Score one for the indomitable power of music! Had you done little in 2012 apart from fret over the bells tolling doom for the economy, you might have expected the halls of Winter NAMM 2013 in Anaheim, California, to be strewn with dust and tumbleweeds. But as the Premier Guitar staff ’s harried schedule and oft-out-of-breath greetings to company reps proved, the truth—at least in the realm of guitar gear—was something rather different. Winter NAMM was, in fact, teeming with new gear and happy hawkers of guitars, basses, pedals, amplifiers, and accessories. And there were plenty of companies doing anything but playing it safe, too.

Pedal offerings from Z.Vex, Electro-Harmonix, Eventide, and garage-builders like Electro Faustus showcased inventive, bold wares that speak volumes about the musical boundlessness of the guitar. High-gain amps were plentiful, too, suggesting that players are still itching to tear it up loud and proud outside the confines of the bedroom. Old-school looks and sounds were strongly represented, too: One had to look no further than Magnatone’s triumphant return, or to guitars like Gibson’s gorgeous and numerous Custom Shop offerings, to appreciate the enduring sonic and stylistic power of the classics.

There was a lot to take in at NAMM, so we were pretty gassed by show’s end. But each of us came away invigorated by the ample evidence that the creative spirit that drives musicians and instrument builders is very much alive and inexhaustible—and that the goods they’ll make available in the year to come will doubtlessly stoke your own creative fires.