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All of our gear demos, Rig Rundowns, trips inside the factory, and more.


Rig Rundown: The Dear Hunter12345678910

Wed, 18 Apr 2018 16:00:00 -0400

Explore the three keys that propel the band’s prog-rock orbit: custom axes, pedal-platform tube amps, and stompboxes strengthened with modeling tech from Line 6. Premier Guitar’s Chris Kies swooped into Nashville’s Cannery Ballroom right after soundcheck to see how Casey Crescenzo, Rob Parr (above left), and Maxwell Tousseau reproduce their epic concept albums that will tell a narrative over six albums (five have been released this far). Casey Crescenzo, the former member of The Receiving End of Sirens and current leader/guitarist of The Dear Hunter, is a part-time luthier when he’s not rocking onstage or locked in the studio. His fascination with building guitars can be drawn back to two things: his reluctance to cave on his ideas while collaborating with guitar companies (plus not wanting to pay over $4k) and his love for 3D CAD design work. He bought a few Fender Starcaster reissues (his preferred body shape) to reverse engineer the instrument and to further understand the finishing process. And his brand Cave and Canary was born. Above is a Cave and Canary Solaris semi-hollow—his only touring guitar for this run and it’s the first body style that he drew. While he is a builder, two weeks before this tour he realized he didn’t currently have a guitar to play onstage, so this particular Solaris is a “parts” guitar from all the items laying around his shop. Some appointments include a Fender-style scale length, Mastery bridge and tailpiece, OX4 Humbuckers (PAF-style), and ’70s-style Schaller tuners. Casey Crescenzo’s lone amp on this batch of shows was a Dr. Z Maz 38 Senior MkII.   Already embracing 3D CAD for guitar design, it makes complete sense that Casey Crescenzo has converted to the digital effects realm. (At least onstage.) He sings complex lyrics over sophisticated music, and while still loving traditional pedals, he needed to reduce the nightly tap dancing and troubleshooting headaches an old-school pedalboard can give touring musicians. (He admits in the video he’s been stashing up synths, delays, reverbs, and fuzzes for the next record.) He’s embraced the modeling technology by mainly using a Line 6 Helix with a few choice stomps—a Strymon TimeLine, EarthQuaker Devices Dunes, and a Quiet Theory Prelude. Guitarist Rob Parr is an active user on the Offset Guitars forum and worked with another member and co-designed this contoured Jag-Stang offshoot that has come to be a Cave and Canary Auriga model. (Parr has said on the record—and in the video—that The Dear Hunter leader, Casey Crescenzo, did not make it mandatory for him to play a Cave and Canary instrument.) It has a short scale (24”), Mastery bridge and tailpiece, and is outfitted with custom-voiced McNelly Pickups that’s base point was the company’s gold-foil set. And from all his time spent playing on Jazzmasters, he incorporated those familiar switches—the knobs are master tone and volume. One of the knobs is a 3-way pickup selector and the other rocks between standard, mute, and a low-pass filter used for more rounded sounds. He strings up this bad boy with Ernie Ball Power Slinkys gauged .011–.054 and plays with Dunlop Tortex .73 mm picks. For amp needs, Rob Parr gets the job done with this single Vox AC15HW1. The lone wolf when it comes to a familiar stomp station, Rob Parr is currently employing a TC Electronic PolyTune 2 Noir, Arc Effects protoype fuzz (it’s housed in a Gamut enclosure, which is the company’s treble booster), smallsound/bigsound mini, Electro-Harmonix Pitch Fork, Strymon BigSky, Strymon TimeLine, Strymon Flint, EarthQuaker Devices Depths, EQD Westwood, a custom Himmelstrutz Fetto Stout Of The Art Overdrive, and smallsound/bigsound hawk. Guitarist/keyboardist Max Tousseau’s lone 6-string is a Cave and Canary Leonis equipped with a mastery bridge and McNelly pickups—a soap bar P-90 in the neck and a Stagger Swagger humbucker in the bridge. Like Rob, he uses Ernie Ball P[...]

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Dr. Z Z-PLUS Review

Tue, 17 Apr 2018 06:00:00 -0400

A versatile low-watt monster with a whole lotta roar.

