ZINIO logo
Aces: Discovering Guitar's First Heroes

Aces: Discovering Guitar's First Heroes

Aces: Discovering Guitar��s First Heroes
Add to favorites

Travel back in time with us to an era when guitarists played from the heart with a sophistication and style that has never been equalled – to a golden era of jazz, blues and country guitar – and learn to play like the pioneers of the fretboard who laid the foundations for a century of rock 'n' roll

Read More
United Kingdom
Future Publishing Ltd

in this issue

1 min.

When we look back on the pre-war golden era of blues, jazz and country we encounter a fascinating contradiction. People had far less access to music than we enjoy today, when all the music you’ve ever loved can be stored on a mobile phone. And yet despite that, or perhaps because of it, music exerted a magical influence on artists growing up in the early 20th century. For example, the great Gypsy jazz guitarist Django Reinhardt used to walk miles through the rain just to hear Bach’s organ music played in a Paris church. Arguably, living an era such as the Great Depression – when pleasurable diversions were few – gave guitarists a special determination to get the most from the instrument. Today, we can look back with fresh admiration on…

1 min.
about your tutors

Denny Ilett started young. The son of a renowned trumpet soloist, Denny began arranging horns at just 14. Shortly after, he discovered the guitar and began a lifelong love affair. He tours with New Orleans ambassador of music, Lillian Boutté and teaches at IGF events including the Summer School. Neville Marten is Editor of our sister title, Guitar Techniques magazine, and a respected blues and rock ’n’ roll guitarist. His Blues Headlines tuition column was a muchloved regular feature in Guitarist for 20 years, and he currently tours with UK rock ’n’ roll legend Marty Wilde and The Wildcats.…

7 min.
the roots of rock

The roots of rock ’n’ roll Rock music may be a modern phenomenon but it was born of older traditions, spanning many continents and centuries. In this chapter we trace the early evolution of guitar, as we play it today, in America Let us imagine that it is the year 1900. Mass communication is poised to change the world, but the first public radio broadcast is still six years away. History pauses for breath for a moment, before the dam breaks and an older way of life is swept away by the great advances and harrowing setbacks of the 20th century, including the economic hardships of the Great Depression and two World Wars. At this time, people living across America experienced music far less frequently in their daily lives than they would…

12 min.
lonnie johnson & eddie lang

On 17 November 1928 two young guitarists entered a studio to wax a series of duets that introduced a new style of guitar playing – trading licks that jazz, blues, pop and rock guitarists still rely on today. On paper, Lonnie Johnson and Eddie Lang couldn’t have been more different, but they had an almost telepathic bond when they played guitar together. This is the story of how two men from opposite ends of America – and opposite sides of the colour barrier – collaborated to record blazingly inventive guitar that’s influenced everyone from Django Reinhardt to Steve Vai. All-Round Genius Lonnie Johnson was born on 8 February 1894 in New Orleans. Lonnie was one of 13 children and music was the family business. His father was a professional violinist who led…

2 min.
blue guitars

The mighty figures of Django Reinhardt and Charlie Christian tower over the early history of lead guitar, but there was an important chapter before all that. Eddie Lang and Lonnie Johnson’s work together was inspiring, and their dazzling playing appeared on dozens of tunes. Johnson’s 12-string contrasts with Lang’s Gibson L-5 archtop, and both share rhythm and lead duties. The very presence of black and white musicians on the same records was itself revolutionary. Tragically, Lang died during a tonsillectomy operation in 1933, at the age of only 30. Having embarked on major work with Bing Crosby, we can only guess what heights his career might have reached. Lonnie Johnson moved to Chicago and continued to record and perform regularly until his death in 1970. Though brief, their partnership remains an…

2 min.
roots maneuvers

The Loar LH-650 £610 The brand’s name nods to the father of archtop guitars and, fittingly, the LH-650 guitar – with its hand-carved solid spruced top and mahogany neck – nails the vibe of old L-5s and similar classics while adding its own discreet concessions to modern playability such as the extra-deep scooped Florentine cutaway, and also mounts a single Kent Armstrong-designed floating humbucker in the neck. It’s a classy proposition at the price. Gibson Solid Formed 17” Venetian Cutaway £3,561 The solid carved top is a fundamental feature of the archtops of the 30s tradition, and here we see Gibson Memphis’s painstakingly crafted take on that tonal heritage, also featuring a carved solid maple back with stunning figuring and a flamed maple neck. With a rosewood bridge and Gibson’s Johnny Smith humbucker…