february 2017

Onstage with Purling Hiss, Mike Polizze plays a ’90s Fender Stratocaster strung with a set of .008s, which he explains allows him to pummel his guitar’s whammy bar and still stay in tune.
Photo by Tim Bugbee/Tinnitus Photography

A Strat-wielding sonic shaman creates his own space and time continuum with his still-evolving trio and a uniquely modded vintage Ampeg amp on the new album High Bias.

If you’re into gear—and you probably are if you’re reading this—the first thing you’ll notice about Mike Polizze, the guitarist in Purling Hiss, is his amp: a modded Ampeg VT-22.

You don’t see many Ampeg guitar amps these days, but they were a big deal in the early ’70s—especially for the Rolling Stones. The Stones were the first band to use Ampeg’s muscular V series and they brought the prototypes on their 1969 American tour. It was on that tour that Bill Wyman introduced the world to the SVT (his was a-300-watt, 95-pound beast), and those are the amps you hear on Get Yer Ya-Ya’s Out!, the Stones’ 1970 live album. Mick Taylor used a V series amp for his iconic solo on “Midnight Rambler” and they were still using those amps on Exile on Main Street in 1972. The Stones pushed their amps hard, and for that 1969 tour had a tech on loan from Ampeg to manage their backline if it melted down.

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Can an entry-level modeler hang with the big dogs?

Excellent interface. Very portable. Nice modulation tones.

Some subpar low-gain dirt sounds. Could be a little more rugged.


HeadRush MX5


The allure of portability and sonic consistency has become too much to ignore for some guitarists, making smaller digital modelers more appealing than ever.

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Emily Wolfe lets loose, with an Epiphone Sheraton around her shoulders. Her signature Sheraton Stealth was released in 2021. "The guitar is the perfect frequency range for my soul," she says.

Photo by Brittany Durdin

The rising guitar star blends classic and stoner rock, Motown, and more influences with modern pop flourishes in songs replete with fat, fuzzy, fizzy tones from her new Epiphone Sheraton signature.

For so many artists, the return of live shows means the return of the thrill of performing, much-needed income, and, in a way, purpose. The third definitely goes for guitarist Emily Wolfe, who, when asked about her goals, immediately responds, "I just want to play arenas every night for the rest of my life. When I go up there, something could hit me at any point—an emotion that I felt 10 years ago could come out in a bend on the low E."

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