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First Look: Wren and Cuff Two-Five 25V Overdrive

Mon, 16 Apr 2018 13:00:00 -0400

John Bohlinger saddles up on a baritone T-style, '50s Strat, custom-made LP with mini-humbuckers, and a triple-humbucker PRS to take out the raging black-and-yellow box on its first ride.

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Riff Rundown: Cave In's "Moral Eclipse"

Sun, 15 Apr 2018 06:00:00 -0400

The Mutoid Man riff leader showcases a headbanger that helped bridge the gap between hardcore and metal.

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Modulus Graphite Funk Unlimited RevOLite Review

Fri, 13 Apr 2018 14:00:00 -0400

Modulus is back with a flyweight bass that’s easy on the shoulders but heavy in tone—and couldn’t care less about how cold it is outside.

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Rig Rundown: Earthless12345678

Wed, 11 Apr 2018 16:00:00 -0400

Isaiah Mitchell and Mike Eginton demo their psych-rock toys, including a couple of new Tyrant amps and vintage gear from Dan Armstrong, Sunn, and Acoustic. Premier Guitar’s John Bohlinger did a pre-soundcheck hang with Isaiah Mitchell and Mike Eginton (above right) of Earthless. Check out how both Mitchell and Eginton conjured up earthy, yet cosmic, tones with minimal gear.Isaiah Mitchell’s No. 1 is this well-worn Fender Stratocaster that he bought in high school from a friend’s dad. The body parts are impossible to identify by this point, but this loved and abused Franken-Strat has a medium-soft “V” neck (that could be from a ’55), Brierley Pickups, and a Callahan tremolo system. The strat is strung with Jim Dunlop .010–.046 nickel wound strings and played with Jim Dunlop Tortex .88 mm picks. Isaiah Mitchell’s backup is a newer Fender Baja Tele that features many of the same specs as his Strat. One big difference is the Bigsby trem that holds on via a Vibramate V5-TEV mounting kit. Isaiah Mitchell tours with two Tyrant amps: one is a Marshall-style head and the other Model T goes for more of a Hiwatt or Sunn vibe. Both weigh in at 100 watts and feed a Tyrant 4x12 cab with 90-watt WGS speakers. Currently, Mitchell uses the Model T as his main sound and the other serves as a backup. Isaiah Mitchell runs a Rattlesnake cable from his guitar into a TC Electronic PolyTune Mini. From there, the signal hits a Diaz Texas Ranger, a Hex Electronics Arby’s overdrive/boost, his own TYM Guitars signature Seaweed Fuzz pedal, a Dunlop Cry Baby Mini, a SIB Electronics Echodrive, and a Strymon Flint. All the pedals sit on a Pedaltrain board and are powered by a Pedaltrain power supply. The cables are a mix of Rattlesnake, TYM and George L. Mike Eginton tours with his 1970 Ampeg Dan Armstrong bass, strung with D’Addario flatwound strings and played with Dunlop .88 mm nylon picks. Mike Eginton tours with two vintage amps The Acoustic 370 is the main amp and a Sunn Beta Bass acts as a backup. The head runs into a Tyrant 4x12 cabinet. Mike Eginton runs a Rattlesnake cable from his bass to a Boss TU-3 Chromatic tuner. From there, the signal hits a Black Arts Toneworks Black Sheep, a Dunlop Cry Baby Mini Bass Wah, and an MXR Phase 100. A TrueTone 1-Spot supplies the juice.

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Koll Super Cub Review

Mon, 09 Apr 2018 16:20:00 -0400

Humble 1960s designs are reborn in a high-performance boutique gem.

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First Look: Spaceman Effects Mercury IV Germanium Harmonic Boost

Mon, 09 Apr 2018 14:30:00 -0400

Watch John Bohlinger play his '50s Les Paul goldtop, '66 Fender Strat, Hahn T-style, and a PRS DGT to see how much bark is inside this one box.

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Riff Rundown: Between the Buried and Me's "Blot"

Sun, 08 Apr 2018 06:00:00 -0400

Guitarist Paul Waggoner provides the fretting-hand recipe to nail the lead single off BTBAM's new album, Automata I.

