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Ethan Varian

Guitar World Member For: 3 years 29 weeks
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Sleep’s 'Dopesmoker,' the Heaviest Album Ever Recorded

The heaviest album of all time, you ask? This distinction belongs not to Black Sabbath’s Master of Reality or Slayer’s Reign in Blood. No, the heaviest, sludgiest, most wicked album ever recorded is none other than Sleep’s doom metal masterpiece, Dopesmoker.

Julian Lage Discusses His New Solo Guitar Album, 'World's Fair'

Julian Lage is much more than just a jazz musician. While his musical foundation is rooted firmly in the world of bebop and swing, his playing encapsulates the full breadth of 20th-century American music. The ghosts of Eddie Lang, Skip James, Doc Watson and Elizabeth Cotton haunt his vintage Martin 000-18, with which he creates a sound that is distinctly modern yet deeply indebted to the American folk music tradition.

Festive Fretwork: 13 Rocking Christmas Songs That Don’t Suck

The holiday season is once again upon us, and you know what that means: It's time to brace yourself for a non-stop barrage of atrocious, agonizing Christmas music. But not to worry! Here are 13 kick-ass Christmas songs that will help get you through the rest of 2013 in peace (and in one piece).

Interview: Eddie Roberts of The New Mastersounds Discusses Gear, Technique and Future Plans

Eddie Roberts, guitarist for the supremely funky British band The New Mastersounds, is a master of mixing soaring hard bop guitar lines with authentic James Brown grooves. The group has been rapidly gaining fans by bringing their infectious vintage soul sound to clubs and festivals across the country. I talked with Eddie about how he developed his style and what new projects he has on tap for the future.

Interview: Punch Brothers Guitarist Chris Eldridge Discusses the Band's New Album, 'Who’s Feeling Young Now?'

Punch Brothers are not a bluegrass band. While you might be fooled into thinking otherwise by their traditional instrumentation and blinding picking chops, a quick listen will prove they are a highly evolved mutation of Bill Monroe and His Bluegrass Boys. Led by mandolin virtuoso Chris Thile, the group takes influences ranging from Radiohead to Bach to Earl Scruggs and combines them into a strikingly unique brand of acoustic music.

Lenny Breau: The Forgotten Genius

Chances are you’ve never heard of the late jazz guitarist Lenny Breau, but ask Pat Metheny or Tommy Emmanuel and they will surely tell he has had a profound impact on nearly every guitarist who heard him play. Guitarists revered him as an innovator for his finger-style chord melody technique, stunning pinch harmonic runs and wide musical vocabulary, ranging from country to jazz to classical.

Review: Ninebuzz Software’s Guitar Jam Tracks App

Ninebuzz offers apps in five different genres, including Acoustic Blues, Humbucker Blues, Jazz, Reggae and Rock, each for $1.99, and a Combo App with all five styles for $5.99. Each style features a major and minor jam track that can be transposed to the keys of A, B, C, D, E and F, as well as charts of each chord progression and scale diagrams of the corresponding major and minor pentatonic scales.

Video: Five Contemporary Jazz Guitarists Worth Checking Out

Frank Zappa famously proclaimed that “jazz isn’t dead, it just smells funny.” And while that certainly may have been true in the fusion heyday of the 1970s and '80s, there's a younger breed of jazz musicians making music that is forward-looking but far less odorous. Here are five videos of contemporary jazz guitarists you should check out.

Video: John Mayer and Keith Urban Trade Licks

Check out this video of John Mayer and Keith Urban laying down some tasteful leads for Country Music Television. The video has been edited to just the best guitar sequences of the original video recording. Although both these artists can be filed under the “adult contemporary” label, they can seriously play.

Review: Gibson Learn & Master Guitar App

The Gibson Learn & Master Guitar App is one of the most practical free guitar downloads for your iPhone. The app offers multiple features including a tuner, metronome, chord charts, video guitar lessons (courtesy of and an app version of Gibson's website. Though the chord diagrams and lessons are geared toward beginners, the tuner and metronome make the app a valuable tool for all guitarists.