Paul Reed Smith Announces the John Mayer Super Eagle II

PRS Super Eagle II

Great news coming out of Stevensville, Maryland today! PRS Guitars announce the debut of the new John Mayer Super Eagle II. This private stock guitar is limited to 120 pieces worldwide, comes in hemp green, and is absolutely gorgeous.

Here is the official release:

(STEVENSVILLE, MD) June 6, 2017 – It’s no secret that John Mayer’s main guitar for The Dead & Company tour has been the PRS Super Eagle that launched last spring. During the 2016 tour, PRS made Mayer a second version of that instrument with some updated woods and aesthetic appointments. Mayer played the Super Eagle II on the very last show of the 2016 tour and is continuing to play it for The Dead & Company 2017 summer tour. PRS and Mayer are excited to offer this new version, the Super Eagle II, to fans and collectors.

“Just like with the first edition Super Eagle, you’re literally getting the same guitar that is in John’s rig.  It’s been an honor to help create a tool that John can use to work with Dead & Company and beyond,” said Paul Reed Smith.

Some of the specifications Mayer and Smith collaborated on for this special run of instruments include a longer (for PRS) scale length of 25.375”, specially-wound 58/15 JM treble and bass pickups with a specially-wound Narrowfield JM pickup in the middle position (with three individual coil-tap mini-switches), a JCF Audio preamp with treble boost, as well as a hand-signed sticker in the f-hole of the guitar that was designed by Mayer’s friend David Smith (who also designed the cover art for Mayer’s 2012 “Born and Raised” album). The pickups deliver a bright, clear tone that has been heard in venues across the USA in Mayer’s recent performances with the Grateful Dead.

Some new woods and aesthetic choices were also selected for the Super Eagle II, including a one piece Private Stock curly maple back, African blackwood fingerboard and headstock veneer, paua birds and a green ripple abalone 12th fret violin bird and Private Stock eagle, as well as a new color: Hemp Green.

The Private Stock Super Eagle II is a highly-sophisticated instrument that at once reveres the history of guitar-making and guitar tone but pushes the boundaries of materials, design, and craftsmanship. The resulting instrument embodies the PRS Private Stock culture of meticulous workmanship as well as Mayer’s keen eye for playability, tone, and detail.

The Private Stock Super Eagle II will be limited to 120 instruments. Full specifications are available at www.prsguitars.com.

About PRS Guitars:

Paul Reed Smith Guitars is a leading manufacturer of high quality instruments in Stevensville, Maryland and has provided some of the world’s most renowned musicians with instruments since 1985. The PRS team of highly skilled craftspeople design and build a wide variety of musical instruments and gear for worldwide distribution, including electric, acoustic, and bass guitars as well as boutique-style guitar amplifiers. The PRS SE line of products complements the Maryland-made PRS line by offering highly approachable and more affordable electric, acoustic, and bass guitars. Carlos Santana, Neal Schon, John McLaughlin, John Mayer, Linkin Park, Orianthi, Blake Shelton, Mark Tremonti, Zach Myers of Shinedown, Brian Kelley of Florida Georgia Line, David Grissom, Martin Simpson, Tony McManus, and Derek Trucks are among the artists currently playing PRS instruments and/or amplifiers.

PRS Guitars Info: www.prsguitars.com

PRS Super Eagle II

PRS Super Eagle II – back

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Photo: Steve Rose

Joe Bonamassa Shines Bright in Hollywood

Photo: Steve Rose

Photo: Steve Rose

Joe Bonamassa put on a dynamic performance at the Dolby Theatre in Hollywood. Bonamassa, who posses Jedi-like skills on the fretboard, played material off his latest album, Blues of Desperation, and material from last year’s Three Kings tribute. Bonamassa, backed by a fantastic group of musicians consisting of: Anton Fig on drums, Reese Wynans on keys, Michael Rhodes on bass, and a three piece horn section, were dialed in all night and played off each other very well. Known for his extensive collection of historic Gibson and Fender guitars, Joe played a number of drool worthy axes throughout his sixteen song set. Some highlights of this well crafted set were “Mountain Climbing,” “Never Make Your Move Too Soon,” and “Going Down.”

It was great to see Joe Bonamassa once more before his touring schedule wraps up for the year, and there’s no doubt that he’ll get the blues machine primed and ready to tour in 2017. Don’t miss the opportunity to see this phenomenal performer when he’s in your town.

Joe Bonamassa @ The Dolby Theatre

Photos by Steve Rose

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Steve Vai was Scintillating in Riverside

Photo: Steve Rose

Photo: Steve Rose

The Fox Performing Arts Center was the first stop on Steve Vai’s 25th Anniversary Passion and Warfare Tour and those in attendance were treated to a masterful performance from the legendary guitarist. Fellow “brother in shred” and former bandmate, Tony MacAlpine, delivered a great and emotional performance to open the show. His set showcased his technical prowess and it was great to see him perform after missing some time while recovering from colon cancer.

