This is the fifth Anniversary of the Guitar Player Hall of Fame Awards. We revived our Gallery of the Greats and Lifetime Achievement honors in 2012, because it just seemed like the time once again to celebrate all the wonderful players who have enriched our musical lives. We also felt the awards would provide a fantastic opportunity to salute the manufacturers, gear, and technical visionaries who have given us the tools to make our beautiful noises. The staff nominates the inductees each year, and we argue back and forth until we’re in (nearly) total agreement over the awards. Congrats to all of this year’s GP Hall of Famers!
From session work to his own mega hits and his television show, Campbell’s imprint on guitar is massive. His brave last tour in the face of Alzheimer’s disease was simultaneously sad and uplifting, and his final bow on August 8, 2017 left holes in the hearts of rockers, metal players, jazz artists, country pickers, and virtually everyone who loves guitar.
Gallery of the Greats
One of the most awarded country musicians of recent years—we’ll now add our award to the pile—Douglas has won an astounding 14 Grammys, is a three-time Country Musician of the Year honoree, and is credited with playing on more than 1,600 albums. That’s a huge shadow to cast across any artistic landscape.
The recent spate of reissued Cars albums showcased, once again, what a classy, tasteful, and stylistically diverse soloist Easton was back in the day—and continues to be with his solo releases and as part of the Empty Hearts.
Setzer reignited rockabilly with the Stray Cats, to be sure, but his fiery rockers and swingin’ jazz-inspired releases since then are the stuff of pure unadulterated guitar heroics. In fact, we were kind of shocked that Setzer wasn’t already a “GP Great,” but we taking care of that now.
Shimabukuro was one of the first players to find worldwide fame by first going viral on YouTube (with his 2006 version of “While My Guitar Gently Weeps”), and he went on to expand the vocabulary of the ukulele with virtuosity and varied stylistic influences. The “ukulele boom” of the past few years was certainly due, in large part, to Shimabukuro.
We bestowed the Police guitarist, solo artist, and renowned photographer with our Certified Legend Award at the Grammy Museum’s Clive Davis Theater on March 23, 2017, during a sold-out BOSS event celebrating the release of Summers’ 14th solo album, Triboluminescence. “Give me a little respect now,” Summers joked to the audience.
Jason Becker Award for Creativity, Courage, and Inspiration
Since 2013, Mandel has suffered through multiple operations to fight an invasive cancer, including significant and painful reconstructive surgery to his face. Through it all, he has continued writing, recording, and even performing live. Such unbowed defiance and commitment to his art defines the spirit of Jason’s award.
With the angelic face of a choirboy and the soul of a 75-year-old bluesman, King salutes the past while adding his own voice to the mix. His live shows are epic.
A bluegrass demon, Tuttle unleashes stunning technique, but always in the service of the song at hand—a masterful balance of death-defying chops and musicality.
Andrew Barta, Tech 21
Barta launched one of those truly world-changing devices—at least for musicians—when the engineering wizard produced his SansAmp analog tube-amp emulator in 1989. He never stopped innovating from there, and soon developed entire lines of terrific and forward-thinking guitar and bass amplifiers, preamps, and effects pedals.
Bill Collings, Collings Guitars
We lost master luthier Bill Collings on July 14, 2017. For more than 40 years, his artistry guided Collings Guitars to the boutique, high end, and revered brand that it is today.
Maximum Gear 2017
Any product that was reviewed from the Holiday 2016 issue to the November 2017 issue you have in your hands right now is eligible for the staff to further honor as one of the hippest pieces of gear to hit the scene the past 12 months. Of course, we love cool gear so much that we decided it would be, um, reasonable to set a limit of no more than five products for each category, lest we diminish the honor by choosing everything we tested. Here’s this year’s Hall of Fame gear…
Epiphone Joe Bonamassa “Treasure” Firebird-I Outfit
Framus Pro Series Panthera Supreme II
Reverend Double Agent OG
Squire Classic Vibe Telecaster ’50s
Breedlove Oregon Concerto E
Epiphone Masterbilt Century Collection Olympic
Taylor Academy Series 10E and 12E
Carr Mercury V
Dr. Z EMS
Mesa/Boogie JP-2C Mark IIC+
John Petrucci Signature
GFI Specular V2 Reverb
Pro Tone Reeves Gabrels Distortion Engine
Radial Engineering Tonebone Texas-Pro
Tech 21 Q\Strip
Strymon Riverside Multistage Drive
DR Strings Veritas
Ernie Ball Paradigm
LaBella Vapor Shield
Eminence Pete Anderson Signature
Celestion Neo Creamback
Studio & Stage
Fractal Audio Systems AX8
Universal Audio Apollo Twin MkII Quad
Taylor GS Mini-e Bass