We all know the usual suspects when it comes to amps that bring the heavy, but for those who want something crazier—something more off the combat-boot-beaten path—our cover story takes a look at obscure amps that absolutely destroy. Meanwhile, PG Bass Bench blogger Heiko Hoepfinger takes us inside The Holy Grail Guitar Show, an annual gathering of top luthiers that’s fast becoming the most talked about and respected guitar-gear gathering in Europe. Artist interviews this month include Megadeth’s Dave Mustaine and Dave Ellefson, Shana Cleveland from wicked Seattle surf-rock outfit La Luz, flattop fingerstyle master Mark Goldenberg and jazz guru Eric Skye, Jazzmaster-wielding sonic agitator Ava Mendoza, and Tortoise’s Jeff Parker. Our latest Forgotten Heroes piece celebrates the amazing and irresistibly funky life of Kool & the Gang co-founder and bassist Robert “Kool” Bell. Gear reviews this month include the new PRS SE 277 baritone, the Ibanez Talman TM330, MXR’s new EVH 5150 Overdrive, the Carr Lincoln combo, Fender’s new Acoustic SFX amp, the Catalinbread Katzenkönig, DLS Effects’ RotoSPIN, Ampeg’s PF-50T, Mojo Hand Fx’s El Guapo, Providence’s Bass Boot Comp, the Siegmund Doppler Stereo combo, TC Electronic’s Hypergravity, DryBell’s Vibe Machine, Sire’s Marcus Miller signature 4-string, and a roundup of the latest loop-switchers from Boss, RJM Music, and Carl Martin.
The vaunted annual Pedal Issue returns! This year it sports an amazing cover by noted French illustrator/guitarist/stompbox-junkie McBess, as well as 33 guitar- and bass-pedal reviews by our astute team of pedal addicts. But that’s not all—we also take you inside the wacky labs where the folks at Union Tube & Transistor, Chase Bliss Audio, Hungry Robot, Fuzzrocious, Mantic Conceptual, Cusack Music, 3Leaf Audio, and Darkglass zap unicorns with shrink rays to put clangorous tones in little metal boxes. Meanwhile, our artist interviews this month include chats with Rage Against the Machine and Prophets of Rage bassist Tim Commerford, Screaming Females’ Marissa Paternoster and “King” Mike Abbate, jazz maestro Charlie Hunter, possessed Australian bluesman C.W. Stoneking, and Deerhoof’s John Dieterich and Ed Rodríguez. We also visit with the brain trust behind Recovery Unplugged, Jail Guitar Doors, and other rehab centers that have found success using guitar and musical activities to help patients overcome substance addiction. And finally, our latest Forgotten Heroes piece recounts the rich life and legacy of the father of free-jazz guitar, Sonny Sharrock.