The Joe Bonamassa Pickup Set: It’s Not Just for Blues!

P.A.F. pickups are like snowflakes — only louder and more expensive.

Vintage P.A.F. pickups are like snowflakes — only a lot louder and a lot more expensive.

Aficionados of the P.A.F.pickup, the original humbucker, often say that vintage models are like snowflakes — no two are identical, due chiefly to the the pre-digital inconsistencies of their windings.

One particularly memorable pair of snowflakes resides in […]

The Broken Banjo

A message from Earl?

A message from Earl?

Weird but true: After my experience last week with simulated gut strings, I ordered a banjo set, figuring I’d restring my beautiful Deering with “nylgut” for an old-timey pre-bluegrass sound. But as soon as I tuned up, BANG! The head ripped in two.

I went upstairs and told my wife, […]

The Bass VI Boss

Dang — I wish I had a white turtleneck and a Mosrite electric resophonic!

After some of the long-running contests around here, it was nice having a quickie for a change. San Diego-based steel guitarist Doug Meyer was the first of several readers to correctly identify the four iconic Bass VI riffs in the […]

In Search of Ancient Strings

"We love candlelight, long walks on the beach, and really expensive old-school strings."

PLUS: New Contest! Name the Classic 6-String Bass Riffs and Win a Seymour Duncan Pickup Booster Pedal!

"We both love candlelight, long walks on the beach, and really expensive old-school strings."

NOTE: The contest is at the bottom of this post. You can skip ahead if you don’t care about rare and expensive guitar […]

Amped-Up Acoustic Guitars


What could possibly go wrong?

There are two ways to approach amplifying an acoustic guitar: trying to duplicate the natural sound, only louder, and NOT trying to sound naturalistic at all. This post is about the second approach.

I love playing acoustic through an electric guitar amp (as opposed to a dedicated acoustic amp). […]

Onboard Distortion Without a Battery?

Low-Voltage Chunk from Diode Distortion!

Low-Voltage Chunk from Diode Distortion!

Did you know you can add a simple circuit to your guitar or bass that produces onboard distortion — without using a battery?

The idea is pretty simple — you attach a pair of diodes to the guitar’s output via a pot or switch. With the diodes connected to […]

Simple But Deadly Pinky Exercise

Don't hate me for this.

Don't hate me for this.

A little something to make your weekend miserable productive:

I learned this pinky-strengthening exercise many years ago from one of my teachers. If the fourth finger of your fretting hand is the runt of the litter, skill-wise, these combination barre-chord/hammer-on routines may help. Plus you’ll learn some cool retro […]

Twang Bangers, Vari-Tones & More Strat Strangeness


The latest Mongrel Strat (artist's conception).

Welcome to the second installment in the Mongrel Strat Series!

If I were a sensible person, I would have split this week’s experiments into several posts. But much like eating pistachios, it’s tough to know when to stop .

Anyway, this project tackles three topics:

1. Several readers […]

Locking/Clipping Tuners

Raising the strings to pitch automatically clips the strings.

Raising the strings to pitch automatically clips the strings.

While auditioning parts as part of the ongoing Mongrel Strat Project, I tried out my first set of Planet Waves Auto-Trim Locking Guitar Machines. I’m really digging them! They lock to pitch via a little button on the back, much like Sperzel locking tuners. But […]

And the Winning Secrets Are . . .

"We am have photo finish!"

It’s midnight here in California — March 1st. Which means the Secret Room’s first contest is over. The rules were simple: The tone secret with the highest user rating earns it author a $1,000 Godin Natural Summit CT, a versatile carved-top solidbody. The authors of the second- and third-most […]