april 2016

This entry-level shred machine flirts with greatness at a rock-bottom price.

Allen Eden first hit the scene as a guitar parts manufacturer that sold bodies and necks to DIY enthusiasts. They’ve always been very focused on affordability, and on their website you’ll see necks that sell for as little as $60 and bodies for around $80. In 2014, they opened a retail store in El Monte, California, and expanded their line to include complete guitars. The 1987 is one of their more striking new offerings: a neck-through-body “super strat” that features a Floyd Rose-licensed tremolo and streets at $439. The guitar often dazzles for its combination of features, quality feel, and price.

The 1987 is a fairly bold visual statement, but it’s a very practical, functional, and smart design. The neck-through-body construction means the body center is an extension of the walnut-and-maple neck. The burl maple body wings are peppered with wood grain craters and valleys that are neither buffed out, nor filled, nor sanded down. You can even fit your fingertips into some of the pits on the body. Clearly, using wood that other builders might pass over for cosmetic reasons means saving costs without any sonic penalty. But a surprising secondary result is a distinctive guitar with major mojo. The walnut stripes, reverse headstock, and diamond inlays also lend hot-rod flair and pay homage to Ibanez, Alembic, and BC Rich’s ’70s instruments as well as metal’s glory days on the Sunset Strip. The guitar even arrived with a fancy looking, tweed hardshell case that's a $90 option. Otherwise it comes with a gig bag free of charge.

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“What we need is just guitar, bass, and drums,” says Andrew Stockdale. “That’s when this band sounds most exciting and most dynamic. If you have too many people in the band, you can’t jam.”
Photo by Debi Del Grande

The alpha guitarist on building riffs, calling the shots, and borrowing mega-rock-producer Brendan O’Brien’s guitars for his band’s new album, Victorious.

One might need a flow chart (or perhaps an abacus) to keep score of the various incarnations of the Australian stoner-psychedelic rock band Wolfmother. In its still relatively brief existence, since forming in 2004, the group has seen only guitarist and frontman Andrew Stockdale remain a constant presence, with bassist/keyboardist Chris Ross, rhythm guitarist Aidan Nemeth, and drummers Dave Atkins, Will Rockwell-Scott, Elliott Hammond, and Hamish Rosser passing through its revolving doors.

After releasing two blistering, fuzz-riff fueled albums—2005’s eponymously titled debut and 2009’s Cosmic Egg—under the Wolfmother moniker, Stockdale briefly ditched the band concept altogether, issuing 2013’s Keep Moving as a solo album, despite the studio contributions of current group members Ian Peres (bass, keyboards) and Vin Steele (drums).

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