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Top 10 First Looks of 2021

Watch again as our video talents summon the sounds that drove you to new inspirational heights.

10. Ernie Ball Music Man St. Vincent Goldie

Vanessa Wheeler

Ernie Ball-designed mini humbuckers lend new versatility to Annie Clark's bold signature six string.

9. Dunlop Justin Chancellor Cry Baby Wah

Victor Brodén

A Colorsound-inspired fuzz and Wal bass-derived filtering make the Tool bass man's signature fuzz-wah a uniquely wild ride.

8. Fender '68 Custom Pro Reverb

Dave Hunter

Fender's modern take on the classic amp adds a midrange control, ditches the "normal" channel, and substitutes the two speakers of yore with a single Celestion 12" Neo Creamback.

7. PRS Takes on Hendrix—the PRS HX 50 First Look Demo

Shawn Hammond

Having gained access to a specimen from Seattle's Museum of Pop Culture, PRS takes aim at the tones of Jimi Hendrix's modified Woodstock head.

6. Carr Super Bee

Dave Hunter

Crave big black-panel Fender feel in an amp that doesn’t bust eardrums? Carr's little brute delivers the substance and the sting.

5. Fender Player Plus Nashville Telecaster

John Bohlinger

Classic Nashville mods and extra pickup switching options open up major tone acreage.

4. Fender Tone Master Super Reverb

John Bohlinger

Big classic combo sounds live in a digitally-driven, black-panel beast you can actually lug up the stairs.

3. Fender Jason Isbell Custom Telecaster

John Bohlinger

A unique mashup of vintage specs and an accessible price make the 400 Unit maestro's signature Tele' a screaming deal.

First Look: Epiphone Alex Lifeson Les Paul Axcess Standard Demo

John Bohlinger

Dive-bombs, belly cuts, and sweet-singing split-coil tones—the Rush maestro's signature Epiphone is a supreme steal, too.

First Look: Boss TB-2W Tone Bender

Vanessa Wheeler

A stompbox goliath and a London fuzz pioneer honor the Tone Bender that elevated electric guitar to psychedelically stratospheric heights.

The Return of Johnny Cash—John Carter Cash Interview
The Return of Johnny Cash—John Carter Cash Interview on Johnny’s New Songwriter Album

The Man in Black returns with the unreleased Songwriter album. John Carter Cash tells us the story.

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The GibsonES Supreme Collection (L-R) in Seafoam Green, Bourbon Burst, and Blueberry Burst.

The new Gibson ES Supreme offers AAA-grade figured maple tops, Super Split Block inlays, push/pull volume controls, and Burstbucker pickups.

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Mdou Moctar has led his Tuareg crew around the world, but their hometown performances in Agadez, Niger, last year were their most treasured.

Photo by Ebru Yildiz

On the Tuareg band’s Funeral for Justice, they light a fiery, mournful pyre of razor-sharp desert-blues riffs and political calls to arms.

Mdou Moctar, the performing moniker of Tuareg guitar icon Mahamadou “Mdou” Souleymane, has played some pretty big gigs. Alongside guitarist Ahmoudou Madassane, drummer Souleymane Ibrahim, and bassist Mikey Coltun, Moctar has led his band’s kinetic blend of rock, psych, and Tuareg cultural traditions like assouf and takamba to Newport Folk Festival, Pitchfork Music Festival, and, just this past April, to the luxe fields of Indio, California, for Coachella. Off-kilter indie-rock darlings Parquet Courts brought them across the United States in 2022, after which they hit Europe for a run of headline dates.

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How do you capture what is so special about Bill Frisell’s guitar playing in one episode? Is it his melodies, his unique chord voicings, his rhythmic concept, his revolutionary approach to pedals and sounds…? It’s all of that and much more.

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