Another year, another dazzling parade of pedals, guitars, amps, modelers, and accessories that made our noggins spin.

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Fractal Audio Systems AX8

Fractal Audio System’s rackmount Axe-Fx units awakened many players to the possibilities of digitally modeled amps, cabinets, and effects. The AX8 puts Fractal’s realistic modeling technology into the pedalboard format and provides plenty of juice for most applications. The ruggedly built unit sounds stellar, and if you invest the effort to get acquainted with this open-ended device, you’re likely to be inspired.

$1,299 street
fractalaudio.com

Click here to read the full review

This year’s Premier Gear Award winners are, as usual, an eclectic set—full of old-school vintage homage, leading-edge digital developments, and imaginative meetings of those worlds. Dig in and dig it as we revisit the gear that fired the enthusiasm and wonder of our editors and contributors in 2017.

"I don’t like any type of art that has to be explained."

Photo by Scott Friedlander

The profoundly prolific guitarist leads his band of tricksters through a surrealist sonic exploration of deep, esoteric rhythms and intricate interplay on Thisness.

On his new album Thisness, Miles Okazaki is credited as playing guitar, voice, and robots. If you imagine that the reference to robots is some sort of artsy kitsch—like trapping a Roomba Robot Vacuum into a tight space to sample its struggles as it percussively barrels into the four walls—you’re very far off the mark. Okazaki—who has an elite academic pedigree with degrees from Harvard, Manhattan School of Music, and Julliard, and currently holds a faculty position at Princeton University (after leaving a post at the University of Michigan, to which he commuted weekly from his home in Brooklyn for eight years)—wasn’t kidding.

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See a sampling of picks used by famous guitarists over the years.

Marty Stuart

Submit your own artist pick collections to rebecca@premierguitar.com for inclusion in a future gallery.

How does a legacy artist stay on top of his game? The pianist, hit singer-songwriter, producer, and composer talks about the importance of musical growth and positive affirmation; his love for angular melodicism; playing jazz, pop, classical, bluegrass, jam, and soundtrack music; and collaborating with his favorite guitarists, including Pat Metheny and Jerry Garcia.

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