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Subdecay Vector Review

Fri, 06 Apr 2018 14:00:00 -0400

Analog dirt tones and digital control equal a crunchy to fuzzy to metallic distortion jack-of-all-trades.

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Rig Rundown: Eric Johnson [2018]12345678910

Wed, 04 Apr 2018 16:10:00 -0400

To reproduce Ah Via Musicom live, EJ pairs new signature semi-hollow Strats with much of his 1990 rig—and a clever new way to make his Echoplexes roadworthy. Premier Guitar’s Ted Drozdowski met with guru of tone Eric Johnson before his show at Nashville’s City Winery. Johnson revealed his absolute commitment to recreating his trademark sounds with his carefully selected array of guitars, a four-amp setup, and his resurrection of his original Ah Via Musicom pedalboards. Although he carries two of his new signature Fender Stratocaster Thinline guitars, Johnson mostly plays this vintage-white model. The only mod is the bridge pickup, which he replaced with a DiMarzio HS-2 to better dial in the tones from Ah Via Musicom. The other axe Johnson relies on heavily is a 1954 Fender Stratocaster. Note the more severe angle of the stock whammy bar. It’s a trait of ’54s that he applies to his signature models. This axe also includes the bridge pickup from the guitar he used on the original recording of “Cliffs of Dover.” Johnson custom-ordered this Rosewood Vintage Reissue Telecaster from Fender with a maple neck. Otherwise, it’s stock, and it’s used on just one tune: “Steve’s Boogie.” Switchable between 100 and 50 watts, this Two-Rock Traditional Clean head drives Johnson’s crunch rhythm sound. It’s the only boutique amp in his setup, and runs into a Marshall 4x12 with 30-watt Celestions. Clean rhythm tone with plenty of headroom? A pair of 1966 Fender Twins cut down to heads gives Johnson that sound. They go into a stereo Marshall cab with four EVLs—two for each twin—that’s also miked in stereo. Johnson’s primary lead tone comes from either this 1969 50-watt Marshall plexi head or a 100-watter from the same year, which served as a dormant backup during the Nashville show. Among Johnson’s secret tone weapons are a pair of Echoplexes modded by Bill Webb of Austin Vintage Guitars. Webb has removed the tape loop and bypassed it to allow Johnson to use other effects, including a Catalinbread Belle Epoch Tape Delay and MXR Digital Time Delays, in place of tape and still get the sweetening the devices’ preamps deliver. Johnson’s also revisiting his Ah Via Musicom-era pedalboards for this tour. Most of what’s on this board are custom-made switchers for his four amps. There’s also a loop box for the Electro-Harmonix Deluxe Memory Man, which Johnson regularly taps in and out of his clean rhythm.Johnson's second board has a split personality. The Dunlop Cry Baby goes into his Marshall lead rig, via an Echoplex and a B.K. Butler Tube Driver. A ’60s Dallas-Arbiter Fuzz Face, a vintage TS-808 Ibanez Tube Screamer, and, just to its right and off the board, an MXR Flanger/Doubler feed into the Two-Rock head. Back on shelves with the amps, he’s also using two MXR Digital Time Delays, a Catalinbread Belle Epoch Tape Delay, and a TC Electronic Stereo Chorus+ Pitch Modulator & Flanger.

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Tech 21 SansAmp GED-2112 Review

Wed, 04 Apr 2018 06:05:00 -0400

A partnership with Rush’s legendary bassist results in a dual preamp unit that earns his mark of approval and brings big, analog bass tone.

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First Look: Origin Effects RevivalDrive

Mon, 02 Apr 2018 14:45:00 -0400

PG's John Bohlinger uses single-coils, P-90s, and humbuckers to properly work out the company's first amp-style overdrive.

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Riff Rundown: Killswitch Engage's "Self Revolution"

Sun, 01 Apr 2018 06:00:00 -0400

Joel Stroetzel provides the tips on how to properly nail the main part to a ripping song off of Alive or Just Breathing.

