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Question of the Month: The Best Factory-Fresh Guitars

Question of the Month: The Best Factory-Fresh Guitars

Sam Shipstone ripping on his G&L Tribute ASAT T-style in butterscotch blond.

Photo by Jamie Macmillan

Photo by Jamie Macmillan

Yard Act’s Sam Shipstone joins reader Greg DeGood and PG staff members in naming the guitars they love best, stock—with no need to mod.

Question: What is your favorite guitar that comes stock without the need for modding?

Guest Picker - Sam Shipstone

Yard Act’s latest release, from earlier this year.

A: My G&L Tribute ASAT classic barely needed modding, and I’ve used three nearly exclusively for Yard Act now. I love the MFD pickups above all—they really sing when driven.

Obsession: After listening to the atmospheric drone duo Stars of the Lid for years, I finally looked up their live equipment setup. Even a guitarist could miss that their primary sound-making tool is guitar: It sounds so otherworldly and organic. Gonna be delving deeper.

Reader of the Month - Greg DeGood

The Roland G-5 VG Fender Stratocaster in sunburst.

A: I would pick the Roland G-5 VG Fender Stratocaster for its versatility. Its range of electronically programmed alternate-tuning settings and guitar modeling options gives a musician a palette of sounds at the turn of two knobs. The VG Strat would be my first choice of a guitar ready to go “out of the box” without any necessary mods. For acoustic, I would pick the Martin HDC-28E. The standard HD-28 is legendary for its great sound. The HDC-28E has a cutaway for easy access to the upper range and an electronic pickup for live sound or recording. Those extra options just make sense to me for any acoustic guitar.

The now-discontinued Martin HDC-28E.

Obsession: My latest obsession is using a clean boost instead of an overdrive in front of a mildly overdriven 1982 Marshall JCM800 4104. I used to enjoy the extra “hair” added by a Tube Screamer or Boss SD-1, but I missed the clarity. I tried a TC Electronic Spark, and the added gain I needed by hitting the front end of the amp was there without sacrificing clarity. Open chords sound huge and put a grin on my face every time I play.

Director of Advertising - Brett Petrusek

Brett’s 1958 Explorer reissue.

A: My 1958 Explorer reissue in TV White. I’ve been known to mess with every guitar, trying different pickups, pots, etc., just to see where I can take it. It’s like therapy for me. But this guitar is perfectly 100-percent stock. I won’t touch it. If my house was on fire it’s the one I’d grab.

Brett onstage with his band Fuzzrd.

Obsession: Fifty-watt 2204 Marshall JMP combos. There’s something magical about the open-back 2x12 cabs—plus you can (occasionally) still score a combo for a fair price. Easy enough to drop into a head shell, and then you have a couple of options.

Senior Editor - Nick Millevoi

Nick’s Danelectro baritone.

A: Last year, I bought a Danelectro baritone. I’ve played these a bunch over the years, and they’ve always felt consistent, even as the model has changed a bit. I took it to a gig basically straight out of the box, and it was exactly as I’d hoped. With only a little setup since then, I’ve been using it regularly and couldn’t imagine making any mods—it’s perfect! I love the scale of this model, and the lipstick pickups, especially in middle position, have so much character.

The latest Meridian Brothers album.

Obsession: Meridian Brothers have been one of my favorite artists for years. Primarily featuring Eblis Álvarez on record—though with a full ensemble live—the relentlessly creative guitarist/composer/bandleader perfectly balances traditional songwriting and deep body-moving rhythms with experimental, futuristic guitar tones and adventurous production. Every new release is a cause for celebration and their newest, Mi Latinoamérica Sufre, is further proof that Álvarez is among the most fun musical minds on the planet.

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

Photo courtesy of Guitar Point (

Photo courtesy of Guitar Point (

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