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August Issue
more... GearGear Award 2009

2009 Premier Gear Awards


Fresh Approach
Many of the world’s best guitars were created 50+ years ago, and following in those footsteps is undoubtedly a noble pursuit. However, significantly modernizing the instrument through materials, technology and ingenuity deserves recognition as well. For breaking new ground—and doing it well— we award these pioneers.

Acme Tone ShaperAcme ToneShaper

The ToneShaper from Acme Guitar Works is an electronics package that puts an abundance of Strat wiring mods into your guitar simultaneously. While these mods are nothing new, the approach certainly is. Reviewer Kenny Rardin remarks, “It looks like this may take me out of the Strat modding business altogether. It’s simply amazing.”
Street $129.95
acmeguitarworks.com
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Ibanez Tube King TK999HTFender Road Worn ‘50s Telecaster

While others were bringing forth the future, Fender was also bringing forth the past. New old-looking guitars have been around for a while, but it’s generally been an expensive affair. The Road Worn Series guitars (May 2009) took the concept to the masses by putting quality instruments with convincing aging in the hands of players at prices many more could afford. Say what you will about the aesthetics of a deliberately worn-out guitar, the neck feel of a real vintage Fender and classic Tele voice made this one a winner in our book. Reviewer Jordan Wagner summed it up this way: “Once in a while, you come across a particular guitar that exemplifies a model you’ve played what seems like a million times—one that rises above the others of its kind and truly enchants you. This Telecaster was one of those instruments.”
Street $949
fender.com

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Flaxwood Liekki
Flaxwood Liekki

Flaxwood Guitars is a Finnish company who uses injection molding and a mix of wood particles and a binding agent to produce guitars with extraordinary resonance that are free of moisture-related problems. The Liekki (June 2009) is their hollow-bodied P-90 model. It earned a Premier Gear award for its exceptional neck and playability, and broad tonal palette. Said reviewer Pat Smith, “I have played guitars many times the cost of these that can’t touch them for playability, fit or finish. The sound is good and versatile, and the neck is probably the best feeling neck I’ve ever had my hands on.”
MSRP $3093 (fixed bridge); $3296 (tremolo)
flaxwood.com

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Ibanez Tube King TK999HTVoyage-Air VAOM-1C

Travel guitars have been done in a number of different ways. Master luthier Harvey Leach’s approach is to make a high-end acoustics that just happen to fold. The Voyage-Air (January 2009) is the result. The guitar is a solid-wood, OM-style that folds at the neck joint to fit in a backpack-style case. Reviewer Gayla Drake Paul summed up the expertly executed concept: “The more compact and self-contained we artists can be, the easier our lives get and the fewer expenses we have. It’s a beautiful equation, and the bonus points are that this is a fantastically good guitar that sounds, plays and feels like one of the best factory made guitars out there.”
MSRP $1695
voyageairguitar.com

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