Michael Gregory Jackson, putting his Superman into it, onstage with his Stratocaster Deluxe.

photo by Jon King

When the lifelong 6-string freedom fighter found himself burdened by the weight of systemic racism in an increasingly hostile climate, he found solace in the healing power of his git boxes—and a new solo album.

During the climax of the final piece of an ensemble concert held at a gallery in New Haven, Connecticut, guitarist Michael Gregory Jackson climbed up a stepladder so tall that an acrophobic would have a heart attack just looking at it. Once high up in the sky, Jackson let loose a bucket of ping-pong balls in the direction of the audience. “Kinetic motion, sonically beautiful, startling, if not shocking,” recalls Jackson, “The concept was to break and disturb the plane and formality—the distance between the performers and the audience. To add a little mayhem and surprise. It also sounded great.”

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Slash and Myles Kennedy have been teaming up since 2010, when Kennedy was chosen to front Slash’s touring band. Since then, they’ve made four studio albums together.

Photo by Andrew Nelson Photography

Despite almost the entire band getting Covid while recording in Nashville, Slash featuring Myles Kennedy and the Conspirators refused to be stopped. The result, 4, is their best album to date.

When you think of Slash (born Saul Hudson), several things immediately come to mind. There’s his signature top hat, his flowing curly locks, his killer solos and bluesy riffs, and, of course, the Les Paul—the iconic axe that’s been by his side since the mid ’80s when he broke ground on Guns N’ Roses’ Appetite for Destruction with timeless classics like “Sweet Child o’ Mine” and “Welcome to the Jungle.” There’s some controversy surrounding the actual guitar used on that album, with speculation that it wasn’t actually a Gibson but rather a replica made by luthier Kris Derrig. No matter the origin of that guitar, Slash popularized the Les Paul at the time when pointy-headed super strats ruled the world.

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Light weight, heavy tones, and a very accessible price.

Tube-like touch sensitivity and dynamic range not common for solid-state amps.

Doesn’t come with a footswitch.

$499

Orange Super Crush 100
orangeamps.com

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4.5
4.5
4.5

Tube amplification remains the gold-standard for most players. But the growth and acceptance of digital modeling has made the issue much less black and white. In this more open field, where the presence of tubes has ceased to be a must, solid-state amplification may be finding a new audience. And light, inexpensive, and excellent sounding options like Orange Amplification’s Super Crush 100 may expand that audience even further. Taking inspiration from the company’s all-tube Rockerverb, it’s a flexible, 2-channel, solid-state, 100-watt, class A/B amp that can be had in head and 1x12 combo versions for $499 and $699.

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Shredding on a hardtail? This Schecter will show you the light.

Gorgeous, unusual tonewoods. Versatile pickups and switching. Fast, comfortable playability.

A case or gig bag would be nice at this price.

$1,249

Schecter Sun Valley Super Shredder Exotic Hardtail Black Limba
schecterguitars.com

5
4.5
4.5
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David Schecter started Schecter Guitar Research in 1976. In the beginning, the company did repairs and sold parts in their Van Nuys, California, shop (much like their contemporaries, Charvel). But Schecter quickly developed a solid reputation among SoCal players and started selling complete guitars in 1979.

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