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.
Stomp Under Foot Hellephant (September)
Messing with the classic silicon Fuzz Face circuit is tricky business. It’s flawed, less than user-friendly, and demands a certain patient curiosity—but it yields spectacular results when used right. We gave Stomp Under Foot’s Hellephant a Premier Gear award for all the ways that it tames some of the silicon Fuzz Face’s most unruly characteristics while retaining the classic’s touch and volume sensitivity—and for how it adds a cholesterol-rich dollop of extra gain. It may be a touch too contemporary for hardcore Fuzz Face purists, but more open-minded players will revel in its abundant fuzzy potential.
$155 street, stompunderfoot.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.