march 2008

In an industry where the internet and fickle audience interests can make or break you in a matter of days, it seems there are a lot of almost-musicians trying

In an industry where the internet and fickle audience interests can make or break you in a matter of days, it seems there are a lot of almost-musicians trying to cash in. Pete Anderson, who has been at it for over three decades in both playing and producing roles, can only laugh about it and muse on what it takes to stick around. A top-notch guitarist with more musical sensibilities than most of us could ever claim, he has made a comfortable life for himself in one of the most demanding and least forgiving industries around. And even with giant production credits under his belt with names like Dwight Yoakam and Lucinda Williams, Pete has learned the one lesson that many internet phenoms would be wise to absorb: it’s about the music, stupid.
All Star Guitar Night: Pete Anderson

Thirty years in the business – you’ve been around forever, man!

Yeah, I’m not sure if I should tell people that or not – there are pluses and minuses! [laughs]

You’ve really become one of the premier producers in the industry – your albums have sold over 30 million units. What have you learned from the business?

That it’s a business. I started as a guitar player and my main impetus was to play guitar – everything else I did was sort of an excuse to be a guitar player. Things changed when Dwight Yoakam and I made his first album, Guitars, Cadillacs, Etc., Etc., and sold it to Warner Brothers. That album – the first legitimate production I did – sold two million copies and Warner Brothers wanted me to produce another album for them, but I wanted people to know me as a guitar player.

Well, they offered me $20,000 to produce an album for my friend Rosie Flores. My rent was $135 per month and I had $1000 in my checkbook, so $20,000 might as well have been a million.

Through touring and rubbing shoulders, I ended up making a lot of records. I worked with Jackson Browne and Buck Owens – people I had dreamt about! I got to make a duet with K.D. Lang and Roy Orbison that won a Grammy. The reality is, what I’ve learned is the business. It is important to survive and keep working in the business, whether that means having your own record company or being a producer.

Is it important for guitar players to expand their skills beyond just the instrument itself?

When you’re starting off and playing in clubs from 9 p.m. to 1:30 a.m., it’s a learning period. I spent a lot of time playing in bars with my head down, looking at the fretboard and learning. I looked up one day and realized, I’ve got this under my fingers now, and it’s time to change my environment. For young players, it’s important to pay attention to who you invest your time in. When you’re starting out, any playing is practice, but you have to have the business acumen to decide which situations will benefit you. The biggest attraction for Dwight and I was that we had nothing to gain from each other except for what the two of us could make musically. He had 20 great songs, and they were going to knock down doors.

Has there been any point for you that the music got lost?

No, never. You can’t lose it.

All Star Guitar Night: Pete Anderson
How do you keep it fresh?

Well, I love to play. I was an art brain rather than a math brain as a kid, writing poetry and drawing. When I learned to play guitar it wasn’t to copy Beatles songs – which isn’t a bad thing – it was an outlet for me to create. It was expression, and that’s what keeps me doing this – the opportunity to create a melodic concept that I hear in my head. And I’ve been fortunate that people like that and I’ve been able to make a living doing it.

Your music mixes a lot of different styles – Americana, pop, rock – and although this may be an easy question, do you consider this your art?

Absolutely. Making an album is a piece of art. It’s not three singles and taking care of your buddies at publishing companies. Even though the album may be going away because of digital downloading, I still think that if we’re going to sit down and do ten songs, this is going to be a piece of work that looks like a tapestry. Everything has its purpose on the record.

Drawing from so many different places, it must be nice that you’ve never gotten stuck in a category.

I definitely want to cross boundaries. I’ve listened to a lot of music. When I was younger you could check out albums at a nearby library, so I would take records out from people that I had never heard of and store these things in the card catalog in my brain. Now I might be working on a contemporary record and be inspired to listen to a Hank Williams, Sr. record, and end up pulling out a little clicky thing on the high-hat.

I look at it as a palette, like when an artist paints, except with all the music I’ve ever heard. I might eliminate some colors depending on the artist I am working with, but I can look at the music and say, “This needs more red.” But things have changed recently; with programs like ProTools, the way I make records has evolved.

What are you playing on today?

I’ve partnered up with Reverend Guitars. They’re making a Pete Anderson model called the Cool Deal, based on an old Epiphone Joe Pass – a Korean laminated guitar – that I modified. I just got the prototype two weeks ago.

What else are you working on?

