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Making Your Mark

This month’s cover feature on Gibson’s enticing trio of signature semi-acoustics (see p88) got me thinking about what makes a guitar uniquely your own. I doubt there’s a guitarist reading this who hasn’t idly dreamed of what their own signature series guitar would look like, how it would be fitted out, who it would be made by and so on. One player’s meat is another’s poison, of course, and we’ve even heard tales (possibly a bit shaggy round the edges) of well-known players who became virtually the only person in a

given country to buy their own official signature model… A niche market, indeed! But reading Rod Brakes’ entertaining interview with two legends of British rock, Wilko Johnson and Norman Watt-Roy (see p56), I got another viewpoint on what makes a guitar truly your own. It’s striking how an actual hollow has been made in the top of Norman’s bass by his thumb. Nothing more than pressure and repetition made a mark that you’d struggle to make with a sanding belt. Perhaps that’s the ultimate ‘signature’ modification you can make to a guitar: physical marks bearing testament to how much you’ve played it, put there the hard way. Also interesting are the hardware mods that musicians make during the course of a long association with much-loved workhorse instruments – witness the guitars of classic Welsh rock outfit Man and its much-missed guitarists Deke Leonard and Micky Jones. We might draw the line at shaving down a Strat neck so far that the truss rod almost pokes through, though! To remember these two fine players with us, turn to David Mead’s Historic Hardware feature on p80. A final thought: if we leave our mark on guitars, surely they leave also their mark on us, too? Anyone who regularly played the heavier sort of 70s Les Paul would probably say yes – with bowed back to prove it… Enjoy the issue, see you next time.

Editor’s Highlights

Jump Blues! One of our favourite purveyors of vintage blues, Chris Corcoran, starts a brilliant new tuition column this issue. Jump on board and learn the licks p142

Ethan Johns Celebrated producer and guitarist Ethan Johns shows us the treasures of his guitar and amp collection and offers some recording tips p72

Jamie Dickson Editor

Eric Gales The whirlwind blues-rock guitarist explains the core elements of his dynamic soloing style – and an insightful interview. Read it on p62

Summer 2017  Guitarist