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Staff Picks: Dream Rigs

As we cross the 300 mark on number of Rig Rundowns filmed, Premier Guitar columnist Pete Thorn joins editors in naming our favorite gear-geek-out vids.

What has been your favorite PGRig Rundown so far and why?

Pete ThornMichel Polnareff, Tsuyoshi Nagabuchi
A: My favorite Rig Rundown without a doubt: AC/DC. Angus Young’s tech Trace Foster was extremely knowledgeable and enthusiastic, and I felt a sense of awe and wonder when he showed us the 1970 Gibson SG used on the Back in Black tour. That’s rock history right there, folks!

Current obsession: Mateus Asato. He’s just an astounding musician, and I feel like he’s possibly going to be a huge driving force, moving electric guitar forward and getting the next generation of players excited about the instrument. I was bowled over within seconds the first time I heard him, which was on an Instagram video (his IG is incredibly popular). His extraordinary depth, musicality, and chops shine through loud and clear (even through my tiny iPhone speakers). He could be a Jeff Beck or Hendrix for the next generation—I believe he’s that good.

Joe ContentoReader of the Month
A: All of the big name artists are great, but I enjoy getting exposed to new stuff, too. Any Rig Rundown where the artists demo their gear is a huge plus as well. In particular, the Living Color and All Them Witches interviews stand out in my mind as great.

Current obsession: Balancing my time and effort between my stoner metal band and my funk fusion band and trying to tweak my pedalboard to work for both. My Big Muff Pi with Tone Wicker is surprisingly versatile, but I’ve been eyeing a Way Huge Swollen Pickle for a while. I also tease myself on with my dream Jazzmaster build every few weeks. One day...

Perry BeanVideo Editor
A: I’d have to say my favorite Rig Rundown so far has been Jason Isbell. I learned more from him in one conversation than I have from anywhere else in a long time. That guy loves gear as much as we do and it shows. If you have an hour to burn, go check out that Cooder-Caster and those Duesenburg guitars—they’re sure to impress!

Current obsession: I can’t stop listening to a band a friend turned me onto called Trade Wind. It features members of two bands I dig: Stick to Your Guns and Stray from the Path, but doesn’t sound much like either, which came as a big surprise. It sounds like my favorite parts of Failure and the Deftones meets late ’90s emo, but with an organic, almost Afghan Whigs kind of vibe. If that strikes your interest, be sure to check out “Radio Songs” from the album You Make Everything Disappear.

Chris KiesAssociate Editor
A: I’d be lying if I didn’t say hosting the AC/DC clip, meeting Brian May, or playing Billie Joe Armstrong’s “Blue” guitar weren’t pinch-me moments, but I really enjoy bringing lesser-known bands—like All Them Witches, Dawes, Kurt Vile, Intronaut, and The Kills—that I personally dig into the fold because I want to help any artist I believe in get more exposure and fans.

Current obsession: Ever since my buddy Alec got me into Explosions in the Sky, I’ve been going down the instrumental-rock rabbit hole and have put similar bands like God Is an Astronaut, If These Trees Could Talk, Red Sparowes, Pelican, Russian Circles, Caspian, and Young Indian into heavy rotation. I never realized how emotional and dramatic music could be without vocals—fan for life!

Jason ShadrickAssociate Editor

A: Spending a few minutes with Brian May and checking out “Red Special” up close is a tough one to beat, but the Rig Rundowns for the house bands on Saturday Night Live and Conan were so much fun. Watching Jonah Hill rehearse still-in-progress skits with the cast was surreal. Jimmy Vivino’s lengthy tour of the guitar room backstage at Conan was full of oddball axes and some rather sentimental pieces—such as one of the first Mike Bloomfield signature Gibson Les Pauls.

Current obsession: For years, I’ve looked forward to the Halloween tradition of Umphrey’s McGee’s live mashups. The artful way they can mix up to four different songs together is not only a fun way to show off their virtuosity, but also their immense talent for arrangements. (Check out their new studio album, Zonkey, for some killer mashups.) My band is recording our first album, and we decided to follow their lead and try our hand at it. Turns out, music is a team sport.