Age of Irony: A Day/Year in the Life of PG’s Pedal Issue

Is Alanis Morissette about to collaborate with Harley Flanagan, or am I just flying high on Delta-variant wings?

Believe me, the irony of writing what I'm about to write after my previous column called out "Guitardom's Biggest Crybaby" is not lost on me. As we once again put the final touches on our annual Pedal Issue—a mammoth effort stacked with 25 reviews of killer new stomps from both biggies and underdogs—I decided to take a look at how I commemorated the big event last year. In that little ditty ("This World Sucks, So I Made My Own"), I mentioned how the process had been complicated not just by the then-new pandemic wreaking havoc on the industry, but also by both a freak storm here at PG headquarters and a Mad Max-esque wildfire situation for PG staffers based in California.


How rich, then, that a year later we—collectively—are yet again on our heels from the hip new Delta variant and a crapload of new fires all over the world. (Apparently John F. Malta, artist for this year's super-neato Pedal Issue cover, was feeling the same vibes, too!) Meanwhile, all the humans in my household are recovering from one mother of a virus. We're all vaccinated and tests say it's not COVID, but maybe they're false negatives? Either way, it's the shittiest we've felt in a decade, and only a fraction of the OTC meds we've been downing seem to do any good. After a couple weeks of tissue-filled garbage cans and a chorus of ungodly nose-blowing and hacking coughs, we're finally kind of on the mend, but my sinuses are still so clogged and my brain so sleep deprived I can hardly put words together in any semblance of sense. Hell, I don't even know if any of this is truly textbook irony or whether I'm just mucus-musing, Alanis Morissette-style, to the tune of a nonexistent Cro-Mags album.

Point is, my perception of things might be just slightly colored by my own misery, but it seems to me the world still kinda sucks—probably a helluva a lot more than we thought it would this time last year. But hey, at least we still have pedals!

I don't even know if any of this is truly textbook irony or whether I'm just mucus-musing, Alanis Morissette-style, to the tune of a nonexistent Cro-Mags album.

And that's no sass either, friend. Sure, PG crewmembers still lurching toward deadline might read some sarcasm into the statement. But it truly is a testament to our resilience as a community, as a species, that we've somehow managed to come up with so many mesmerizing stompboxes and make ever-cooler music with them, despite the state of things.

I personally got my first-ever whacks at three pedal brands I'd never really played before—one from an industry heavyweight, two from tiny outfits—and each took me by ever-so-pleasant surprise. Call me shallow … or maybe say I'm setting the bar low … or whatever, but hey, if I can derive a few hours of somnambulistic sonic pleasure as the world around me/us seems to fall further into the pot, then that's a win in my book. (Granted, again, it probably isn't quite textbook material.)

Rest assured, once my head is cleared, I'll have better perspective on all this. In the meantime, all I can say is—get your jabs (vaccinations), mates. A snot-filled week is better than dead. And it's your best chance to witness the next batch of ear-tantalizing pedals come this time next year.

Made in Canada, this two-voice guitar features a chambered Mahogany body, carved Swamp Ash top, 25.5” scale Mahogany neck and Rosewood Fingerboard.

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Gain is fun in all its forms, from overdrive to fuzz, but let’s talk about a great clean tone.


We’re all here for one thing. It’s the singular sound and magic of the stringed instrument called the guitar—and its various offshoots, including the bass. Okay, so maybe it’s more than one thing, but the sentiment remains. Even as I write this, my thoughts fan out and recognize how many incarnations of “guitar” there must be. It’s almost incomprehensible. Gut-string, nylon-string, steel-string, 12-string, 8-string, 10-string, flatwound, brown sound, fuzztone…. It’s almost impossible to catalog completely, so I’ll stop here and let you add your favorites. Still, there’s one thing that I keep coming back to: clean tone.

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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

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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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