In this premiere edition our resident guitar guru lays out his vision for a weekly helping of guitar lore and offers a little personal history.
Featured Private Reserve Guitars
Each week The HUB presents an instrument selected by our Private Reserve Guitar advisors as especially noteworthy. These are electric and acoustic guitars and basses that reflect the highest levels of workmanship and employ the finest woods and components. For the most part they are one-of-kind or extremely limited production models, primarily crafted in the custom shops of some of the world's greatest makers including Fender, Gibson, Martin, Taylor, and PRS. We'll tell you what's cool about these extraordinary guitars and offer the insights of our guitar advisors who have personally examined and played each featured instrument.
At first glance, the Gibson Custom Lee Roy Parnell ‘57 Goldtop looks like a typical LP. But when you inspect it more closely and play a few bars, you quickly realize this is far from ordinary Goldtop territory.
In case you’re wondering what Miami has to do with this fabulous rock history artifact, a little Fab Four history is in order. In February 1964, The Beatles were hanging in Miami, enjoying the weather and getting ready for their second live appearance on The Ed Sullivan Show. The guitar on which this week’s instrument is based was shipped direct to John Lennon from the Rickenbacker factory in California. Lennon promptly retired his road-worn ‘58 Rick and the following day was seen rehearsing with the new axe on the Sullivan set, which he later played live on the show. The new Rick had become his main stage and recording electric guitar.
The Ibanez JEM series has its roots in an intimate collaboration with master shredder Steve Vai that goes back to 1986. Vai specified every aspect of his signature model from aesthetics and playability factors to perhaps most crucially, the pickup array, electronics and trem bridge. Remaining largely unchanged since the initial model was unveiled at NAMM in 1987, variations have mainly focused on pickup and bridge choices, dependant on the price points of subsequent sub-models.
Think of today’s featured guitar as the result of six decades of continual fine tuning. Fender’s Custom Shop uses its Proto Series as a development lab in which they bring together the best elements from the past and present to create some of the sweetest Strats in all of guitardom.
Hello there! Did you get lost in that stunning quilted maple top? It’s easy to do; the lavish figuring seems so three-dimensional you could get taken under by those glorious purple waves. Every other aspect of this guitar’s construction and material choices are top flight too.
It’s hard to overestimate the influence of Wes Montgomery on modern guitar players. His signature picking technique using the fleshy part of his thumb produced the mellow tones that are a hallmark of Montgomery’s sound. (Prior to his music career, Wes worked long hours as a machinist and developed the technique during late-night practice sessions in consideration of his neighbors.)
If you’ve been on the lookout for a mint or near-mint ‘57 LP, you know that they command a king’s ransom these days. The pinnacle of Les Paul lore, goldtops make LP lovers go weak in the knees.
The huge projection and reverberant bass notes that pour out of the Martin Custom Sinker Mahogany Dreadnought are largely the result of the extraordinary wood used for the back and sides. But before we get to the guitar itself, the story behind that mahogany is a fascinating one worth telling.