Gear of the Year 2022

Published on 14 December 2022


As 2022 waves us a brisk and frosty farewell, we reflect on the year from many perspectives. In other areas, it has been a bizarre one, but in gear terms it’s been pretty spectacular! Guitars, amps and pedals: every area of our music-loving lifestyle has been enhanced with some excellent new instruments and products.

Today, we want to round up some of our favourite choices from 2022. We’ve asked some staff members to contribute too, so you can get a balanced insight into what got us excited this year! Our list is in no order, nor is it exhaustive. After all, it’s been a great 12 months for new releases! That said, let’s charge on!


PRS SE Silver Sky

This was easily the biggest talking point of the year, much as its US-made sibling was a few years ago. John Mayer’s Strat-aping collab with PRS has proven to be simultaneously divisive AND hugely popular! Truly, anyone who has played an SE Silver Sky will attest to their quality: the neck feel is just outrageously nice, and the pickups have a clarity and depth that puts them in the big leagues. Add in a brace of fresh finishes along with PRS’ signature headstock and birds, and you have the sensation of the year.


Staff Pick - Ray McClelland: Gibson Faded Standards

No matter how many Les Pauls and SGs come in through the gg front doors, we never tire of seeing them. They are some of the coolest and most effective guitars in the business, and these new Faded finish models float our collective boat for sure.

As with glossier options, these Faded Gibsons are offered up in both 50s and 60s versions for Les Pauls, with correspondingly different neck profiles and finishes. Our favourite, though, is the SG Standard Faded 61 with Maestro Tremolo. That faded cherry just suits the SG down to the ground, and the black open coil humbuckers add an extra edge of ‘hard rock’ too. Add the Maestro tailpiece and you have vibe for days! This is the SG to get if you already have a Les Paul, and the Les Paul models are the ones to go for if you want a little patina of age to slowly show up after a few years’ dedicated playing and slaying.


Staff Pick - Tomas Iversen: Tyler Dan Huff Signature 

Dan Huff is the original Tyler endorsee, whose association with the LA boutique brand goes back to his uber-session-man days of the 80s. He’s now back with them and this ultra cool axe is an accurate recreation of his famous yellow Tyler from back in the day.

One of the ‘Top 3’ of famous session players (alongside Steve Lukather and Mike Landau), Huff is most certainly overdue this recognition. From country to slick pop and hard rock, Huff has done it all on this Floyd-equipped stun gun, and now you can too!

To say that Tyler guitars are revered would be quite the understatement - they are often cited as the world’s greatest s-types - and this doozy is equal parts cool and eccentric.



Jackson American Series SL3

We’ve long awaited the moment when Jackson guitars started emerging from the US again. Jackson’s origins lie of course with the original Custom Shop of Wayne Charvel and Grover Jackson, so it’s a special thing to have the brand releasing some high-end US models again.

For straight up performance, it’s hard to beat a Jackson Soloist, and this new American Series SL3 is a star. Everything you need is here: the neck-through construction, the hot pickups, the back-routed Floyd Rose, the pointed headstock and those immortal sharkfin inlays; every element here is highly concentrated to deliver intense, expressive results.


Staff Pick - Nicole Cavin: EastCoast G1 Acoustic

Low cost beginner acoustic guitars are a vastly superior specimen of guitar from yesteryear, but even so, we were super-impressed by this gorgeous EastCoast G1. Available in a rainbow of colours (which are all gorgeous), the quality on show here makes this guitar a no-brainer purchase. The Grand Auditorium body size is compact and beautiful, and features details like binding on the body and the fingerboard to elevate the look.

It’s an easy, comfortable player, and it looks great, whether you prefer the Water Melon (pink) colour, Pistachio (green) or any of the other great finishes. Great for beginners and loads of fun for experienced players who want a casual ‘player’ guitar to take anywhere.


Staff Pick - Neal Beedie: MXR Duke of Tone Overdrive

Analogman are one of the original boutique overdrive brands, with years-long waiting lists for their output. Great news then, that they decided to collaborate with MXR on a tasty transparent overdrive that’s not only excellent, but available right now!

MXR have excellent previous game in both the Overdrive pedal and collaboration areas, so this one was highly anticipated by us. Every guitarist deserves (and requires) at least one high quality overdrive and the rich tones offered by the MXR Duke of Tone makes this contender a worthy addition to all discerning pedalboards.


Staff Pick: Adam Speck - Fender Custom Shop Dealer Select Flash Coat Stratocasters

This year, we received a shipment of special Strats that we believe step around the whole relic debate. Instead of sounding off on whether we like pre-worn guitars or not, we ordered a run of beautiful Custom Shop 'Flash Coat' Strats made with a special, exceptionally thin 3 coat nitro finish. This will wear in and show signs of age much quicker than a standard nitro finish, meaning that all ‘relic’ work will be done by you, the player!

On top of this innovation, these Strats have lovely handwound pickups and great D-shape necks with a compound radius that goes from a vintage 7.25” to a flatter, more bend-friendly 9.5”. All in, these Strats are life-partners who’ll show all of your own playing wear and tear in a beautiful, natural way. Lefties are included too!



