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Ever since Charlie Christian moved the electric guitar from the back of the orchestra to the forefront with his blade pickup–equipped Gibson ES-150, players have been exploring new ways to make the guitar speak, whether through pickups, hardware, amps, effects or newfangled gizmos that can spark the imagination. This issue looks at 25 guitarists who have done the most to shape gear and tone over the past 100 years. From Jimi Hendrix and Eddie Van Halen to guitarist/inventors like Les Paul and Tom Scholz, we explore the players who drove innovation to make guitar gear and tone what it is today.

We also catch up with John McLaughlin for an insightful conversation about his new album, ‘Liberation Time,’ and how his enlightened outlook has helped him overcome debilitating arthritis. Jake Shimabukuro talks about recording with Warren Haynes, Sonny Landreth, Billy Strings and others for his new star-studded ukulele–meets-guitar album, ‘Jake & Friends.’ Rounding out our features, we dig deep into blues guitarist Skip James’ impact on Bentonia blues and the players who are keeping his legacy alive today.

In gear, we look at a pristine vintage 1959 Gretsch Model 6118 Double Anniversary and dig into new gear like the Fender Custom Shop Limited-Edition Double-Bound Stratocaster Journeyman Relic, Eastman Guitars T64/v and T184MX, Taylor American Dream AD27e Flametop, Strymon Iridium Amp and IR Cab Pedal, and more. All this plus Mike McCready’s top five career-spanning tracks, Steve Morse on how he wrote “Take It Off the Top” and much more!

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