Guitar Gear Reviews


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First Act Musical Instruments – Maroon 5, Mastodon, Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Franz Ferdinan

First Act, Founded in 1997, is well known as the perfect choice for learning how to play guitar. In addition to guitars, First Act offers a full line of musical instruments including bass guitars, amplifiers, guitar accessories, drum sets and percussion instruments. First Act is headquartered in Boston, Massachusetts. A custom shop in nearby Somerville, MA produces several well-known limited edition guitars including “Lola”, “Delia”, and “Sheena”. Offering a wide range of acoustic and electric guitars, First Act is the perfect choice for beginners. The First Act Discovery line features smaller guitars that are easy for children ages seven and up to hold. These acoustic guitars offer a clear tone and make learning to play the guitar a blast for kids.   First Act’s namesake line offers designer acoustic guitars that look and sound great. Their electric guitars come in a range of styles including a unique vintage design with a clean crisp sound and strong rock power. The guitar practice amplifier has a retro design with simple controls and great sound projection making it a perfect amp for beginning rockers.   A noteworthy signature artist is Adam Levine, the lead guitarist and vocalist of Maroon 5. In 2008, Adam Levine began a partnership with First Act to develop a signature custom electric guitar that is engraved with his lucky number 222. With the new designer series line, Adam Levine hopes to inspire a new generation of guitar players to achieve their musical dreams.   Other famous rockers known to play First Act guitars include Brent Hinds and Bill Kelliher from Mastodon, Nick Zinner of the Yeah Yeah Yeahs and Nick McCarthy from Franz Ferdinand.   Keep Rockin’!!!
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Dean Guitar Company: Kansas, Doobie Brothers, ZZ Top

A culmination of his inherent passion for music, guitars and a drive to re-create what was seen as a dull, lifeless guitar market, Dean Guitar Company was founded in 1976 by seventeen year old Dean Zelinsky. At its inception, the company was much more than a way to sell instruments, it was a culmination of passion and a desire to live through music. Unwilling to accept the status-quo, Dean Guitar Company has continuously produced superior, innovative models that spark musical inspiration and break the mold of traditional guitar design. Whether a player is just starting out or a seasoned pro, there is a Dean guitar to perfectly suit each one.   From 1976-86, Dean Zelinsky hand-crafted what are now considered the Golden-Era Guitars, in the attic of his boyhood home, which served as his Chicago shop. Widely recognized Dean models include, the Cadillac, V, Splittail, MZ and Soltero electric guitars. The iconic inverted V headstock design was unlike anything else of the time and remains a distinguished mark of Zelinsky’s craft.   As a result of his widespread notoriety, Zelinsky received requests from the likes of Dusty Hill and Billy Gibbons to create customized guitars according to personalized specifications. Michael Angelo Batio, who held the record for the fastest guitar player, was another early adopter of Dean guitars. The quad guitar was customized for Batio with four necks arranged in the shape of an X.   Throughout history, one thing has remained the same. Dean Guitar Company continues to embody the essence of musical inspiration, striving to create instruments that reflect their players unique talents. Musicians of every genre are inspired to play with the radiating passion which comes from a Dean guitar.  Deans primary mission is creating guitars that are customized to the individual, no matter what your experience level or budget. Keep Rockin'!!!  
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collings guitars

History of Collings Guitars: Joni Mitchell, Lyle Lovett and Keith Richards

Collings Guitar was founsded by Bill Collings. After moving to Houston in the mid 1970s, Bill Collings began moonlighting as a guitar builder. By day, Collings worked as a petroleum engineer on nearby pipelines. Driven by a passion for his trade, he decided to head further west into California. Ever the wandering musician, Collings made it only as far as Austin, before setting up a shop of his own. Despite the humble surroundings of the tiny wooden garage, Bill quickly built a solid and trustworthy reputation through his business. Known for superior quality and astute craftsmanship, it wasn’t long before word spread and business began to pick up.   While moonlighting as an amateur luthier, Collings made his first two guitars on his kitchen table. His third guitar was for a musician named Rick Gordon. Following the first time Gordon played the guitar, Collings received ten more orders. Local college student, Lyle Lovett sat with Collings for an interview for the school newspaper and when he saw the guitar, Collings made his twenty-ninth sale.  In a move that would prove revolutionary, George Gruhn approached Bill Collings to inquire about designing a run of twenty-five guitars that would bear the Gruhn name. After appearances in various guitar shops and Guitar Aficionado the inquiries started pouring in.   Relying only on word of mouth, by the early 90s, Collings had sold to the likes of Paul Simon, Joni Mitchell, Keith Richards and Eddie Van Halen. After Keith Richards did a VH1 piece, featuring him playing a Collings guitar, calls started coming in from around the globe.   Just as it was in the beginning, today each guitar is individually crafted with painstaking attention to detail. It takes approximately thirty-five days and twenty people to produce a finished Collings guitar. From that rundown wooden garage in Texas, Collings Guitars has grown to become one of the most widely recognized names of the trade, lauded for enduring quality and uncompromising standards.   Keep Rockin’!!!  
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Washburn Guitars – Choice of Black Label Society, Anthax and Lynyrd Skynyrd

