The Ascender is a full-size guitar fitted with an aircraft-grade aluminum alloy neck hinge that allows it to be folded in half and become a TSA-compliant carry-on. Store the Ascender in its own travel bag or a backpack, and you’re ready to hit the road. A string-management system and captive nut prevent the strings from flopping around when the guitar is folded. When you’re ready to play, simply straighten the neck and re-tension the strings with the concealed lever-actuator. Unfolded, the Ascender is a 24.75-inch-scale guitar with a traditional single-cutaway body that comes in a range of solid colors. Electronics include a pair of Seymour Duncan ’59 pickups - each with volume and tone controls and coil tap - and a three-way toggle. The shallow C neck profile is comfortable, and the 12-inch-radius ebony fingerboard is fitted with 22 expertly Pleked nickel frets. All this quality and technology doesn’t come cheap, but if your gigs (or vacations) require that you take to the sky, the Ascender is an ideal way to reach new heights.
ciariguitars.com - CS
The Companion Travel-Ready Body Shape
Breedlove’s design team went back to the drawing board to develop a new travel-size body shape that delivers uncompromising tone for serious players. Called the Companion, it’s a reduced-size version of Breedlove’s Concertina, which is itself a scaled-down body based on the Concert. The Companion features 14 frets to the body (18 frets total) and is tuned to E, so it was no sweat to jam out a few of our favorite tunes on it.
With its 23.5-inch scale length and optimized body shape, air chamber and soundhole size, the Companion played and sounded to us like an instrument with a full-size body. Plus it comes in a variety of wood pairings - including Sitka/mahogany, red cedar/mahogany, myrtle/myrtle, mahogany/mahogany and torrefied European spruce/African mahogany - that make it look as good as it sounds.
breedlovemusic.com - CS
Price: 000Jr-10, $699; 000CJr-10E, $799
Most players like a smaller-bodied acoustic guitar for its ease of use, portability and comfort. Martin’s new Junior Series offers slightly smaller, solid wood guitars that feature the same build characteristics as their full-sized counterparts. New to the series are the Auditorium-style 000Jr-10 and 000CJr-10E, the first Junior model to feature a cutaway.
Both guitars have sapele backs and sides that deliver warm tones with strong midrange response, and Sitka spruce tops for added warmth and projection. With a soft back edge and tapered neck, we found the Junior series guitars comfortable and easy to play. Each guitar comes with Fishman Sonitone electronics and includes a soft gig bag.
martinguitar.com - CS
FG/FS Red Label Acoustic Guitars
Price: FG3 and FS3, $1,275; FGX3 and FSX3, $1,585; FG5 and FS5, $1,900; FGX5 and FSX5, $2,320
Inspired by Yamaha’s debut steel-string acoustics from 1966, the Red Label guitars recall the look, construction and sound of those storied instruments. With their semi-gloss finishes, open-gear tuners, original V-shaped headstock shape and high-quality components, they conjure up the magical aesthetic of fine vintage acoustics too.
The series consists of 3-and 5-tier models that feature the original Yamaha FG and FS concert body shapes and are offered as acoustic models or with Yamaha’s new Atmosfeel three-way pickup and preamp system (indicated by an X in the name). All the guitars feature solid-wood construction, a Sitka spruce top, mahogany back and sides and Yamaha’s Acoustic Resonance Enhancement (A.R.E.) process that accelerates the aging of the wood, giving the instruments a rich, played-in tone and making us feel like we were strumming a vintage axe.
usa.yamaha.com - CS
Price: 352ce, $2,099; 362ce, $2,299; 552ce, $2,899; 562ce, $2,999
Taylor’s Grand Concert lineup includes four new V-Class 12-string acoustics in the 300 and 500 series. Originally developed for a six-string guitar by Taylor master guitar designer Andy Powers, the V-Class architecture results in greater pitch accuracy and harmonic agreement when applied to a 12-string model. Indeed, the 562ce we tried out exhibited uncanny harmonic agreement between the notes.
Taylor’s new double-mounted string anchoring system allows two strings to be anchored under a single bridge pin, which gives the strings a consistent break angle over the saddle that contributes to more tonal consistency. The Grand Concert body also makes the 12-string experience more physically accessible, thanks to its small frame, while the V-Class pattern adds power and sustain and delivers accurate intonation all the way down the neck. The new 300 series models include the Sitka spruce/sapele 352ce and the mahogany/blackwood 362ce. The higher-end 500 series includes the 552ce, with a Western red cedar top and mahogany back and sides, and the all-mahogany 562ce.
taylorguitars.com - CS
New Original and Modern Collection Models
Gibson made a splash at the Nashville show with a slew of new electric guitars that pay tribute to the company’s Golden Era. Led by a Les Paul Standard with classic ’50s specs and a Standard with ’60s specs, the Original Collection includes a Les Paul Standard with P-90s, a Les Paul Special in TV Yellow, a Les Paul Junior Tobacco Burst, an SG Standard and two new ’61-spec SGs with “maestro” and “sideways” Vibrolas.