The crowd got fired up when Steve Vai took the stage and opened with “Bad Horsie” on his mirrored Ibanez Jem with light up guitar inlays. Vai, ever the showman, was phenomenal all evening as he coaxed notes out of his guitar and wowed the crowd with his fireworks along the fretboard. As this was the celebration of the release of Passion and Warfare 25 years ago, Vai played the entire album for the first time — something he said he had wanted to do for a long time and just need the right band to pull it off. That band consists of long time members: Dave Weiner on guitar, Jeremy Colson on drums, and Philip Bynoe on bass, and were totally awesome as the helped pull of this classic material.

Photo: Steve Rose

Photo: Steve Rose

Throughout the night, Vai played a number of songs along with video accompaniment. Highlights included Vai playing “Liberty” along with a video of himself and Brian May playing the song from a 1991 performance in Spain, and Joe Satriani playing along and trading solos with Steve during “The Riddle.” It was special to see MacAlpine along with bass superstar, Billy Sheehan, join Vai for the encore.  The highlight of the evening was watching him play “For the Love of God.” That is such a powerful song and benchmark for all aspiring guitarists — I won’t be surprised if it’s the highlight of every show on this tour!

This tour runs through the middle of December and you won’t want to miss the opportunity to see these amazing musicians perform Passion and Warfare in its entirety.

Tony MacAlpine
Tony MacAlpine @ The Fox Performing Arts Center

Steve Vai
Steve Vai @ The Fox Performing Arts Center

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The Generation Axe Tour Wows at The Wiltern

 

Photo: Steve Rose

Photo: Steve Rose

The Generation Axe tour rolled into The Wiltern and was every bit as impressive as one would expect. Shortly after 8pm, these five wizards of the fretboard took the stage and opened with Boston’s “Foreplay.”  Each took turns putting their flair on this classic tune. The lineup for Generation Axe consists of: Steve Vai, Yngwie Malmsteen, Zakk Wylde, Nuno Bettencourt, and Tosin Abasi.

After the first song, Tosin Abasi kicked things off with his polyrhythmic stylings on guitar. He was playing a uniquely shaped Ibanez 8 string guitar, which will most likely become a new signature instrument and is a radical departure from his current RG shaped signature. During Tosin’s last song, he was joined on stage by Nuno Bettencourt. Nuno joked during his set that it was hard finding the 1 when it came to keeping time and playing with Tosin, who’s music is heavily based on off time or uncommon meter. Nuno played a few songs which included a medley of Extreme songs and an uptempo acoustic instrumental piece that was very interesting and a departure from the music that Nuno wrote with Extreme.  During Nuno’s final song, he brought out Zakk Wylde and they played “Sideways,” with each sharing vocal duties.

Zakk, with his new Wylde Audio guitar in hand, only played three songs, all covers, but was arguably one of the best sets of the night. He started things off with Black Sabbath’s “N.I.B” and then segued into Hendrix’s “Little Wing,” before capping it off with “Whipping Post” from the Allman Brothers. During his “Little Wing” performance, he made his way into the crowd during an extended solo and most fans took pictures, while some stood in awe of his performance.

After Zakk’s performance, it was time for Yngwie Malmsteen to dazzle an already frenzied crowd. He did not disappoint with his trademark Fender Strat, and dizzying array of arpeggios, it was clear that Yngwie Malmsteen was there to leave his mark on the night. Yngwie played an eight song set that featured “Far Beyond the Sun” and had Steve Vai join him as he closed with “Black Star.” Both of these legends were having a genuine good time as they fed off of each other and continued to drop the jaws of those in attendance.

Steve Vai’s set was a favorite of many and featured “Tender Surrender” and “Building the Church.” Steve’s main guitar for the night was Flo III, a white signature Ibanez Jem. He also played a custom painted Jem and another with blue LED fretmarkers. The band then all reconvened on stage and finished off the night with fantastic renditions of “Frankenstein” and “Highway Star” from the legendary and newly inducted members of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, Deep Purple.

This all star roster of guitarists should not be missed when this tour comes to your town. Check out the site for tour dates near you. These musicians go above and beyond expectations and your fingers will be sore from all of the air guitar that will be played throughout the night.

Generation Axe @ The Wiltern

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Effects Pedals Will Be All The Rage at NAMM 2016

There will be a nice mix of top manufacturers and boutique brands showcasing their greatest and latest in Anaheim early next year. NAMM ’16 is just around the corner and I don’t know about you, but I CAN’T WAIT!

Demand for Personalized Sound Presses Boutique Pedal Market Forward

Craftsmen pedal builders are setting up shop nationwide backed by musicians looking to play their own unique tunes

Courtesy of NAMM

Courtesy of NAMM

Carlsbad, CA, (December 10, 2015) – Demand for customized, unique sound is driving fretted products and effects sales to a seven-year high, while fueling a new wave of boutique pedal builders. Over the last decade, the retail value of the effects pedal category has increased more than 45%, with a 13.7% gain in 2014.

