My Flatwound Addiction

So smooth. So sexy. So frickin’ expensive!

Hi. I’m Joe, and I’m a flatwound addict.

It took me a long time admit it. “What wrong with a little recrational flatwound use?” I used to ask. “I can quit anytime I want.”

Sure, I’d sometimes put flatwound strings on my Guild archtop. And sometimes on […]

My Favorite New Amps: Carr Skylark & Lincoln

Carr Lincoln and Skylark amps.

I’ve been using my Carr Skylark amp incessantly for the last 18 months or so. I’d originally reviewed it for Premier Guitar magazine, and then I bought one for myself. I dig the fact that, while Skylark is inspired by 1960s Fender amps, builder Steve Carr made numerous departures […]

Those $24 Acoustic Strings

As if I weren’t already blowing enough money on arcane strings, I’ve got a new obsession: Thomastik-Infeld Plectrum series acoustic strings (which sell for $24 in the U.S.).

If you hang out here much, you’ve heard me bitch incessantly about acoustic strings. I hate the way most modern strings are all hyped treble […]

Kitschcaster: An Experimental Fender/Gretsch Hybrid

I just completed my third DIY guitar experiment using Warmoth parts. This one is a wacky Fender/Gretsch hybrid with a semi-acoustic Fender Starcaster body, a reverse, angled Strat neck, and various Gretsch-like elements, including TV Jones Filter’Tron pickups, a Bigsby/Vibramate vibrato, and a vulgar silver-sparkle finish — a tribute to the Gretsch Silver Jet, […]

Strange, Strange Strings

No longer ridiculously expensive. Now they’re just very expensive.

I spent last week covering the Musikmesse musical instrument trade show in Frankfurt, Germany, for Premier Guitar. I had a blast, and Chris Kies and I posted details and pics of more than 70 new products. (Here’s the short list of our personal faves.) Kies […]

Birdmaster: A New Guitar Experiment

Oh, man — I’m flipping out over a new guitar I’ve assembled from Warmoth parts. It was an opportunity to try some new experiments — and amazingly, some of them may have worked!

I had several unrelated goals:

a better instrument to use with my digital rig, with the best possible MIDI tracking and […]

Bigsby + Vibramate + Les Paul

It’s a holiday miracle! The 30-minute Bigsby tremolo installation.

Sometimes it pays to write for a guitar magazine!

My old pal and Premier Guitar colleague Andy Ellis hipped me to the Vibramate, an adapter that allows you to install a Bigsby tremolo on many types of guitars with no drilling or other permanent modifications […]

The Lipstick Lab
New Experiments with Old Pickups

Do you ever get an idea that you just know is going to work out brilliantly? And then discover you were totally wrong?

That’s how it was when I finally reassembled my generic Mexican Strat with Duncan lipstick tube pickups. After I recorded a demoing of it here almost two years ago, the guitar lay […]

Fuzz Detective:
The Case of the 12 Germanium Fuzzes

As threatened, the Fuzz Detective video:

WHAT: Twelve germanium fuzz circuits compared and analyzed. These represent the sounds of almost every fuzz pedal introduced between 1962 and 1968.

WHY: A tool to help players identify the circuits most relevant to their musical needs. This isn’t about particular brands of pedals, but the circuits they […]

Acoustic Strings Search: Update

Holy crap! Now THAT’S a guitar string!

Man, it pays to curate a blog frequented by smart people!

I wrote last week about my experiment with silk-and-steel strings.

It’s the latest chapter in my ongoing search for the right acoustic strings. Most available options simply sound far too harsh and bright to my […]