Everyone needs a little guidance sometimes. Avenged Sevenfold’s Zacky Vengeance joins us as we recall the best advice received from a fellow player.


Q: What’s the best guitar tip you’ve received from a fellow player?


Zacky Vengeance (Avenged Sevenfold) -- Guest Picker
A: A very wise guitarist once said not to deal in technique, but in emotion. That has always stuck with me.

Current obsession: Elvis and all things Tennessee. I love the vibe in Memphis and Nashville as well as the stories and rivalries that set the foundation for all styles of modern music.


Charlie PlateReader of the Month
A: Relax. Tense, heavy-handed, and unbalanced technique not only causes physical suffering, but can limit your range. We often excuse these tendencies as part of our style, but you can attack the strings light and precise with equal success as when flexed and strained. Observe classically trained virtuosos and take note of their posture while executing physically demanding music. Simply sitting up straight and relaxing your shoulders may make all the difference.

Current obsession: Alternatives to A440. This “standard” is historically recent; many timeless musical pieces were originally performed well above and below this pitch (careful being fooled by modern pitch correction). Feels like painting with a new tonal palette.


Ted Drozdowski -- Senior Editor
A: Best recent advice comes from Luther Dickinson. I love my tone and can get frustrated by backlines. Luther always has great tone and plays through lots of backlines. He told me lame backlines used to bother him until he decided to stay out of his own head about his sound while performing. I’ve embraced that.

Current obsession: Solo gigs. I love getting close to people, entertaining in a relaxed and natural way, and telling stories about the music. Performing solo requires opening your heart.


Shawn Hammond -- Chief Content Officer
A: Growing up as a really shy kid in a super-conservative place where hardly anyone I knew played guitar shaped me into more of an introspective guitar nerd. Even now, I don’t really get into nitty-gritty conversations about playing. For better or worse, I’ve mostly just kind of cobbled together ideas from personal experience and stuff I’ve read, and embraced a do-what-works-for-you-and-screw-the-rest mentality.

Current obsession:Curtis Novak’s Jazzmaster Widerange pickups. They’ve got killer JM tones, plus a little more warmth and texture—minus the hum.


Jason Shadrick -- Associate Editor
A: One day after an especially difficult lesson in college, my teacher, Jim McGuire, told me to leave my guitar at home for next week’s lesson. When I came back—sans guitar—we had a long, deep talk. I took some notes, recorded a bit of it, and tried to soak up everything he said, but the most lasting lesson from that session was his simple mantra, “Relax. It’s just music.”

Current obsession: My name is Jason and I’m a reverb addict. I’ve been skirting around going into a deep wormhole of ambient tones full of shimmering, invisible surfaces, but it’s finally time. Wish me luck.

Guitar store staff have better things to do than clean your instrument, so a well-loved but unsoiled 6-string like this is going to command a higher trade-in value than one that comes in covered in years of residue.

Believe it or not, you can boost the value of your instrument by making everyone's life a little easier … and cleaner!

There's an overwhelming amount of activity in the guitar market these days, and the sheer amount of demand has left some manufacturers struggling to keep up. But rather than wait around for stores to re-stock, more and more customers are shopping for used and vintage guitars. You might wonder, where do all those used guitars come from?

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"'If I fall and somehow my career ends on that particular day, then so be it," Joe Bonamassa says of his new hobby, bicycling. "If it's over, it's over. You've got to enjoy your life."

Photo by Steve Trager

For his stylistically diverse new album, the fiery guitar hero steps back from his gear obsession and focuses on a deep pool of influences and styles.

Twenty years ago, Joe Bonamassa was a struggling musician living in New York City. He survived on a diet of peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and ramen noodles that he procured from the corner bodega at Columbus Avenue and 83rd Street. Like many dreamers waiting for their day in the sun, Joe also played "Win for Life" every week. It was, in his words, "literally my ticket out of this hideous business." While the lottery tickets never brought in the millions, Joe's smokin' guitar playing on a quartet of albums from 2002 to 2006—So, It's Like That, Blues Deluxe, Had to Cry Today, and You & Me—did get the win, transforming Joe into a guitar megastar.

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