The new Modern Collection has a Les Paul Tribute Double Cut Junior with a single P-90 and a Les Paul Special Tribute Double Cut with dual P-90s. The line also features the Les Paul Modern and SG Modern, which incorporate lighter-weight bodies, slim-taper neck profiles for full access to the high frets, ebony fingerboards and high-output BurstBucker Pro Alnico V humbuckers with push-pull controls for single-coil tones.
gibson.com - CS
Diablo II Progressive X
This “Teambuilt” guitar from Germany looks as stunning as it plays. Features include a mahogany body with a gorgeously figured maple top, and a bolt-on maple neck with a 25.5-inch scale and 12-inch radius tigerstripe-ebony fingerboard carrying 22 jumbo frets and fluorescent side dots. The Seymour Duncan pickups - a SH-2N (neck) and a TB-4 Jeff Beck Trembucker - feed volume and tone controls via a five-way selector.
Hardware consists of GraphTech Ratio locking tuners and an original Floyd Rose trem with a locking nut. It’s hard to go wrong with these color options: Nirvana Black Transparent Satin, Black High Polish or Burgundy Blackburst Transparent High Polish. Framus also includes a RockBag RB 20506 Starline gig bag and a handy tool kit.
warwick.de/en/Framus - AT
Price: $849 street
Introduced in 1960 and played by the legendary bluesman Jimmy Reed, the Silverwood was Supro’s flagship electric guitar. The new version also reflects a premium build, offering the choice of an ergonomically shaped solid ash or mahogany body available in a quartet of finish options: Ash Natural, British Racing Green, Daphne Blue or Transparent Red.
The glued-in maple neck has a Slim C shape and is topped with a 24.75-inch-scale, 12-inch-radius pau ferro fretboard carrying 22 jumbo frets. Hardware includes a Tune-o-matic bridge and chromed Supro trapeze tailpiece, Kluson tuners on a distinctive-looking “Gumby” headstock and an electronics complement that consists of two impressively re-created Supro Gold Foil single-coil pickups with volume and tone controls and a three-way selector. If you yearn to sling something different, it hardly gets better than this!
suprousa.com - AT
Reeves Gabrels Signature RGX
Reverend has been working with Gabrels for 10 years now, and to celebrate this ongoing alliance with the ex–David Bowie and current Cure guitarist, it’s created the RGX, an anniversary version of Gabrels’ signature RG-1 model. The RGX sports a transparent black flame-maple top over a korina body, a roasted maple neck with RGX inlaid on its pau ferro fingerboard, 22 jumbo frets, signature Railhammer pickups with nickel-plated covers and a Wilkinson WVS50 IIK vibrato.
This great-sounding guitar also has Reverend’s clever Bass Contour control, which is a passive tone circuit that can be used to tighten the bass response or even revoice the pickups to sound more like single-coils. All in all, it’s a guitar that’s well befitting of this extraordinary guitarist.
reverendguitars.com - AT
Price: Starting at $9.99 street
D’Addario’s new XT Strings bring the company’s extended-lifespan treatments, NY Steel and Fusion Twist innovations together in one string, putting an end to the trade-off between corrosion-resistant coatings and natural tone and playability. XT Strings combine high carbon steel cores and D’Addario’s most popular alloys with a treatment that produces a stronger string with enhanced pitch stability.
Fans include Pat Metheny, who praises the strings for “evenness and clarity that really jumps out.” XT Strings are available now for acoustic, electric, classical and bass guitars, as well as mandolin and banjo.
daddario.com - CS
Harmadillo H9 tremolo
Price: Free for H9 Max users; $19.99 for H9 and H9 Core users
The 51st effect introduced for Eventide’s famed H9 Harmonizer multi-effects pedal, Harmadillo is a harmonic tremolo algorithm that wowed us with its emulation of classic tube-amp trem circuits, Harmadillo offers a range of LFO waves, including traditional sine, triangle and pulse shapes as well as ramp, “lump,” “rump” and continuously variable decaying slope waves. The effect also has three envelope followers that let you control it through your picking and playing dynamics, a drive control to add warmth and a tone knob that lets you manage the highs and lows.
eventideaudio.com - CS
Sunburst Quick-Change Capo
Price: $24.95 street
The three-color sunburst finish is unique to guitar manufacturing, and now Kyser has added the iconic look to its Quick-Change Capo collection. The Sunburst Quick-Change Capo joins Kyser’s rosewood-and maple-finish capos in the woodgrain collection and makes a stylish way to complement your guitar. The Sunburst model boasts the same reliable, ergonomic design as the original Quick-Change line, making it perfect for a variety of six-string acoustic guitar neck profiles. Even nicer still, all of Kyser’s capos are meticulously forged by hand in Texas.
kysermusical.com - CS
Mini SuperBeetle 25
Price: $379.99 street
Inspired by the legendary rigs of the British Invasion, the Vox Mini SuperBeetle 25 features an iconic design inherited from the classic stacks of the 1960s, complete with a chrome stand. The 50-watt amp (at four ohms; 25 watts at 8 ohms) has a Nutube-equipped analog preamp circuit as well as digital reverb and tremolo to deliver the sounds of a traditional Vox amp. The open-backed cabinet is equipped with one 10-inch Celestion speaker and can be paired with nearly any type of extension cabinet. Other features include a headphone jack and line output for private practice and recording.
