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Gear Award 2024

Smooth-as-satin playability and exacting construction make this accessibly priced slope-shouldered dread an understated star.

Super excellent playability and neck feel. Tip-top quality for the price. Beautiful Grand Pacific shape. Excellent value.

Harder strumming can overemphasize midrange.

$899

4
5
5
5

Though I’ve never owned a Taylor from the affordable end of their price spectrum, they have brought me a lot of joy and inspiration over the years. My encounters with GS Minis and 100-series dreads whilst lounging on friend’s porches and tour host’s living rooms have inspired little riffs that became more elaborate things over time—all born from a casual hang with a flattop that was fun to hold, easy to play, and sounded sweet enough that I didn’t want to ditch the conversation.

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Slash onstage with Guns N’ Roses, backed by a fleet of glowing Magnatone M-80 amps, the inspiration for his current signature model, the SL-100.

Photo by CQPhotographer

The guitar icon revisits his roots with a feral 6-string rager featuring guests Billy Gibbons, Gary Clark Jr., Chris Stapleton, Brian Johnson, Steven Tyler, Beth Hart, Demi Lovato, and others. His guests onstage for the accompanying S.E.R.P.E.N.T. Festival tour will be a rotating cast of the Warren Haynes Band, Keb’ Mo’, Christone “Kingfish” Ingram, Robert Randolph, Larkin Poe, Eric Gales, ZZ Ward, Samantha Fish, and Jackie Venson.

Many of us have been transfixed by Jimi Hendrix’s acoustic 12-string performance of “Hear My Train A Comin’,” in the 1973 documentary A Film About Jimi Hendrix. Including Slash. But Slash, being Slash, took it a step further.

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Six classic dirt circuits are paired across three pedals with recombinant drive and EQ sections, yielding many unexpected sounds.

The BB and OC circuits both sound excellent in standard mode. Hybrid sounds are intriguing and expansive.

Sometimes requires a fair bit of knob twiddling when moving between drive modes.

$199

Keeley Electronics Blues Disorder
robertkeeley.com

5
5
4
4.5

Anyone aware of Robert Keeley’s knack for marrying timeless circuits to contemporary functionality knows the sense of anticipation when he decides to take on another classic. In the case of the pedals reviewed here, however, Keeley didn’t take on a single pedal. Instead, these three stomps from the new 4-in-1 Series each combine two classic circuits and then add the ability to use the clipping and EQ sections from each interchangeably. In many cases, these recombinations lead to untapped potential and unexpected sounds.

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When is an overdrive more than an overdrive? When it touches on distortion and fuzz as well.

Wide range of dirty tones. Touches on the fuzz spectrum.

Can’t use boost circuit on its own.

$269

Silktone Overdrive+
silktone.org

4.5
4.5
5
4


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A well-ordered and intuitive means to octave fuzz disorder, in many shapes and colors.

Great basic, focused fuzz tone. Intuitive if you’re open-minded. Lots of surprises. Nice design. High-quality construction.

None

$225

Death By Audio Octave Clang
deathbyaudio.com

5
4.5
4.5
4

Every instrument is a tool for expressing feeling. But when you have to convey a certain range of emotions spanning anguish, the rush of sonic anarchy, and the exhilaration of total liberation, octave fuzzes are tops. Generally speaking, octave fuzz isn’t an effect you use casually.

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