Steve Klein runs a studio in Northern California and there he produces gems like this Bird guitar, with elegant carving not only in wood but in metal. Early in his career, Klein worked on building ergonomic guitars that were as comfortable to play—well-balanced and with dynamic tone—as they were to look at. He teamed up with a variety of people, including Ned Stei
nberger, Ronnie Montrose, and Bob Taylor, to develop unusually styled guitars that have attracted a loyal following in the past two decades. One of the most famous results was an axe that fused the Steinberger neck system with an angularity that recalled Ovation’s classic Breadwinner shape. He continues to build guitars that look like no one else’s, despite numerous attempts by others to mimic his designs.
: Sequoia National Park - “Guitar Lake.”
If you’re looking to plan a spring vacation around something guitar-themed, look no further than California’s Sequoia National Park. This natural formation, found on the High Sierra Trail, is called Guitar Lake – for obvious reasons. It is located just below Mount Whitney, and is actually the last source of water on the 70-mile trail before reaching Whitney’s summit.
The lake, in addition to being ice-cold, is also a good place for adventurous fly fishers. More info at: http://tiny.cc/ytm13
Randall William Rhoads was born on December 6, 1956 in Santa Monica, California. Randy’s playing in Quiet Riot during the 1970s attracted little attention, but when he appeared on Ozzy Osbourne’s first solo album, “Blizzard Of Ozz,” in 1980, everyone with ears took immediate notice.
From the opening strains of “Blizzard Of Ozz” to the closing moments of “Diary Of A Madman,” (the only two Osbourn
e albums released while Randy was alive), Rhoads cranked out riffs and solos that have since become iconic in the hard rock and metal guitar universe. His influence is still pervasive amongst guitarists wanting to play with a high degree of both technical skill and musical sensibility. Here’s Randy playing a live version of “Crazy Train.” http://youtu.be/ZcoweoZ6jpM
: Mickey Mouse Destroying A Guitar.
One of the most unusual pieces to come our way, this collectible “doll” features Mickey Mouse unleashing his inner Pete Townshend - or Joe Strummer - on an electric guitar. Made by Roen/Medicom, the limited edition figurine is more than a foot high.
: Carlos Santana & Buddy Miles - “Live!”
Released in 1972, this “Live!” album captured Santana and his band at the peak of their powers, as well as Buddy Miles in the years subsequent to his stint with The Band Of Gypsies. The album features two cuts that have become near anthemic in the guitar universe: Santana’s “Evil Ways” and Miles’ “Them Changes” (which had been known as “Changes” when Hendrix played it with Miles). It also has Santana’s extended exploration into jazz and fusion—accompanied by Neal Schon—with the 25 minute “Free Form Funkafide Filth.” After this album, Santana would give up much of his early Latin rock roots for more experimental and eventually more pop avenues; Schon would leave the following year and form Journey; and Miles would achieve unique fame as the voice of the California Raisins. As a testament to guitar-driven jamming circa the early 1970s, this album is one of the best.
Leo Fender. . A day worth celebrating: Clarence “Leo” Fender was born August 10, 1909 in Anaheim, CA—103 years ago today. He had a natural ability to fix electronic equipment of all types, and opened a store to perform repairs and sell parts for radios and televisions. After befriending Merle Travis, he created his own version of an electric guitar. It was simply built, portable, easy to play and e
asy to repair. And because it had a solid body, it wouldn’t feedback like acoustic guitars that had pickups or used microphones. Other guitarists asked Leo for a solidbody guitar for themselves; demand became so great that he started a company dedicated to building the guitars. In the space of three years, his new company introduced the Telecaster, the Stratocaster, and the Precision bass. . He sold his company to CBS in 1965, and then went on to form the G&L and Music Man companies, both of which made guitars and amps that competed with the original Fender company . Leo’s last name remains synonymous with the guitars and amps he created. An unusual fact about this electronics and engineering genius: he never learned how to play the guitar, and never even learned how to tune one. . Happy birthday, Mr. Fender. He was one of the true great of guitar building. Pass it on, everybody.
Paul Bigsby died on June 7, 1968. While most guitarists know him because of his wildly popular Bigsby vibrato, most are not aware that Bigsby is widely considered to have crafted the first true solidbody electric guitar. Bigsby was a motorcycle mechanic during the 1940s in Southern California. He became friends with noted country star Merle Travis when the two met at a motorcycle racetrack. Travis discovered that Bigsby was a notorious tinkerer, and asked Paul if he could fix a vibrato tailpiece on a Gibson L-10.
Bigsby ended up replacing the vibrato with a better one of his own design.
Travis then asked Bigsby- in 1946 - if he could build an entire electric guitar, complete with pickups that wouldn’t feed back. Using a design from Travis, Paul created what may have been the first solidbody electric guitar. The guitar had a single cutaway and a headstock that featured all the tuning pegs on one side instead of the standard three per side arrangement. This was similar to a design used a centrury before by German luthier Johann Stauffer. It would later show up in a very similar form on the Fender Stratocaster.