Vintage Guitars

I think we are in an age where some of the finest, most consistent guitars are being made both in factories and by individual makers. For this reason, while I’ve thought vintage guitars were intriguing, I’ve never really bought into the hype that they are worth, in some cases, 100 times more than a new guitar of “equal” specs.

The truth is, though, I had never played any truly vintage guitars until recently. I’ve now played a few vintage guitars, and I realize that there’s a little more to it than hype.

What I’ve found is that there does appear to be something special about a good vintage guitar. I played through a couple of examples from Gibson and Fender and was surprised about how they felt. It’s hard to put into words exactly what was different about them, but there’s definitely something about them, whether it’s vibe or wood that has aged or something else. It’s probably a lot of things.

To give a specific example, I was able to play a 1963 Strat that was really beat up, with various modifications. The body looked like it had been dragged behind a car. However, the neck felt better than any neck I’ve ever played before. It was well worn and extremely comfortable. The body was very resonant and had a nice attack to it. There are some guitars that when you play them just feel right. This guitar was like that.

That’s not to say that all vintage guitars are great. There are certainly some duds, just like there are some duds being made today. When I was playing the Strat a few weeks ago, I also played through about five different 50s era Telecasters. I didn’t like any of them. One was very heavy, and the rest just lacked whatever it was that the Strat had.

However, when you find a good one, there’s a little extra vibe to them that new guitars don’t seem to have. Again, it’s hard to explain what it is. There’s also something special about playing a guitar that has a lot of history. It’s fun to imagine where the guitar has been and what stories it could tell.

Unfortunately, most vintage instruments are priced out of the range of normal people. It’s hard to find a 60s Strat or a 50s Telecaster that is below $10,000, and you certainly aren’t going to find a vintage Les Paul that regular players can afford.

For that reason, I’m glad that the factories and boutique builders of today are producing such high quality instruments at relatively low prices making them accessible to most of us. Even the import guitars are much better than they were just 10 or 15 years ago. There are nice guitars being made at just about any price point.

However, if you ever have a chance to play a vintage guitar, I think you’ll find what I’ve found: No matter how nice a new guitar is, there’s a vibe and feeling in a good vintage guitar that a new guitar can’t replicate.

Posted in: General


Capo Touch

Capo is my favorite music slow downer application, and developer Chris Liscio has released a new version of the app for both Mac and iOS. If you’re not familiar with this type of app, it allows you to slow down music from your iTunes library without changing pitch, which is very helpful when trying to learn a song.

What I like about Capo is its clean, beautiful design and its feature set. The new version of Capo for iOS, called Capo touch, features Chord Intelligence, which is a feature that attempts to automatically detect and display the chords being played in a song.

Here are the details of the new release:

Capo touch features Chord Intelligence—now also available on the Mac with Capo 3.1—that delivers improved chord detection accuracy and a wider chord detection vocabulary.

What’s New in Capo touch?

  • Fully automatic chord detection with Capo’s brand new Chord Intelligence engine
  • Guitar chord box display with quick selection of alternate ways to play a chord
  • Automatic beat detection with bar/beat display for easy region looping and metronome count-off for practice
  • Seamless integration with iTunes to access your music library
  • Landscape view, easy scrolling, touch zooming, and other user interface improvements
  • Independent speed and pitch controls to listen to fast licks slowly or change the key of any song
  • Excellent sound quality even when played considerably slower
  • iCloud Sync between all your devices (Mac and iOS)

Posted in: General

Summer NAMM 2014: Hogjim Pik Tik Guitar Pick Holder


One of the interesting new products I saw at Summer NAMM this past week was a product by Hogjim called the Pik Tik:

Hogjim’s Pik Tik is a patented pick holder that allows a guitarist to seamlessly transition between fingerpicking and strumming.   The Pik Tik adheres to the guitar pick guard by suction, allowing a pick to be held perpendicular to the guitar’s surface.  Whether you insert the pick one millimeter or the full five millimeters, it will remain secure.  The Pik Tik can be removed after playing or remain on the guitar as a pick holder; either way it will not damage the surface.

With the ability to improve a guitarist’s skill set, the Pik Tik is both practical and functional.  It offers a quick and easy way to master the technique of transitioning from finger-style to flat-picking. This skill, which previously took years to master, can now be learned in a matter of days.

