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Rig Rundown: Billy Strings [2023]

Bluegrass’ biggest ambassador continues expanding his sound with more pedals, more modeling, more Martins, and a dark-arts guitar. Plus, we find out whose ashes are inside his 1945 D-28.

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Johnson has several signature Stratocaster models including this Thinline, which Fender debuted in 2018.

Photo by Max Crace

The guitar virtuoso sifted through his vaults for the nuggets that began his two new albums, The Book of Making and Yesterday Meets Today, and then let inspiration take over.

Eric Johnson knows that excessive pride gets in the way of true progress, and that having extraordinary talent doesn’t beget personality or, simply put, make you better than anyone else. “I’ve spent so long being involved in [playing music] that, at one point, you take a break and go, ‘Yeah, but that’s not me—that’s just something I do. Who am I?’” he shares. “Regardless of how well you do it and how appreciated you are, it’s not like a carte blanche calling card that gives you any kind of real entitlement in life. If you think it does, then you don’t know who you are.”

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Photo by Filmawi

Expanding their sound into a raucously shoegazey and groove-driven new seam, guitar slingers Conor Curley and Carlos O’Connell take us inside the whirlwind of their latest album, Skinty Fia.

We all know how the Irish saved civilization—and if you don’t know the story, look for Thomas Cahill’s excellent tome on the subject—but what about rock ’n’ roll? From Van Morrison and Them to Rory Gallagher and Taste, or Thin Lizzy to the Pogues, U2 to the Cranberries, My Bloody Valentine to Snow Patrol, Irish rockers have given the British blues explosion a run for its silver, carving out an unbroken line from soul and blues-rock all the way to hardcore punk and ultramod art-rock, and they’ve done it in large measure while hewing close to the staunchly Irish traditions of myth, poetry, storytelling, rebel yells, and romantic longing.

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