Guitars

A supreme shredder’s signature 6-string dazzles with versatility.

This immaculately built guitar sounds great and can do it all.

The more affordable price is still out of reach for many guitarists

$2,799

Charvel MJ San Dimas SD24 CM
charvel.com

5
5
4.5
4.5

Charvel’s first Guthrie Govan signature model was released in 2014, after an arduous two-year effort to get the design just right. Since then, the guitar—now in its second edition—has become one of Charvel’s most coveted models. Unfortunately, its $3,699 price keeps the U.S.-made axe out of reach for many.

This year, though, the company released the Made-in-Japan signature MJ San Dimas SD24 CM, which sells for a slightly more manageable $2,799. Needless to say, that’s not cheap. But depending on your priorities, it’s a fair price for a very high quality, pro-level instrument.

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A triangle-style Muff homage dishes white-hot sounds alongside unexpected fuzz shapes and colors.

Screaming classic Muff tones and fuzz surprises throughout the gain range. Thoughtful, imaginative build. Looks awesome.

Fans of smooth, Sovtek-style maximum saturation might find max-gain settings relatively harsh.

$309

Wren and Cuff The Good One
wrenandcuff.com

5
5
4.5
4

A vintage circuit detective’s life isn’t exactly that of a Benedictine monk. But to decode what makes vintage Big Muffs tick, you inevitably give away many hours of your life. For Matt Holl’s part in this sacrifice, players can reliably experience choice and unique vintage Muff tones in the form of his well-built and often vintage-handsome Wren and Cuff pedals. Holl fully embraces the idiosyncrasies in Big Muffs, and the potential of those quirks. His Forest Through The Trees (formerly known as the De La Riva), for example, employs 20 DIP switches for moving between gain transistors, clipping diodes, biasing, and just about every other component in the circuit. The Garbage Face, meanwhile, creatively replicates the drifting and very irregular component values in J Mascis’ original Ram’s Head Muff. Each pedal reflects Holl’s understanding that old Big Muffs are individuals, and that the key to a pedal’s appeal can lurk in unexpected places.

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New bracing and pickups make this mid-priced take on a Gretsch classic a lively and engaging inspiration machine.

Smooth playability on par with much more expensive instruments. Airy, open pickup sounds with lots of clean-to-mean latitude.

Blue finish is pretty but thick in spots. Vintage sticklers might miss some old-school Filter’Tron bite.

$799

Gretsch G5420T
gretschguitars.com

4.5
4
5
4

Though big hollowbodies like the Gretsch G6120 are beautiful and an essential ingredient in countless classic records, they can be a tricky playing experience for the uninitiated. Navigable fretboard space is limited by solidbody standards. Big bodies can feel bulky. They’re sometimes feedback prone in high-volume situations, too. Consequently, I’ve watched many solidbody-oriented chums who rarely play hollowbodies handle a big Gretsch with the baffled look of a spacefarer deciphering an alien tongue.

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Ola Englund’s merry band of guitar builders serve up an affordable shred gem.

A killer, ultra-playable guitar with top components at a nice price.

The EverTune bridge and Fluence Modern pickups are very niche-specific components that could turn some players off.

$1.349

Solar GC1.6AFAB
solar-guitars.com

5
4.5
4.5
4.5

Ola Englund, YouTube sensation and guitarist for the Haunted and Feared, started Solar Guitars, his own line of high-quality instruments, in 2017. The company is based in Sant Gregori, Spain, and their guitars are made in Indonesia. But as the marvelously decked-out GC1.6AFAB reviewed here reveals, this collaborative formula is yielding killer results at relatively affordable prices.

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