10 Great Guitar Products From 2011

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Secret Santa

In the Collins’ household, the best guitar presents are the ones that you get yourself over the course of the year.  In no particular order here are 10 great guitar products that were left under the virtual Christmas tree throughout the year.

Guitar Pro (Arobas music)

I’ve had very poor luck with guitar-tab software in the past, but this is a great product.  Good product design should be transparent in its functionality and intuitive in its use and the Guitar Pro interface is both.   In addition to being a convenient way for me to get lessons up online, it can also double as a phrase trainer.

Clip-on Chromatic Tuner (Snark)

This doesn’t track as well as (my much more expensive) Stobostomp pedal, but it tracks really well and being able to have a visual sighting of the tuning through out a gig without having to change anything in the signal chain is a real plus.

POD HD 500 (Line 6)

Modelers are like guitar strings.  There are a number of good products on the market but every player will have a personal preference that has them choosing one over the other.  Line 6 went back to the drawing board for the models in the HD design and it shows in the sounds.  It’s both the best sounding and the most responsive unit that they’ve made yet and the best in its price range.

M-109 6 band EQ (MXR)

One of the few quibbles with the POD HD series is the lack of a global EQ. Since my Atomic Reactor amp has a bump in the 90-100Hz range and a cut around 3k, this 6-band pedal is small enough to fit in a gig bag and smooths out all of my patches with the amp.

S-Gear (Scuffham Amps)

With only 3 amps and a few effects, you might think that this AU/VST plug in would be a tough sell in a market with so many models and effects – but when you have the right 3 amps (and some great bundled IRs from RedWirez) –  it’s not an issue.  The tones from the Duke and Stealer amps in this unit sound better than many professionally recorded guitars I’ve heard and they all have the responsiveness and the  feel of playing a real amp    Look for a Guitar-Muse interview with Mike Scuffham in the weeks ahead.

Q3HD Video Recorder (Zoom)

The video quality is good and the audio quality is excellent for a unit this size.  In addition to being able to record live gigs; this is also a great unit for recording practice sessions so I can really check my progress on various things I’m working on.

SooperLooper

This shareware plug in got an upgrade this year.  For those of you who remember the Gibson/Oberheim Digital Echoplex, this is your lucky day.  SooperLooper is an AU unit that duplicates the looping functionality of that unit. You can also run multiple versions of the looper to get multi-track loops happening.  This is a critical component of my live laptop rig and changed how I view looping entirely.

Cold Sweat 8 string Pick up (Bare Knuckle Pickups)

While I like DiMarzio and Seymour Duncan pickups, when it came time to swap out the pickups on my 8-string guitar the hand-wound Bare Knuckle Pickups were the logical choice.  I’m very partial to the Cold Sweat I have in the Neck position, but I have yet to hear a bad pickup from them.  Highly recommended.

Transcribe! (Seventhstring software)

This app also got a substantial update this year.  In addition to being a great tool for slowing down audio and maintaining pitch, you can also load QuickTime videos into the player and slow them down.  The eq, speed and pitch controls are the best I’ve encountered.

Aeropress Coffee Maker (Aerobie)

Remember the Aerobies?  They were the thin circular discs that could be thrown much further than any Frisbee. They’re not the first company I would think of for making the best inexpensive coffee maker I’ve used, but surprises are a big part of life.  I have a very caffeine-fueled existence, so coffee is one of the few areas that I’m a real stickler for in terms of quality.   The coffee from the Aeropress (assuming you’re using good coffee) is really smooth and only takes about a ½ minute to make once the water is boiled.  You can get a version of it that fits in a small carry case and take it anywhere (including camping).  If you’re going to stay up all night playing guitar – this might be the most important accessory you own.

That caps out my year in gear!

I wish you all a happy and healthy 2012 (and play a lot guitar)!

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Scott Collins

Scott Collins is the author of the pedagogical/reference series, The GuitArchitect’s Guide To: and several e-book titles that include: An Indie Musician Wake Up Call and Selling It Versus Selling Out. His playing is inspired by a wide range of western and non-western music, and, as a performer, he specializes in real-time composition.

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