Emily Kokal and Theresa Wayman get trippy gypsy with layers of effects and funky Fenders.

After losing her pedalboad while on tour in Iceland, and then quickly crafting together a replacement board, Kokal took the best of both of those setups for her current cache of stomps. The signal starts with a Boss TU-2 tuner and then goes into an Ibanez TS808DX Tube Screamer Overdrive Pro Deluxe, Electro-Harmonix Holy Grail Nano, TC Electronic Corona, Electro-Harmonix Neo Clone Nano, Strymon El Capistan, and a Boss DD-7. A Voodoo Lab Pedal Power sits underneath the board.

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Can an entry-level modeler hang with the big dogs?

Excellent interface. Very portable. Nice modulation tones.

Some subpar low-gain dirt sounds. Could be a little more rugged.

$399

HeadRush MX5
headrushfx.com

3.5
4
4
4.5

The allure of portability and sonic consistency has become too much to ignore for some guitarists, making smaller digital modelers more appealing than ever.

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"'If I fall and somehow my career ends on that particular day, then so be it," Joe Bonamassa says of his new hobby, bicycling. "If it's over, it's over. You've got to enjoy your life."

Photo by Steve Trager

For his stylistically diverse new album, the fiery guitar hero steps back from his gear obsession and focuses on a deep pool of influences and styles.

Twenty years ago, Joe Bonamassa was a struggling musician living in New York City. He survived on a diet of peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and ramen noodles that he procured from the corner bodega at Columbus Avenue and 83rd Street. Like many dreamers waiting for their day in the sun, Joe also played "Win for Life" every week. It was, in his words, "literally my ticket out of this hideous business." While the lottery tickets never brought in the millions, Joe's smokin' guitar playing on a quartet of albums from 2002 to 2006—So, It's Like That, Blues Deluxe, Had to Cry Today, and You & Me—did get the win, transforming Joe into a guitar megastar.

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