Gear of the Year 2018: Mid-priced electric guitar nominees

Our six nominees for the best mid-priced electric guitars of the year.

We’re nearing the end of our Gear of the Year series for this year, but before we wrap things up, here are the nominees for the best mid-priced electric guitars. These will fit you best if you’re looking to trade up from an entry-level model but not quite ready to splurge on your grail guitar.

The actual winner will be announced in our January issue, so keep an eye out for that. In the meantime, here are the nominees:

B&G Guitars Little Sister Crossroads Midnight Ocean

Like a genuine 1950s Burst, this humbucker-equipped Crossroads has an almost unnatural ability to hang onto notes beyond any reasonable expectations – and then veer off into all kinds of harmonic bloom while it’s doing it. All you have to do is hang on for the ride – and what a wonderfully wild ride it is.

Read our full review here.

Manson Guitar Works MA-25 Anniversary Edition

The MA-25  fills the supermassive black hole in your heart with big, heavy distortion. Stomp on the nearest filth generator and you’re rewarded with immense, velvety chords that ring out with near-infinite sustain, and single notes that cut through with clarity and precision. The tone stays crisp and solid on every fret, with no loss of midrange punch on the unwound strings even at the excitable end of the board.

Read our full review here.

Maybach Albatroz 65-2

With the Albatroz, you get a fine contrast from the neck pickup that can veer in tone from flutey to something that’s closer to a clarinet. What the Albatroz lacks in complexity and versatility is balanced out by a directness and no nonsense simplicity that’s very easy to fall for. It does get a tiny bit muddy when you turn down and, depending on your amp settings, the tone controls may venture beyond ‘woman tone’ into muddiness. But for vintage-voiced blues, rock and metal tones it’s the real deal.

Read our full review here.

Rivolta Mondata Standard

The Rivolta Mondata Standard is a sophisticated guitar with loads of character and isn’t easy to pigeonhole. If your playing style is a match for that description, and you don’t demand the snappy immediacy of a throw-around solidbody, it could be the perfect instrument to chase your blues – or greens – away.

Read our full review here.

Fender American Original ’50s Stratocaster

With more of a blackface-voiced amp and spring reverb, the American Original Strat’s inherent clarity leads to many lost hours simply digging into bends and letting notes hang in the air. As supplied, the set-up is excellent, with the vibrato floating smoothly and returning to pitch accurately – there’s also very little unwanted play in the arm. It’s a slice of luxury without the Custom Shop price to match.

Read our full review here.

Eastman SB59/v-GB

You know that a maker has got a Les Paul-style guitar right when it’s endlessly entertaining before you’ve wound up the gain or stepped on a drive pedal. Out of the box, without adjusting the screw coils, low notes on the bridge pickup are possibly a little foggy but other than that, as long as you aren’t obsessed with the brand name on your guitar’s headstock, it’s difficult to find a downside with the Eastman SB59/v-GB.

Read our full review here.