PG Editors pick their top gear from Musikmesse '14. See all of our Musikmesse coverage here.
Poland-born, Berlin-based luthier Nick Page creates ultra-high-end, one-of-a-kind custom instruments. His designs boast unique and exquisite detailing, yet they have a worn-in, well-loved feel. We lusted after his three new semi-hollowbody models: Blitz, with its Charlie Christian neck pickup (beneath a humbucker cover), a bridge PAF, and a customized Duesenberg trem; Ida Marie, a paisley-patterned beauty with a maple ply top, bird’s eye maple neck, and dual humbuckers; and Le Sabre, with its etched metal pickguard, dual humbuckers, and modded Duesenberg trem. Page winds all his own pickups.
BluGuitar Amp 1
Thomas Blug, creator of some of Hughes & Kettner’s best products, has gone solo with his BluGuitar line. He knocked us out at Musikmesse 2014 with Amp 1, a four-channel, 100-watt amp head that looks like a small multi-effect pedal. Employing much novel circuitry—and a single micro-sized Russian tube—the tiny floor unit summoned fat, full tones the belied its modest size.
Alvarez Elite Masterworks Series
Alvarez introduced several new high-end acoustic guitars from their Elite Masterworks series at Musikmesse 2014. We dug the Blues Elite BE70SB (far right), a pretty and petite acoustic with a true carved top of AA Sitka spruce, a one-piece mahogany neck, Indian rosewood back and sides, flamed maple binding, hand-carved bracing, a bi-level ebony bridge, and lovely pearl and abalone inlays. Another beaut was the MGA70E (top), a grand auditorium-sized model with an AA Sitka spruce top, East Indian rosewood back and sides, a mahogany neck, and many attractive appointments. Another AA Sitka/rosewood beauty, the BE70CE (lower left), features a single cutaway.
Hagstrom Northern Super Swede
Sweden’s Hagstom resurrected a classic bass at Musikmesse 2014. The Northern Super Swede reproduces the instrument that Abba’s Rutger Gunnarsson played on such hits as “Dancing Queen.” When we say it’s a neck-through model, we mean it: A single slab of mahogany runs from headstock to bridge, surrounded by double-cutaway mahogany wings. The pickups are hand-wound J-types by Lundgren.
Aalberg Audio Ekko & Aero
Norway’s Aalberg Audio previewed a cool crowd-funded delay pedal at Musikmesse 2014. It’s comprised of two components: Ekko, a digital delay stompbox with light meters to denote the delay time, feedback, and mix settings, and Aero, a small, ergonomic wireless controller that can be clip-mounted on your guitar, belt, or wherever. Aero’s push/pull pot lets you set tempo by tapping, scroll through effect parameters, and enter values. It’s the first in a planned series of remote-controllable effects.
TV Jones Brian Setzer Signature Pickups
TV Jones has been winding pickups for Brian Setzer for 20 years, but has only now released a Brian Setzer signature model, which debuted at Musikmesse 2014. It’s descended from the Gretsch Filter’Tron, but features a new pole screw alloy and what Jones describes as a “more over the top” sound. It’s a sonic knockout with crackling transients and airy highs that never seem harsh, and a fat bottom end to anchor that brightness. It sounds stunning through an overdriven amp, where the bold treble response maintains definition even as you slather on the gain.