After a promising start two years ago, the producers of the Nashville Gear Expo skipped last year and came back strong this year with a display of guitars, amps, effects, and other largely guitar (with a smattering of bass) related gear. Room after room of the Hotel Preston was filled with objects of desire. Telecaster copies and boutique tube amps comprised the majority wares on display, but there was plenty of gear of interest to guitarists who might seek something new. Here is a curated look at some of the new traditional and exotic stuff on hand.
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One of the joys of producing Guitar Moderne is discovering guitarists who embody the elements of music I find personally attractive: great tones, a sense of melody, and an adventurous spirit. Samuel Hällkvist covers these bases and more. Through a daunting number of solo and band projects he explores new sounds and King Crimson-like interlocking time signatures in music that ranges from aggressive, staggered rhythms to ethereal soundtracks and combinations of the two.
The Knowledge is the training course that every cab driver in London town needs to complete before getting their license. It involves learning the 25,000 streets of that major capital.
This will be where I share knowledge I have, or find on the Web, that every modern guitarist needs to navigate the world of guitar playing and tone.
For the first one, I want to introduce The Pedal Show, a great series from Mick Taylor, former writer and editor of British guitar mags, and Daniel Steinhardt from GigRig, who makes great switching systems and consults to the stars about all things tone.
In this episode they discuss overdrive, fuzz, and reveal how discussions of “the best” anything are exercises in futility due to the variables in gear combinations.
I often play a parlor game with friends. I say, “People always lament about what Jimi Hendrix might have accomplished if he had lived longer. Well, he might have done great things, or he might have reached a certain point and stagnated, like so many of the Sixties icons.” We then try to think of artists who had 40 or 50 year careers that have continued to grow, experiment, and change. The list proves to be a short one: Miles Davis, Jim Hall, right up until his death; Jeff Beck, for sure, Joni Mitchell, and always, Neil Young. His recent release of old Blue Note tracks is a step back. But this record, with Daniel Lanois, was a Roots Moderne, guitar noise masterpiece. Happy Birthday Neil.
In some ways, Daniele Principato is emblematic of the new breed of experimental guitarists. As The Auralab, he a prominent presence on YouTube, where he posts his process, as well as full shows. He has no website but is on Facebook. He is out of the Stian Westerhus school of often playing pedals as much as notes. He is also refreshingly forthright, as well as interesting, in his description of his relationship to music.