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The Year in Gear 2019

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

Dusky

Dusky Hypatia

The Hypatia, which comes from the mind of amp-builder Chris Rossi, spans overdrive, distortion, and fuzz colors. That’s no mean feat, particularly when the pedal also exhibits the superlative responsiveness enabled by the Hypatia’s input buffer. That responsiveness also means flexibility that might find you leaving most of your other dirt pedals behind.

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$180 street, duskyamp.com

Watch the First Look:

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


The trio bandleader and Jason Mraz backer breaks down her journey through guitar academia, how to play with other musicians, and whether theory still matters.

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Amazon Prime Day is here (July 16-17). Whether you're a veteran player or just picking up your first guitar, these are some bargains you don't want to miss. Check out more deals here! https://amzn.to/3LskPRV

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A technicolor swirl of distortion, drive, boost, and ferocious fuzz.

Summons a wealth of engaging, and often unique, boost, drive, distortion, and fuzz tones that deviate from common templates. Interactive controls.

Finding just-right tones, while rewarding, might demand patience from less assured and experienced drive-pedal users. Tone control could be more nuanced.

$199

Danelectro Nichols 1966
danelectro.com

4.5
4
4
4.5

The Danelectro Nichols 1966, in spite of its simplicity, feels and sounds like a stompbox people will use in about a million different ways. Its creator, Steve Ridinger, who built the first version as an industrious Angeleno teen in 1966, modestly calls the China-made Nichols 1966 a cross between a fuzz and a distortion. And, at many settings, it is most certainly that.

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The author standing next to a Richardson gunstock lathe purchased from Gibson’s Kalamazoo factory. It was used to make six necks at a time at Gibson in the 1950s and 1960s.

Keep your head down and put in the work if you want to succeed in the gear-building business.

The accelerated commodification of musical instruments during the late 20th century conjures up visions of massive factories churning out violins, pianos, and, of course, fretted instruments. Even the venerable builders of the so-called “golden age” were not exactly the boutique luthier shops of our imagination.

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