Some guitarists just have it all. Brad Paisley, for one. The guy has figured out how to juggle his unabashed guitar geekiness with his enormous commercial success as a mainstream country star. Paisley moved to Nashville in 1993 with a full scholarship to attend Belmont University‘s music business program. Within a week of graduating college, he inked his first songwriting contract. Today, the prolific artist has almost released an album every year since his first in 1999.
Paisley rolled the dice big-time when he recorded 2008′s Play, a mostly instrumental guitar album. Sure, it disinterested the average country radio fan, but it hasn’t dulled his popularity. Instead, Paisley won major kudos from the guitar community. Among those tracks, which showed off Paisley’s technical prowess, there was even a No. 1 hit—a duet with fellow Nashvillian Keith Urban called “Start a Band.” Other bigwig guitarists included on the album were B.B. King, Albert Lee, James Burton, Brent Mason and Vince Gill. After getting that out of his system, Paisley got right back to crooning, continuing on with 2009′s American Saturday Night, which produced his fourteenth No. 1 hit on Billboard’s Country Albums chart.
Paisley has long played custom Fender Telecasters and Tele-inspired models courtesy of Crook Custom Guitars. Most all the guitars in his rig are outfitted with his trademark paisley décor. The Nashville Flood of 2010 hit Paisley hard, sinking most all of his road guitars, amps and effects under three feet of water. Luckily his main guitar—a red ’68 Tele named “Old Pink”—remained safe and dry. Check out Brad playing a gorgeous Stratocaster in his 2009 video “She’s Everything“.