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Question and Obsession: Hand-Me-Downs

Tyler Bryant discusses the guitar Billy Gibbons gave him, a PG reader explains how he came to own Steve Morse’s prototype, and more.

Do you own a piece of gear that once belonged to a lauded player? Describe it and tell us how you got it.

Tyler BryantTyler Bryant & the Shakedown
A: I’ve got a couple of guitars that are special because of lauded players, but none that belonged to them. I have a resonator that was a gift from the one and only, Reverend Billy F. Gibbons. The Shakedown was in Austin, Texas, supporting him on a show when he invited Graham [Whitford] and me on an excursion to the Republic Resonator HQ. Upon entering the building, Billy told us, “We’re all leaving with our favorites.” We proceeded to jam some blues on almost all of them and we all left with our favorites. Thank you, Mr. Gibbons.

One of my prized possessions is a Jeff Beck Strat that Fender gave me while I was on tour with him. I carried it around on that tour to practice stealing as many of his licks as I could. He signed the back of the headstock to me at the end of the run. It’s a cool reminder of the time I got to spend with my all-time favorite guitarist!

Current obsession: I recently bought a red 1954 National Reso-Phonic because I recognized it as the guitar Chris Whitley is holding on the back cover of Living with the Law. The guitar is tiny and almost sounds like a banjo acoustically. It sounds unbelievable miked up with a little distortion and tape delay, but it really shines when you’re alone with a song or some feelings that could turn into one.

David SealReader of the Month
A: I worked for Steve Morse in many roles in the late ’80s/early ’90s as guitar tech, road manager, FOH audio engineer, and general roadie. When I was on tour with Blue Öyster Cult, my guitar was stolen. When I told Steve, his primary concern was that I had a guitar to practice with on the road. He had Ernie Ball send me the cherry sunburst Morse model. A week or so later when Blue Öyster Cult played Sacramento, Steve came to the gig. At soundcheck, he tapped me on the shoulder and said, “let’s swap.” He handed me the prototype in the photo and I turned over the new cherry sunburst model. He sat in with BOC that night, played through a backup Laney head, and killed!

Current obsession: Playing as much music as I can with the life I have left.

Photo by Lisa Florence

John BohlingerNashville Correspondent

A: I have some celeb gear (Brent Mason’s 1956 Les Paul, strap locks from Joe Bonamassa), but my coolest celeb gear is a pair of skin-tight leather pants formerly owned by Gene Simmons, given to me by country star Lila McCann in ’97. These magic pants make me play differently—not necessarily better, but more like a demon/monster.

Current obsession: To battle carpal tunnel, I’ve been doing more yoga. Surprisingly, if I focus on breathing while playing, I’m more in the pocket.

Andy EllisSenior Editor
A: This 1930s National Console steel previously belonged to Ben Harper, who played it while touring in Taj Mahal’s band—a gig that brought Harper his first national recognition. While driving me back to my hotel after an interview for a 1999 Guitar Player cover story, Harper took a sudden detour to a storage unit, grabbed a handpainted instrument case, and laid it on my lap. Inside was a magical double-8 steel—now one of my most prized possessions.

Current obsession: : After decades of stringing my electrics with .010 and .011 sets, I’ve rediscovered the super-bendy joy of a .009 set—it takes me back to 1969!