The modern country outlaws follow only a few rules: beefy Teles, American-voiced amps, and a healthy addiction to compression and phaser.

Whitey Morgan’s main ride is an early 2000s Fender Telecaster that started its life as a single-bound, black-and-white model. He quickly grew tiresome of its tuxedo look. With years of experience doing custom paint jobs on cars, he took matters into his own hands, sanded down the body, added a second bind, gave the top a sunburst look, and finally added pinstriped initials to the pickguard. He’s swapped out the neck four times and has always preferred the snap and pop of a Tele matched with a maple neck and fretboard. The current neck is from Warmoth and has a Keith Banjo tuner that allows him to quickly go into drop-D tuning. As a self-admitted tone fickler, Whitey is always trying new pickups, but has used these custom-wound models from a buddy in Michigan that are similar to Seymour Duncan Hot Rails. While he can split the coils, he generally plays both pickups in humbucker mode. The No. 1 uses Ernie Ball Slinky .011–.048 strings. The exquisite strap was handmade by Cody Hixon of Great Point Custom Leather.

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The emotional wallop of the acoustic guitar sometimes flies under the radar. Even if you mostly play electric, here are some things to consider about unplugging.

I have a love-hate relationship with acoustic guitars. My infatuation with the 6-string really blasted off with the Ventures. That’s the sound I wanted, and the way to get it was powered by electricity. Before I’d even held a guitar, I knew I wanted a Mosrite, which I was sure was made of fiberglass like the surfboards the Beach Boys, Surfaris, and the Challengers rode in their off time. Bristling with space-age switchgear and chrome-plated hardware, those solidbody hotrod guitars were the fighter jets of my musical dreams. I didn’t even know what those old-timey round-hole guitars were called. As the singing cowboys Roy Rogers and Gene Autrey strummed off into the sunset, the pace of technology pushed the look and sound of the electric guitar (and bass) into the limelight and into my heart. Imagine my disappointment when I had to begin my guitar tutelage on a rented Gibson “student” acoustic. At least it sort of looked like the ones the Beatles occasionally played. Even so, I couldn’t wait to trade it in.

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Megadeth founder teams up with Gibson for his first acoustic guitar in the Dave Mustaine Collection.

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Jazz virtuoso Lionel Loueke joins us in contemplating who we’d put at the helm while making the album of a lifetime. Plus, musical obsessions!

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