Your guide to the best-reviewed gear this year.

Looking to add some gear to your holiday wish list? Here are 60 of the surest bets we played through this year. Each of these items scored either a 5 or a 4.5 overall, and basically blew our minds. If you need more guidance, check out our Premier Gear Awards, where we bestowed awards for categories like, Loud as Hell, Artisan, Nice Price and more.

Perfectly Reviewed Gear
Duesenberg Mike Campbell Signature
Brown’s Guitar Factory BGF Guitar
Collings 290
Hahn Model 228
Gretsch G6118T “Double Annie”
DeTemple Spirit Series
McPherson MG3.5
Amps & Cabs
LR Baggs Core 1 Acoustic Amp
Industrial Amps Rock 120
Mills Acoustics Afterburner Cab
Goodsell SuperSeventeen Mark Three
Retro King 18-Watt Combo
Two Rock Classic Type Two
Xits Piper X30
CB Evans Spitfire
Carol Ann OD2r
Soldano 44 BCM
Tone God TubeUlent
Jaguar Twin
Jekeko Fixed Wah
Analog Man DS-1 Midrange Mod
Source Audio Distortion
Xotic Effects BB Plus
Ibanez Tube King TK999HT
TC Electronic Nova Reverb
Source Audio Soundblox
BOSS SL20 Slicer
Wampler Analog Echo
BSM RG (Rory Gallagher) Treble Booster
BSM VX-T Treble Booster
ISP Technologies G-String Decimator
Mad Professor Little Green Wonder
Pickups & Accessories
Jodavi ZZYZX Snapjack
PW Modular Snake System
G7th Nashville Capo
Joe Barden J-Style Bass Pickups
Aphex 230 Master Voice Processer

Near-Perfect 4.5 Gear
St. Blues Mississippi Bluesmaster
Liquid Metal Guitar
Reverend Ron Asheton
Huss & Dalton 00-SP
Hamer Talladega Pro
Spalt Voodoo
Taylor Solidbody
Carvin SH550
Campbell American Transitone
Zemaitis Tribal Tattoo
Stromberg Montreux Jazz Guitar
Nik Huber Junior and Special
Ribbecke Halfling Acoustic
Amps & Cabs
Carr Mini Mercury
Reinhardt SV18 Head & Cab
Carr Raleigh
Reason SM50
Carvin X100B
TC Electronic Nova Delay
Fishman AFX Reverb
Arteffect Zenith Overdrive
Catalinbread Serrano Picoso
Catalinbread Ottava Magus
Tonebone PZ-Pre
Mojo Hand Analogue Filter 442
Mojo Hand Nebula
Mojo Hand Luna
Fractal Audio Axe FX
BOSS DD-7 Digital Delay
Mad Professor Fire Red Fuzz
Devi Ever Legend of Fuzz
Oohlala Synth Mangler
Tim Champion Hissy Foot
MXR Carbon Copy Analog Delay   
Visual Sound V2 Liquid Chorus
Visual Sound V2 Comp 66
Seymour Duncan SFX-07 Shape Shifter
Himmelstrutz Elektro Art Fetto
Dino''s Guitars Rust Box
Aguilar Tone Hammer
Demeter OD-1 Over Drivulator
Visual Sound V2 Route 808
Visual Sound V2 Son of Hyde
Tim Champion Fuzzar-o
Pickups & Accessories
Fishman Matrix Infinity Undersaddle
Carl Martin Octa Switch

Multiple modulation modes and malleable voices cement a venerable pedal’s classic status.

Huge range of mellow to immersive modulation sounds. Easy to use. Stereo output. Useful input gain control.

Can sound thin compared to many analog chorus and flange classics.


TC Electronic SCF Gold


When you consider stompboxes that have achieved ubiquity and longevity, images of Tube Screamers, Big Muffs, or Boss’ DD series delays probably flash before your eyes. It’s less likely that TC Electronic’s Stereo Chorus Flanger comes to mind. But when you consider that its fundamental architecture has remained essentially unchanged since 1976 and that it has consistently satisfied persnickety tone hounds like Eric Johnson, it’s hard to not be dazzled by its staying power—or wonder what makes it such an indispensable staple for so many players.

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While Monolord has no shortage of the dark and heavy, guitarist and vocalist Thomas V Jäger comes at it from a perspective more common to pop songsmiths.

Photo by Chad Kelco

Melodies, hooks, clean tones, and no guitar solos. Are we sure this Elliott Smith fan fronts a doom-metal band? (We’re sure!)

Legend has it the name Monolord refers to a friend of the band with the same moniker who lost hearing in his left ear, and later said it didn’t matter if the band recorded anything in stereo, because he could not hear it anyway. It’s a funny, though slightly tragic, bit of backstory, but that handle is befitting in yet another, perhaps even more profound, way. Doom and stoner metal are arguably the torch-bearing subgenres for hard rock guitar players, and if any band seems to hold the keys to the castle at this moment, it’s Monolord.

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