Not wanting to be left out of the new guitar fun, Ernie Ball Music Man, or EBMM as I prefer, unveiled their new Sabre (on the left) solid body guitar model. A super lightweight Okoume body is matched to a carved Maple top with binding. Two custom EBMM humbuckers bless the front of this almost offset Strat-style guitar. Flanking the Sabre on the right side above is their new JP model as well as Steve Lukather’s new model. All these new guitars match their incredible feel and engineering with some new twists and finishes. These will no doubt be fun to play, even if they cost an arm and a leg!
Despite being best known for their all time great amplifiers, Vox does have a long, rich history of guitar production. While it has slowed in the last decade or so, they are making a strong first impression in 2020 thanks to their new Bobcat models. Inspired by the British Invasion era, these two new semi-hollow guitars pack a ton of vintage tones and looks! The Maple Plywood body has a Spruce center block, paired to a Mahogany neck and Indonesian Ebony fretboard. The guitar comes in two varieties, the V90 with its dual P90 pickups or the S66 that sports three single coils!
Not to be outdone by its other competitors, PRS took the first day of NAMM by storm behind some new Silver Sky models. Two new finish options called Midnight Rose and Polar Blue will join the line in 2020, as will Maple fretboards.
PRS didn’t end there, in addition to sprucing up the current line, they teased the new Nebula edition Silver Sky as well. Limited to 500 guitars, the Nebula Silver Sky will come designed to reflect light at different angles, giving it the appearance of changing colors in light. Hit up PRS for more details and info!
Harmony, part of BandLab Technology, continues to release awesome guitar after awesome guitar. Their new Comet guitar, first teased in a press release and 60 Cycle Hum’s NAMM content, this guitar is their new take on the classic H-72 model. While they have yet to show any official pictures, check out 60 Cycle Hum’s instagram to see these beauty.
The Comet will feature Harmony’s proprietary Gold Foil pickups, a 25″ scale length, and a vintage, C-shaped neck! Available in Spring 2020, this is a must try guitar for me and should be for many of you too.
Fender got the official start of NAMM off to a great start with more Parallel Universe series instruments. Following up on the mixed response some of these guitars got last year, the Parallel Universe II series seems a bit more streamlined. Plus, it shows Fender branching outside their own design/company concepts in an exciting way!
Overall, 8 new guitars have been released to the word, some whackier than others. My favorite has got to be the two new Troublemaker instruments, the Deluxe and Deluxe Bigsby.
Inspired by the Telecaster’s arch rival, the Gibson Les Paul, this may be the most perfect marriage of these two instruments. Gibson is surely not too pleased to see this, but I love the idea of having some premium Gibson designs and sounds in a Fender package. 22 medium jumbo frets, Mahogany body, push-pull double tap pots and even block inlays. What’s not to like?
How about the same thing but with a Black Beauty twist and a Bigsby? Yeah, it’s pretty much a perfect guitar.
One of the weirdest, most striking guitars they just announced, meet the Maverick Dorado. Tim Shaw-designed Filter’tron pickups, a Bigsby, and straight up out-there looks abound. Hit up Fender’s website for even more about this new line and to see the other new models!
With the start of the year comes the start of a crazy month of gear announcements, unveiling, and buying/selling. Winter NAMM 2020 promises to be just as big, if not bigger, than last years behind plenty of exciting news. Let’s take a look at 6 of the guitars that caught my eye and will definitely be featured on this site in the months to come…
Fano Omnis GF6 – learn more here!
Fano has gotten into the affordable guitar game with their new under-$1000 line of Omnis series. The best of the bunch has got to be this GF6 offset semi-hollow (maybe hollow??) guitar that draws on the classic Fender Starcaster design. It looks like these guitars are going to sport Alder bodies, satin-finished Maple necks, and Pau Ferro fretboards. Plus, they’ll feature the same pickups as the USA-made Standard series!
Fender Player Lead III – learn more here!
Allegedly leaked by a Reverb seller and first reported by Gearnews.com, this new Fender Player Lead III looks absolutely nuts. Purple Metallic finish, dual humbuckers, and two switches that could be a 3-way and coil split?? I have to try this guitar, it just seems like it’s going to be killer.
Framus Devin Townshend D-Series Stormbender – check out more from Framus!
A new signature model from Framus and Devin Townshend, this Stormbender also a lot more wallet friendly than many of their other guitars. This set neck beauty boasts 22 frets that meet a Mahogany body where two Fishman Fluence Devin Townshend signature pickups grace your eyes. Throw in an Evertune bridge and Graphtech locking tuners and you’ve got one sweet, modern metal ready six string.
