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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Paul Reed Smith drops in to dip a rig and unpack the facets of tone—and why he unwound—and destroyed—a set of $10k vintage Fender pickups. Plus, all the fun stuff: What’s it like working with John Mayer? Does Santana’s guitar sound like a tenor sax? Why does David Grissom need every PRS on a music-store wall to play great? And the dudes argue over the big question: What’s better a cheap guitar and an expensive amp, or an expensive guitar and a cheap amp?

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The litter, minus one: most of the line-up of Snarky Puppy’s Empire Central.

Photo by Francois Bisi

This 6-string Cerberus finds it way home on Empire Central, an album honoring classic Black music and the band’s Dallas roots.

Back in the big-band-swing heyday of the 1940s, seeing up to 20 musicians onstage performing what was the era’s brand of popular music was not just common, but the norm. Today, with 19 members and a rotating crew of 25, Snarky Puppy is perhaps some new-age iteration of that once ubiquitous model—an electric jazz-rock-funk fusion orchestra version.

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