Hordes of great guitars, basses, amps, stompboxes, and accessories came through our doors this year, but these specimens caught our eyes, ears, and wallets with their exceptional performance, tone, and value.
Visual Sound V3 H2O (September)
While it would have been easy enough for Visual Sound to stick a delay and a chorus in a single box and ratchet up the price in the name of some imagined utility, the V3 H2O emerged as an award winner, in part, for how beautifully it integrated the two effects. Joe Charupakorn found the digital delay section warm and clear, and the chorus capable of thick Leslie sounds and gentle shimmers alike. Given that he also found the sum of the two greater than the individual parts, it’s no surprise that V3 H20 got top marks for value, as well.
$179 street, visualsound.net
A year’s worth of gear at Premier Guitar adds up to a whole lot of wood, wire, silicon, germanium, aluminum, and steel. It also makes up a whole universe of musical possibilities, which is what strikes us as we look back on the Premier Gear Award winners for 2014. From luxurious acoustics to ridiculously buttery-sounding amps and furiously frantic vintage-style fuzzes, there are almost infinite sounds to be extracted from this roster of favorites.
As always, you’ll see the full spectrum of manufacturers represented, too—from garage circuit tweakers to industry giants. And apart from the beautiful sounds that you’re likely to extract from these instruments of expression, that diversity among builders might be the thing that makes this industry so fun and special. We all share the joy, ecstasy, emotion, and rush of creation that music brings. And from these 43 award-winning guitars, pedals, amps, audio interfaces, and accessories, we expect y’all will brew up more than a little magic in the years to come. Happy music making, and enjoy the ride.