When Rick Turner passed away in April of 2022, the stringed instrument world lost a true innovator. Having gotten his start in lutherie in the New England folk scene of the early 1960s, Rick became known for his forward-thinking modifications to electric guitars and basses played by members of the Grateful Dead. He later became a co-founder of Alembic and then started his own company, Rick Turner Guitars, becoming best known for his Model 1 electric guitar played by Lindsay Buckingham. Famous for his electric guitar and bass pickups, as well as his involvement with sound reinforcement equipment (going back to working with the Grateful Dead’s legendary “Wall of Sound”), Rick also became a pioneer in acoustic-electric amplification. Not only was he a co-founder of Highlander pickups and a partner in D-TAR, but his line of thin-body Renaissance guitars and basses were among the first electric instruments designed to offer hassle-free acoustic sound at stage volumes.
San Francisco Bay Area guitarist David Gans has used Rick Turner guitars since purchasing a Model 1 in 1981. A musician, music journalist, and radio host, David is also closely associated with the Grateful Dead. He has covered many of the Dead’s songs, is author of several books, and hosts the Grateful Dead Hour radio show. Since the beginning of the Covid lockdown, David has played a livestream show almost every day (check out the archive on his YouTube Channel, which includes a large collection of his live-looping performances).
David recently stopped by the Peghead Nation video studio to demo and discuss his 2022 Turner Renaissance Deuce, which is the third Renaissance he has owned. Built shortly after Rick’s passing, the guitar is a great example of the work being continued at the Rick Turner Guitars shop in Santa Cruz, California. Now operating under the leadership of Rick’s shop foreman Zack Jones, Rick Turner Guitars continues to build all of Rick’s classic models and is starting to introduce new instrument designs that follow Rick’s innovative spirit. David’s Renaissance Deuce includes both an undersaddle piezo pickup and a magnetic pickup, which can be blended for a wide range of acoustic and electric sounds. The guitar has a redwood top and sycamore back and sides, and other than a custom “David Gans” logo inlay in the fingerboard, it’s completely stock.
In this video, David talks about his friendship with Rick and demos the guitar through his live-looping pedalboard setup, which is centered around a Boss RC-30 Loop Station, an LR Baggs Venue preamp, and several other pedals.
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