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No. 165, September 2006

Pickin' for a Fight
With more than five decades of singing under his belt and thousands of miles of hard road behind him, Merle Haggard is still writing songs with a vengeance. On his latest album, Chicago Wind, he turns his unblinking eye toward his favorite themes, including love of family, freedom, and country—plus his anger about the war. By Kenny Berkowitz.

Equipment Picks: The guitars and gear of Merle Haggard.

Steel-String Poet
French-Algerian fingerstylist Pierre Bensusan has achieved renown as a guitar virtuoso, but he's not interested in accolades; he's too busy giving voice to his imagination and discovering the instrument's boudless mysteries. Here he shares his insights on rhythm, musical storytelling, and much more. By Doug Young.

Equipment Picks: The guitars and gear of Pierre Bensusan.

Electrify Your Ax
With more acoustic-amplification products than ever before, determining which signal path will best suit your needs can be a real brain-twister. Here we explain how to understand differences between the various types of pickup systems, as well as the role of other important components—such as preamps, DIs, amplifiers, and digital processors—so you can make an educated choice that helps you sound your best. By Teja Gerken.

HERE'S HOW
Introduction to Ear Training. Learning to recognize the sounds of four basic chord types and three different chord voicings will help you develop as a musician. By David Hodge.

ACOUSTIC CLASSIC
Me and Bobby McGee. Words and music by Kris Kristofferson and Fred Foster.

PRIVATE LESSON
A Private Lesson with Orville Johnson. The popular roots multi-instrumentalist shows how to dampen the strings by alternating fretting-hand fingers, and shares advice on accompanying vocalists and creating second guitar parts. By Scott Nygaard.
Equipment Picks: The guitars and gear of Orville Johnson.

NEW GEAR 1
Hofner HA-JC03 Jumbo. An affordable, distinguished acoustic-electric with deep, lovely bass, complex mids and highs, and exceptionally realistic plugged-in tones. By Shawn Hammond.
Fender Acoustasonic Ultralight Amp. The legendary guitar gurus take their unique acoustic-amp line in a new direction with a brilliant, boutique-style setup that pumps out both gorgeous guitar tones and lovely vocals. By Michael Millham.
National Reso-Phonic 14-fret Style O. Sustaining treble, midrange spunk, and exemplary craftsmanship converge in a metal-bodied resonator with extra finger room. By Pete Madsen.

In the Stores
Alvarez A1E. A new acoustic-electric A-style mandolin with a solid spruce top and solid maple back and sides.
Cordoba Custom Artist. A Spanish-style classical guitar available with a solid spruce or cedar top.
Peterson StroboFlip. A new compact digital strobe tuner with a unique flip-up design.
Tascam GA-100CD. A new 60-watt amplifier with built-in practice tools.
Washburn B52SW. A new travel-size steel-string with a solid spruce top and solid mahogany back and sides.

PLAYER SPOTLIGHT

Songcraft
Jesse Harris. After writing Norah Jones' breakthrough hit and having his songs recorded by Willie Nelson, Pat Metheny, Emmylou Harris, Madeleine Peyroux, and others, the New York singer/guitarist gets back into his natural groove. By Bill Milkowski.
Equipment Picks: The guitars and gear of Jesse Harris.

Vashti Bunyan. When she released her debut album, Just Another Diamond Day, in 1970, it sank like a stone. Three decades later it was a cult classic, and a new generation of freak-folk apostles convinced the English singer-songwriter to return from what she assumed was her lifelong exile from music. By Derk Richardson.
Equipment Picks: The guitars and gear of Vashti Bunyan.

THE BASICS
Harmonize Your Bass Lines. Combining bass lines with harmonies based on intervals of thirds is a splendid—and surprisingly easy—way to add some spice to your playing. By David Hodge.

SHOPTALK
Two Tops, Six Strings. In a quest for increased volume, luthiers are turning to high-tech materials for their guitars. In the case of double-top construction, that means an innovation hidden from view. By Michael John Simmons.

STAGE AND STUDIO
How to Play Wedding Gigs. Whether you're considering playing a wedding as a source of income or as a favor for a friend or family member, it helps to think about a range of considerations unique to this kind of gig. Here are a few tips to help you contribute music to someone's special day. By Patrick Francis.

Reader's Rig
Reader's Rig. Dario Saraceno powers his diverse solo and band repertoires with a 1986 Alvarez-Yairi dreadnought and a Godin Acousticaster 6.

LUTHIER'S WORKBENCH
Moonstone Guitars. A veteran of California lutherie, Steve Helgeson has been building acoustic and electric guitars since the early 1970s. Although he once ran a small factory, he now focuses on making his Moonstone guitars one at a time—and creating his best work ever. By Simone Solondz.

G.A.S. STATION
Achtung, Y'all! German guitarist and writer Heinz Rebellius has been fascinated with American folk and rock music since he was a teenager. Now he also collects American guitars, which he plays in tribute to one of his wife's emigrant relatives. By Michael John Simmons.

PLAYLIST
Brandi Shearer and the Robin Nolan Trio, Rendezvous at the Nightery. By Dave McCarty.
Jeffrey Foucault, Ghost Repeater. By Judith Edelman.
Thomas Leeb, Upside Down. By Teja Gerken.
New From the Vaults.
Peter Mulvey, The Knuckleball Suite. By Celine Keating.
The Mammals, Departures. By Scott Nygaard.

WOODSHED
Smooth Moves. When you play songs written for other instruments, does your guitar sound clunky? Even out your melodic lines by using slurs, position shifts, and open strings. By Scott Nygaard.

SONGBOOK
If You Could Read My Mind. Words and music by Gordon Lightfoot. By Ron Forbes-Roberts.

GREAT ACOUSTICS
1920s Michael Iucci Harp Guitar. A unique harp guitar built by New York City luthier sometime around 1920. By Tony Marcus.