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Top 12 of 2012

 
If 2012 was an indicator, 2013 will be a promising year for new gear. We asked our gear-review staff to take a look back at the best gear they sampled. Here’s what they said.

"The best of 2012 for me would have to be, hand down the new Fender American Vintage reissues; from their thin nitro "flash coat" finishes in killer retro colors and spot-on vintage-sounding pickups, to the small details like neck shapes, body contours, hardware, pickguards, knobs, and even the period-correct cases and case candy. Even if reissues aren't your cup of tea and those details don't mean a hill of beans to you, there are just simple great sounding, great playing, well crafted instruments." Phil Feser

FENDER AMERICAN VINTAGE REISSUE
“The best of 2012 for me would have to be, hand down the new Fender American Vintage reissues; from their thin nitro “flash coat” finishes in killer retro colors and spot-on vintage-sounding pickups, to the small details like neck shapes, body contours, hardware, pickguards, knobs, and even the period-correct cases and case candy. Even if reissues aren’t your cup of tea and those details don’t mean a hill of beans to you, there are just simple great sounding, great playing, well crafted instruments.” (Phil Feser)

CARVIN SH550 The SH550 is a hybrid design that falls between a semi-hollowbody and a chambered solidbody. It's feedback resistant for live work and also highly versatile for rock, jazz, blues and country. The guitar further has one of those super-speedy Carvin necks, plus you can add extra options like deeply AAAA quilted or flamed-maple tops; coil taps for the humbuckers; and acoustic piezo and guitar synthesizer pickups. In my opinion, the SH550 is one of the best production guitars coming from a major US builder. It's a beauty. (Prown)

CARVIN SH550
The SH550 is a hybrid design that falls between a semi-hollowbody and a chambered solidbody. It’s feedback resistant for live work and also highly versatile for rock, jazz, blues and country. The guitar further has one of those super-speedy Carvin necks, plus you can add extra options like deeply AAAA quilted or flamed-maple tops; coil taps for the humbuckers; and acoustic piezo and guitar synthesizer pickups. In my opinion, the SH550 is one of the best production guitars coming from a major US builder. It’s a beauty. (Pete Prown)

COLBY AMPLIFICATION DTB-50 The best amp of 2012, hands down, was the Colby Amplification DTB-50. "DTB" stands for "dual tone boost," but in actuality this amp offers many more than two variations of great tone, ranging from shimmering cleans to heavy dirt. And no matter how thick and distorted this amp's tone gets, individual notes blossom at the same volume without getting swallowed up. With peerless sensitivity, the DTB-50 allows the player to retain control at any volume. The DTB-50 offers tonal excellence, versatility, and superior construction.<br />(Guerra)

COLBY AMPLIFICATION DTB-50
The best amp of 2012 was the Colby Amplification Dual Tone Booster 50. Despite its name, the DTB offers many variations ranging from shimmering cleans to heavy dirt. And no matter how thick or distorted the tone becomes, notes blossom. With peerless sensitivity, the DTB-50 allows the player to retain control at any volume in a package offering superior construction. (Tom Guerra)

Roland Micro Cube

ROLAND MICRO CUBE
Roland’s tiny tabletop amp scores high points all around: it sounds terrific, packs a nice array of digital effects, and gives you everything from cool clean and acoustic tones to impressive crunch sounds for metal. Best of all, it costs about the same as the average stompbox. This mighty midget is so much fun it should almost be illegal! (Pete Prown)

MIKE LULL FX If you've ever dreamed of owning a classic Firebird, consider the FX. It has a flat-out gorgeous build and just screams through a good tube amp. Lull has also fixed some of inherent problems with this body design, such as dreaded neck dive. As we wrote in the original review, “With the meticulous, almost astonishing FX, Mike Lull clearly demonstrates what the art of handmade guitars is all about.” (Prown)

MIKE LULL FX
If you’ve ever dreamed of owning a classic Firebird, consider the FX. It has a flat-out gorgeous build and just screams through a good tube amp. Lull has also fixed some of inherent problems with this body design, such as dreaded neck dive. As we wrote in the original review, “With the meticulous, almost astonishing FX, Mike Lull clearly demonstrates what the art of handmade guitars is all about.” (Pete Prown)

