Mid-Year Update On Guitar And Pedal Rankings

With 6 months of guitar and gear reviews down, what are the most impressive to date?

The rest of 2021 will feature some big reviews from brands like Gibson, Fender, Squier Supro, D’Angelico, and many more that I’m pumped to talk about. But before we get there, and to the end of the year rankings, let’s do a quick update on how the current review rankings stand. Despite some slow downs, delays, and issues related to gear reviews during the Covid-19 era, we still have a pretty large selection of guitar reviews to discuss as well as far more pedals than I could have expected. So this year, in addition to our ultra-detailed guitar review rankings, we’ll be doing the same thing for guitar pedals!

To date, 10 guitar reviews have been published, with 3 more on the way in the coming weeks before it is time to get the next shipment in. The top 5 sports a mix of expensive, affordable, and mid-priced guitars from some familiar brands. There’s going to be a lot of new brands appearing on the site soon, but so far I will admit the reviews have featured heavily covered companies like Fender, PRS, Gibson, etc..

Electric Guitars

ModelRating (1-10)Grab Your Own
Fender Acoustasonic Stratocaster9.4Reverb.com
Dunable DE Cyclops8.8Reverb.com
PRS SE Custom 24-088.6Reverb.com
Fender Noventa Series Telecaster8.3Reverb.com
Sterling by Music Man Cutlass CT50HSS8.3Reverb.com

The Acoustasonic Stratocaster is far and away one of the best instruments I have ever played. It’s very musical and incredibly comfortable, there’s no denying it even if you’re skeptical. But after that work of art, there is a real competition brewing between this amazing Dunable DE Cyclops, which was much more than just a metal guitar, and the PRS SE Custom 24-08 which is just so damn versatile. I’ve played a lot of guitars in the $800-$1000 range and been pretty impressed, many of these are absolutely ready for a tour or gig right out of the box. The Cutlass, on paper, should have been a “boring” guitar and yet I found it absolutely wonderful to play and I’ll take it to a gig tomorrow instead of my own HSS Strat.

Effects and Pedals

ModelRating (1-10)Grab Your Own
Shotmaker Instruments Heroine (Gain)10Reverb.com
Danelectro 3699 fUZZ (Fuzz)9.0Reverb.com
Interchange Noise Works Element 119 (Gain)8.75Reverb.com
Thirty7fx Fat Guy Little Coat (Fuzz)8.5Reverb.com
JHS 3 Series Delay (Delay) 8.0Reverb.com

No surprises here, the Heroine from Shotmaker Instruments is one of the best gain pedals I have ever played hands down. It’s an amp in a box, but it is also so much more than that thanks to the ability to dial in 2-gain stages to craft everything from boost to overdrive to mid-scooped metal tones. I don’t usually like boutique pedals, so my appreciation for this pedal should be taken seriously. Interchange Noise Works should also get major props for what is a beautiful mix of distortion and fuzz with the Element 119. Lastly, that JHS 3 Series Delay is way better than 99% of $99 pedals.


Published by Matt Dunn

Guitar and music journalist for Ultimate-Guitar.com and Guitarsforidiots.com as well as a contributor for Guitarniche.com and Stringjoy.com. Reach out to talk about guitars, commission a partscaster, or ask for a review.

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