It’s an interesting concept that could prove to be very useful to players who frequently change between fingerpicking and playing with a pick. The device easily suctions onto a guitar’s pick guard and provides a place to put your pick when you want to play finger style.

The Pik Tik is normally $9.99, but they’re offering a NAMM show discount of 20% using the code NAMM2014 if you purchase directly from Hogjim.

Posted in: Accessories, NAMM


Joe Bonamassa “Different Shades of Blue”

Joe Bonamassa has released details about his upcoming album, which is titled Different Shades of Blue, and he has also released the first video for the album:

The album will be released on September 23 and will feature all original material:

“It’s been a while since I’ve been involved in the writing on an entire album. So I decided I wanted to make a completely original blues album,” said Bonamassa.

“I’ve really had to push myself to make everything I do better than the last project. I know the fans expect it. And I feel like I owe it to the fans to give them an original record after all these years.”

Posted in: Artist News, Videos


Wampler Pedals Podcast

Last month, Wampler Pedals introduced a podcast titled Chasing Tone. The podcast features Wampler employees Travis and Max along with founder Brian Wampler discussing pedals and guitar tone in general.

There are currently four episodes. Episode 1 covers overdrive, distortion and fuzz. Episode 2 covers pedal order and effects loops. Episode 3 covers true bypass vs buffered bypass. Episode 4 covers vintage gear.

I’m really enjoying the show and have learned some stuff along the way. If you’re interested in guitar tone, I think you’ll enjoy the podcast, too.

Posted in: General


Pride & Joy: The Texas Blues of Stevie Ray Vaughan


This past month, the Grammy Museum unveiled an exhibit honoring Stevie Ray Vaughan titled Pride & Joy: The Texas Blues of Stevie Ray Vaughan, and Jimmie Vaughan curated the exhibit:

“I’m excited to partner with The GRAMMY Museum to honor my brother and his music,” said Jimmie Vaughan. “I know Stevie’s many fans will enjoy this exhibit, as many of his personal, never-before-seen items will be on display.  I hope by doing this, it will remind people of the incredible musician he was and all the music and love he gave to the world.  I miss him every day.”

The exhibit will feature several guitars, including SRV’s “Number One” Strat. If you missed it when it was on display in Texas, you now have another chance to see it. Also displayed are some of Vaughan’s stage outfits, including his Indian headdress, handwritten lyrics, and more. The exhibit will run through July 2015.


Posted in: General


Seymour Duncan 805 Overdrive

Seymour Duncan have created an interesting new overdrive pedal called the 805 Overdrive:

The Seymour Duncan 805 Overdrive pedal is designed using the same chip as in the legendary 808, but with an expanded gain range and an active 3-band EQ that isn’t common on overdrives. It’s so versatile that you can use it for a smooth, lyrical bluesy overdrive one minute and a modern metal crunch the next. We started with the classic overdrive tones we all know and love but we tightened up the bottom end and added more sparkle in the highs as well as more detailed note articulation. Whether you’re after ringing cleans, a subtle boost, fat crunch, or even screaming sustaining solo tones, it’s all in there. And unlike other overdrives that become thin when you refine the gain, the 805′s 3-band active EQ lets you take back control over the low end while also fine-tuning the mids and highs.

The 805 Overdrive can be used to give your sound a boost with full overtones or to provide harmonically rich heavy gain with warm tube character. It’s extensively developed and refined to be the perfect overdrive for pushing the front end of an already distorted amp, giving you plenty of output and tone-shaping capability whether you play hard rock, prog, metal, djent or whatever other heavy styles you’d like to throw at it. Whether you’re running it into a clean channel or an utterly angry one, the sound remains natural and responsive. Like the Dirty Deed and Vapor Trail, the 805 is assembled at the Seymour Duncan Factory in Santa Barbara, California and is true-bypass.

Here is the pedal in action:

Posted in: Effects

Farmland FX SIMO Supa Fuzz

Nashville-based guitarist JD Simo is a vintage guitar fanatic. He plays vintage guitars, vintage amps, and when he uses effects they are generally vintage. (He’s even started a vintage-focused guitar blog.)