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Rig Rundown: Robin Trower12345

Wed, 28 Mar 2018 16:00:00 -0400

The English rocker’s recipe for psychedelic blues-rock is simple: Plug a Strat into a Marshall and crank it up. Premier Guitar’s John Bohlinger met with guitar legend Robin Trower before his show at Nashville’s Marathon Music Works. When you watch this video, you get the impression that Trower’s epic tone has way more to do with his hands than his gear. It’s like alchemy. Robin Trower tours with three of his Fender Custom Shop Signature Stratocasters. The sigs feature custom pickups created by Trower and Fender master builder Todd Krause, with a reverse wound/reverse polarity middle pickup. They also include a humbucking option in the second and fourth positions. Other features include an alder body, custom C-shaped maple neck with abalone dot position inlays, and a large ’70s-style headstock. Here is Robin Trower’s backup signature blue Strat. Trower keeps these Strats strung with Ernie Ball strings (.012–.015–.017–.026–.036–.048) tuned down a whole-step to D. Trower plays them with heavy gauge picks. Robin Trower plays through two Marshall 1987X heads running into two Marshall 4x12 cabinets loaded with Celestion greenback speakers and one Marshall 4x12 with Celestion Vintage 30s.  Robin Trower plugs his Strat directly into a Fulltone Dejavibe 2. From there, the signal hits a Fulltone Wah, a Fulltone WahFull, a Fulltone Full-Drive, and a Boss TU-2 tuner. All of the cables are also made by Fulltone and every pedal runs on a 9V battery.

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First Look: Two-Rock Bloomfield Drive

Mon, 26 Mar 2018 15:00:00 -0400

The ace guitarist brings a '56 Les Paul Custom, Hahn T-style, '55 Strat, and PRS hollowbody to the ring to properly tussle with the 6V6-powered, 100-watt beast.

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Riff Rundown: All Them Witches' "Am I Going Up?"

Mon, 26 Mar 2018 09:35:00 -0400

Ben McLeod shows how a dotted-eighth-note delay and some hybrid picking brought to life this fun little run featured on Sleeping Through the War.

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Wed, 21 Mar 2018 14:20:00 -0400

Politically charged prog-punkers Chris Hannah, Todd Kowalski, and Sulynn Hago of Propagandhi take PG through their road rigs. Purchased at a dodgy gas station years ago, this 1997 Gibson SG has been Chris Hannah’s No. 1 for over a decade. Hannah modded the SG with a mystery pickup in the neck position (perhaps a Bare Knuckle) and a Bare Knuckle Alnico NailBomb at the bridge. He also added an EverTune bridge for tuning stability. Strung with Ernie Ball .011–.052 sets, the SG stays tuned down a half-step with the low string dropped to C#. For picks, Hannah uses “those yellow ones,” which PG thinks are Dunlop .73 mm Tortex Standards.Chris Hannah tours with two Marshall JCM 2000 DSL heads—one is his stage amp, the other is a backup. He runs his 100-watt Marshall into a Mesa/Boogie 4x12 slant cab loaded with Celestion Vintage 30s.Hannah records with an array of pedals, but for touring, he gets all of his effects by plugging a Mogami cable into a Fractal Audio FX8 with a Mission Engineering EP-25K expression/volume pedal.
Although Hago has several whammy bar-equipped guitars at home in Florida, she tours with her 1997 Gibson SG. It’s loaded with a Bare Knuckle Alnico NailBomb humbucker in the bridge position and sports an EverTune bridge. Hago strings her SG with Ernie Ball .010–.046 sets.A long-time Fender Twin player, Hago switched to this Marshall JCM 800 reissue plugged into a Mesa/Boogie 4x12 slant cabinet with Celestion Vintage 30 speakers.Although Hago has always used a massive array of pedals in the past, now she gets all her Propagandhi sounds from a Fractal Audio FX8 and Fractal EV-1 expression/volume pedal. Hago wields Dunlop 2.0 mm Big Stubby picks.With the exception of a brief romance with Music Man basses, for most of his career Todd Kowalski has played an Ibanez Sound Gear SR 1500 strung with Ernie Ball .045–.105 sets. He has more expensive basses, but none that he likes as much as the SR 1500.Kowalski tours with his road-worthy Ampeg SVT Classic running into an Ampeg 8x10 cab.Kowalski plugs his bass directly into a Sonic Research Turbo Tuner, which feeds a Radial J48 Active Direct Box. The J48 sends the signal to the front of house and a Bass BB Preamp that feeds his Ampeg. The BB stays on most of the time to add a bit of grit and punch, and a Voodoo Lab PP2 powers it all. When Kowalski isn’t smacking his bass with his thumb, he picks with Dunlop .88 mm Tortex Standards.

