An overachieving overdrive that gets way bigger than its name suggests.

Sweet balanced crunch tones. Dynamic. Sparkling, full, and clean at attenuated guitar volume. High-quality build.

Pretty expensive.

$249

Great Eastern FX Small Speaker Overdrive
greateasternfx.com

5
4.5
4.5
4

Overdrive pedals don’t often set my world alight—even great ones. But I’ve spent a month with the England-built Great Eastern FX Small Speaker Overdrive, and it remains attached to the other end of my coil-y cable. Ostensibly, the Small Speaker is meant to be a variation on the tweed-Fender-Champ-in-a-box theme. However, both the pedal’s name and the Champ associations fail to do justice to how large and alive it sounds and feels tethered to a bigger amp.


For one thing, the Small Speaker has more headroom and low-end ballast than a hot, wide-open tweed Champ. You can certainly summon the focus and midrange-y punch that makes that amp a star in front of a microphone. But thanks to the Small Speaker’s excellent EQ, you can also conjure a substantial measure of tuneful low end that is a perfect counterweight to its open, aerated highs and mids, and makes this little pedal a wrecking ball.

Small Speaker Overdrive with Rickenbacker 330, black-panel Fender Tremolux, Universal Audio OX with black-panel Fender Deluxe speaker emulation. Various combinations of EQ and gain with level between 1 and 2 o’clock. Guitar volume attenuation occurs at approximately 2:00 and 2:40.

The Small Speaker is also super dynamic. If you set the pedal up for a crunchy, high-gain setting, it gets much cleaner at attenuated guitar volumes—not sort of clean and thin, or slightly crunchy, but full-bodied and sparklingly clean. This characteristic, among many others, makes it a dream pairing for a black-panel Fender. I’ve had the black-panel Tremolux used for this review for decades. It’s flat-out my favorite amp. But in all that time, I don’t ever remember it sounding quite as sweetly crunchy as it does when hooked up to the Small Speaker Overdrive. What an impressive little pedal.

Luxe looks and a sweet playing feel make this Squier an anniversary edition worth celebrating.

Slinky playability. Very nice construction quality. An attractive, celebratory mash-up of Fender style elements.

Neck feels slightly generic.

$599

Squier 40th Anniversary Stratocaster
fender.com

4.5
4.5
4

Premier Guitar doesn’t often review anniversary edition instruments—most of them being marketing exercises in disguise. But the Squier 40th Anniversary Stratocaster genuinely seems to embody much about where Squier has been and the reliable source for quality, affordable, and, yes, beautiful guitars they have become.

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Marty Stuart

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My years-long search for the “right” Bigsby-outfitted box finally paid off. Now how do I make this sumbitch work in my band?

Considering the amount of time I’ve spent (here and elsewhere) talking about and lusting after Gretsch hollowbody guitars, it’s taken me a remarkably long time to end up with a big Bigsby-outfitted box I truly love. High-end Gretsches are pricey enough that, for a long time, I just couldn’t swing it. Years ago I had an Electromatic for a while, and it looked and played lovely, but didn’t have the open, blooming acoustic resonance I hoped for. A while later, I reviewed the stellar Players Edition Broadkaster semi-hollow, and it was so great in so many ways that I set my sights on it, eventually got one, and adore it to this day. Yet the full-hollowbody lust remained.

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