They say imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. In the gear world, however, emulation rather than imitation is often a more challenging form of appreciation. It takes a lot to produce something that emulates a classic piece of gear and that stands up not as a copy, but as an equal. Below are the best classic gear emulators of 2009.

Soultone 1986ps
Soultone Amplification 1986ps SuperPlexi

At some point, just about every amp maker tries to achieve the qualities of the famous Marshall guitar amps from the ’60s and ’70s. Yet not that many have attempted the Marshall Bass head, which by some accounts is one of the most underrated amps around. Soultone Amps began to change that with the introduction of its 1986ps SuperPlexi (May 2009). “Soultone has taken the iconic nature and characteristics of this sound and created their own interpretation, rife with new features and impeccable craftsmanship,” wrote reviewer Jordan Wagner, who spent way too much time standing in front this “raging, healthy British tube monster.”
Price $2199
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Way Huge Swollen PickleWay Huge Swollen Pickle Jumbo Fuzz MKII

Jeorge Tripps was a legend before his time. The original creator of Way Huge pedals back in 1992, Tripps sailed off into the sunset at the arrival of the boutique effects boom of the late ‘90s, only to be recently reawakened through the help of gear pioneer Jim Dunlop. The Swollen Pickle Jumbo Fuzz MKII pedal is … well, a reincarnation of itself, but only better! It was the cream of the Way Huge crop in the early 1990s, and the new version (marked MKII) is very much worthy of all comparisons to its legendary predecessor—with a few improvements. Reviewer Jordan Wagner (January 2009) raved, “The Swollen Pickle MKII has all of the punch of the original, and a massive tonal range. There is a very hi-fi quality to this pedal, but in a surprisingly musical way.”
Street $150

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OohLaLa Soda-MeiserOohLaLa Soda-Meiser

OohLaLa Manufacturing’s Soda-Meiser fuzz pedal (July 2009) is more than just your usual environmentally safe electronic creation. “Fans of big, fuzzed-out stoner rock sound will love the Soda-Meiser,” said our reviewer, Brian Barr. It lets you dial in your favorite Big Muff-type fuzz, but it also provides a boost and a “chaos” mode that turns the Soda-Meiser into a tiny purveyor of “sonic cruelty.” To top it off, it’s eco-friendly, being hand-built using lead-free solder, and hand-painted using water-soluble inks. I mean, what more could you want?
MSRP $225

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Elrick Expat Series New Jazz StandardElrick Expat Series New Jazz Standard

Built in the Czech Republic from US components, with close attention to detail and well appointed with elegant touches and thoughtful improvements on a classic archetype, Elrick’s New Jazz Standard (September 2009) rose above a crowded field of variations on the famous predecessor to win praise from reviewer Dan Berkowitz for quality, playability and tone. As he put it, “takes a longstanding design in the bass world—a contoured body and sleek neck with a pair of singlecoil pickups—and brings it into the new millennium.”
Street $2199

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