Pedal builders will have a noticeably larger presence at the NAMM Show this January 21-24 as boutique brands including Strymon, Walrus Audio, Chase Bliss Audio and Dwarfcraft Devices join established brands Boss, Dunlop Manufacturing, Inc., Fender Musical Instruments Corporation, EarthQuaker Devices, Electro-Harmonix, Pigtronix, Seymour Duncan, TC Electronic and Wampler Pedals to debut new effects gear at the NAMM Show.

The emergence of hundreds of up-and-coming pedal brands can be traced to new technology and easier global distribution, of both ideas and components. Robert Keeley, founder of Keeley Electronics, Inc., has seen his Edmond, OK business double since 2012. It is now producing more than 2,000 units per month. “Our products are almost completely hand-built and we cater to a group of people who are in the market for specialty-purpose pedals,” said Keeley. Big- name players including John Mayer, Jimmy Buffet and Dream Theater’s John Petrucci are among those who have called on Keeley for customized pedals, with some of those pedals crossing over into a limited-edition commercial run.

Joel Korte, founder of Minnesota-based Chase Bliss Audio has seen sales double in the last year and adds, “Musicians like to experiment with sound using pedals because the experience is very visceral and pedals are hands-on and offer the artist control right away.”

Affordability has also emerged as a major factor in the surge as artists add distortion, phasers and vibrato to their signature sound. The cottage industry of boutique pedal makers offers ways to tweak and discover sounds for an average price of $100-$400 dollars.

Many of these emerging builders, including Akron, Ohio’s family-owned EarthQuaker Devices, have also focused on demonstrating their products for non-traditional pedal players, such as sax, synth and violin players. Julie Robbins of EarthQuaker Devices emphasizes that innovative, specialty-designed sound is a key factor in the company’s success. “We answer the call of experimental musicians who love to create sounds that inspire them to go in new directions,” said Robbins. “Some just want to recreate classic tones, while others use their pedals as a way to actually define their newest album, and we cater to both.”

Demand is also up for pedals that couple long-lasting new technology with “old school” parts to create coveted “vintage” analog sounds. Pete Celi, co-founder of growing Southern California builder Strymon, says interest in vintage pedals has skyrocketed, including tape delays, vintage amp tremolos, pedals from the 70s, but he notes these originals can be unreliable on tour and prices make those purchases beyond the reach of most musicians. “This creates an opportunity for pedals that can capture those sought-after sounds and yet be conveniently and reliably used at gigs,” said Celi.

Strymon employs a one-on-one strategy with musicians, regularly holding open-studio parties. Celi says the conversations are paying off. “We believe everybody is an artist.”

Plan now to join the global music instrument and product industry January 21-24, 2016 at the NAMM Show in Anaheim, CA. NAMM members are encouraged to register for badges by January 6, 2016, at which point badge registrations will incur a $50 to $100 fee depending on the badge type. Learn about the more than 5,000 brands planning to exhibit at the 2016 NAMM Show here:https://www.namm.org/thenammshow/2016/directory.

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Trey Anastasio Band are Joyous at The Wiltern

TAB-62Before the Trey Anastasio Band took the stage, you could feel an excitement bubble ready to burst amongst the crowd. When the band took their places and played the opening notes to “Sand,” that bubble burst and people were filled with joy and happiness as they danced and swayed throughout the night. The band played material ranging from Trey’s solo work, some Phish songs, and some great covers like “The Devil Went Down to Georgia” and CSN’s “49 Bye Byes.”

It was great to see Trey Anastasio coax and corral note upon note from his Languedoc guitar. On this night, he used his Ocelot Languedoc and that beautiful guitar is a sight to behold. This has been a great year for Trey; aside from celebrating the release of his band’s new album, Paper Wheels, TAB-57he spent the summer playing 5 farewell shows with the Grateful Dead, and then a summer tour with his other band, Phish. In preparation for joining the Dead, Trey spent several hours a day studying the essence on Jerry Garcia, and that amount of dedication elevated this already Jedi-like player to a new level. His playing is effortless, fluid, and makes me so envious of his nimbleness and dexterity all along the fretboard.

The horn section of James Casey, Jennifer Hartswick, and Natalie Cressman were all standouts in a band of fabulous musicians. It was great to see and hear the interplay between them and Trey all night. Russ Lawton and Tony Markellis were solid on drums and bass, while Ray Paczkowski was great on keys. The band has a few remaining dates on this tour and need to be seen live.
Trey Anastasio Band

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Martin LX1E Ed Sheeran Signature Edition

IMG_0129

Photo by Steve Rose

 

The Ed Sheeran LX1E is a limited edition model that Martin released last year. I purchased this guitar based on it’s portability and features. It’s nice to have a guitar that you can just pick up and play while sitting on the couch or take with you when playing around a campfire.

Playability

While this is a smaller scale, travel-type guitar, it doesn’t feel like you are playing a small guitar. It fits well when in your hands and has good balance whileon your lap. I was concerned that I would have some playability issues given the smaller sized neck and fretboard, but that was not the case. Whether you’re flatpicking or fingerpicking, the notes ring out well and sound great on this guitar. I may not choose this over a D-28, but it is a nice option for those looking for portability or someone starting out and looking for a quality instrument.

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