victory

The Year in Gear 2020

It may be the understatement of the century, but this year was weird. Even so, the killer gear kept coming. Here are the goods that stood out as extra-great amongst our annual haul of Premier Guitar reviews.

MXR

Clone Looper

With a two-button system for recording and playback, the Clone Looper simplifies many looping maneuvers by eliminating some double-click and hold sequences. But with awesome and trippy features like adjustable playback speed and reverse playback, you can easily take the Clone Looper's simpler looping processes to particularly psychedelic ends.

$149 street

jimdunlop.com

Read the review.


Silktone

Silktone Amp

This handwired 1x12 combo employs a KT66 power tube for its class-A circuitry, resulting in glassy cleans reminiscent of a tweed Champ, and fat and pleasantly compressed high-gain tones without sacrificing shine. Joe Gore was also impressed with its aesthetic and workmanship, as well as Silktone's spring reverb. “It's got the feel of a vintage Fender tank, but with uncommon wetness and depth."

$2,199 street, as reviewed with ceramic speaker (alnico speaker $200 extra)

silktone.org

Read the review.

Fender

Vintera Telecaster '50s

Just about any Telecaster flirts with perfection in form. But Fender did not rest on their laurels in re-interpreting the '50s-styled variation in the new, affordable Vintera series. The neck is lovely, with a hefty deep-U shape, and the alnico 2 bridge pickup delivers the essence of bright, spanky, and rowdy Tele-ness, while maintaining a warm glow around the edges that is a beautiful match for a touch of vintage-style reverb.

$899 street

fender.com

Read the review.

Fender

Vintera Telecaster '70s

Keith Richards, who could have any freaking Telecaster in the world if he wanted it, has used the Telecaster Custom he bought new in 1975 regularly ever since. When you play the Vintera version, it's easy to understand why. Fender's Tim Shaw worked hard to build a more authentic WideRange humbucker for this instrument, and the work paid off—creating an expansive palette of spanky-to-smoky tones when paired with the alnico 5 bridge single-coil.

$899 street

fender.com

Read the review.

Yamaha

Red Label FSX3

Adam Perlmutter found that the OM-sized FSX3, which honors Yamaha's much-loved red-label guitars of the '70s, feels better-built than the company's original FG guitars, which is no small compliment. Perlmutter shared that the FSX3, boasting all-solid-wood construction, “feels great, exhibits real versatility, and is free of the old-guitar baggage that comes with vintage examples."

$999 street

usa.yamaha.com

Read the review.

TC Electronic

Hall of Fame 2x4

A maximalist expansion of TC's popular Hall of Fame 2 pedal, this reverb machine boasts 10 factory settings, six user memory slots, and eight stored patches, accessible via its four hefty footswitches. “Everything about the Hall of Fame 2 x4 Reverb is exceptional," is the word from reviewer Joe Gore, who welcomed its rich and varied reverbs, as well as the pedal's delightfully simple interface.

$299 street

tcelectronic.com

Read the review.

Origin Effects

RevivalDRIVE

Origin's luxurious stomps feel like outboard studio gear from analog audio's golden age. The RevivalDRIVE, however, has so much tone-sculpting power that it actually tends to function and sound like an old recording console module, too. The EQ is powerful, sensitive, and responsive, and the low-end tones are especially delectable. If you need an overdrive that can fill a very specific mix niche, this tool is worth every penny.

$385 street

origineffects.com

Read the review.

Jackson Audio

Bloom

This ultra-versatile multi-effects pedal captivated PG with its ability to control, shape, and expand natural playing dynamics through its five different types of compression, a 3-band Baxandall-inspired EQ, and a 20 dB clean boost. Boasting super-sensitive knobs with finely tailored sweeps, the folks at Jackson Audio topped off the Bloom with MIDI control over all parameters via its TRS input.

$329 street

jackson.audio

Read the review.

Electro-Harmonix

Ram's Head Big Muff

Given what a vintage Ram's Head Big Muff costs these days, this new version's $99 price tag alone is cause for celebration. But the tab is extra-impressive when you hear how well EHX nailed a vintage Ram's Head's legendary essence. It's growling, bold in the midrange, and stings like a wasp when you run the gain and tone wide open. If you don't have the bucks for a vintage pedal or a high-end Ram's Head clone, this remarkably economical iteration is a must for rounding out your Big Muff collection.

$99 street

ehx.com

Read the review.

Read More Show less

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

4.5
5
4.5
4.5

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.

Read More Show less
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.)

Read More Show less
x