The Guitar.com Awards 2022: Essential Award winner revealed
These are the products that could change your guitar playing forever.
With the Essential Award, we’re looking at the products that can transform your playing life. Whether it’s a guitar, amp or a pedal, whatever it is they do, they do it best. Let’s take a look at the nominees.
WINNER: Positive Grid Spark Mini
Smart practice solutions are not hard to come by, but often they really don’t earn the descriptor ‘smart.’ The Spark Mini from Positive Grid does. The integration with the smartphone app is fuss-free, and there’s actually a good reason to use it: there’s a huge library of tones to download, and it makes putting together your own custom signal chain a breeze. It works as a companion app should, by just not getting in the way and functioning as an extension of the amp.
All these features would make a pretty good little practice box. What makes this one great? It sounds like an amp three times its size, thanks in part to the sort of passive bass radiator you might find on a portable bluetooth speaker. Resonating at lower frequencies, this passive cone is driven by the pressure from the two smaller two-inch speakers to kick out far more bass than would otherwise be possible from such a wee amp.
As we said in our review: “The Spark Mini doesn’t just sound good for a small practice amp, it doesn’t just sound good for a modelling amp – it’s just a great sounding amp. Full stop. No qualifications” Not bad for an amp that’s just 14 cm wide.
Oopegg Supreme Collection Trailbreaker Mark I
Boutique Jazzmaster-inspired offsets are a great way to instantly communicate that yes, you have great taste in weird-looking guitars but also those tastes are far too niche to be catered to by even the most outre of offerings from Fender or Gibson. Enter, then, the Oopegg Supreme Collection Trailbreaker Mark I, which combines the best of both Fender and Gibson camps: with a shorter scale length and vintage-voiced humbuckers, as well as a Descendent vibrato and a single-coil in the middle position it’s a true all-rounder, not to mention absolutely beautifully designed and made.
The legendary Roland Space Echo has pretty much defined the sound of multi-head tape echo pedals for a generation. The latest revamp from Boss came in two forms: the compact RE-2, and the bigger RE-202. The RE-202 was our firm favourite, offering more tonal wackiness right there at your feet with its extra footswitches, an ‘aged’ tape mode and an extra tape head thrown in for good measure. It’s more than just a shrunk-down reissue: it’s a downright essential delay pedal for anyone who’s ever felt that magnetic pull of, well, magnetic tape.