George L’s Cable Checker
Housed in a small plastic casing and powered by two AA batteries, the Cable Checker ($24 retail/street price N/A) ensures everything is copasetic with your guitar and speaker cords. Checking the center conductor of a cord is as easy as touching the plug tips to the Cable Checker’s two contacts. To test the ground connection (which, if faulty, can cause everything from noise to non- operation), touch the barrels of the plugs to the Cable Checker. To check for a short, touch one of the plugs’ tips to one contact, and the barrel of the other plug to the other contact. In all cases, an LED tells you if you’re good to go, or if you need a new cable.
RockOn Pedalboards Pedal Pro
Although the lightweight and durable Pedal Pro ($119 retail/$89 street) measures only 20" wide by 12" deep, its double-decker design accommodates six standard-sized stompboxes and one wah–sized pedal. Pedals are secured with included Velcro strips, and an optional power supply can be neatly tucked away under the top shelf. I found the pedal positions offered easy “stompin’” access, although cord space can be tight between boxes. The Pedal Pro’s handy travel bag features a zippered pouch and a padded top flap. The manufacturer says the board can be used while stored in the bag, though we found that too unwieldly to be practical. Still, the bag provides excellent protection for your pedals when the show’s over.
Radial JX•2 Tonebone Switchbone
An amp switcher is far from sexy, but it can be your rig’s femme fatale if it adds hum, sucks tone, or conjures an audible pop every time you hit the switch. If you’ve bailed on multi-amp setups because of these sonic buzz kills, you owe yourself an introduction to the fabulous Switchbone ($299 retail/$239 street). This battle-tough AB-Y box not only delivers whisper-quiet switching between two amps—I “mated” Marshalls and Fenders, Voxes and Victorias, and other combinations with nothing but stunning results—it also offers large status LEDs, a tuner output, ground-lift and phase switches, a power boost (adjustable up to 15dB), and a midrange boost (user selectable: +5dB @ 1kHz or +9dB @ 800Hz). Along with this bounty of goodies, the Switchbone throws down one more: a Drag control that lets you decide how your pickups react to amplifier loading. The tech details are on the Tonebone Web site. The practical godsend is that merely twisting this control can add shimmer, spank, warmth, or oomph to your guitar tone. You’ll be amazed at the presence, punch, and dimension—and all without resorting to EQ, or even changing those ratty old strings! As Radial has found a way to make switching sexy, the Switchbone seduces itself an Editors’ Pick Award.