Jean Larrivee and I are looking into creating a mini-line of Pete Anderson guitars, kind of like a Stella with an almost retro cosmetic to them. We’ve got some different tuning ideas – a couple things that have never been done for at least one of them. Plus I’m still running my label, Little Dog, and coming out with a new blues album soon.

Pete’s ASGN Gearbox
Here’s what Pete plugged in for his live performance:
Reverend Pete Anderson
Cool Deal
Vox AC30 Custom Classic
Vox ToneLab LE

Pete Anderson

For being an in-demand session and touring player who has lent his skills to an ever-growing list of artists, David Grissom is remarkably low key. Working with artists like

All Star Guitar Night: David Grissom
For being an in-demand session and touring player who has lent his skills to an ever-growing list of artists, David Grissom is remarkably low key. Working with artists like the Dixie Chicks, John Mellencamp, Joe Ely, Robben Ford and Buddy Guy, David’s versatility has been a pioneering force in the alt-country scene, where blues, country and rock motifs mingle freely to produce a uniquely American sound. If that wasn’t enough, his new, independently released album, Loud Music, has been garnering rave reviews from publications both in and outside of the guitar industry, and the excitement surrounding the release of his signature model by PRS – the DGT – has yet to die down. So you can imagine our surprise when David gladly sat down with us before his ASGN soundcheck to reflect upon his increasingly dynamic career.

We saw you at the big PRS press conference announcing the new models for 2008, including your own DGT. What was it like standing between Paul Reed Smith and Santana?

It was a total honor; ultimately that’s what it feels like. I’ve had such a wonderful friendship with Paul – going on 22 years now – and I really feel like the PRS people are family to me. If you really think about it, it’s kind of surreal when I’m standing up there with Carlos Santana, but it’s what I’ve been doing for quite some time.

You made some comments about how big of a deal it is that you’re putting your name behind the DGT.

Actually, Paul made those comments, but I would totally agree with him. Yesterday, as Santana walked on stage to talk, Paul joked with me that Santana is just as tough as I am about quality control and those types of things. That really is my reputation, and I don’t think we compromised at all. It was extremely important to me that the guitar would be something I could really get behind 110 percent and feel that I could recommend to anybody. It’s a lot of money – it’s a big commitment for any player to spend that much on a guitar, so I wanted to make sure that it was exactly how I felt it should be and they definitely delivered.

Have you put your name behind any other products?

No, this was the first. I’ve let equipment companies whose products I used and believed in put my name on their artists’ lists, but this is the first product with my name on it. This is a big deal for me.

If my research is correct, your first solo album, Loud Music, just dropped. How’s that going for you?

It’s going great. We’re in this new era of independent releases, so it’s available at CD Baby and iTunes.

All Star Guitar Night: David Grissom

Have you gotten onboard with the digital lifestyle?

Yeah, it’s here and there are a lot of advantages for an independent artist like me – I financed the entire record myself. I have international distribution automatically with iTunes and CD Baby, plus I can make the record I really want to make without having to please anybody but myself. It feels great; it’s a situation where you’re not going to hit a homerun out of the box, but it’ll have legs.

Do those advantages give you a little more freedom to follow your artistic side in the studio?

I feel like I have total freedom to do my thing. There are songs on my new record that are two-chord rockabilly instrumentals and then there is a dark ballad with acoustic guitars. I feel like I can exercise whatever I’m feeling that day.

All Star Guitar Night: David GrissomYour early work provided somewhat of a foundation for the current roots, alt-country thing and you’ve worked with a lot of people who went on to become icons in that scene. How does the current popularity of that kind of music make you feel? Do you take some pride in that?

Well, I’m a fan, first and foremost, so I guess, yeah, I’m proud of the stuff I’ve worked on. I’m proud of working with people like Joe Ely and Lucinda Williams. I think it’s really cool that we have a whole world down here in Texas of young bands that kind of exist in their own universe – bands like Cross Canadian Ragweed, Randy Rogers, Kevin Fowler – and are kind of undefinable in terms of whether they’re really rock or really country. I get to play on a lot of that stuff and it’s cool to see these guys doing well. I’m not sure how to answer that question, other than I’ve always loved to play guitar on great songs and I’ve been lucky to play with some great songwriters and be a part of some really good music. I’m still able to do that, and I’m very thankful for that.

You’ve landed all these great gigs; if there’s a young kid out there that would like to go that direction, what kind of advice, aside from the obvious need for talent and chops, would you dole out?

