gear review

This compact box is a monster tone generator, with a dozen analog-synth-based core sounds and 171 variable presets, plus expansive tweakability.

A staggering amount of classic and otherworldly sounds that are easy to shape. Compact enclosure. Easy to use.

Really? There’s 171 preset voices and they’re not listed in the manual?

$299

Boss SY-200
boss.info

4
5
4.5
5

Roland produced the first guitar synthesizer, the GR-500, in 1977. It was cumbersome—requiring multiple rack spaces or a tabletop stand, and a special guitar outfitted with hexaphonic pickups. Problems with latency and tracking were all too real, as anyone who tried bending a note learned. But, with the right coddling, they sounded heavenly. Check out David Bowie’s “Ashes to Ashes” to hear the GR-500 at its best.

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Barcelona builders revive an obscure reverb preamp that adds sweet octane: The PG Aclam Windmiller review.

Beautiful, airy low- gain boost and overdrive tones. Cool interactions with other gain pedals. Super sturdy construction.

Expensive for a preamp pedal.

$310

Aclam Windmiller
aclamguitars.com

5
4.5
5
3.5

I studied Pete Townshend's '60 rigs religiously as a kid—watching The Kids Are Alright on repeat and ogling the photos in Richard Barnes' essential Maximum R&B book. But I don't think it was until I encountered the excellent thewho.net web site that I learned about the Grampian reverb preamp that Pete used to drive his mid-'60s amps to extra-aggro heights. So, I was psyched to hear that Barcelona's Aclam pedals (who already won me over with their fantastic Vox UL730-inspired pedal, the Dr. Robert, and clearly share my circa-'66 guitar production fixations) recreated the preamp section of the Grampian reverb in a pedal.

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Gateway to Helix, or a wireless wonderland of tone?

Dynamite price for the number of effects and amps. Wireless performance is solid. Visually appealing and effective interface.

Polycarbonate chassis might not be most road-worthy. Not enough power for some advanced DSP-intensive effects.

Line 6 POD Go Wireless
line6.com

4.5
3.5
4
4

I fondly remember the first-gen POD from Line 6. It didn't look like anything else. And it was packed with way more features and effects than my novice's sense of tone could comprehend. It had amp models based on units I'd only read about and offered a fantastic portable and quiet solution to practicing. Heck, Pete Anderson even used a pair of them on stage as recently as 2014 when we caught up with him for a Rig Rundown. And if it's good enough for Mr. Anderson...

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