Tuning Up: Columns as Pillars

I’m a firm believer that one of the main things that sets Premier Guitar apart from other guitar-media outlets is the fact that we seek out the most knowledgeable,

I’m a firm believer that one of the main things that sets Premier Guitar apart from other guitar-media outlets is the fact that we seek out the most knowledgeable, experienced, and engaging people in this business to unabashedly dive as deep as you (and they) want to go on anything and everything guitar-related under the sun.

Sure, we bring you timely interviews with past masters and new trailblazers alike— Exhibits A, B, and C this month are our chats with Warren Haynes, the Raveonettes’ Sune Rose Wagner and Sharin Foo, and Collective Soul’s Joel Kosche. And, yes, we’re known as the best in the industry when it comes to bringing you the latest gear reviews and news. You don’t need proof, but I’ll say it anyway: Between our monthly print and weekly web-exclusive reviews, every month we bring you more insights on gear from knowledgeable reviewers than any other guitar mag out there—and often our reviews come out before the competition has even listed the press release announcing the product’s release.

Likewise, our builder profiles highlight pedal and amp geniuses, as well as amazing acoustic, electric, and bass luthiers that many of you would never hear of otherwise. And don’t even get me started on this month’s Musikmesse wrap! Though it nearly killed PG’s gear editor, Charles Saufley, and me to take eight working days out of our already short monthly production schedule, we recently journeyed to Frankfurt, Germany, to shoot scads of kick-ass demo videos on the coolest gear from the world’s biggest gear show. Charlie and I then hauled our HD booty back stateside and turned it over to our resident video guru, associate editor Chris Kies, so that the three of us could engage in some major sleep deprivation in order to both start the steady stream of video uploads on premierguitar.com and get the show highlights into the very next print issue (this one). Look for the other guys to get their coverage to you significantly later.

As a side note, I must mention that we saw more video cameras at Musikmesse than we’ve seen at any trade show before. But Premier Guitar remains the ONLY media outlet I’ve seen that goes to the painstaking effort to professionally mic guitar cabs with the industry-standard Shure SM57—and take DI outs from bass amps—so that our vids have the best audio quality on the showroom floor. Some outlets get their videos online faster, but no one else makes their vids as engaging as we do through accurate sound capture and thoughtful questioning. That’s why guitar freaks are still watching our gear-show videos years later when the fast-upload guys’ are long forgotten.

But back to my original point about PG columns. We’re stoked to have a veritable who’s-who of industry heavyweights in our pages talking about the nuts-and-bolts stuff guitar addicts talk and dream about 24/7. Bob Taylor, Jol Dantzig, Tom Hughes, Ervin Somogyi, Mitch Gallagher, Jeff Huss and Mark Dalton, Blue Book writer Zach Fjestad, and Dirk Wacker are just a few of the world-class authorities we’ve had engaging in the most self-indulgent and delightfully decadent guitar geekery on the planet. Combined with the other coverage bragged about above, it’s what makes Premier Guitar the most forwardthinking, fastest-rising guitarmedia outlet in history. And that’s no exaggeration.

To all those who’ve contributed their vast expertise, as well as those who continue to do so, we express our heartfelt thanks. We know how much you have to wring your brain to come up with engaging stuff to write about every month, and we truly couldn’t be PG without you.

This month, we’re thrilled to announce we’re bringing more exciting voices to our column section. First up, we’ve got Hellecasters jaw-dropper Will Ray telling you how he hunts down quirky guitar gear online and then upgrades it to meet his needs (Bottom Feeder). Bringing one of several new voices to our expanded discussions on pedals is Strymon founder/brainiac engineer Terry Burton (State of the Stomp). And bringing a new take to our monthly explorations on guitar design is Randy Parsons (The Dark Side)—the subject of one of PG’s most compelling 2010 builder profiles [August 2010]. We extend our heartiest welcome to these pros and hope you enjoy their entertaining and insightful debuts this month.

Oh yeah—almost forgot: This month we’re also introducing expanded content, as well as opportunities to interact and win gear, for those who Like us on Facebook. For those of you who find the whole Facebook craze to be an annoying, fad-like time suck, we sympathize and even occasionally concur with the sentiment. But that doesn’t change the fact that we’re offering you more goodies than we did before, and we suspect your guitar-junkie tendencies are stronger than your Luddite leanings.

As always, keep your thoughts, suggestions, and feedback coming our way—we thrive on it!

Shawn Hammond

Almost six decades after forming the short-lived Rising Sons, the two legends reconvene to pay tribute to the classic blues duo of Sonny Terry and Brownie McGhee on the warm and rootsy Get on Board.

Deep into Taj Mahal and Ry Cooder’s Get on Board: The Songs of Sonny Terry & Brownie McGhee, percussionist Joachim Cooder lays out, letting the two elder musicians can take a pass through “Pawn Shop Blues.” To start, they loosely play around with the song’s intro on their acoustic guitars. “Yeah, nice,” remarks Mahal off-handedly in his distinctive rasp—present since he was a young man but, at 79, he’s aged into it—and Cooder lightly chuckles. They hit the turnaround and settle into a slow, loping tempo. It’s a casual and informal affair—some notes buzz, and it sounds like one of them is stomping his foot intermittently. Except for Cooder’s slide choruses, neither guitar plays a rhythm or lead role. They simply converse.

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The emotional wallop of the acoustic guitar sometimes flies under the radar. Even if you mostly play electric, here are some things to consider about unplugging.

I have a love-hate relationship with acoustic guitars. My infatuation with the 6-string really blasted off with the Ventures. That’s the sound I wanted, and the way to get it was powered by electricity. Before I’d even held a guitar, I knew I wanted a Mosrite, which I was sure was made of fiberglass like the surfboards the Beach Boys, Surfaris, and the Challengers rode in their off time. Bristling with space-age switchgear and chrome-plated hardware, those solidbody hotrod guitars were the fighter jets of my musical dreams. I didn’t even know what those old-timey round-hole guitars were called. As the singing cowboys Roy Rogers and Gene Autrey strummed off into the sunset, the pace of technology pushed the look and sound of the electric guitar (and bass) into the limelight and into my heart. Imagine my disappointment when I had to begin my guitar tutelage on a rented Gibson “student” acoustic. At least it sort of looked like the ones the Beatles occasionally played. Even so, I couldn’t wait to trade it in.

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Need an affordable distortion pedal? Look no further.

We live in the golden age of boutique pedals that are loaded with advanced features—many of which were nearly unthinkable a decade or so ago. But there’s something that will always be valuable about a rock-solid dirt box that won’t break your wallet. Here’s a collection of old classics and newly designed stomps that cost less than an average concert ticket.

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