Fair or not, New Jersey is the butt of 90 percent of the jokes made about the eastern US—from jabs at the oft-unintelligible accent we associate with its residents to cracks about the stomach-turning inanity of MTV’sJersey Shoreand its frighteningly clueless subjects, and references to the Mob and the number of corpses floating in the Hudson River. Which is probably why the organizers of the NY Amp Show fudge the facts a bit and name it after the nearby city whose image has a lot more going for it.

Monikers aside, the Piscataway, New Jersey, gathering has something pretty cool to offer guitar-gear junkies. Held June 4th and 5th in a bunch of rooms on the first and second floors of the Embassy Suites hotel on Centennial Avenue, the NY Amp Show brings together some of the most notable boutique-amp builders in the business, in addition to several up-and-coming amp designers and even a few representatives from big-name companies. You’ll even find a few effects outfits and guitar and bass luthiers renting out rooms for the show in a smart attempt to offer attendees a respite from all the blaring combos and half-stacks.

This year, traffic at the amp fest was more subdued than in past years, but that didn’t make the wares any less compelling. Smaller, low-wattage heads and combos that are easy to transport continued to be a popular platform, but there were also plenty of more powerful heads and cabs of varying configurations, in addition to the occasional 3x10 combo.

Here we highlight some of the most eye- and ear-grabbing products from the only “situation” in Jersey that a gear aficionado should consider wasting his or her time on. Oh, and be sure to check out our stash of video demos from the show.

Fractal Audio’s new Axe-Fx II has twice the processing power of the previous version. Its dual processors enabled the Fractal team to start from square one with new amp models that feature an unprecedented level of granularity. It also features all-new USB recording capabilities and new low-noise 1/4" inputs and outputs.

As one of the planet’s premier speaker suppliers, Celestion (celestion.com) is one of the regular amp show exhibitors that has to sit back patiently and hope you remember that its products, though hidden inside cabinets, are integral to the stellar tones you’re hearing from their enviable collection of demo amps. One of the most newsworthy of these amps was the new Komet Songwriter 30. Based on the very last Trainwreck amp design from the legendary Ken Fischer, it features four cathode-biased EL84s and a solid-state rectifier, and was designed by Fischer to sound amazing with current-production parts rather than new-old-stock.

Long a favorite supplier of cabs for the budget-conscious tone connoisseur, Avatar wasn’tofficiallydisplaying its new 18-watt, handwired EL84 head at the show, but their pals at Celestion brought one along as a favor. We dug its old-school British tones through a 2x12 loaded with George Lynch’s new signature Lynchback speakers.