Premier Guitar features affiliate links to help support our content. We may earn a commission on any affiliated purchases.

Last Call: John Bohlinger’s Top 10 Rig Rundowns

Last Call: John Bohlinger’s Top 10 Rig Rundowns
John Bohlinger's joy is palpable during this 2014 Rig Rundown with Larry Carlton. Photo by Perry Bean

PG’s Nashville correspondent shares his favorite moments behind the camera with some of the best guitar players in the world.

When PG started the Rig Rundown series in 2008, YouTube limited videos to a lean 10 minutes. Now running time is limitless and we've packed hundreds of hours of guitar geekery into more than 450 of these addictive videos, racking up millions of views while giving us all-access to what were formerly trade secrets.

For me, it's not so much about the gear as much as it is the stories behind it that makes these videos fascinating. So, in no particular order, here are my Top 10 Rig Rundowns.

Doyle Wolfgang von Frankenstein

Doyle was in full Misfits' makeup, shirtless, muscled up, and intimidatingly towered over me. This was my first interview ever, so I asked the basic questions about his rig and signed off. Then Doyle says in thick Jersey, "What? It's ov'r? I got all dressed up for this. Ask me more stuff." I realized this big scary monster was just a fun, 50-year-old kid who wants to make every day Halloween.

Mike Stern

In 2016, Stern tripped over construction debris left on the streets of New York, which resulted in two broken arms and nerve damage in his hands. It looked like Stern's reign as a jazz giant was over. A year later, Stern released Trip and was back touring and killing it. In this rundown, he revealed that he was having trouble holding onto a pick, so he started applying wig glue to his right hand. Stern's recovery is a testimony to the indomitable human spirit.

Joe Bonamassa

It's an unworldly experience standing next to arguably one of the greatest guitarists ever as he plays a '59 Les Paul through two Dumbles and two tweed Twins cranked so loud you can hear it from outer space. When Bonamassa said, "John, play this thing," I was both elated and terrified.

Tom Bukovac

Buk and I moved to Nashville around the same time. Although the attrition rate is fairly high for musicians here, 27 years later we're still standing. Buk is a great guitar player, but more importantly, he's one of the most musical people you'll ever meet. Just listen to his improv in the opening. He never runs out of ideas.

Steve Wariner

Chet Atkins assigned the honor of C.G.P., aka Certified Guitar Player, to his favorite pickers. There are three left in the world: PG has filmed Rundowns on two of them. Steve Wariner is a C.G.P., four-time Grammy winner. and mind-blowing talent. From his family band to his teenage years playing bass for Dottie West to playing in Atkins' band to becoming a huge country star, Steve's career odyssey feels like a movie. If the stories aren't enough, listen to Wariner rip on his signature Gretsch.

Tommy Emmanuel

Speaking of C.G.P., this Rundown is the most fun and informative 43 minutes you can spend online. Sitting next to Tommy as he plays is like watching Picasso paint. You see that it's just six strings and 10 fingers, but you hear an incredibly tight band. Not only is the playing amazing, Tommy is just plain fun and funny.

Peter Frampton

As we entered Frampton's massive studio, his iconic black Les Paul Custom was leaning on a stand, with a cable leading to a Klon, then an old Bassman with a talk-box running to a mic. Frampton, standing next to it, said, "Hi, I'm Peter. Here's my rig." He waited a few beats, then opened up a door to another room to reveal his real rig, featuring several boats of vintage guitars, two refrigerator-sized racks, two Bradshaw boards, stacks of amps, a trio of Marshall 4x12s, and more. Frampton's electric and acoustic performances during this rundown highlight his incredibly melodic playing. Somehow he makes his jazz leanings fit perfectly with classic rock 'n' roll.

Waddy Wachtel

When I was a kid, pre-MTV, you rarely saw live music on TV, but when you did, it seemed like Waddy Wachtel was always there. Any concert, be it Linda Ronstadt, James Taylor, Keith Richards, Stevie Nicks, etc.—at stage right was this guy rocking out with long, crazy hair, granny glasses, and bell-bottoms. He was the guy that made me think, "That's what I want to do: play with everybody." Waddy has great stories, like the time Stephen Stills sold him his 1960 Les Paul for $350, or giving his neighbor Leslie West his first Les Paul Jr.

