This was a good year for rock and a good year for stories on GuitarVibe. In case you missed it, here's my top 10 kick-ass GuitarVibe stories for 2007. Click on the headline to read the original story.
10. My New White Epiphone Les Paul -- Somehow a $200 purchase at Guitar Center (pictured above) has kicked off a serious dose of GAS -- Guitar Acquisition Syndrome. My wife suggested I leave a guitar at my father-in-law's house in Michigan so when I travel I have a guitar there. At this point, it's out of control and I now have multiple budget guitars located at relatives houses around the country. I haven't even had a chance to write up reviews for all of them and I have another one on order. It seemed like a good idea at the time. Is there counselling available?
9. Fender VG Strat -- Ok, to be clear, I'm a big fan of Line 6. But when the giant Fender starts following Line 6's lead, that's something to pay attention to. I also wrote about the business strategy behind Line 6 and Fender over at OnDisruption.
8. Six Pack with Marcus Ryle of Line 6 -- Line 6 has continued to be a huge innovator in guitars, amps and effects and here's a detailed interview with co-founder and VP of R&D Marcus Ryle. Marcus is a great guy despite the accusations against him as a keyboard player. Hey, everyone has to come from somewhere! It's a good read, despite the fact that he wouldn't spill the beans on any unnanounced products. I also managed interviews with Phil Neal, inventor of the Lapstick ultimate travel guitar and rocker-turned DJ Greg Kihn. Meanwhile, still waiting for Paul Stanley.
7. Line 6 Spider Valve Amp -- Line 6 has had so many new products it's hard to keep them all straight, but to me this was the most significant. It was a top-secret innovation that has cemented Line 6's position as the #2 Amp supplier. Long known for their modeling capabilities, Line 6 turned it up to 11 by combining valve power from boutique supplier Bogner Amplification. Line 6 also put out new models of its Pod and TonePort products. But I'm still waiting for an update to the Variax line.
6. Andy Walo at House of Blues, Las Vegas -- I managed to see a lot of good shows this year by the likes of Elvis Costello, Roger Waters, The Police, Los Lobos, Frank Marino & Mahogany Rush, Lenny Kravitz, The Smithereens, Alan Iglesias, Rod Piazza and others. (Hey, it was a good year for live music and I managed to get some pretty good photos to boot!)
But somehow, this small blues club gig was the most fun. Maybe because I was in Vegas I wasn't expecting much, but Swedish blues rocker Andy Walo puts on quite a show. And I'm much more of a club guy than a stadium rocker anyways. If you're in the LA area or Vegas, be sure to take in Andy Walo.
5. GuitarPro 5 -- Wanna learn a song? Any song? Get GuitarPro 5 and then head on over to TabScout and start downloading just about any guitar song in the world. No guitar player should be without this. Seriously recommended. Ten million tab files can't be wrong!
4. Jazz Butcher at 12 Bar Club, London -- I ended up seeing this Pat "Jazz Butcher" Fish gig quite by accident while in London on business in April. Then six months later, I'm in London once again, and head over to the same club, and there's Pat Fish once again playing his second London gig of the year and stalwart fans Nigel, Dominic and me are sitting in the exact same seats as last time. Both gigs were awesome, but I got better photos and video the second time around.
3. Guitar Hero Rocks -- Whether it's the original, Guitar Hero II, Guitar Hero III or the sort-of 2.5 80's version for Playstation 2, this video game series has done more to reinvigorate rock music among kids than anything in recent history. Not only is Guitar Hero redefining and disrupting the music industry, heck, it's outselling Van Halen, U2 and the Stones. I suspect in a few years we'll see an influx of 16 to 18 year old kids who can shred like nobody's business and their first instrument will have been a plastic game controller shaped like a guitar. If you have kids, or if you know someone with kids, or you think you are still a kid at heart, go get Guitar Hero III. Or better yet, get RockBand, the sort-of-follow-on-with-drums by the original developers. And check out the business story over at OnDisruption.
2. Led Zeppelin Reunion -- My buddy Hans got to witness the second coming of Led Zep in London last month. By all accounts a great gig. Hopefully there will be a tour in 2008. One can hope, right?
1. Brainpool Junk -- I discovered this gem earlier this year and despite the fact that it was released several years back, I think it deserves the top position as most Kick Ass story for the year. Yes, better than Led Zep. How weird is that? All I can say, is if you like 70's & 80s rock music like classic Who, Pink Floyd or The Clash, then check it Brainpool Junk. It is the rock opera you wish you'd heard 25 years ago. Unfortunately, Brainpool has since disbanded.
Ok, that's my top ten list for the year. Feel free to add your comments below on your own top ten, or better yet, worst ten rock guitar items for the year. Oh, and Happy New Year!