tom bukovac

Bruce Bouton’s credits include Ricky Skaggs and Garth Brooks, plus Emmylou Harris, Keith Urban, Maroon 5, and so, so many others.

Pedal-steel player Bruce Bouton inspires some thoughts on what makes a great musician.

Bruce Bouton is one of those Nashville Cats who does it all—he’s a hit songwriter, producer, and an incredible musician. While in his 20s, his playing on Ricky Skaggs’ albums defined new-traditional pedal steel. Bouton became a first-call session player, recording on tons of albums, including most of Garth Brooks’ work, which led to his induction into the Musicians Hall of Fame. Bruce called me a while ago after he had watched Tom Bukovac’s Rig Rundown. We were talking about how great a musician Buk is, and Bruce summed it up: “Success in the studio, or even live for that matter, all comes down to three things—tuning, tone, and taste.” Let’s explore:

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Great tones in all settings. Practical design, High quality.

Recombined tones may not be better than the originals to some ears.


Keeley Noble Screamer


Robert Keeley marries the best of two beloved green machines in one smart box.

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Behind every radio hit is a group of guitarists who've created ear-catching parts. Check out these tips and tricks used by some of Music City’s most in-demand sidemen.



• Learn how to use "box" patterns to create licks in different keys.
• Understand how to use open-string drones to create signature parts.
• Hone your ability to play melodic slide-guitar textures.

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I feel a little embarrassed when people ask me about my guitar influences. I can't claim expertise of Hendrix, I haven't spent hours woodshedding Eric Johnson, and I couldn't tell you the first thing about how to play like David Gilmour. My influences are more behind the scenes, lurking in the shadows of the music industry. They don't have big names, but they are monster players. I'm talking about the number one, most honest influence on my guitar playing: Nashville session guitarists.

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