

In a legal battle over guitar body designs between Gibson and Dean, the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in the 5th circuit has ruled that Dean has the right to re-try an earlier decision by a Texas court, ordering Dean to stop selling guitars that allegedly infringed on longtime Gibson body shapes, including Dean’s V and Z Series instruments, according to a report in Bloomberg Law published on Tuesday.

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