From tiny amplifiers to microphones to an ingenious A/B box, these are our five favourite guitar accessories of the year. Check all of them out below.
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1Blackstar amPlug 2 Fly
For time-poor players who just want to get on with it, amPlugs are a compelling alternative to the option-paralysis of modern amp and effects software – especially when they make such a good fist of emulating that classic Vox tone.
Particularly with clean sounds, there’s a warmth and depth to the amPlug’s tones that the Blackstar Fly can’t match – especially when adding a bit of spacey delay or reverb into the mix, it really does offer that same 3D feel of the original Fly, but through a pair of headphones.
2EarthQuaker Devices Swiss Things Pedalboard Reconciler
The Swiss Things is based around the twin concepts of an A/B box and a dual loop switcher, with 20dB boost, a tuner out and expression-pedal volume-control functionality (which, when used like this, won’t affect your gain). The pedal also features ‘Flexi-Switching’, allowing each loop to be engaged by either a momentary or latching action on the footswitch.
The creative possibilities it affords the player certainly should. Aside from eliminating the need to tap dance one’s way from one end of the pedalboard to the other when changing effects, it also allows for the inclusion of equipment that might prove impractical to use otherwise.
3Tul Microphones G12 Retro
Housed in a beautiful bespoke retro metal enclosure, looking like something you might stumble across in a cupboard at Abbey Road Studios, the G12 Retro is a dynamic mic specifically tuned to capture the natural sound of a guitar amp that’s equally at home in both recording and live environments. The G12 gloriously captures your signal with such an extraordinary airy quality, detail and subtle nuance that we find ourselves searching for a hidden internal valve or ribbon and double-checking the asking price.
4IK Multimedia AXE I/O
The AXE I/O is a one-stop shop for anyone starting to record in their bedroom or for the professional guitarist on the road looking to take a studio with them. With two quarter-inch inputs on the front and two phantom-powered XLR inputs at the rear, it’s extremely versatile.
Most interfaces offer a standard quarter-inch jack input, but the AXE I/O takes that one step further with IK’s patented Z-Tone circuit, which allows you to dial in an impedance to match your guitar’s pickups, from high-output active units to vintage-style single-coils. 1 megaohm gives you a sharper and brighter tone, while it’s adjustable down to 2.2K-ohms, which IK describes as bold and thick sounding. The unit also allows you to switch between J-Fet and Pure input gain stages, taking you from super clean to a tube-like response at the flick of a switch.
5IsoAcoustics Stage 1
IsoAcoustics draws on years of experience in designing and constructing radio and television studios and has been manufacturing isolation products in the audio industry since 2012.
Our Stage 1 review package arrives with four chunky isolator feet that can be screwed to the bottom of a cabinet, or onto a board for use with multiple amplifiers. Just as fine pickups will make a guitar an improved version of itself, the Stage 1 isolators will help an amp sound the best it can. The promotional material stresses improvements in bass punch, but we hear differences across the entire frequency range.
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