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Esoterica Electrica

A high-tech rendering of what a hyper-futuristic musical instrument shopping location could look like.

Photo by Jol Dantzig

While we’re all caught up in the online-gear-shopping rat race, our columnist wonders: Is there a better way?

Without a doubt, America’s greatest contribution to civilization is consumerism. It’s not only the “engine” of our economy, but I’ve read it’s the force behind everything good worldwide. (I know you come here for insight on how to make your guitar sound like Eric Johnson and Buddy Miller at the same time, but trust me, this is important.) Our obsession with guitar gear is outpacing our ability to shop, but I’ve got a next-level solution. With my track record of predicting the future, I’m betting on this, so buckle up, people.

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Pantera Rig Rundown with Rex Brown and Zakk Wylde
Rig Rundown: Pantera's Rex Brown & Zakk Wylde

The original Cowboys from Hell bassist reclaims his spine-rattling position as the band's charging piston, while his guitar brother brings his fleet of Wylde Audio gear and a few tone sweeteners from Dimebag Darrell's private stash.

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Photo by Paul Natkin

A self-effacing portrait of the legendary Spinal Tap.

Paul Natkin’s The Moment of Truth and Fleetwood Mac in Chicago by Jeff Lowenthal and Robert Schaffner remind us of the importance of the rock ’n’ roll and blues photography that used to accompany our favorite releases.

The convenience of digital music files is undeniable. Whether you’re swapping tracks, adding overdubs, or even collaborating on songwriting, it’s hard to imagine living without them. When I hear about a new artist, the first thing I do is sample some of their work online. Then, if I’m inclined, I can buy their entire catalog with a few clicks, or just listen on a streaming service. As much as I miss making the journey to the record store, digital delivery is pretty magnificent. The one thing that it lacks is the tactile and visual presentation of the record jacket. Especially those ones crammed with photographs.

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When it comes to making high-quality guitar content, Snarky Puppy—whose latest album, Empire Central, was recorded live in the studio—are at the forefront.

Photo by Brian Friedman

In the face of current events, we’ve witnessed the steady and resilient progression of the guitar industry.

Despite the tough times we’ve been facing over the past few years, the guitar world has kept on ticking. By all visible measures, the industry has been doing well, both for sellers of musical gear and for content creators. There has also been a resurgence of live shows, and even with the ebb and flow of infectious disease, the marketplace for live concerts is gathering steam. So, what has changed in our journey to the “new” normal?

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Trying to figure out how to mix up your musical life this year? Here are some ideas.

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