TEYE EL TORERO & LA GUITANA For sheer beauty and craftsmanship, it's hard to argue with the guitars from Teye. The combination of mahogany with etched aluminum faceplates and cool metal knobs makes these solidbodies wonders of solidbody artistry. They play and sound great, too, thanks to Lollar humbuckers and some seriously fat necks. (Prown)

TEYE EL TORERO & LA GUITANA
For sheer beauty and craftsmanship, it’s hard to argue with the guitars from Teye. The combination of mahogany with etched aluminum faceplates and cool metal knobs makes these solidbodies wonders of solidbody artistry. They play and sound great, too, thanks to Lollar humbuckers and some seriously fat necks. (Pete Prown)

JOE BONAMASSA GIBSON CUSTOM ES-335 Based on one of his vintage models with a spliced top, Joe's signature 335 is a superb sounding and playing 335 with the best looking sunburst we have seen out of Gibson in years. Additionally, it has a woody tone and level of responsiveness to touch that is missing in many modern instruments. (Childs)

JOE BONAMASSA GIBSON CUSTOM ES-335
Based on one of his vintage models with a spliced top, Joe’s signature 335 is a superb sounding and playing 335 with the best looking sunburst we have seen out of Gibson in years. Additionally, it has a woody tone and level of responsiveness to touch that is missing in many modern instruments. (Zac Childs)

STRYMON FLINT THREE QUARTERStrymon continues to raise the bar on what players can expect out of a stompbox. Having already stifled analog traditionalists with offerings like the El Capistan digital tape echo, these guys recreated the tremolos and reverbs from classic amps in a single pedal named Flint.

STRYMON FLINT 
Strymon continues to raise the bar on what players can expect out of a stompbox. Having already stifled analog traditionalists with offerings like the El Capistan digital tape echo, these guys recreated the tremolos and reverbs from classic amps in a single pedal named Flint. (Rich Maloof)

ST. BLUES' 4-STRING DELTA BLUES BOX The St. Blues' 4-String Delta Blues Box could be overlooked as just a fun toss-around instrument for a pro or for a kid, but its playability and dark tone make this skinny little cigar-box guitar a real heavyweight, especially for slide playing. Mine hasn't gone back in the case since the day it arrived. (Maloof)

ST. BLUES’ 4-STRING DELTA BLUES BOX
The St. Blues’ 4-String Delta Blues Box could be overlooked as just a fun toss-around instrument for a pro or for a kid, but its playability and dark tone make this skinny little cigar-box guitar a real heavyweight, especially for slide playing. Mine hasn’t gone back in the case since the day it arrived. (Rich Maloof)

ERIC CLAPTON TWEED TWIN The Fender EC Twinolux has all of the great tone of the hand wired custom shop tweed twin along with a handy attenuator, and the ability to shut off one of the speakers for EC approved tone at a more reasonable volume. Having the "EC" logo on the front of the amp doesn't hurt the cool factor either. (Childs)

ERIC CLAPTON TWEED TWIN
The Fender EC Twinolux has all of the great tone of the hand wired custom shop tweed twin along with a handy attenuator, and the ability to shut off one of the speakers for EC approved tone at a more reasonable volume. Having the “EC” logo on the front of the amp doesn’t hurt the cool factor either. (Zac Childs)

SCANTIC RIVER LAPSTEEL The Scantic River Guitar Company offers finer craftsmanship and taste in their custom lap steels than you'll find in the vast majority of full-sized guitars. The SRG-504 we tested showcases just how good it can get. (Guerra)

SCANTIC RIVER LAPSTEEL
The Scantic River Guitar Company offers finer craftsmanship and taste in their custom lap steels than you’ll find in the vast majority of full-sized guitars. The SRG-504 we tested showcases just how good it can get. (Guerra)

GOODTONE ROAD RAGEThe best pedal of 2012! Finally, a great clean boost that is incredibly transparent. A great option for gigging guitarists who want a boost for solos but that maintains the inherent dynamics of any instrument. (Guerra)

GOODTONE ROAD RAGE
The best pedal of 2012! Finally, a great clean boost that is incredibly transparent. A great option for gigging guitarists who want a boost for solos but that maintains the inherent dynamics of any instrument. (Tom Guerra)

One Comment

  1. ScottRiggi@gmail.com
    Posted February 12, 2013 at 1:05 pm | Permalink

    James Brown and His Amptweaker Tight Fuzz!……My Favorite from 2012.

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