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.
EarthQuaker Devices Arrows (November)
Considering all the tone-mangling tools that emerge from EarthQuaker’s lab, it was almost shocking to see them debut a box of such flawlessly simple functionality and utility. But the Arrows booster takes a Premier Gear award in no small part because of an elegant usability that translates effortlessly into livelier tones. Given EQD’s knack for fantastic fuzz, it was no surprise how beautifully the Arrows enhanced fuzz tones, but what really struck us was how it made almost every amp, guitar, bass, and keyboard we tried it with jump with a little something extra. Whether it’s a touch of clean boost, or a little extra presence you need, Arrows hits the mark.
$95 street, earthquakerdevices.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.