One of the vintage effects he likes a lot is the Marshall Supa Fuzz, which can be very expensive to purchase if you can find them anymore. To make it easier to find this type of fuzz pedal, Simo has worked with long-time Warren Haynes guitar tech and Farmland FX owner Brian Farmer to create the Farmland FX SIMO Supa Fuzz, which appears to be a faithful reproduction of the original Supa Fuzz.

Check out Simo talking about and demoing the pedal:

The pedal is currently available from Carter Vintage Guitars in Nashville.

Posted in: Effects

PRS SE Bass Guitars: Kingfisher and Kestrel

PRS have released new basses to their popular SE import line. The basses are called the Kingfisher and the Kestrel:

Designed in PRS’s Maryland shop, the Kingfisher and Kestrel both feature neck through construction for sustain and evenly balanced tone, but are very distinctive instruments.

The SE Kingfisher is a huge-sounding bass with distinct old-school tonal character that delivers that huge “clacky” tone missing from some modern basses. Featuring a Swamp Ash body, 24 fret maple/walnut neck, and 34” scale length, this bass is instantly comfortable for players old and new. Kingfisher (4B ‘H’) proprietary pickups are deep, thick-sounding humbuckers with plenty of top end clarity and punch. The sparkling highs and the Kingfisher’s high midrange growl allow the bass to cut through the mix while holding down the band with its sweet warm fundamental tone. The SE Kingfisher bass will be offered in a variety of finishes, including Natural, Scarlet Red, and Tortoise Shell. For full specifications, videos, and audio samples, visit

The SE Kestrel takes a traditional singlecoil bass platform and adds PRS’s fit, finish, and attention to detail, delivering a new take on a classic instrument. Starting with an Alder body, 22 fret maple/walnut neck, and 34” scale length, the Kestrel is instantly familiar. A modern bridge allows you the choice of strings through the bridge or the body to yield even more tonal possibilities. Kestrel (4B ‘S’) pickups are extremely punchy and focused, giving players the ability to walk a low-mid focused blues line, articulate a high-mid focused fretless part rich with harmonics, nail the scooped midrange and sweet top-end sound slappers favor, and wield a razor sharp blistering rock bassline. This bass has growl to burn! The SE Kestrel will be offered in Black, Metallic Red, and Tri-Color Sunburst. For full specifications, videos, and audio samples, visit

“I have been a gigging bass player for 23 years and working at PRS for 17, so I have been not only highly involved but personally engaged in the design and prototyping process of these basses from the beginning. Working with Doug Shive, our SE Project Manager, Paul Smith, and the rest of the team here has been a rewarding, collaborative process. I am truly proud to not only sell the SE basses but am inspired to play them for many years to come. They really are wonderful instruments,” Jim Cullen, PRS Guitars National Sales Manager.

PRS Guitars SE line began in 2001 in an effort to bring high quality, high value guitars to the market. Starting with great design from the PRS Maryland, USA shop and developed with partners overseas, the SE line marries the highest quality components with a rigorous process that ensures playability and dependability. All SE products that are shipped in the USA are individually inspected and play tested at PRS’s Maryland facility before shipping to dealers.

Posted in: Basses, Videos


Anthony Stauffer and TrueFire: 50 Monster SRV Guitar Licks You Must Know

Anthony Stauffer of Texas Blues Alley has recently created a course for TrueFire called 50 Monster SRV Guitar Licks You Must Know.

Learning SRV ’s licks note-for-note will only get you halfway there, but understanding the underlying harmonic approaches and technical construction of those licks will take you all the way home. And that’s precisely how Anthony Stauffer approaches his presentation of 50 Monster SRV Licks You MUST Know.

Anthony delivers so much more than a versatile, head-turning collection of SRV-inspired lickage — the course reveals the underlying vocabulary, signature phrasing, right and left-hand techniques and harmonic approaches that power Stevie Ray Vaughn’s consummate chops and distinctive sound.

Since starting Stevie Snacks/Texas Blues Alley in 2007, Anthony has been making a name for himself as one of the premier Texas blues guitar educators on the Internet both on his own site as well as with TrueFire, and this course looks like an excellent addition to his catalog.

Posted in: Education, Videos

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