Daniel Lanois

Lanois produced two of my top five albums: Chris Whitley's Living with the Law and Emmylou Harris' Wrecking Ball. Lanois was touring with his vintage Korg SDD-3000 that he's used since the '80s, on albums like U2's The Unforgettable Fire and The Joshua Tree.There were strips of whitetape across the top of the SDD-3000 covered with Sharpie'd tempo reminders from his tour with Emmylou when they performed the entire Wrecking Ball album live. As a pedal-steel player, it was amazing to hear him play his old Sho-Bud in some weird tuning I would've never imagined. His battered '53 Les Paul with a mini-humbucker from an old Gibson Firebird was the icing on the cake.

Larry Carlton

When Mr. 335 invited us to his Nashville home studio, I felt like I was meeting the Dalai Lama. Listen to Carlton's improv on the head and you'll understand why he's a legend.

[Updated 7/26/2021]

335acoustic guitar (musical instrument)acoustic music (musical genre)aerartistsaustralia (country)blackbird studiobluesblues guitarblues rockbob dylanbossboss pedalsboss usc.g.p.c.g.p. (certified guitar player) (musical album)certified guitar playerchet atkinsclassic rockcmacmtcrosby stills & nashdaniel lanois (record producer)daniel-lanoisdoyle-wolfgang-von-frankensteineffectselectric guitarfeatured-storiesfenderfender jazz bassfender musical instruments corporation (musical instrument company)fender stratocasterfender telecasterfender tweedfender twinfinger pickingfingerstyleflatpickerfleetwood macframpton comes alivefxgeargear rundowngibsongibson es-335 (guitar)gibson guitar corporation (musical instrument company)gibson les paulgibson les paul (guitar)gibson les paul customgibson phoenixgigging-advicegrammyguitarguitar (musical instrument)guitar effectsguitar gearguitar playerguitar rigguitar rundownguitaristguitarist (profession)guitaristsguitarsjacojames taylorjazzjazz guitarjerry reedjoe bonamassajoe walshjoe-bonamassajohn bohlingerjune-2020keith urbanlarry carltonlarry carlton (musical artist)larry-carltonlast-callles paullinda ronstadtlucinda williams (musical artist)marshall amplificationmaton (business operation)maton guitarsmike sternmike-sternmiles davismr. 335music (tv genre)nashvillepedalboardpeter framptonpeter-framptonpremier guitarpro-advicerecord producer (profession)rigrig rundownrig-rundownrockrock and rollrolling stonesroy buchananrundownrymanspecial-featured-storiessteve warinersteve-warinerstevie nicksstudiotelecasterthe rolling stonestom bukovactom-bukovactommy emmanuel (musical artist)tommy-emmanueltrollu2 (musical group)videovideosvintagevintage guitarvintage guitarsvintate guitarvox (musical instrument company)waddy wachtelwaddy-wachtelway hugewhats-newwinosyamaha
Fall Out Boy Rig Rundown [2024]
Fall Out Boy Rig Rundown with Patrick Stump, Joe Trohman & Pete Wentz Guitar & Bass Gear Tour

The string-section trio for the iconic Chicago pop-punk band has gone digital, but Patrick Stump, Joe Trohman, and Pete Wentz still aren’t afraid to get weird—and sometimes, downright dangerous.

Read MoreShow less

Read MoreShow less

Amazon Prime Day is here (July 16-17). Whether you're a veteran player or just picking up your first guitar, these are some bargains you don't want to miss. Check out more deals here!

Read MoreShow less

Gibson’s Theodore model

PRS Guitars and Ted McCarty family drop “Theodore” trademark objection, and Gibson agrees to drop opposition to PRS’s “594” and “Silver Sky Nebula” trademarks and trademark applications.

PRS Guitars yesterday announced that it has withdrawn its objection to Gibson’s registration of the “Theodore” trademark. In a press release, PRS stated it continues to hold dear and protect its long-standing agreement with Ted McCarty and the McCarty family regarding the exclusive rights to the “McCarty” trademark and to McCarty’s name and persona, first developed directly with Ted himself more than 25 years ago. After a series of private negotiations, Gibson has also agreed to drop its opposition to PRS’s “594” and “Silver Sky Nebula” trademarks and trademark applications.

Read MoreShow less