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.
Rivera Venus Deux (August)
The 25-watt, 6V6-driven Venus Deux will inevitably draw comparisons to the legendary Fender Deluxe. But as Shawn Hammond found out, it’s packed with secret weapons like the focus function and notch control that can transform the amp profoundly. Hammond also discovered that the Venus Deux has a way of sounding larger than life, observing that with “presence and focus cranked, the Venus can blaze so hard you’ll have other guitarists rubbing their eyes in disbelief.”
$1,499 street, rivera.com
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.