Phil Sylvester is a visual artist, and guitar gear is his medium. Check out his bizarre and beautiful creations.

Phil Sylvester is a guitar-artist, building utterly unique and remarkably playable instruments and amps under the name Pheo Guitars. After attending Berklee and earning a Master of Architecture degree from Princeton, Sylvester decided to become a full-time visual artist, adopting guitars as his main art form in 1996. Sylvester states: “I strive to build instruments that sound exceptional, play beautifully, and are extremely interesting to look at.”

The Sylvester Bikini is a double-neck bass and six-string that can also become two separate guitars. The body is light mahogany with optional swamp ash wings. The bass uses a bolt-on Warmoth maple/ebony neck. The bridge pickup is a Rio Grande Jazz, the neck pickup is vintage Musicmaster. The six-string has a maple/ maple neck and Sylvester Custom pickups.

The Sylvester Bikini as two separate guitars: the double-neck bass (left), the bass (middle) and the six-string (right).

The Tropical Chili Bar amp housing was for cooking chili and warming bowls; it now contains two 4-ohm ceramic 8” speakers: a Blue Marvel and a Danelectro. The head is a ‘50s McGohan with two 6V6s, two 12AX7s, and a 5Y3 rectifier. Controls are volume, treble, and bass.

               The Tropical Chili Bar

The Hair Raiser: This ‘50s hair drier houses a Mojo BB10G 16-ohm ceramic 10” speaker surrounded by balsa. The head is a revoiced Raymer with two EL84s, two 12AX7s and an EZ81 rectifier. Controls are volume and tone.

The Hair Raiser



  • Develop a better sense of subdivisions.
  • Understand how to play "over the bar line."
  • Learn to target chord tones in a 12-bar blues.
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Playing in the pocket is the most important thing in music. Just think about how we talk about great music: It's "grooving" or "swinging" or "rocking." Nobody ever says, "I really enjoyed their use of inverted suspended triads," or "their application of large-interval pentatonic sequences was fascinating." So, whether you're playing live or recording, time is everyone's responsibility, and you must develop your ability to play in the pocket.
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We've reviewed a ton of cool gear over the past 12 months, but these stood above the rest and won our coveted Premier Gear Award.

This year more than 40 guitars, basses, effects, and amps from a diverse group of gear makers earned the coveted Premier Gear Award from our discerning editors. Here is our gear of the year.

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