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First Look: Friedman BE-50 Deluxe

Mon, 19 Mar 2018 13:00:00 -0400

The Lee Brice sideman busts out his PRS hollowbody, Hahn T-style, and a vintage Les Paul and Strat to properly rock out this 50-watt monster.

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Riff Rundown: Tommy Emmanuel on Jerry Reed's "The Claw"

Sun, 18 Mar 2018 06:00:00 -0400

The Aussie fingerstyle wiz walks us through—and thankfully slows down —a bevy of Reed-inspired moves he's used over the years.

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Wed, 14 Mar 2018 16:00:00 -0400

Guitarist/singer Marissa Paternoster and bassist “King” Mike Abbate worry little about instrument investments and instead focus on producing raw, energy-fueled, loud-as-hell jams. Guitarist and frontwoman Marissa Paternoster and her longtime low-end rumbling companion, “King” Mike Abbate (above left), took some time before their gig at Nashville’s The End to breeze through their minimalist (and gnarly) setups that are low on fuss and high on volume.Guitarist and bandleader Marissa Paternoster has played G&L S-500s since she can remember. She got her first S-500 (above) as a gift from her father when she first started playing guitar. She’s not much for tinkering because she likes these models as they are, but had a Seymour Duncan Hot Rails put in the bridge. However, she admits to not liking the sound of the pickup and generally plays in the middle position. Marissa Paternoster’s other S-500 was also a gift, given directly to her by G&L. Nothing is updated on this 6-string, but during the show before Nashville, she cracked the pickguard while thrashing onstage. Both guitars are strung with GHS Boomers (.009–.042)—Paternoster says her little hands can’t bend thick strings—and she shreds with Dunlop Tortex picks (.88 mm). “We’re loud as fuck,” declared Marissa Paternoster in an interview with PG in 2016, and much of that credit is to the above ’70s Sunn Concert Lead head that she’s used live and on most of the band’s records. Marissa Paternoster’s Concert Lead feeds a Sunn 212LH cab that has a funky, recessed construction. Marissa Paternoster’s pedal playground starts with a Boss TU-3 Chromatic Tuner and her noisemakers include an EarthQuaker Devices Bit Commander, MXR Phase 90, Fulltone OCD, Earthbound Audio Supercollider, EarthQuaker Devices Black Eye, and a Boss DD-6 Digital Delay. Everything rests on a SKB PS-45 board and is juiced up thanks to the Voodoo Lab Pedal Power 2 Plus. Bassist “King” Mike Abbate has had a longtime love affair with this Rickenbacker 4003. No mods have been done to the bass other than the popsicle stick that keeps the neck pickup in its place.   Keeping things tonally (and visually) comparable, “King” Mike Abbate rolls with a lawsuit-era Hondo II bass. Both 4-strings are laced up with GHS Bass Boomers (.045–.105) and Abbate thumps around with Dunlop Tortex picks (.73 mm). To bring the low-end fire and fury, “King” Mike Abbate rocks through this Acoustic Model 220 that roars through a matching Acoustic 2x15 cab. (No pedals necessary to rock this hard.)

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Todd Sharp JOAT 20 Review

Tue, 13 Mar 2018 06:00:00 -0400

A studio ace's decades of session experience informed this combo's galaxy of tones—and all without a traditional tone stack.

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Sublime Chieftain Deluxe Review

Mon, 12 Mar 2018 16:30:00 -0400

A budget-friendly semi-hollowbody with something rare in its price range: a unique personality.

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First Look: Taylor Guitars K14ce V-Class Builder's Edition

Mon, 12 Mar 2018 14:10:00 -0400

The Review Demo master pulls up a chair and has a session with the new Grand Auditorium model that features the company's new V-Class bracing, updated electronics, and a beveled armrest.

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Riff Rundown: Killswitch Engage's "Hate by Design"

Sun, 11 Mar 2018 06:00:00 -0400

Guitarist Joel Stroetzel demonstrates how to play the main verse part to the lead single off Incarnate.