voxamps.com - CS
Six New Effects Pedals
See below for street pricing
Fender has expanded its line of stompboxes with six new versatile pedals. The Trapper ($179) offers two discrete fuzz circuits that are selected via footswitch. An original Fender design, the Reflecting Pool ($299) is a stereo delay and reverb pedal that utilizes cutting-edge DSP to create everything from classic sounds to interplanetary soundscapes. Armed with a genuine, U.S.-made new-old-stock 6205 preamp tube, the MTG:LA tube distortion ($199) is a flexible OD machine that sports gain, tone, bass, treble, tight and level controls, as well as a footswitchable boost with its own independent level control.
Thanks to its built-in drive circuit, the Pour Over Env Filter ($149) expands tonal range by increasing the harmonic content in ways that aren’t possible with a standard auto-wah. The Smolder Acoustic OD ($149) is designed to work with the piezo pickups on guitars and other string instruments to create everything from mild breakup to super-sustaining solos. And if you’re a fan of using distortion and compression, the Compugilist ($169) features independently switchable all-analog distortion and compressor circuits.
fender.com - AT
Horseman Overdrive pedal
Price: $69 street
NU-X has the honor of being the latest musical instrument maker to introduce a Klon Centaur–style overdrive pedal, following on the heels of MXR and Wampler with their respective Sugar Drive and Tumnus knockoffs. Like those pedals, the Horseman has gain, output and treble controls, but it goes its own way with a dual-mode function that lets you choose between the circuits of the classic gold Centaur Overdrive or the higher gain Silver Centaur. The pedal can also be set for true-or buffered-bypass operation, which is handy for different pedalboard setups. Unlike the classic Klon pedal, the Horseman uses op amps to convert the voltage internally to 18 volts, which enhances headroom and note detail. Differences aside, the Horseman’s sound, features and low price make it worth a look.
nuxefx.com - AT
AMG-2 XL Hardshell Case
An established maker of cases for a range of sporting and music applications, ENKI has released the AMG-2 XL case, the latest addition to its AMG-2 Series cases, which can hold two large-bodied guitars, such as the Gibson ES-335. Measuring 53.75 x 11 x 20 inches and weighing 25 pounds, the AMG-2 XL has an extremely tough and lightweight Roto-Molded polyethylene shell and a cushy EVA foam insert that protects valuable instruments and provides excellent impact resistance. This case also comes with an EVA foam insert for electric bass guitars and a soft EVA accessories case. Other details include a solid axle with smooth-glide wheels, a removable lid, and a rugged padlock plate to enhance security. The AMG-2 XL is available in black and comes with a limited lifetime warranty.
enkiusa.com - AT
Price: $399 street
Hailed as a complete redesign of ZT’s original Lunchbox amp, the Lunchbox Reverb pumps 100 watts of class D power into a 6.5-inch speaker and features an expanded set of controls (gain, bass, treble, volume, reverb), a 1/4-inch headphone/DI out with speaker emulation and a host of other handy items, including an internal speaker mute switch, an extension speaker out and a 115/230-volt voltage selector.
Along with digital reverb, the new amp is visually updated with the trademark “swoop” grille of the ZT Custom Shop line, a new logo badge and a durable metallic-silver gloss painted finish. Assembled at the company’s Northern California headquarters, the Lunchbox Reverb is one of the most powerful mini combos around, and one that’s definitely worth checking into if light weight and portability are high on your wish list.
ztamplifiers.com - AT
WingMan FX Danger Zone Tremolo/Phaser
The latest launch from this custom-controller company looks rad with its colorful fighter-jet graphics. What’s more, you can operate it hands-free by setting the rate for the analog tremolo and phaser effects with your feet via wing-shaped knobs at the top of the die-cast metal housing. You can also adjust the depth of both effects by pressing or brushing your foot against the large red knobs situated near the outer sides of the box.
The Danger Zone’s control complement includes three footswitches (Arm, Jet Wash, Fire), dual mini volume controls and a Mach II switch that promises “built-in sonic surprises at the top end of the phaser rate.” Two types of phase, along with wet and dry outputs, round out what is a most unique modulation pedal.
wingmanfx.com - AT
RC-10R Rhythm Loop Station
Price: $299.99 street
Boss’s newest looping pedal is designed for spontaneous composition. It features two independent loops for creating song sections, as well as a rhythm machine that provides more than 280 presets in multiple genres - each with two unique sections - intro and ending fills and two transition fills. And as the demo at Summer NAMM made clear, the sounds on tap are top quality.
The RC-10R gives you 99 loop recording slots and up to six hours of recording time, so you can sketch out song ideas without worrying about running out of space. Other features include output filters to optimize your guitar tone and the rhythm tracks, full MIDI I/O and support for external switches and expression pedals. The RC-10R can also make a handy foot-controlled rhythm box for woodshedding.
boss.info/us - CS