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Unchained Melody

Welcome to another issue of Guitarist. This month, we were lucky enough to catch up with a man who’s fast becoming the proverbial ‘guitarist’s guitarist’, Andy Timmons (see p60). If you’ve not come across this American player’s superb playing before, he comes from that powerfully melodic tradition of instrumental electric guitar that Jeff Beck pioneered. Like a good story, the human ear tunes in on melody, following it wherever it leads if the thread of notes is strong enough. So why do we guitarists so frequently focus

on learning set-piece ‘chops’ that we then try to shoe-horn into various musical scenarios, rather than trying to just work out a melody in our minds and replicate it on the fretboard? Well, like using the phrase ‘over the moon’ instead of working out an original way to say that you’re really happy, sometimes it’s just convenient to bolt together ready-made phrases rather than try to say something wholly new. But making that attempt is what marks out a true artist on the instrument. The same goes for guitar designs, as our interview with Steve Vai on the 30th anniversary of the JEM demonstrates – who could forget the first time they laid eyes on one: a razor-edged outrage clad in hot neon colours previously reserved for ski jackets. But lest we forget, that design came about because Vai needed a guitar built from the ground up to give him free rein for new techniques. Those ’87 original JEMs we took a look at on p78 still play beautifully, by the way, so their progressive design remains formidably effective today. We hear that Vai is a big fan of Andy Timmons, so here’s to guitar’s original thinkers as we go into a New Year that will hopefully see fewer musical heroes take a bow for the last time – and more fresh ideas from the rest of us! Enjoy the issue.

Editor’s Highlights

Animal Magnetism Mick Taylor’s test-play of a unique Dumble Overdrive Special granted us a rare handson insight into the tone behind the much-hyped myth p54

Supersonic Style Top Los Angeles tutor Doug Rappoport has some lifeenhacing playing advice and ultra-classy blues licks for you to learn from p68

Jamie Dickson Editor

Bobby Please... …Don’t go! Our long-serving art editor, Rob Antonello, bids a final farewell as he leaves for pastures new with his longterm Gretsch test finale p128

February 2017  Guitarist

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