Premier Guitar features affiliate links to help support our content. We may earn a commission on any affiliated purchases.

Rig Rundown: Tom Bukovac

Rig Rundown: Tom Bukovac

When you’re one of the most recorded guitarists in Nashville, you make sure you can cover all the bases. Watch this in-depth look at the amazing vintage guitars, rare amps, and massive pedalboard that inspires one of Nashville’s first-call session players.

Tom Bukovac has recorded over 600 albums with artists as diverse as Steven Tyler, Carrie Underwood, Don Henley, Willie Nelson, Blake Shelton, Stevie Nicks, and Sheryl Crow. PG’s John Bohlinger caught up with “Buk” in his natural habitat, Blackbird Studios, where he was just finishing day one of a two-day tracking session for the new Gary Allan album.

Because one never really knows what’s going to be needed on a session, Bukovac usually brings a lot of options. One favorite is this 1961 Gibson SG Les Paul in a custom factory black finish. It’s estimated there were only three of these made. This SG, like all of his electrics, stays strung up with D’Addario NYXL .010s.

Bukovac is known as a 335 whisperer. His current favorite is this 1958 Gibson ES-335.

Bukovac’s 1965 Gibson non-reverse Firebird I features a very rare Ember Red finish that came straight from the factory.

For some Bigsby goodness, Bukovac plays a 1961 Gretsch 6120.

Bukovac reaches for this 1938 Martin OOO-18 strung with D’Addario .012s when he needs some acoustic vibes.

Buk typically carries four different amp heads on sessions. Each head can be switched to feed a Bogner 2x12 cab loaded with a pair of older Celestion 65 speakers. On the top of the amp stack sits this ’68 100-watt Marshall Super Bass.

Next up is Bukovac’s rare 1968 Sunn Coliseum PA head. It’s the same model that was used by Leslie West on “Mississippi Queen.”

This 1990 Matchless HC-30 is one of Bukovac’s most prized amps. It was one of the first four Matchless amps that were made on founder Rick Perrotta’s kitchen table.

Last but not least is Bukovac’s 1962 Fender Bassman.

For a combo amp, Bukovac uses this 1960 Gretsch 6161. (This is the amp you hear throughout the Rundown.) Originally the 6161 came with two oval 6" by 9" speakers and a tweeter, but the previous owner switched it to a single 12".

Barry O’ Neal at XAct Tone Solutions built this and several of Bukovac’s other pedalboards. Essentially, the board is divided into two sections: gain and effects. The gain section includes a Vertex Boost, (connect to a Dunlop expression pedal), a rehoused Nobels ODR-1, an Analog Man King of Tone, an old ProCo Rat, a Greer Lightspeed and a Spontaneous Audio Son of Kong. On the other side of the board, there is a Boss GE-7, an Ibanez PQ-9, an EarthQuaker Devices Dispatch Master, a Line 6 M9 with a JHV-3 mod, a Strymon Brigadier, a Strymon Lex, an Eventide H9, an Electro-Harmonix POG 2, a Boss VB-2, a Boss TR-2 with a Robert Keeley mod, and a TC Electronic Polytune. Bukovac also carries a few drawers of extra pedals that he subs in if it fits the songs, such as a Collision Audio Devices Black Hole Symmetry, a 1973 EHX “Ram’s Head” Big Muff, and more.

The last piece in Bukovac’s signal path is this Ebo Custom E-Verb built by local musician and amp builder Eric Borash.

Greg Voros and all the guys at Gruhns
Nick Drushel and all the guys at Glasers
Eric Borash at Ebo Customs
Barry O’ Neal at XActone


Click below to listen wherever you get your podcasts:

Listen on Apple PodcastsListen on Google Podcasts
Listen on StitcherListen on Spotify

D'Addario American Stage Cables:https://www.daddario.com/AmericanStageRR

While Annie Clark was named the 26th greatest guitarist of all time by Rolling Stone in 2023, she couldn’t care less about impressing an athletic stamp on either her sound or her image.


Photo by Alex Da Corte

On her eighth studio release, the electroacoustic art-rock guitarist and producer animates an extension of the strange and singular voice she’s been honing since her debut in 2007.

“Did you grow up Unitarian?” Annie Clark asks me. We’re sitting in a control room at Electric Lady Studios in New York’s West Village, and I’ve just explained my personal belief system to her, to see if Clark, aka St. Vincent, might relate and return the favor. After all, does she not possess a kind of sainthood worth inquiring about?

Read MoreShow less

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.

Read MoreShow less

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.

Read MoreShow less

U.S.-made electronics and PRS’s most unique body profile make this all-American S2 a feast of tones at a great price.

Many sonic surprises. Great versatility. Excellent build quality

The pickup selector switch might be in a slightly awkward position for some players.

$2,029

PRS S2 Vela
prsguitars.com

4.5
5
5
4.5

Since its introduction in 2013, PRS’s S2 range has worked to bridge the gap between the company’s most affordable and most expensive guitars. PRS’s cost-savings strategy for the S2 was simple. The company fitted U.S.-made bodies and necks, built using the more streamlined manufacturing processes of PRS’s Stevensville 2 facility, with Asia-made electronics from the SE line.

Read MoreShow less