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Twang 101: Bluegrass Goes Electric! - Feb. '19 Ex. 7

Taipei Houston’s Myles Ulrich in the studio.

Photo by Mallory Turner

Taipei Houston’s Myles Ulrich joins us in naming the pedals we can’t live without. Plus, musical obsessions!

Question: What are your “always on” effects? Aka, pedals that fit and sound good for most things you play.

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JD Simo’s main guitar is this 1962 Gibson ES-335 that’s been modded by Nashville master luthier Joe Glaser so it can be set out of phase.

Photo by Brad Elligood

The stripped-down production of the blues-rocker’s latest captures his evolving mastery as an improviser on road-tested originals and Delta blues and jazz classics.

“We’re always in a state of becoming,” says blues-rock guitarist JD Simo. And his new album, Songs From the House of Grease, contains five tracks that spotlight his unrestrained, rock-informed improvisation, gritty vocals, and gristly slide guitar, along with a sense of emergence. “There’s probably hints of Ry Cooder and Bill Frisell, just because they’re such big influences,” he shares. “But it’s more natural than anything that I’ve done thus far, because every year that goes by I’m that much more comfortable with myself and whatever I can do to trick myself into not overthinking—which, in this case, was incredibly fortuitous.”

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When Louis Cato received this Univox LP-style as a gift in high school, it needed some major TLC. A few years later, it got some practical upgrades and now makes regular appearances with Cato on The Late Show.

Photo by Scott Kowalchyk

The self-described “utility knife” played drums with John Scofield and Marcus Miller and spent time in the studio with Q-Tip before landing on Stephen Colbert’s show as a multi-instrumentalist member of the house band. Now, he’s taken over as the show’s guitar-wielding bandleader and is making his mark.

It’s a classic old-school-show-biz move: Bring out the band, introduce them one by one, and build up the song to its explosive beginning. It’s fun, dramatic, audiences love it, and that’s how every The Late Show with Stephen Colbert taping starts.

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