april 2016

This entry-level shred machine flirts with greatness at a rock-bottom price.

Allen Eden first hit the scene as a guitar parts manufacturer that sold bodies and necks to DIY enthusiasts. They’ve always been very focused on affordability, and on their website you’ll see necks that sell for as little as $60 and bodies for around $80. In 2014, they opened a retail store in El Monte, California, and expanded their line to include complete guitars. The 1987 is one of their more striking new offerings: a neck-through-body “super strat” that features a Floyd Rose-licensed tremolo and streets at $439. The guitar often dazzles for its combination of features, quality feel, and price.

The 1987 is a fairly bold visual statement, but it’s a very practical, functional, and smart design. The neck-through-body construction means the body center is an extension of the walnut-and-maple neck. The burl maple body wings are peppered with wood grain craters and valleys that are neither buffed out, nor filled, nor sanded down. You can even fit your fingertips into some of the pits on the body. Clearly, using wood that other builders might pass over for cosmetic reasons means saving costs without any sonic penalty. But a surprising secondary result is a distinctive guitar with major mojo. The walnut stripes, reverse headstock, and diamond inlays also lend hot-rod flair and pay homage to Ibanez, Alembic, and BC Rich’s ’70s instruments as well as metal’s glory days on the Sunset Strip. The guitar even arrived with a fancy looking, tweed hardshell case that's a $90 option. Otherwise it comes with a gig bag free of charge.

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Bogner's beastliest amp is made miniature—and still slays.

Excellent sounds in a portable and very affordably priced package.

A footswitchable clean channel and onboard reverb would make it perfect.

$329

Bogner Ecstasy Mini
bogneramplification.com

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The original Bogner Ecstasy, released in 1992, is iconic in heavy rock circles. Though it was popularized and preferred by rock and metal artists (Steve Vai and Brad Whitford were among famous users), its ability to move from heavy Brit distortion to Fender-like near-clean tones made it appealing beyond hard-edged circles. Even notorious tone scientist Eric Johnson was enamored with its capabilities.

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Rig Rundown: IDLES

See how chaotic co-pilots Mark Bowen and Lee Kiernan bring five pedalboards to mutilate, mangle, and mask their guitars into bass, synth, hip-hop beats, raging elephant sounds, and whatever “genk” is.

Do you hear that thunder? That’s the sound of strength in numbers. Specifically, it's the sound of four 100-watt stacks. (Actually, one is a 200-watt bass tube head.) IDLES’ guitarists Mark Bowen and Lee Kiernan finally have the firepower to match their fury. (Original members singer/lyricist Joe Talbot, drummer Jon Beavis, and bassist Adam Devonshire fill out the band. Kiernan took over for guitarist Andy Stewart after 2015 EP Meat was released.)

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