Artist Spotlight: Craig Bartock

Over the years, Craig Bartock has appeared on stage and in the studio with some of the biggest names in music. The producer, songwriter, and guitarist has played with Blondie, Tiny Arena, Seal, Simply Red, and Brandy, but is perhaps known best as the guitarist for legendary rock band Heart. With a career spanning three decades it is safe to say that Heart has used many different guitar sounds for many different platinum-selling albums. But when they’re on the road, Craig Bartock only needs one guitar: Variax 600.

Craig harnesses the versatility of Variax 600 on stage with Heart to cover the many different points of their career. From their early songs that featured banjo to the humbucker-driven guitar riffs of the 80s, every facet of Heart’s guitar tone is covered. Thanks to Variax 600, Heart fans can hear the exact guitar sounds that were featured on the albums without making any sacrifices. "With the Variax I can have 3 or 4 preset sounds all within the same song setup," explains Craig, "It is only possible now to play these songs like they are on the record. Being able to switch for 12 or 16 bars to a 12-string is an amazing thing." The guitar models that Crag uses the most in Variax are Lester, Spank, 12-String, and Banjo.

When Craig first introduced the Banjo model to the band during a rehearsal, jaws hit the floor. "The banjo model never fails to get that look like, 'he's playing guitar but a banjo sound is coming out of it,'" remembers Craig, "The first time I did it Ann (Wilson) did such a double-take…to see an electric guitar and hear such an amazing banjo sound…it sounds light years better than the real thing." Craig also used Variax 600 for a project of his own.

Craig’s new solo album The Finer Points of Instinct, recently debuted to rave reviews. All instruments, vocals, and production was done by Craig except for "September" which was co-written by Nancy Wilson. said that, "Bartock's songs are a mix of the pure and the predatory, the struggle to see what’s beautiful in a world that isn't." And says, "Know when you put on an album and in about 10 seconds you know you are going to love it? Well, consider Craig Bartock's The Finer Points of Instinct one of those albums." The album was done using mostly Variax 600 for the guitar sounds, except for "September" which featured Nancy on a "little old mandolin. Craig says, "Variax is all the sounds that everyone grew up with all incorporated into this one guitar. It's very, very cool."

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