"How to Grow a Band" reveals the journey that mandolinist Chris Thile took after Nickel Creek imploded under its own weight.

The Punch Brothers
How to Grow a Band
Shaftway Productions


They say that the best art comes from pain and the Punch Brothers’ new documentary, How to Grow a Band, reveals the journey that mandolinist Chris Thile took after Nickel Creek imploded under its own weight. With his main gig becoming a memory and the struggle of a divorce still ringing, Thile composed “The Blind Leaving the Blind,” a 40-minute string quintet for bluegrass instruments. As you watch this movie you get to witness a young band full of virtuoso musicians develop their own voice and deal with personal changes, while trying to push the envelope of traditional music in new directions.

One of the more tense scenes from the movie is when bassist Greg Garrison discusses the idea of splitting up the four-movement piece to make it more accessible after a not-so-warm welcome at a Glasgow show. Since they are constantly struggling against the “hot bluegrass” label that promoters thrust upon them to fill seats, the group has a “take-no prisoners” attitude to their music. These intra-band discussions do a great job of framing the Brothers’ story of how the ensuing album, Punch, helped the band evolve into a powerful and muscular musical machine. —Jason Shadrick

Equipped with noise reduction and noise gate modes, the Integrated Gate has a signal monitoring function that constantly monitors the input signal.

Read MoreShow less

Luthier Maegen Wells recalls the moment she fell in love with the archtop and how it changed her world.

The archtop guitar is one of the greatest loves of my life, and over time it’s become clear that our tale is perhaps an unlikely one. I showed up late to the archtop party, and it took a while to realize our pairing was atypical. I had no idea that I had fallen head-over-heels in love with everything about what’s commonly perceived as a “jazz guitar.” No clue whatsoever. And, to be honest, I kind of miss those days. But one can only hear the question, “Why do you want to build jazz guitars if you don’t play jazz?” so many times before starting to wonder what the hell everyone’s talking about.

Read MoreShow less

A modern take on Fullerton shapes and a blend of Fender and Gibson attributes strikes a sweet middle ground.

A stylish alternative to classic Fender profiles that delivers sonic versatility. Great playability.

Split-coil sounds are a little on the thin side. Be sure to place it on the stand carefully!

$1,149

Fender Player Plus Meteora HH
fender.com

4
4
4.5
4.5

After many decades of sticking with flagship body shapes, Fender spent the last several years getting more playful via their Parallel Universe collection. The Meteora, however, is one of the more significant departures from those vintage profiles. The offset, more-angular profile was created by Fender designer Josh Hurst and first saw light of day as part of the Parallel Universe Collection in 2018. Since then, it has headed in both upscale and affordable directions within the Fender lineup—reaching the heights of master-built Custom Shop quality in the hands of Ron Thorn, and now in this much more egalitarian guise as the Player Plus Meteora HH.

Read MoreShow less
x