MONEY IS TIGHT, AND NO ONE IN CONGRESS
seems anxious to launch a bailout for budgetconscious
musicians who continue to suffer from
gear lust. Well, the sissies from the big auto
companies—as well as all the dunderheads from
the banks who approved all those shaky loans—
can whine and whimper and threaten bankruptcy
and beg for cash, but guitarists are made from
way tougher stuff. For many of us, it may not
be the time to peel off mountains of bills to purchase
some vintage glory machine or a dazzling
custom-shop instrument, but this doesn’t mean
we have to stop exploring brand new tonal
options. At the 2009 Winter NAMM Show, scores
of companies released affordable, high-quality
products that offer major sonic power for minimal
cash. And to prove that you can still
purchase new toys without succumbing to fiscal
guilt, the Guitar Player staff has assembled a
sampling of just a few of the bargains we saw at
this year’s big gear extravaganza. So get ready
to explore these low- and mid-buck goodies, and
fearlessly expand your tonal palette.
AXEWRAPS GUITAR WRAPS
Can’t afford a new guitar? Can’t afford to get your
old dog painted? Try Axewraps ($35). These vibey,
vinyl wraps can transform a boring finish into a
hip, spacey, funny, or wild eye-catcher instantly.
They go on easy, won’t hurt your original finish,
and come in hundreds of designs.
The LS-100 ($299) is
for what it offers:
two overdrive modes,
a clean channel with
independent EQ and a
Mid Cut switch, an
effects loop with send
and return level controls,
recording out with level control,
and even a footswitch for
remote control of the front-panel
switching functions. Pair this head
with the LS-412 and get a half-stack
for the silly street price of $598.
This lubricant ($20 for 1.5cc), which you can
use on a guitar’s nut, bridge, string trees,
bridge pivot points and more, will help
eliminate string breakage and tuning
problems. Now’s the time when you need
to make your strings last!
Loaded with a
fat selection of COSM-generated amps and
effects models, the ME-70 ($299 street) is
super easy to use, thanks to a knob interface
that lets you quickly grab whatever combination
of sounds you want. The unit can operate
on AC or battery power (adapter is optional),
and it features a tuner, a 38-second phrase
looper, and an assignable expression pedal.
Whether you're at a gig, a recording session, doing a string change, or
a setup the GrooveTech Guitar
Tech Kit ($62 retail) is a helpful to have onhand. You get a 6-in-1 screwdriver
(two Phillips, two slotted, and two nut
drivers 1/4" and 5/16" to handle most truss
rod nuts), a 3-LED flashlight, steel ruler, string
cutters, 15-blade thickness gauge, 11 hexkeys,
astring winder, and a capo.
Besides a bitchin’ look, the Hornet ($399 street)
sports a solid basswood body, a maple neck
with a headstock-adjustable trussrod, vibrato,
and a pair of pumped-up lipstick pickups. The
’67 Hornet’s sound and feel is very cool and
very different from any Dano we’ve played.
The least expensive way to
grab a bit of Mr. Scary
magic, this shred machine
($499 street) sports a
slim/wide flat-radius neck
for monster bends, a single ESP
humbucker, a Floyd Rose Special
double-locking bridge, and a righteous
looking tiger-stripe finish.
Combining GraphTech’s most popular products
in one package, the Supercharger Kits
($50-$60 retail Strat/Tele, $100 retail
Tune-o-Matic) give you String Saver Saddles
and Tusq nuts, and the kits for
Tune-o-Matic-equipped guitars also
come with a ResoMax Bridge. Stop breaking
strings and get better tone and sustain
at the same time.
This new solid-state 100-
watt head ($399 street) is part of
a series of new MG models, and it features
four channels with analog tone circuitry,
power-amp damping for a more tube-like
dynamic feel, and digital effects (including
chorus, delay, flanger, phaser, and reverb).
The included Stompware footswitch connects
to the amp via a standard guitar cable
to let you switch channels and change delay
times, and it even has a built-in tuner.
Revise your vibe without tanking your wardrobe
budget with four new woven ($21 retail) and leather
designs ($29 retail): the nostalgic Woodstock Collection,
the metal-edged Alchemy Gothic Collection, the
tattoo art of the Lethal Threat Collection, and the
cowabunga Al McWhite Surf Collection (woven only).
Asuper-stealthy way to get more sounds out
of your humbuckers, the Triple Shot ($69 retail
for a set of two) allows you to switch between
series, parallel, or split-coil operation with no
permanent modification to your guitar. The
nearly invisible slider switches are built right
into the pickup rings.
New from MusicMan, the Sterling AX20 ($499
street) is a low-cost alternative to the U.S.-
made Axis, and it features the same style of
bound basswood body with quilted maple top,
maple neck with asymmetrical carve, and 4+2
headstock. The AX20 sports a Music-Mandesigned
hardtail bridge, and the AX40 ($549
street) has a double-locking trem.
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