I asked Pat Metheny 20 years ago, “What’s the secret, man? How do I get as good as you are?” And he just said to me, “Play gigs.” That’s all he said, and now I know what he means and it really gets to the heart of the matter; you’re gonna learn more on a gig or a session in one day than you would in a month of practice at home. I mean, you’ve still got to put in the time at home and do the ground work, but the real experience – knowing how to interact, knowing how to react to a situation – comes from being in the moment. So I would say, there was a long period in my life when I never turned a gig down. I took every gig, and it didn’t matter what kind of music it was, I always learned something.

David’s ASGN Gearbox
Here’s what David plugged in for his live performance:
Bad Cat Panther
Klon Centaur
Boss Delay
Arion Chorus

David Grissom

This year’s NAMM show was a monstrous affair, to be sure. Over four days in mid-January, more than 88,000 people found their way to the Anaheim Convention Center in

This year’s NAMM show was a monstrous affair, to be sure.
Over four days in mid-January, more than 88,000 people found their way to the Anaheim Convention Center in California to check out the newest products from the industry’s biggest players. Despite an air of economic uncertainty, the event was packed with a record number of exhibitors (1,560 to be exact) and it seemed that every company in attendance – from Fender and Taylor to the smallest boutique shops – had something to get excited over. It validated our belief that it is great time to be a gearhead.

If you weren’t able to make the trip, PG’s got you covered. Just scroll down to see some of the coolest guitars, amps and accessories we stumbled across, and check out our exclusive interviews with David Grissom, Pete Anderson, Ladd Smith and Rusty Cooley from Saturday evening’s All Star Guitar Night. We also have loads of exclusive videos from NAMM plus a wrap-up podcast to complete the coverage.

Here’s to four days of gear-induced madness. You’re welcome.

HiWatt Custom 7 Head

The new Custom 7 head and combo caught our eye, promising Townshend-approved tones at reasonable household volumes. Pumping 7 watts through one EL84 tube in a single-ended output design, it is hand-built in the U.K. HiWatt’s heavy-duty standards are thankfully present and accounted for, meaning you could lug this to a low-powered gig without worries.

price TBA

HiWatt Custom 7 Head

DigiTech HardWire PedalsDigiTech HardWire Pedals

Featuring true bypass, unique high-voltage operation that keeps your 9V power supply at a consistent level – meaning more consistent tone – and a bomb-proof chassis, this new line from DigiTech promises to have something for every pedalboard. As an added bonus, precision pots let you dial in the exact same tone every time.

Starting at $119

Henman-Bevilacqua S2

Henman-Bevilacqua brings a fresh approach to the age-old problem of adjusting the truss rod: they’ve eliminated it. Instead, a load-bearing beam with a floating fingerboard design does the work, while maintaining a traditional feel. The bodies have a familiar-yet-contemporary shape and each piece of hardware has been manufactured to close harmonic tolerances. They also feature WCR pickups with true vintage nickel covers.

list $5900

Henman-Bevilacuqa S2

TV Jones Model 10
TV Jones Model 10

With a body made of solid Obeche and an attractive single cutaway, the Model 10 from TV Jones promises to be a fun guitar. It includes an ebony fretboard, 22 medium frets and TV Jones Power’Tron pickups in both the neck and bridge. Pictured is the company’s attractive Nicotine finish (and that’s not just because we’re smokers).

Starting at $1400

65Amps Monterey

Basically a SoHo front-end with a 6V6 power section, this amp delivers classic American amp tones. With a tight low-end and rich, harmonic overdrive, this amp is available in two configurations: the Monterey features two 6V6s and puts out 22 watts, while the Monterey HP features four power tubes and pushes the rating to 38 watts.

Starting at $2395

65Amps Monterey

fOXX PedalsfOXX Pedals

fOXX announced six new pedals at NAMM: the Clean Machine (shown), a clean or dirty sustainer; the Down Machine, a wah for bass and organ; the Loud Machine, a fuzzed-out volume pedal; the O.D. Machine, an overdrive; the Wah Machine; and the Wah Volume, which is pretty self-explanatory. All of these pedals feature fOXX’s trademark felt covering, in your choice of colors.

Starting at $199

Diamond Spitfire

Voiced with a cleaner, vintage vibe, these amps come dressed in an attractive British tan tolex, and seem poised to draw in a new audience to Diamond. Featuring four “Winged C” EL34s, two channels, a low-focus control and a half-power switch on the rear, this amp delivered some amazing country/blues tones. It’s also available as a custom- ordered combo.


