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January 2011 Staff Picks

It’s that time of year for making your resolutions. Love ’em or hate ’em, it is great to feel like you can set a goal (even if it only lasts a few weeks).

It’s that time of year for making your resolutions. Love ’em or hate ’em, it is great to feel like you can set a goal (even if it only lasts a few weeks). Joining our staff this month is acoustic guitarist Alex De Grassi. Feel free to send your resolutions to us at info@premierguitar.com.

John Bohlinger – “Last Call” Columnist
What am I listening to?
Creedence Clearwater Revival’s Willy and the Poor Boys. The Dude abides.
What is my guitar resolution for 2011?
Stop playing my same tired, old licks and begin playing somebody else’s tired, old licks.



Joe Coffey – Editorial Director
What am I listening to?
Heart’s Red Velvet Car. It signals the arrival of another well-crafted era of Heart. The record features some really tight songs and grooves while revealing the Beatles’ influence on Ann and Nancy Wilson more than ever before. Nancy’s rich and snappy signature Martin HD-35 drives much of this record—talk about a gorgeous acoustic rock tone!
What is my guitar resolution for 2011?
Don’t let those ideas slip away—I’m going to hit “record” before I lose them this year.



Andy Ellis – Senior Editor
What am I listening to?
Jesse Harris, Cosmo. Though Harris is best known as an outstanding singer-songwriter— he wrote the Norah Jones smash, “Don’t Know Why”—this instrumental album proves he is also a superb composer. On these 12 tightly wrought pieces, Harris blends his acoustic and electric fingerpicking with organ, horns, drums, and mallet percussion.
What is my guitar resolution for 2011?
When soloing, sing every note I play—aloud or sotto voce.



Shawn Hammond Editor in Chief
What am I listening to?
Big Sandy & His Fly- Rite Boys, It’s Time. Fantastic revivalist rockabilly that’s big, warm, and unfailingly swingin’.
What is my guitar resolution for 2011?
I’ve got to find out which pickups will give my hollowbody axe (not the one pictured here) the perfect blend of twang and clang. I also need to hear what a TV Jones Classic or TV-HT will sound like in the bridge position of my Schecter Ultra III. Oh, and find the perfect amp.



Seth Hansen – Multimedia Coordinator
What am I listening to?
Tame Impala, Innerspeaker. The debut album from these Aussie psychedelic rockers is drenched in phase, fuzz, and delay—some of my favorite sounds. Underneath all of that dreamy atmosphere and swirl are layers of amazing guitar and vocal hooks. Definitely worth multiple spins.
What is my guitar resolution for 2011?
Finally take the time to write and record at least one song a week for three months, no matter how each one turns out.



Chris Kies
– Associate Editor
What am I listening to?
Johnny Cash & Willie Nelson VH1 Storytellers. This album isn’t big on production, but to hear these two Highwaymen swap stories between their stripped-down hits makes this ’98 release a classic. But for good measure, Willie goes twostepping with Trigger on “Folsom Prison Blues” and “Funny How Time Slips Away.”
What is my guitar resolution for 2011?
I’d like to pause my chase of that elusive tone and sharpen my rhythm playing and whip the right hand back into shape.



Alex De Grassi – Guest Picker
What am I listening to?
I’ve been working on an instructional book, so I’ve been revisiting some of my seminal influences, such as Mississippi John Hurt, Bert Jansch, and Paul Simon. Beyond that, it’s the usual eclectic mix—John Adams, Motown, Oumu Sangaré, Albert King, Egberto Gismonti, and Holst’s The Planets. Those brass arrangements never fail to recharge my batteries.
What is my guitar resolution for 2011?
I need to write and record more, and get back to my own music. I’d like to do more with guitar and orchestra, guitar ensembles, and duos with non-guitar stringed instruments.



Charles Saufley – Gear Editor
What am I listening to?
“Albatross” by Fleetwood Mac and “Genesis Hall” by Fairport Convention. These two songs have been favorites for as long as I can remember. But for the last two weeks, I’ve been positively obsessed again. Peter Green, Danny Kirwan, and Richard Thompson are so economically deadly on these tunes. No fireworks to speak of, just some the tastiest, most restrained, melodic, singing, and gorgeously melancholy guitar sounds I know.
What is my guitar resolution for 2011?
Come up with something half as cool as any five seconds of “Albatross” or “Genesis Hall.”



Jason Shadrick – Associate Editor
What am I listening to?
Corey Christiansen, Outlaw Tractor. There is just something about the combination of guitar and organ in a jazz setting. Here, Christiansen and organist Pat Bianchi combine blazing chops, great writing, and a greasy soul vibe into one of my favorite jazz albums of 2010.
What is my guitar resolution for 2011?
Get more into recording. Learn more tunes and finally get serious about transcribing.

This 1968 Epiphone Al Caiola Standard came stocked with P-90s and a 5-switch Tone Expressor system.

Photo courtesy of Guitar Point (guitarpoint.de)

Photo courtesy of Guitar Point (guitarpoint.de)

The session ace’s signature model offers a wide range of tones at the flip of a switch … or five.

Hello and welcome back to Mod Garage. Not long ago, I came home late from a band rehearsal, still overly excited about the new songs we played. I got myself a coffee (I know, it's a crazy procedure to calm down) and turned on the TV. I ended up with an old Bonanza episode from the ’60s, the mother of all Western TV series. Hearing the theme after a long time instantly reminded me of the great Al Caiola, who is the prolific session guitarist who plays on the song. With him in mind, I looked up the ’60s Epiphone “Al Caiola” model and decided I want to talk about the Epiphone/Gibson Tone Expressor system that was used in this guitar.

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Mdou Moctar has led his Tuareg crew around the world, but their hometown performances in Agadez, Niger, last year were their most treasured.

Photo by Ebru Yildiz

On the Tuareg band’s Funeral for Justice, they light a fiery, mournful pyre of razor-sharp desert-blues riffs and political calls to arms.

Mdou Moctar, the performing moniker of Tuareg guitar icon Mahamadou “Mdou” Souleymane, has played some pretty big gigs. Alongside guitarist Ahmoudou Madassane, drummer Souleymane Ibrahim, and bassist Mikey Coltun, Moctar has led his band’s kinetic blend of rock, psych, and Tuareg cultural traditions like assouf and takamba to Newport Folk Festival, Pitchfork Music Festival, and, just this past April, to the luxe fields of Indio, California, for Coachella. Off-kilter indie-rock darlings Parquet Courts brought them across the United States in 2022, after which they hit Europe for a run of headline dates.

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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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