Founded in 1883 by George Washburn, Washburn Guitars has an illustrious past, deeply interwoven with countless musical icons that shaped American history. The success of the company cannot be separated from that of the artists who brought their name to fame, each assuming unique roles in laying the foundation for what has become an American music legend.   With the first factory in Chicago, located only blocks from the infamous Maxwell Street, Washburn was at the heart of the Delta Blues revolution that flourished throughout the country in the 1920s. The surge in popularity of Blues during this time was a fabulous juncture for Washburn, resulting in a huge surge in business.  When hard rock entered the scene in the early 1980s, Washburn rose to the challenge and worked to create an new kind of instrument to serve modern musicians. Soon they introduced the Wing Series, Stage Series and Festival Series of electric guitars and basses, combining Washburn tradition with the wonders of modern innovation. Thinking outside the box and daringly bold, Washburn exudes an aura of confidence and unmatched experience in designing and manufacturing stringed instruments. Artists across all genres of music can fine tune and put a one-of-a-kind spin on their work, creating a lasting impression and meaningful connection with an audience.   Notable signature artists include Nick Catanese of the Black Label Society, and Scott Ian of Anthrax. In 1999, Washburn introduced the Idol Series, consisting mainly of single-cut guitars with humbucker pickups. Voice contour control is a notable feature included in this series and is only available on Washburn guitars. VCC works to eliminate hum typically associated with single coils, harmonizing output to a much broader range.   Today, Washburn manufactures electric and acoustic guitars and basses, as well as banjos, mandolins and amps, making it possible for musicians of any persuasion to find the perfect instrument. Beginners will find several acoustic models perfectly suited to budding talent, along with the assurance of quality performance that comes with the Washburn name.  Keep Rockin'!!! Washburn head detail by Pickersgill Reef taken on March 18, 2008
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Takamine Guitars: Choice of Bruce Springsteen, The Eagles & Jackson Browne

Takamine guitars begins in the serene foothills of the Takamine mountains in Sakashita, Japan. In 1962, after being in business for three years, the owners of the small shop decided to expand. In honor of the surrounding mountains, the company became known as Takamine.   By 1968, renowned luthier, Mass Hirade joined Takamine, bringing with him keen attention to detail and breathtaking talent. Hirade proved invaluable to the success of the company and contributed greatly to the improvement of design and quality of Takamine guitars. Many of his contributions remain integral features of present day Takamine models. Consistently striving to bring positive change through innovation and improvement, Takamine became a pioneer of acoustic-electric guitar design with the release of the PT-007S, in 1978. Much of the success of the original model can be attributed to the engineers and luthiers who collaborated on its revolutionary design. Brilliant minds, stunning talent and persistence have been the cornerstone of Takamine since its inception.   Takamine is also known for invention of the Palathetic pickup, a feature that remains the core of their electronic guitar components, today. The unique design completely isolates the pickup from feedback and vibrations produced by the body, resulting in the distinct, natural sound that can only be attributed to Takamine guitars. With the introduction of the Palathetic pickup, Takamine again pioneered a design that raised the bar on industry standards.  Throughout the late 1970s and early 1980s, Takamine was quickly becoming widely recognized by famous American musicians such as Bruce Springsteen, Jackson Browne and Ry Cooder. The Eagles’ Glenn Frey used a Takamine guitar in the 1976 recording of Hotel California, resulting in the unmistakable introduction of the classic rock piece.   In 2012, Takamine celebrate the 50th anniversary of crafting top-quality guitars that have achieved global recognition. Aside from releasing multiple signature editions to commemorate the success of revolutionary collaboration with some of the most brilliant minds and talent in music.   Keep Rockin’! Takamine by Sancho Papa taken on February 8, 2007  Jackson Browne by wfuv taken on July 29, 2012
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Rickenbacker International Guitars: Choice of John Lennon, Tom Petty and Joe Walsh

