The 60+ guitars, amps, pedals, basses, and accessories that stood out from the crowd and earned our coveted Premier Gear Award this year.

Korora Audio Spira

Fifty-five years ago, renowned cognitive psychologist Roger Shepard devised a fascinating audio illusion—a tone that seemed to infinitely rise in pitch. Korora Audio’s Spira deploys the Shepard phenomenon as a phasing/filtering effect. It’s also capable of new phase/flange flavors, near-subliminal modulation, shrieking freakouts, and everything in between. Boasting excellent build quality, the Spira uses an old trick to create fresh, inspiring, ear-catching tones.

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$249 street, kororaaudio.com

Plus! December Premier Gear Award Winners!
Read the full reviews on the pages indicated below!

1. Peavey Invective.MH$699 street, peavey.com
2. Chase Bliss Dark World$349 street, chaseblissaudio.com
3. Comins CGS-16 $2,399 street, cominsguitars.com
4. Ernie Ball Music Man Short-Scale StingRay$1,999 street, music-man.com
5. EBS MicroBass 3$349 street, ebssweden.com


Intermediate

Beginner

  • Use shapes and patterns to think outside of scale-based note selection.
  • Learn a handful of “outside” licks with a shape-based approach.
  • Break out of playing ruts by adding a new approach to your playing.
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Shapes can be unique and interesting, but the most common one that we run into as guitar players is that of a plateau. While growth and learning are exponential in the early days of discovering guitar, the true struggle for most players seems to be when they reach the middle to upper intermediate phase. Certain habits, muscle memory, go-to licks, and even practice routines
become second nature. This is what I refer to as “the big rut.” Every player has been at this point, where they’ve been spinning their wheels in the same tracks for so long that now they are simply stuck. Nowhere to go and nowhere to grow, seemingly. This is also the point where guitarists tend to start rapidly accumulating gear in hopes that something new will spark inspiration. (Not that you or I would ever do such a thing, right?)
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The emotional wallop of the acoustic guitar sometimes flies under the radar. Even if you mostly play electric, here are some things to consider about unplugging.

I have a love-hate relationship with acoustic guitars. My infatuation with the 6-string really blasted off with the Ventures. That’s the sound I wanted, and the way to get it was powered by electricity. Before I’d even held a guitar, I knew I wanted a Mosrite, which I was sure was made of fiberglass like the surfboards the Beach Boys, Surfaris, and the Challengers rode in their off time. Bristling with space-age switchgear and chrome-plated hardware, those solidbody hotrod guitars were the fighter jets of my musical dreams. I didn’t even know what those old-timey round-hole guitars were called. As the singing cowboys Roy Rogers and Gene Autrey strummed off into the sunset, the pace of technology pushed the look and sound of the electric guitar (and bass) into the limelight and into my heart. Imagine my disappointment when I had to begin my guitar tutelage on a rented Gibson “student” acoustic. At least it sort of looked like the ones the Beatles occasionally played. Even so, I couldn’t wait to trade it in.

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Need an affordable distortion pedal? Look no further.

We live in the golden age of boutique pedals that are loaded with advanced features—many of which were nearly unthinkable a decade or so ago. But there’s something that will always be valuable about a rock-solid dirt box that won’t break your wallet. Here’s a collection of old classics and newly designed stomps that cost less than an average concert ticket.

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