Diamond Spitfire

Martin D28-M Elvis Presley Commemorative Limited EditionMartin D28-M Elvis Presley Commemorative Limited Edition

A tribute to both the King and Martin’s 175th anniversary, only 175 of these acoustics will be produced. A copy of Elvis’ 1955 D-28, including his trademark leather cover, the D28-M will feature a polished black ebony headstock with a silhouette of Elvis playing his Martin inlaid in Mother of Pearl, star position markers, and a heelcap with the TCB lightning bolt logo. Also includes a special, oversized case to accommodate the leather cover.


OohLaLa Pedals

A relatively new company on the boutique scene (although the company’s founders have played an integral part in the industry for the past several years), OohLaLa showed off four new pedals slated for a spring release: the Synth Mangler, Torn’s Peaker, X-Ray and the Soda Meiser. The Soda Meiser (pictured) has been described as “fuzz bliss” by OohLaLa’s Queen Bee, Amada Marquez. If you dig boutique, you’ll dig these.


OohLaLa Pedals

Gretsch G5135 G. Love CorvetteGretsch G5135 G. Love Corvette

If you haven’t heard of G. Love & the Special Sauce, do yourself a favor. The newest signature model in Gretsch’s Electromatic collection pays tribute to Garrett “G. Love” Dutton, packing in a pair of TV Jones Power’Tron pickups, deluxe mini precision tuners and a sweet “Philly- Green” color scheme.


Collings City Limits Jazz Archtop

If you’ve got a jazz itch that needs scratching, look no further. The City Limits Jazz Archtop features a premium carved European spruce top, a fully hollow mahogany body, Kent Armstrong floating pickup, ebony tailpiece, Schaller tuners and a deluxe hardshell case. This gorgeous guitar is available in Cremona or Amber Sunburst.


Collings City Limits Jazz Archtop

R. Taylor Style 2 AcousticR. Taylor Style 2 Acoustic

This gorgeous custom-made acoustic is the newest addition to the R. Taylor family, offering up a smaller size than the Style 1. Featuring a 15” lower bout, a maximum body depth of 4 1/16” and a modified-X bracing pattern (all hand-shaped), this guitar responds well to both finger and flatpicking. You can choose from a variety of woods and a solid or slotted peghead.

starting at $4,480

Victoria Amp Co. Electro King

Based on the Gibson GA40 and packing 5879 preamp tubes, this new offering from Victoria Amp Co. promises to reward adventurous guitarists with a fresh take on vintage and a rich tremolo circuit. The cabinet is built with solid pine, houses a Jensen P12J speaker and is covered in attractive two-tone tolex.


Victoria Amp Co. Electro King

Red Witch PedalsRed Witch Pedals

Red Witch pedals are now being distributed by Dana B. Goods, meaning these New Zealand-made pedals should be easier to find stateside. The Empress Chorus has already found its way onto Andy Summers’ pedalboard for the Police tour. The Deluxe Moon Phaser was capable of convincing rotating speaker sounds, as well as any kind of phase you could imagine. The Pentavocal Tremolo and the Fuzz God II were also on display for tone tweakers.

Starting at $309.95

Saint Guitar Company Messenger

Builder Adam Hernandez has been at it for ten years, but this was Saint Guitar Company’s debut NAMM show. On display was an eye-catching double cutaway called the Messenger. Made completely by hand, the 25 1/4” scale guitar features a luthier grade maple top and a mahogany body and neck for a rich, full sound. Gotoh tuners, wide/pyramid fretwire and Seymour Duncan pickups round out the package, although it can be completely customized for your tastes.

Starting at $3500

Saint Guitar Company Messenger

Jaguar Amplification Twin ComboJaguar Amplification Twin Combo

A 45-watt Class A/B amp featuring two EL34s, the Jaguar Twin also has a Class A half-power switch which not only lowers the volume but ups the harmonic content in the process. The combo is available in 1x12, 2x12 or headonly configurations – the combos come standard with customized Celestion Greenbacks.

2x12 combo $2999

Budda Superdrive V-40

Budda announced their latest additions to the Superdrive Series, featuring 6V6 power tubes for 40 watts of roots rock power. The use of 6V6s give it a more organic sound, while still retaining that tradmark Budda bite. New cream paneling with purple lettering also give this a different vibe than its predecesors.


Budda Superdrive V-40