The story of Rickenbacker is a nostalgic illustration of the vibrant spirit that permeated musical circles during the post WWII era. With a burning desire to create, inspire and improve, Rickenbacker was the result of collaboration, innovation and determination. Rickenbacker was born of passion and desire for a more pervasive instrument.   Rickenbacker International Corporation was established in 1931 by entertainer and guitarist, George Beauchamp and Adolph Rickenbacker. Formed as a means to market, manufacture and sell the newly designed A-25 Hawaiian guitar, Rickenbacker was the first company in the world to produce electric guitars as they are known today. With string-driven electro-magnetic pickups, the A-25 was the first of its kind.   After moving from Texas to Los Angeles in the early 1920s, Beauchamp quickly became immersed in the vibrant musical culture that would come to symbolize Southern California. Shortly after his arrival in LA, he began to seek out a ways to enhance the performance capacity of the contemporary pre-electric guitars of the time.   Beauchamp collaborated with inventor and violinist, John Dopyera to create a prototype. After a short period of trial and error, the team brought forth a design consisting of three conical aluminum resonators attached to the bridge of the guitar. Excited about the new design and very pleased with the performance, Beauchamp quickly sought out investors to fund production.   Adolph Rickenbacher was a well respected production engineer, machinist and owner of Rickenbacker Manufacturing Corporation. Beauchamp and Rickenbacker converged when George was searching for a means of production for the newly designed tri-cone, solid metal body, electric guitar.   Adolph Rickenbacker sold the company in 1953 to F.C. Hall, a prominent player in the Southern California music business. With the winds of change, the modern Rickenbacker era was ushered in. In a move to modernize current Rickenbacker lines, Hall introduced the Combo 600 and 800 guitars. Six string Capri models introduced in 1958 are one of the most widely known   In the early 1960s, John Lennon picked up a Model 325 with Kaufman vibrato. Throughout the early years of Beatles history, Lennon is said to have owned at least four Rickenbacker models, earning the company a place in the biggest music revolution the world had ever seen.   Currently, the company continues to introduce new designs, as well as pay tribute to the classic designs used by the Beatles. Limited edition signature models have been released, with much success, celebrating the talent of music legends such as Tom Petty, Roger McGuinn and Carl Wilson. Thom Yorke, Rick Springfield and Joe Walsh are among the top performers of today that include Rickenbacker in their medley of guitars. From the early days of the post World War II era to present day, Rickenbacker guitars continue to embody quality craftsmanship and inspirational performance. Musicians of all skill levels can find inspiration in the rich history of Rickenbacker.   Keep Rockin’!!! Rickenbacker by Duodenum Rex taken on July 13, 2010
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Ovation Guitar – Guitar Choice of Melissa Ethridge, Lenny Kravitz, Ziggie Marley & Shania Twain

Ovation Guitar is a company with a deep tradition of merging science and music to create stunning instruments designed for both performance and quality. In 1965 Charles Kaman founded Ovation, driven by the desire to create an innovative guitar design with improved acoustics.   Based in New Hartford, Connecticut, Ovation guitars are known for their slender necks and composite construction. Charles Kaman is widely known for designing record breaking helicopters, beginning in the late-1940s. After several years of working to create state-of-the art rotor designs and introducing the world's first gas turbine helicopter, Kaman decided to expand to pursue his passion for guitar playing.   Ovation was born of Kaman’s passion for music and intrinsic knowledge of engineering concepts. Relentlessly seeking to improve design and performance, Kaman was driven to improve on traditional guitar design, especially with regards to acoustics. Using his knowledge of physics, he created the now infamous curved design, using synthetic materials to form the bowl shape in place of traditional flat back and wooden sides.   The first Ovation prototype was developed in 1966, featuring a dreadnought body style with a synthetic back. After noting design flaws with the prototype, Kaman and his team of engineers proposed a synthetic material with a curved, bowl shape, was the best way to improve flaws found in the prototype. The result was a fully synthetic body, made of Lyrachord, a material which consisted of interwoven layers of glass fibers and bonding filament.   The Adamas model, introduced in 1976, brought further groundbreaking innovation. Featuring multiple offset sound holes and composite tops, the Adamas original was the first of its kind. Ovation guitars were attractive to live acoustic musicians due to their use of pre-amplifiers, onboard equalization, piezo pickups, as well as the bowl shaped back. Piezo pickups work to enhance sound quality by eliminating noise interference, commonly experienced with magnetic pickups. The Adamas 1581 is reminiscent of the 1979 acoustic/electric original, with features such as stereo FET preamps and waist mounted stereo and volume controls.   Modern designs are patterned after the original, with improvements inspired by the musicians who first played them. Country music singer Glen Campbell became one of Ovations first endorsers, after the 1968 Roundback Balladeer captured his attention. Other noted artists who lauded Ovation instruments include Ziggie Marley, Melissa Etheridge, Shania Twain and Lenny Kravitz.   For beginners, the current Applause line of guitars is an excellent choice. Designed with beginners in mind, the six-string acoustic/electric guitar is a great way to experience Ovation excellence on any budget. The combination of dedicated research and innovative design have made Ovation a lasting symbol of ingenuity, passion and innovation.   Keep Rockin’!!! Ovation Celebrity by George C. Slade taken on October 22, 2011 Ovation by telafree taken on April 2, 2006 Ovation Guitar by Fran 53 taken on June 9, 2007
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Bohemian Guitars

