guitarists

From left to right: Brian Marshall, Myles Kennedy, Scott Phillips, and Mark Tremonti together form a supergroup bolstered by Tremonti and Kennedy's fierce guitar playing and Phillips and Marshall's powerful rhythm section.

Photo by Chuck Brueckmann

On the band’s new album, Pawns & Kings, its creative leaders prove the virtues of deep songwriting, tube amp tones, PRS guitars, and hard work.

On top of having all the trappings of an epic rock band, Alter Bridge, who’ve just released a new album called Pawns & Kings, has the necessary talent and magnetism to back them up. Just look at the lineup: Their charismatic frontman, singer/guitarist Myles Kennedy, is considered among the best vocalists in modern rock; guitarist Mark Tremonti is not just heroic on the instrument, but virtuosic; and together, Brian Marshall’s melodic bass playing and drummer Scott “Flip” Phillips’ Bonham-like power generate megawattage.

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“The first one I put my signature on the back of the headstock, I had to sit and look at it for a little bit, taking it in.”

Photo by Han-Su Kim

Following a long road from Saskatchewan to California, this master builder lands in Corona, to painstakingly reproduce Jerry Garcia’s “Alligator’ and other gems.

Like everything in the Grateful Dead’s orbit, each of Jerry Garcia’s stage guitars has been pored over by Deadheads, with data on their usage rivalling baseball-stat-level analysis. Dedicated fans can hear the differences between each of these iconic instruments—not just because of their tones, but in the type of music and playing they inspired. So, it’s only natural that each 6-string has its own subset of fans. Some love to hear and see Wolf and Tiger—custom instruments built by Doug Irwin, both of which have their own merch, including T-shirts, hats, and miniature replicas. And some prefer Garcia’s deep-cut Travis Bean era. A large cadre of others prefer Alligator, the Stratocaster that Graham Nash gave to Garcia as the Dead embraced cleaner, country- and folk-inspired sounds.

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Photo by Claire Marie Vogel

The breakout songwriter-guitarist revels in her truest self on Revealer, staying playful and curious through experimental tunings, a rubber-bridge guitar, and other tone toys, while keeping the essence of the song paramount—a treasured approach she gleaned from the influence of Joni Mitchell.

For Madison Cunningham, the greater good of the song always comes first. But while the song itself is always king for the Los Angeles-based singer/songwriter/guitarist, her tunes are rendered with striking features that can’t help but draw the ear deeper. Whether you’re snared by her poetry, her beautiful voice, her wonderful sense of melody and composition, or her dexterous and often unexpected guitar playing, Cunningham’s songs tend to contain multitudes. She is the rare breed of artist who pens earworms with the kind of depth and intrigue that musos go crazy for. It’s a magic trick that’s earned her comparisons to the legendary Joni Mitchell (who Cunningham cites as a key influence), and it’s also earned her four Grammy nominations and plenty of famous fans as a songwriter’s songwriter.

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