PG gets personal with Larry Carlton's famous ES-335, Brendan Benson's closet full of stomps and amps, Russian Circles' Custom Shop First Act axes, Brent Mason's Valley Arts T-style, and Vai's unreal guitar collection.

Sure, most of the magic conjured by the world’s best players is in their hands, but obviously their gear is a huge deal, too—because they’re still pretty particular about what they play. So take a break from honing your own chops for a bit, and check out what your heroes use to conjure their amazing tones. Who knows, maybe it’ll help you rethink how you approach your music and give you some ideas for how to improve your own rig. Or just sit there and lust after all the cool stuff. Either way works.

5. Brendan Benson

Brendan Benson took a break from recording and touring with The Raconteurs and his solo project to show Premier Guitar around his studio in the heart of Nashville’s music row. Although Brendan’s live rig is about as simple as it gets, (Vox AC30HW2, Guild M-75 Aristocrat, and a Spontaneous Audio Devices Son of Kong pedal) in the studio he employs a bevy of oddball pedals, guitars, and amps.

To see more photos and learn about Benson's complete studio setup, visit here.

4. Russian Circles

PG’s Jordan Wagner is on location at Electrical Audio Studios in Chicago, where catches up with Russian Circles’ Mike Sullivan and Brian Cook during the recording of their fifth album, Memorial. The duo reveals a close-up look at their studio guitar and bass rigs, which combine the gear they use live with numerous other pieces from their own personal collections and Electrical Audio’s gear coffers.

To see more photos and learn about their complete studio setup, visit here.

3. Brent Mason

Premier Guitar’s John Bohlinger met with Brent Mason after a session at Nashville’s celebrated Blackbird Studio. Mason, one of the most recorded guitarists in history, talked guitars, pedals, and amps ... and played his ass off.

To see more photos and learn about Mason's complete studio setup, visit here.

2. Larry Carlton

When Larry Carlton graciously invited Premier Guitar to visit his Nashville studio, we jumped at the chance. He played guitar, told stories, and pretty much proved he’s the coolest person any of us will ever meet.

To see more photos and learn about Carlton's complete studio setup, visit here.

1. Steve Vai

PG is on location at Steve Vai's Harmony Hut studio in Los Angeles. In this video, Steve shows you which of his signature Ibanez guitars he's taking out on tour and which made an appearance on his latest album, how he uses his signature Carvin Legacy Amps, and why the Axe-FX II has replaced most effects in his rig.

To see more photos and learn about Vai's complete studio setup, visit here.

It’s not difficult to replace the wiring in your pickups, but it takes some finesse. Here’s a step-by-step guide.

Hello and welcome back to Mod Garage. After numerous requests, this month we’ll have a closer look at changing wires on a single-coil pickup. As our guinea pig for this, I chose a standard Stratocaster single-coil, but it’s basically the same on all single-coil pickups and easy to transfer. It’s not complicated but it is a delicate task to not destroy your pickup during this process, and there are some things you should keep in mind.

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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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Need an affordable distortion pedal? Look no further.

We live in the golden age of boutique pedals that are loaded with advanced features—many of which were nearly unthinkable a decade or so ago. But there’s something that will always be valuable about a rock-solid dirt box that won’t break your wallet. Here’s a collection of old classics and newly designed stomps that cost less than an average concert ticket.

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