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2009 Premier Gear Awards


Tone Enhancers
In the relentless pursuit of tone, we often review the kinds of gear that many wouldn’t consider a major element in the construction of a killer sound, but as gearheads it’s part of our credo that great tone means taking nothing for granted—whether it’s a part of the signal chain whose job is to improve performance without being heard, a device to make everything easier, or just an upgrade to squeeze the very last bit of tone goodness from the rig, these enhancers have earned our admiration.

Lehle Sunday DriverLehle Sunday Driver

One of the newest devices from Germany’s wizard of switchery, the Sunday Driver (Augus 2009) is a compact preamp that operates as either a buffer or a booster. Struck by the difference it made in the clarity and definition of his signal, reviewer Brian Barr had this to say: “At first, I couldn’t believe my ears, so I plugged my guitar directly into the amp. To my surprise, the notes just sounded dead by comparison with the unmodified signal boost provided by the Sunday Driver.” Although he lamented the lack of a footswitch to toggle between the two modes, he had no problem with the lack of a bypass. After hearing what it can do, he concluded, “there would be no reason to turn it off.”
Street $190
lehle.com

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Lehle D.Loop SGoSLehle D.Loop SGoS

A member of Burkhard Georg Lehle’s second generation of switchers (SGoS), the D.Loop (August 2009) impressed us with its silent performance and supremel ease of use. Fully MIDI compatible and syncable with other Lehle switchers, the D.Loop also provides In/Out and two separate Send/Returns, three separate, fully programmable switches and a buffer with +12dB of boost. Reviewer Brian Barr found it so versatile and easy to program as to be “an indispensible switcher for any guitarist’s pedalboard setup.”
Street $370
lehle.com

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Floyd Upgrade Big Block TremFloyd Upgrade “Big Block” Floyd Rose Tremolo

Noting the resurgence of the hot-rod guitar, and with it the Floyd Rose tremolo system’s return to popularity, we took a look at Adam Reiver’s Floyd-enhancing “Big Block” (February 2009), a 42mm tremolo sustain block made of high-grade bell brass. Calling it the “best upgrade you can add to a Floyd-equipped guitar,” reviewer Gerry Ganaden found it installed without great difficulty and required only a few minor adjustments—and the results were impressive: greater volume and more pronounced sustain and resonance, as well as a more articulate, less trebly tone. Those results made it an easy-to-recommend enhancement for anyone looking to get more out of a Floyd-equipped hot rod.
Street $32.95 (and up)
floydupgrades.com
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