1960s Sunn guitar amp sounds gorgeous

Sunn guitar amp with Fender Bassman cab

In our ongoing series of small dogs with large guitar amps, here Ringo poses with his 1968 Sunn amp. It's similar to what Townsend, Entwistle, and Hendrix all used back in the day.

This amp is hooked up to a sweet Fender Bassman cab with JBL 130s or 140s, we're not sure.

The amp has a beautiful sounding after-market reverb unit. The whole thing gives a wonderful clean tone. Boost that with an old Tube Screamer and you've got a tone the guitar greats could dream for.

The fabric on the cabinet has seen some better days, but really why replace the original? The numbers on the dials of the Sunn amp have also long faded away, so it's not possible to see if this amp can go up to 11.

Thanks to my guitar student Tom for loaning me this gem for a month.

Ryan Adams 1989 covers Taylor Swift

Ryan Adams 1989 album cover

Ryan Adams has released a track-by-track cover of Taylor Swift's album 1989 and it raises great questions about songwriting and production. Most songs can be reduced to three things: lyrics, melody, and chord progression. The rest is arrangement, performance, production, recording techniques and so often the music industry turns great songs into lousy tracks.

Drinking at a bar in Canmore Alberta last year I had a heated debate with a music nerd in which I defended Taylor Swift. I said she is a good songwriter. Some people just don't like pop and country music. I don't listen to her music other than to teach it to my guitar students but I appreciate so many of her songs. I don't listen to it myself because I'm not the demographic. It doesn't reach me lyrically. But songs like Whitehorse are great songs because they tell a story that so many people relate to and they do it with strong melodies.

But when I heard the singles from her 1989 album I had trouble hearing past all the slick pop production. I was disappointed.

But now I can finally listen to Taylor Swift, thanks to Ryan Adams. Stripped of all the pop production that makes you feel like you're in a 1980s shopping mall, we can now hear human beings play these songs on real instruments and it sounds great.

Rumour was that Adams was making his covers in the style of The Smiths. It sounds much more like Springsteen though. Especially the acoustic tracks like “Welcome to New York” which sound like they could be from Springsteen's excellent Nebraska album.

Adams told Rolling Stone magazine "It's not a reimagining or a reconstruction at all. It's a parallel universe. That's how I think of it. We're creating an alternate universe, like in Marvel Comics.... It wasn't like I wanted to change them because they needed changing," he says. "But I knew that if I sang them from my perspective and in my voice, they would transform."

58 Instruments that Made Rolling Stone's Top 100 Songs of All Time

Thanks to Berklee for bringing this cool infographic to my attention. They've illustrated the instruments used in each and every one of the Rolling Stone top 100 songs. While a large percentage of the selection use guitar, bass, and drums (no surprise here), the 58 instruments in the graphic go beyond the expected. From the swarmandal The Beatles used in “Strawberry Fields Forever” to the castanets in The Ronettes’, “Be My Baby,” and mouth harp in The Beach Boys’ “Good Vibrations,” these classic songs tap into more than the typical standby sounds.

Shaw TV bit for 68 The Show

Eli and I on Shaw TV riffin' about our "68 The Show," our recreation of the Elvis Presley Comeback Special. It's just one week away. This time we will be at the Inlet Theatre in Port Moody. Tickets are available in person or online from the Inlet Theatre.