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Digital Subscriptions > The Guitar Magazine > Apr-18 > All About… Ray Butts

All About… Ray Butts

If Ray Butts still around, he’d be the embodiment of boutique. HUW PRICE profiles a man ahead of his time…

HISTORY

Ray Butts may not be a ‘name’ in every guitar household, but as an inventor and engineer working in the early days of electric guitar, his influence has been profound. Unlike Les Paul who, as Chet Atkins once wryly pointed out, “invented everything”, Ray’s significance rests on two things – his work as a custom amp builder and the invention of the humbucking guitar pickup.

Like Leo Fender, Ray wasn’t much of a guitar player, but at least he was a professional musician. He played accordion for a travelling tent show called the ‘Hillbilly Jamboree featuring the Colorado Cowhands’. There’s a great photo of Ray taken around that time when he was in his 20s. He’s pictured wearing a peaked cap and with a menacing pout, Ray somehow manages to look like a cross between Al Capone, Fatty Arbuckle and Marlon Brando in The Wild One.

Such was the ingenuity of Ray’s tape echo design, was basically copied to create the legendary Echoplex

Eventually Ray reached Nashville, Tennessee, where his band got a radio gig playing on The Morning Show for WSM. Later he went back to Calumet City, Illinois, but after his father’s heart attack, he returned home to Cairo, Illinois and Ray’s playing career was over. However, his real career was about to begin.

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About The Guitar Magazine

The April 2018 edition of The Guitar Magazine is out now featuring a FREE digital guitar DIY handbook containing 132 pages of essential tone tops, mods and upgrades that’ll make your guitar sound and play better today. Inside the main mag we go in-depth with Les Pauls and unlock the secrets of authentic 1950s tone. Spoiler alert: it’s not all about ‘old wood’ – we explain how your guitar can go toe-to-toe with a Burst or Goldtop without selling your house to fund a vintage purchase. We also put a pair of Gibson’s new 2018 Les Pauls to the test but if Lesters ain’t your thang, fear not – in addition we check out gorgeous new gear from Fender, Gretsch, B&G and more, including a brand new Lazy J that might just be Jesse Hoff’s finest amplifier to date. Elsewhere in this month’s mag we catch up with JD McPherson, who tells all about recording at RCA Studio B and jamming with Queens Of The Stone Age, pay tribute to legendary innovator Ray Butts and give you the chance to win an awesome Chase Bliss Audio Tonal Recall delay pedal worth £399. Pick up your copy of the feature-packed April 2018 issue of The Guitar Magazine now from WH Smith, Asda, Tesco, Morrisons, Waitrose, Easons and all good newsagents.
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