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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But the 6-string bass offers a truly unique voice with a range that’s between a baritone and a standard bass.

The 6-string bass is often misunderstood. Guitarists tend to wonder why you wouldn’t just slap on a heavier set of strings and tune down, or use a baritone guitar to help cover the lower registers. But the 6-string bass offers a truly unique voice with a range that’s between a baritone and a standard bass. For decades, it’s been an essential tool for country players, who use it to fatten up bass lines tracked by upright basses. And famous players as diverse as Jack Bruce, John Lennon, and Robert Smith have made 6-string bass a part of their arsenal.

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High-Performance Bridge Standard (brass) upgrade

By using stainless steel and titanium in critical parts of the unit, FU-Tone has indeed taken the Floyd Rose concept in several new directions.

After building a better mousetrap, Adam Reiver of FU-Tone.com (formerly Floyd Upgrades) decided to build an even better mousetrap. Back in 2009, we reviewed the Big Block upgrade, a Floyd Rose tremolo replacement sustain block that is substantially larger and more massive than the standard Floyd Rose block. It represented a big improvement, but Reiver figured he could find more ways to improve on the existing Floyd Rose design. And by using stainless steel and titanium in critical parts of the unit, he has indeed taken the Floyd Rose concept in several new directions. Already such players as Warren DeMartini, Steve Stevens, Phil Collen, Slash, George Lynch, and Alex Lifeson have embraced the potential of these upgrades.

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