35 axes, amps, effects, and accessories that’ll rock your rig

ZT Amplifiers Lunchbox Junior January 2013
Touring isn't getting cheaper. Nor are practice spaces, detached soundproofed homes, or vans for hauling a small army's worth of gear. Given these truths, compact gear is more interesting and essential, than ever. So we're thankful ZT Amplification keeps making ever-smaller and great-sounding amps. The Junior is so small you could stuff it in a suitcase with your socks and set off on a European tour without checking an extra bag. That kind of portability opens up a lot of gigging possibilities—all for the cost of a good stompbox. How could a working guitarist not be thrilled?

$149 street, ztamplifiers.com

When we editors at Premier Guitar decide what gear to review, our overarching guideline is pretty simple: Check out the stuff that you will find compelling and useful in your creative quest. We base that on both the constant feedback we get from you online (via email, Twitter, Facebook, etc.), as well as what we can intuit by reading between the lines of your requests and putting it in context with new stuff you may not have heard about yet. As a result we see a lot of really nice stuff.

So when one of our editors or contributors is struck by a convergence of value, quality, and sound that adds up to being Premier Gear worthy, it’s a safe bet we’re talking about something special. It’s fun and satisfying to encounter these especially excellent guitars, basses, amps, effects, and accessories—doubly so because so many of our award winners come from small shops and tiny bands of craftspeople who are in the same position many of the mainstream names you see alongside them were decades ago. There aren’t many industries out there where multimillion-dollar giants and little guys can share the spotlight, and we love being part of it.

Big or small, the manufacturers represented in this compendium of gear that’s won our coveted Premier Gear Award in 2013 have done very cool work. Some of it is traditional but superbly executed. Other pieces are here in no small part because their creators took chances. No matter the path, though, the end result is gear that sounds great. What you do with it is up to you and your imagination. But we’re quite confident the stellar products here will spark more than a few ideas.

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