As this very strange year speeds towards its end, it’s time for our annual celebration of the past 12 months in guitar gear. You voted in your thousands for the best products of 2020 and the results of the second most talked-about election of the year can be found in this issue. If you’re planning on splashing out on a new toy in the coming weeks, be sure to read this essential buyer’s guide first.
The various lockdown restrictions most of us have endured this year have only served to accelerate a move towards direct recording, home-friendly amps and online collaboration. We’ve had to adapt to different ways of making music and, even when live shows return in earnest, some of the new habits we’ve picked up are likely to stick.
Personally, I’ve found that recording direct with a Universal Audio Ox delivers more satisfying results than many of the more old-school recording methods I’ve used in studios over the years. The tone-sculpting flexibility and sheer control isn’t something I’d want to lose, it’s considerably cheaper than paying for every tick of the studio clock and you can guarantee that you’ll get a decent cup of tea.
That said, the handful of occasions on which I’ve performed live with other humans this year have been precious experiences and I cannot wait for that crackle of electricity to be a normal part of life again. I’m sure many of you feel the same way.
What will 2021 bring in terms of new gear? We’ll take a deep dive into that subject next month. But it seems inevitable that gallons of R&D perspiration are currently being expended in an effort to provide us with even more amazing ways for the guitar to dovetail with cutting-edge tech and modern life, all the while preserving the essential organic qualities that, other than the human voice, make our chosen musical instrument the most expressive and emotive of all. Have a wonderful holiday season and a happy new year – I’ll see you in 2021.
Inside the issue
Little Barrie’s latest album was born in a basement studio and is heavy on atmospherics. We return to the scene of the sessions to find out how it all went down.
There you go: this is the best guitar gear – guitars, pedals, amps and more – we’ve had the pleasure of playing this year.
And as is the tradition, we’ve also included in each issue a free 2021 calendar filled with stunning photographs of vintage rarities!