2018 will be remembered for a lot of things: the daring Thai cave rescue, France’s barnstorming World Cup victory, Facebook’s privacy debacle… But for us, it’s all about the gear.
We were fortunate enough to test-drive dozens of new guitars, amplifiers and pedals over the past 12 months, and these are the 10 most popular reviews of the year. (These aren’t the best gear we’ve reviewed – for that, you can head on over here – but rather, those that were the read the most.)
PRS Silver Sky
John Mayer’s signature PRS sure kicked up a storm when it was announced back in March – so much so that it’s easily the most talked-about guitar of 2018. But look beyond the mud slung at it and you’ll find an excellent electric guitar that can do the job on any stage.
Fender American Original 60s Jazzmaster
Given that most of Fender’s contemporary interpretations of the classic guitar didn’t bear as many period-accurate specs as purists would like, it’s no surprise that this review is among our most-read of 2018. (In case you’re wondering, yes, this new Jazzmaster is as faithful to the original as it can be without ostracising modern players.)
Fender Hot Rod Deluxe IV & Hot Rod DeVille IV
The first amp review on the list goes to Fender’s refresh of its Deluxe and DeVille models, which made their debuts back at NAMM 2018.
Taylor Builder’s Edition K14ce with V-Class bracing
It’s the only acoustic guitar review on the list, but it’s a big one. Taylor is changing the game with its V-Class bracing system, and it seems as though most of you wanted to find out more about the guitar and, importantly, hear it in action.
Fender American Original 60s Telecaster & 50s Stratocaster
Another two from Fender’s American Original range, these electrics impressed with their smooth playability, stunning tones and fidelity to golden-era designs. And as two of the most iconic six-strings around, it’s great to see most guitar players excited about new iterations of the classics.
Marshall Origin 20C
Of course, Marshall’s most interesting release in years made it to this list. Billed as an amp with traditional tube tones, classic aesthetics and modern features, the Origin 20C will please just about anybody.
Fractal Audio Systems Axe-Fx III
The Axe-Fx remains the benchmark of high-end digital modelling systems, and the third edition of the device is the most powerful of its kind in the market now. That Fractal surprised NAMM 2018 attendees with this unexpected launch certainly helped propel its review onto this list.
Universal Audio OX Amp Top Box
Coming up to the top three, we’re pleasantly surprised by the inclusion of this multi-talented attenuator. It’s not the most attractive guitar gear, so it goes to show that – just perhaps – analogue purists are beginning to seriously and genuinely consider adding digital equipment to their rigs. We certainly are.
Fender Player Series
When the Fender Player Series was announced in June as the successor to its Standard line, everyone wanted a piece of the new guitars and basses. These are affordable and accessible instruments that are as great for beginners as they are for gigging musicians – and we especially love the Telecaster.
Gibson 2018 Les Paul Classic & Traditional
Despite – or perhaps because of – Gibson’s troubles in 2018, our in-depth look at two of its new Les Pauls is the most-read Guitar Magazine review of the year. But rest assured: the company has lost none of its touch building quality guitars.
Check out our most-read features of the year here.