gear award 2013

A vibey, trem-equipped Tele at a bargain price.

Squier, Fender’s more affordable brand, has come light years from where it was three decades ago. In the ’80s and ’90s, most serious guitarists would’ve balked at the idea of owning, let alone gigging,with a Squier. They were for beginners on a budget—beginners no one expected to keep at it for long. At the time, the brand’s only prominent endorsee was the late blues-rocker Jeff Healey—and the fact that he was blind inspired no end of speculation about whether he played Fenders with Squier headstock decals, and/or jokes about the company putting one over on him.

I used to be one of those scoffers, but then Squier’s Classic Vibe line came along, drawing much attention for its vintage-style aesthetics, as well as specs and tones that have much of the flavor of Fender’s most iconic models. More recently, the Vintage Modified line has earned similar reactions, pairing classic looks and features with the sorts of tweaks DIY-inclined players might make to the tried-and-true designs. The latest in this line is the new Vintage Modified Cabronita Telecaster with a Bigsby.

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Can an entry-level modeler hang with the big dogs?

Excellent interface. Very portable. Nice modulation tones.

Some subpar low-gain dirt sounds. Could be a little more rugged.


HeadRush MX5


The allure of portability and sonic consistency has become too much to ignore for some guitarists, making smaller digital modelers more appealing than ever.

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Emily Wolfe lets loose, with an Epiphone Sheraton around her shoulders. Her signature Sheraton Stealth was released in 2021. "The guitar is the perfect frequency range for my soul," she says.

Photo by Brittany Durdin

The rising guitar star blends classic and stoner rock, Motown, and more influences with modern pop flourishes in songs replete with fat, fuzzy, fizzy tones from her new Epiphone Sheraton signature.

For so many artists, the return of live shows means the return of the thrill of performing, much-needed income, and, in a way, purpose. The third definitely goes for guitarist Emily Wolfe, who, when asked about her goals, immediately responds, "I just want to play arenas every night for the rest of my life. When I go up there, something could hit me at any point—an emotion that I felt 10 years ago could come out in a bend on the low E."

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