Staff Pick: Keiran Hird - Fender Tone Master Princeton

Here’s a great idea: accurately recreate the sound and sonic behaviour of a vintage valve Princeton, but make it solid state and weigh about half as much as the classic valve model. It’s the type of thing that companies often boast of but seldom deliver. Fender, using huge amounts of processing power and tons of wattage for headroom, have finally achieved it!

The tone differences between the new Tone Master Princeton and its tube-driven sibling are so minimal, it’s hardly worth mentioning. The reverb and tremolo sound immense and it’s a relatively manageable thing to lift up a set of stairs. Sold!


Staff Pick: Iain Montgomery - Soldano SLO Overdrive Pedal

The Soldano sound is one of the most prestigious in the guitar world. In short, there’s pretty much no high gain amp that can match it, let alone beat it. Can this sound really be captured in a little pedal?

Kind of, yeah! It really does depend on what it’s plugged into, but if you have a quality tube amp and a nice cabinet, then the Soldano SLO will give you that rich, saturated and ever-so-expressive gain tone that you thought you’d never attain. There are a lot of distortion and overdrive pedals out there, so it takes a special event to make us notice it, not to mention remember it at the end of a busy year. This pedal did exactly that, and we all have it on our Christmas lists!


Positive Grid Spark Mini

The Positive Grid Spark was a major success upon its release a few summers ago. It was already relatively compact, so the need for a really small Spark Mini model wasn’t immediately obvious to us. That is, not until we saw them for ourselves and plugged into one!

This space-saver may have a tiny footprint but it’s no tonal lightweight. With the minimal of control settings (you work more in the app than on the device), you can have easy access to those same top quality sounds, from pristine to pushed, vintage to gnarly. There are a plethora of extra features (Bluetooth streaming, SmartJam, video integration) but the real take away from this is a truly mobile amp that sounds like a collection of fully mature amps in their prime. Every desk/studio/spare room requires one!


Staff Pick: Cameron Galloway - Kithara Harland

With modern guitar design, it’s not so much coming up with wildly new ideas (guitarists don’t seem to like too much diversion from the classics) as much as it’s juxtaposing different elements from various models in cool, unique ways.

Such is the case with Northern Ireland’s Kithara guitars. This relatively new brand from Belfast blends hand-crafted finesse with a combination of classic elements to bring guitars that have more than a touch of swaggery Tarantino about them. Convincingly distressed finishes (pink and gold are personal faves), unusual pickup choices and absolutely killer neck carves come together to make Kithara one of the most exciting brands we’ve taken on this year.


Staff Pick: Anna Gembal McLaughlin - Taylor 500 & 700 Series

Taylor’s redesigning of their upper tier levels have proven to be a wise move, given the success of their 500 and 700 series. Taylor have always struck a perfect balance between giving the player a sensational playing experience and offering up a unique visual identity that’s neither too flash nor plain jane.

The Taylor 700 series in particular is exciting: the changing of the tonewoods to being entirely Koa (it was previously Sitka Spruce and Rosewood) is more than just a gorgeous visual glow-up: this series now offers  a legitimately different tone to the rest of Taylor’ ranges. It’s a viable alternative avenue to go down in your guitaristic explorations, and a wholly welcome one too.


Eventide H90

Adventurous guitarists in the 1980s had to suffer mortgage-inducing costs to get their hands on a hallowed Eventide Harmonizer. Unlike standard choruses or reverbs, the Harmonizer used (for its time) humongous levels of processing to deliver sounds that were just impossible to achieve otherwise.

That was back then. Today, processing is of course on a whole other level, and Eventide have been able to cram a spectacular universe of special FX into one lil’ box, the Eventide H90. The effects are happily outlandish, with names like Polyphony, Prism Shift, Bouquet Delay, HeadSpace, Weedwacker, Even-vibe, Wormhole and Instant Flanger. You can perform complex pitch-shifting feats with very low latency, and there’s a ton of useful inputs and outputs onboard so that you can connect this box of tricks to much more than just your guitar.


Fender MonoNeon Jazz Bass V

Sick of the usual Sunburst, Black and White options for your 5-string bass choices? How about bright yellow and orange then? On the same bass? Madcap bass maverick MonoNeon has you covered with his signature Fender Jazz bass.

The Fender MonoNeon Jazz Bass V is a powerhouse in more than just the visual flash department, though it’s certainly that! Onboard this citrus dream is a powerful set of Fireball pickups and an active 3-band EQ, to allow you as much muscle or finesse as you require.

Gold hardware and a roasted maple neck add finishing touches to probably the most singularity distinctive bass of 2022.


2022 - What a Year for Gear!

These tasty morsels are just a few highlights from a year of brilliant gear. Diversity has proven to be the flavour of 2022, with classic designs brushing shoulders with bold, more esoteric items. Of course, we still love our Teles, Gretsches and dreadnoughts, but it’s always fun to try out new shapes and specs: it keeps things fresh and lively!

What was your favourite gear of 2022? Did you see it on our list? As always, let us know! Have a great remainder of 2022, and here’s to a fantastic 2023!


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I'm a musician and artist originally from the South West coast of Scotland. I studied Visual Arts and Film Studies at...

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