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Both shredders first established themselves as top-level hired guns—Nita Strauss (left) with Alice Cooper and Jennifer Batten with Michael Jackson—before setting off on their long careers.

Photo by Ana Massard

These super-guitarists talk about originality, busting the patriarchy, supporting Jeff Beck, touring with Alice Cooper, Demi Lovato, and Michael Jackson, guitar education, their secret weapons, and … oh, how to be badass!

It’s a fact: Women and minority artists have often been marginalized, unacknowledged, and even ripped off—both musically and financially. And while the industry has slowly gotten better about amplifying their significant contributions, white male artists have historically been heralded as the heroes and innovators. Even with all of the progress made in recent years, one niche where bias still seems the norm is “hired gun.” The commonly used term “sideman” demonstrates the pervasiveness of male-dominated norms entrenched in our collective psyche. But there are exceptional sidewomen who have broken the glass ceiling with their primetime gigs. And among the most notable are Jennifer Batten and Nita Strauss.

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Hosts Rhett Shull and Zach Broyles run down their top gear of the year. Plus, dueling Les Pauls and the eternal question: to refret or not to refret.

A Boss RE-202 Space Echo … on a vocal mix? A hot pink overdrive, treble boost, and echo in one pedal named SusMaryOsep—a word Filipino mothers shout at troublesome children? An Artificial Blonde—with hat’s off to Madison Cunningham—that’s a slightly pitched vibrato? Line 6’s Catalyst modeling amp—sexy or not? Amp plugins from Neural DSP and Line 6? Tone King’s royal-sounding Imperial MkII and Soldano’s SLO-30? Metallica in a box (Caroline Guitar Company’s Crom)? A Pigtronix Star Eater fuzz that looks like a wild berry Pop Tart? And have you seen the new Empress Para EQ and Origin Effects’ M-EQ Driver? Hosts Rhett Shull and Zach Broyles run down their top gear of the year. Plus, dueling Les Pauls and the eternal question: to refret or not to refret. And is a bone nut really better than nylon? And what’s a Dutchburst, anyway? Tired of questions? Well, Rhett and Zach also talk post-Thanksgiving turkey. And Zack tells about his 6-string family reunion with his first guitar and flashes the new Mythos Pedals Hephaestus, named for the Greek god of blacksmithing. What else? (Sorry, that’s another question!) Rhett opens up a box of spankin’ new pickups from Stew-Mac, and they discuss the online screeds and screeches trailing their conversation about tone woods with Paull Reed Smith in the previous episode. And yes, they do dip a rig, submitted for dissection by “Dipped in Tone” listener Kenny, whose ’90s rock setup—with stitched-rose guitar straps—sparks yet another argument about the merits of the Tube Screamer and the virtues of the Phase 90 and Phase 45 versus the Small Stone.

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Rig Rundown: The Smashing Pumpkins' Billy Corgan & Jeff Schroeder [2022]

Thirty-one years after Gish, the Smashing Pumpkins are still exploring the architecture of sound in their often explosive and unpredictable songs. For their current Spirits on Fire Tour, Billy Corgan leads with his Reverend signatures and a few other carefully culled guitars, and Jeff Schroeder lends support with his fleet of Yamahas.

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