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

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?

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

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!

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.

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.

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 […]