Fretboard Journal 44: What’s Inside

The packed 44th issue of the Fretboard Journal features even more tales from world of stringed instruments and the folks who make, re-make and play them. In #44, we visit humble shops and historic estates, chat with artists Mandolin Orange (on the cover) and M. Ward, take a look at pioneering instruments from Leo Fender and Paul Bigsby, profile the legendary Johnny Winter and Robert Armstrong, dig into the harrowing details of a good neck reset and a whole lot more…

As always, our 44th issue features the stunning photography and clean layouts that are our trademark. You can subscribe to our reader-supported magazine in keepsake print form or as a new digital subscription.


“What Armstrong, Dodge, Zwigoff and I shared in common was a cultural sensibility. We were all into the same stuff: old-time music on 78 rpm records of the 1920s and ’30s, old comics, old toys and old musical instruments. It’s hard to define exactly what that sensibility is, but I think ‘Suits Crybaby Blues’ on our third LP kind of sums it up.” — R. Crumb, co-founder of the Cheap Suit Serenaders with Robert Armstrong and Al Dodge

Robert Armstrong is probably the most-heard musical sawyer in the world, but that’s just the tip of his creative iceberg. Chris Harvey takes a close look at Armstrong’s amazing career as a musician and artist.


My advantage is the best and the brightest back in the day were trying to figure out how to make these things clean and linear, like a hi-fi system. You know you don’t want it to color the sound. And that’s not what a guitar amp is. A guitar amp is supposed to collude the sound in a pleasing way.” — Chris Benson

Contributing Editor Brian Saunders visits with the Portland, Oregon-based amp builder/designer Chris Benson and tries to get to the bottom of what makes Benson’s amplifiers sound so good.


“This is the first real pedal steel that was made that all the designs were set after. It was incredibly water-damaged, had cracks running up all the wood platforms. Anything that was steel was pretty much rusted. The tuners were broken off and rusted. It was a basket case.” — Todd Clinesmith

Legendary figures abound in the story of the pedal steel that Paul Bigsby built for Speedy West, passed through the hands of Buck Owens, was rediscovered by Deke Dickerson and resurrected by Todd Clinesmith, with a little help from TK Smith…


“I think our roles…were really complementary from the beginning. Since then, we’ve just learned a lot more about how to play with each other and gained a better understanding of the other person’s role. We’ve maintained those roles, but I think that they’re not as strict as they once were.” — Emily Frantz

Fretboard Journal contributor Todd Lunneborg sat down with Emily Frantz and Andrew Marlin for an in-depth conversation about their uncanny musical chemistry and the joys of an “over-reverbed Telecaster.”

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