Bohemian Guitars – Playable Modern Art Oil Can Guitars!

Bohemian Guitars' mission is to build funky, unique and functional guitars out of oil cans and lunchboxes for real, everyday use. According to Adam Lee, one of the company's founders, "Bohemian Guitars is passionate about art, music and community outreach."  Lee and the Bohemian team uses their altruistic focus to put a creative spin on a timeless instrument,  which offers a refreshing and inspirational change of pace to the music and art scene.  By incorporating two mediums modern and functional art, Bohemian has created a playable instrument that also serves as a decorative or as a collectible. Lee states, "Not only do our instruments ooze originality and flare but they are relatable on a more personal level that  extends  beyond creating music. From vintage oil can guitars that bring back memories of working in you grandfather’s garage to a guitar made from a Superman lunchbox, instruments are art with a function." "Our philosophy", say Lee, "is simple and can be summed up by our tagline: Real - Far - Out". Meaning Bohemian Guitars are instruments for real everyday use. They are far reaching in their use and the company's community involvement and Out which highlights their out the box originality. To share their love for music, Bohemian Guitar strive to do their part in the community by promoting music education and donating instruments to youth organizations. With every instrument purchased, Bohemian Guitars donates an instrument to charity.  Bohemian guitar sell for roughly $250 - $350 for their off the shelf guitar. The team has also been known to take custom orders, so if you're looking for a unique guitar at an affordable price, visit their website at bohemianguitars.com.
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Jackson Guitar Company – Choice of Iron Maiden, Anthrax, Ozzy Osborne & Def Leppard

  Known for a slashing performance and eccentric style, Jackson guitars embody the fiery enthusiasm of heavy metal and hard rock. Throughout the 80s and 90s Grover Jackson and his wildly talented team worked to create high performance guitars that came to define the slash metal music of the era. Bold designs such as King V, Soloist and Kelly were also introduced during this time, helping Jackson write heavy metal history.   Jackson guitar company was born in southern California, in the late 1970s, inside Charvels Guitar Repair shop. Shop owner, Grover Jackson had recently gained ownership of the modest shop and was determined to make it a success. His dreams were soon realized when the now iconic guitarist Randy Rhoads approached him with an idea. Rhoads had just joined Ozzy Osbourne's new band and was envisioning a unique, individualized guitar design and he wanted Jacksons support in bringing it to life. The collaborative effort that followed resulted in the Concorde V electric guitar which Rhoads used in the performance of classic American rock such as Revelation. Shortly before Rhoads’ tragic death in 1982, the revered Jackson Rhoads guitar was released, featuring many design changes recommended by Rhoads. The Jackson Rhoads is now considered a vintage collectors masterpiece.   Long, slender necks, pointed headstock and expressive designs remain a hallmark of the Jackson brand. As music has continued to evolve, so have the guitars Jackson creates and builds. Through collaboration with musicians such as Phil Collen of Def Leppard, Scott Ian of Anthrax, and Adrian Smith of Iron Maiden, Jackson has introduced extraordinary signature line guitars while still focusing on creating instruments that are designed with the artist in mind. The result is a premium sounding guitar with intuitive design features, that blends to become an integral part of the musical performance.   Since his heyday in the 1980s, Grover Jackson displays his enduring commitment to top-quality guitars of imposing substance that are made in the United States. Today, the Jackson Custom Shop still stands operational as one of the oldest custom shops in the US.   For budding garage bands or world-famous performers, Jackson is the name in metal.   Keep Rockin’!!! Jackson guitar by ArtBrom taken on November 15, 2007 Jackson PC-1 by ArtBrom taken on April 1, 2007  
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