jerry cantrell

Robi Johns has played a role in Gibson’s acoustic operation since 1990, when he left teaching and running a music store to become the location’s in-house musician.

The Gibson acoustic division’s head dreamer studied with Christopher Parkening, toured, played, taught, and has collaborated with many artists on signature models in his three-decade career.

Bozeman is known as the Sweet Pea City, a reference to the prolific flower that put this colorful Montana burgh on the map in the early 1900s. But most of us know it as the home of the Gibson Acoustic Craftory, where the brand makes guitars ranging from historic models like the L-00, J-45, Hummingbird, Dove, and J-200 to signature guitars for Jerry Cantrell, Orianthi, and Keb’ Mo’ to the company’s budget-priced Generation Collection, which offers updates on Gibson’s slope-, broad-shouldered, and cutaway models, all with sound ports. Turns out the region’s stable, dry climate is good for building guitars as well as raising blossoms.

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Four brutal amps from Mesa/Boogie, Friedman, Randall, and Engl go through the Premier Guitar roundup wringer.

Since Hendrix, Cream, and the Who signaled the dawn of 100-watt-driven heavy music, hard rock and metal guitarists have coveted tools for pushing the boundaries in genres where subtlety rarely matters. In the old days, there weren’t too many heavy amp merchants—Orange, Marshall, and Laney were about it for a long time.

Fast-forward to present day. Rock and metal guitarists now have more options than ever to sate their jones for all things heavy. The sea of choices means the biggest problem isn’t whether the ideal amp exists, but which one will deliver the goods.

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