The end of 2011 is looming near and it’s that time where we take a look at the movers and shakers in guitar gear this year. This is out of the ordinary for EDGG; normally we’re looking at guitar rigs rather than individual products themselves. However, now may be just the time to expand our horizons. Then again, I could be writing this because I’ve still got wrapping to do and therefore want to avoid too much wordy prose. Either way, let us know where you think EDGG should be headed in 2012 and we’ll see what we can do. Until then, may all your Christmas/new year-related dreams come true.
Here are the EDGG picks for five categories which may or may not be helpful in terms of actually buying gear or even playing guitar. Still, hopefully they demonstrate how exciting 2011 has been in the guitar world and make you ponder just what these companies will think up next.
Potentially revolutionary product: Antares ATG-6 Auto-Tune for Guitar
I know what you’re thinking. Auto-tune is for tuneless R&B singers and therefore the scourge of the industry, right? Well, Antares happen to think that it has its place for guitarists and with good reason: it can provide instant capo access, alternate tunings and, most importantly, perfect intonation across the neck. Just imagine how much time you could save when recording and playing live. LOADS. Watch the video below and prepare to be suitably amazed.
Most desirable cutting-edge guitar: Fret-King Super-matic
Although I’m very “with it” when it comes to guitars, I’m still a traditionalist with regards to the appearance of the instrument itself. No matter how many times Gibson try to shove their ridiculous new creations in my face, I’m never going to be able to get past those aesthetics. How fortunate, then, that Trevor Wilkinson and his Fret-King buddies have created this, the Fret-King Super-matic. It’s the first guitar to feature Wilkinson’s ATD HT440 self-tuning hard tail guitar bridge but it also treads an expertly-judged line between classic and contemporary in the looks department, with “Zebra” humbuckers and a delicious sunburst finish. Trev also seems like a stand-up “pint down the pub” bloke too.
Best baby amp: Blackstar HT-1(R)
I thought I’d found a happy medium between onstage and practice amps with my 30 watt valve combo, but recently I’ve found myself wanting something where I don’t have to delicately position the volume knob so as to avoid blowing the neighbours away. Enter the Blackstar HT-1(R): 1 watt of pure Blackstar tone at a volume everyone can enjoy, especially thanks to its speaker emulated output. It recently won Music Radar’s award for best guitar amp this year and it’s easy to see and hear why. A very tempting purchase for 2012, especially when priced below the £200 mark.
Most amp heads in a gear tour video: Yngwie Malmsteen
This rig rundown, courtesy of Premier Guitar, also has the potential to win any number of other awards. Most ostentatious guitar straps. Best reason for owning a red guitar. Most superfluous Fuzz Face. Still, with 36 fully-functional heads and 22 cabinets onstage every night, Yngwie’s “Wall of Marshalls” must be every roadie’s nightmare and is therefore worthy of this award, if only for their sake. That’s not to knock Yngwie’s gear of course; the Marshall YJM100 has a number of desirable and surprisingly practical innovations inside and is therefore well worth a look.
Most specific-use effects pedal: Earthquaker Devices Rainbow Machine
You know when you need a pedal to make that seasick, alien B-movie oscillation sound? No? Oh. Well, the Earthquaker Devices Rainbow Machine also does some other stuff, as erstwhile ProGuitarShop gear demo god Andy attempts to demonstrate below. It’s got slapback delay! It does a passable chorus! It’s MAGIC! Okay, perhaps I’m being overly harsh but who cares: this thing looks so awesome it can sound however the hell it wants.