november 2014

Tom Monda plays a Vigier Excalibur Surfreter fretless guitar. He insists it's not as hard to play as it seems. "You just go for it and feel it out," he says.

The multi-instrumentalist on his daring new album, odd time signatures, and his early days with Bumblefoot.

North Jersey band Thank You Scientist serves up an eclectic stew of heavy alternative rock, unorthodox instrumentation, odd-metered weirdness, unabashed virtuosity, and accessible pop vocals. Amidst the madness stands wunderkind guitarist Tom Monda—Thank You Scientist's anchor, or chief culprit, depending on your perspective.

Read MoreShow less

T-style pickup set with addictive textural quality that sets it apart from many vintage-style units.

Carey Nordstrand’s NVT A3 pickup set achieves early Tele tones using alnico 3 magnets and a nickel neck-pickup cover, rather than period-correct alnico 5s and brass. “Correct” vintage tone can be debated endlessly, but to my ears the A3s are special. There’s no shortage of good T-style pickups, but the A3s should be on traditional-Tele junkies’ must-try lists for their lustrous tones and almost palpable textures.

The bridge unit clucks and snaps vividly for compressed chicken-pickin’, purrs with subtle fingerpicked brushstrokes, and fights like a dirty punk when you add grit. It’s bright and articulate, but never harsh. Meanwhile, the neck pickup eschews clichéd “Texas phatness” in favor of gorgeous, bell-like clarity and an almost lipstick-tube-like graininess, a subtle texture that’s enchanting, inspiring—and all too rare.

Read MoreShow less