My National guitar is a treasured personal artifact, but it was crusted with 17 years of crud. I tried a lot of stuff to get it clean, and in the end Simichrome did the job.
Guitarist Randy Bachman (Guess Who and Bachman-Turner Overdrive) explains how he figured out the famously mysterious opening chord to the Beatle's 1964 song "A Hard Days's Night."
Most of the guitarists, bassists, and mandolin players in photographer Jay Blakesberg’s just released gem of a new book, Guitars That Jam: Portraits of the World’s Most Storied Rock Guitars, are members of bands that use rock, bluegrass, the blues, and R&B as launch pads for improvisational jams. But one artist stands apart from this group – Willie Nelson – who posed for Blakesberg in 2014 at the Lockin’ Music Festival in Arrington, Virginia with his famously beat-up classical guitar. Nelson calls his 1969 Martin N-20 “Trigger,” after the horse ridden by matinee idol Roy Rogers, but with all due respect to the red-headed stranger, Willie doesn’t quite get the metaphor right. Comparing his guitar, as well as the rest of the Martin, Gibson, Fender, Alembic, Modulus, and Ibanez axes in Guitars That Jam, to a horse is fine, but musicians like Willie, Jerry Garcia, Warren Haynes, Carlos Santana, Trey Anastasio, and Neil Young are polar opposites of the saccharin Rogers. I’d say they are more like rodeo stars, or perhaps elite jockeys, who ride their thoroughbreds, night after night, to the musical equivalent of the Triple Crown.
Blakesberg captures the energy of these artists (plus more than 50 others), the sheer beauty of their instruments, and the intimate relationship between artist and machine, with the sure hand and keen eye that has made him a favorite of rock bands and music fans from coast to coast. Accompanying each photo of the artist in performance with his or her guitar is a statement about the instrument, usually written by the artist. Read the rest
Pedal Genie is a Netflix-like service for guitar pedals. It's great. But my first experience was offputting. A strange generic metal box arrived in the mail with a lot of unidentified knobs. It made sort-of-distorted sounds when plugged into a guitar and amp. I wasn't sure how to use it! So I immediately issued a complaint to Pedal Genie. An email came back in response saying it was actually a “one-off,” “hand-wired” “work of art,” implying that I didn’t appreciate such a fine custom pedal. They were right. I plugged it back in and indeed learned to like the Caroline Guitar Company Cannonball that they had sent.
File alongside other consumer complaints: “My caviar tastes salty” and “My Harley is too conspicuous, loud.” Read the rest
A couple of years ago Rafael Atijas designed a nice 3-string acoustic guitar, called the Loog, and wrote an article about it for MAKE. He launched a successful Kickstarter for it and I have one at home. It's nicely made and sounds great.
Rafael recently launched another Kickstarter for an electric Loog. It looks nice and is well on its way to reaching its funding goal. I want one!
Bohemian Guitars turns empty cans of paint thinner and motor oil into handsome electric geetars. You can hear their sound here. The guitars start at $230 and with every guitar sold, Bohemian donates one instrument to a non-profit for children in need. Bohemian Guitars (Thanks, Gabe Adiv!) Read the rest
Today is the 59th anniversary of Django Reinhardt's death. To honor him, I posted images of a guitar that I had Robert Armstrong paint for me years ago. The top features Django in heaven, the back has a street scene of Django and the Quintet of the Hot Club of France (The fifth member is using the pissoir on the right) and the sides show various scenes from Django's life. (Yes, he did have a pet monkey.) When I first asked him if he would paint this guitar for me he said no. This was back in 1996 when people were painting their electric guitars with heavy metal images like skulls and devils and that’s what he thought I was asking for. But when I said I had a Selmer copy I wanted decorated with scenes from Django’s life he said, “Well, why didn’t you say so?’” It took Armstrong and me a few months to decide on the basic visual elements (finding a photo of an authentic Parisian pissoir proved to be particularly challenging) and then it took him about a year to finish the painting. The guitar is playable and still sounds pretty good but I don’t like to pick it for fear of damaging the paint. The guitar proved to be something of an inspiration to Armstrong and he has since gone on to produce a line of painted ukuleles.Robert Armstrong's painted Django guitar Read the rest