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Sire Marcus Miller P7 Review

Fri, 09 Mar 2018 06:00:00 -0500

An appointment-rich take on the P formula—with design input from a top-tier player—that still keeps it real on your pocketbook.

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Wed, 07 Mar 2018 16:00:00 -0500

Learn how these Arkansas rockers move beyond a wall of dark and heavy doom with various modulations, delays, and deep ’verbs to weave their own complex sonic architecture. Guitarists Devin Holt and Brett Campbell and bassist Joe Rowland (above) spent over 30 minutes before their gig at Nashville’s Basement East to detail the equipment that allows them to blend doom, metal, and prog into one symbiotic, crushing sound. Guitarist Devin Holt has been a longtime ESP player, but has spent most of his time on the brand’s Mustaine DV8 models. However, as the band’s sound has progressed, Holt needed a 7th string and a baritone scale so he now relies on this ESP Alex Wade AW-7B Signature. It’s nearly stock aside from the fact that Holt put in a set of custom Avedissian pickups that are modeled after the Gibson Classic ’57s. Devin Holt’s current backup is this newly-acquired ESP LTD EC-1007 Evertune that, as the name suggests, comes standard with the Evertune F Model bridge. This baby is completely stock. Both guitars are anchored with a set of Stringjoy Custom Baritone strings (.010–.014–.018–.028–.040–.052–.070) that are tuned to A–E–A–D–G–B–E, and he shreds with Dunlop Tortex Sharp .73 mm picks. Devin Holt is all orange, all the time. As you can see above, he’s running two versions of the popular Orange Rockerverb series—the Mk II on the left provides additional clarity and about 25 percent of his tone while the Mk III on the right runs all the modulation effects and handles about 75 percent of the power. He prefers the dirt from the Mk III version because Holt thinks it’s bigger and thicker. (All his dirt is coming from pushing those glowing EL34 tubes.) The Mk III goes through a 4x12 and 2x12. The 4x12 has various Celestions while the 2x12 has Jensen Electric Lighting speakers. The Mk II goes through a 2x12 loaded with Eminence Governors. Harnessing and controlling all these stomps on Devin Holt’s board is a Boss ES-8 Effects Switching System. His noisemakers on the floor include a Strymon BigSky, Boss DD-500 Digital Delay, MXR Phase 95, EarthQuaker Devices Hoof, Fulltone Full-Drive 2 Mosfet, Strymon Ola, Strymon El Capistan, Boss PS-6 Harmonist, Empress ParaEq, and a Xotic SP Compressor. A Boss TU-3 Tuner keeps everything in check and a Strymon Zuma (under the board) and Ojai power all the pedals. Bassist/vocalist Joe Rowland has been playing Fender Ps for as long as he can remember. This particular one is his latest gear acquisition—a 2017 Fender American Professional Precision bass. The only change he’s made to the instrument thus far was swapping out the stock pickups for a set of custom-wound Avedissian P pickups and requested that they be voiced close to John Wetton’s tone on King Crimson’s Red. Speaking of King Crimson and John Wetton, this white MIM Fender P bass caught Joe Rowland’s eye one day on eBay while he was supposed to be working. (Wetton used an early ‘70s P bass for King Crimson and Uriah Heep.) Both basses are laced up with chunky Stringjoy .065–.140 strings. To bring the rumble, Joe Rowland rocks through this Verellen Meatsmoke that is all tube and rages out a total of 300 watts.Joe Rowland’s palette of pedals i[...]

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First Look: Fender Eric Johnson Signature Stratocaster Thinline

Wed, 07 Mar 2018 14:10:00 -0500

PG's demo master straps on the Austin legend's new semi-hollow 6-string.

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Cusack Music Tap-A-Delay Deluxe Review

Tue, 06 Mar 2018 06:00:00 -0500

A compact digital delay stuffed with unusually creative echo-manipulation tools and a delectably analog voice.

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First Look: PRS Silver Sky

Mon, 05 Mar 2018 14:36:00 -0500

PG's John Bohlinger has a dance with the new 6-string collaboration forged by Paul Reed Smith and John Mayer.

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