Supro Clermont – more info from Supro here!
Supro has had my attention all year (even if I haven’t gotten theirs yet) but this guitar takes it to another level. A semi-hollow that features a Bigsby, two Gold Foil minihumbuckers, all in a 335-sized package sounds great to me. The unique body and headstock design paired with the minihumbuckers makes this guitar quite the looker, and I have to imagine it has a totally unique tone to match. I need to play this one in 2020 for sure.
All three of Reverend’s new Contender models are awesome, but take a look at the ones on the left, the RB models. Their new Retroblast minihumbuckers are probably going to the next in a long line of beloved pickups. All that and a vibrato arm?? These cool, offset derivatives also feature the fantastic Bass Contour knob, a truly unique tone shaping option. We’ll hopefully have these and a few other Reverends reviewed in 2020!
Manson Meta Series MBC-1 – check here for more on the iconic guitar makers!
Now under the leadership of longtime endorsee, past partner, and Muse frontman Matt Bellamy, Manson finally has offered some more budget friendly options. The new MCB-1 guitars are made by Cort but bear the iconic Manson label as well as Bellamy’s signature on the headstock. New Manson-designed humbuckers will be set in to Basswood body, which will also have a kill switch. Satin Black and Starlight Silver finishes give the guitar a gloomy appearance, perfect for churning out Muse’s dystopian futuristic guitar riffs.
As part one in a long series of interviews with YouTube’s most popular guitar players, we had the pleasure of talking with Ryan from 60 Cycle Hum and asking him a few questions about what got him and Steve started, and of course, guitars.
With this series, we hope to shed light on how many of these incredibly popular YouTube guitarists, all with varied backgrounds, got to where they are today. Whether they moved from a live stage to the screen or never toured the country, many of these YouTube personalities are becoming “rock stars” or “guitar heroes” in their own distinct way.
Don’t forget to like, subscribe, and follow all of our 60 Cycle Hum’s videos and podcasts, you won’t be disappointed!
Matt: Hi Ryan, thanks so much for taking the time to talk to us! What inspired you to start the whole 60 Cycle Hum YouTube channel and pod cast and really your whole career in the guitar world? Especially because you are coming at it from a surf- and church-rock inspired angle unlike many of your peers.
“Well the podcast started because my co-host Steve and I would sit at our desk jobs and send craigslist ads back and forth to each other all day. Around the same time, we both started listening to podcasts, and we looked at each other and said well, we’re kind of already doing that now, we just need to actually record it. So, we spent about 6 months joking about it, and once we figured out a name for the show, we started doing it. We already had mic’s and basic recording experience so it was easy to jump into.
As far as moving to YouTube and demos, it kind of just naturally progressed from doing the podcast. A friend of ours visited JHS and I said “hey bring me back some pedals” like jokingly and when he came back he actually brought back some pedals for us. I had already got into doing video production work, and I figured if people were gonna start giving me pedals than I need to shoot video coverage of them. And it just kinda grew out of that, I’ve realized it’s something I really enjoy doing. It’s just kinda slowly grown over the past five years.”
Matt: You do some really cool, not necessarily complex but awesome modifications. You have made a Fender Flying V, you fixed up the Epiphone SL1…What is your favorite build that you’ve ever done for the channel?
“Oh man, this is a hard question. My most functional one I did before I started the podcast, it’s a Mexican Strat body with a baritone Telecaster neck on it. The modifications I’ve done to the Squier Bullet Mustang have been a ton of fun for me. I just did a bunch of paint modifications to it, then I threw in a kill switch and then I dropped in an noatronic expression system into it. It’s a bare bones, good playing, cheap guitar so you can do a lot to it and not feel bad about it.“
Matt: I also loved the Harley Benton Mustang-style one, and you did the self-cut pickguard.
“That one was a lot of fun. I think what I like the most about that one is that I didn’t like the guitar stock when it arrived. The pickups were kinda ehh, the hardware needed help, like it was a really cheap version of an offset tremolo. But now that I have a pickup in it that I like and did some cosmetic modifications, I really like that guitar!”
Matt: One thing I also noticed about your podcast and your videos, more so in the videos, is that you’ve done a lot of work with more affordable guitars. Did you start that partly out of a market inefficiency where people weren’t covering them? Did you just not wanna go out and get Gibson’s and Fender’s?
“It’s a lot of things. I think that I’ve always had an attraction and a love for affordable guitars. I have a bit of an ADD mentality for guitars, I play one for a little while and then I want to shift to another. That’s a lot easier to do with affordable guitars. If I was going to be someone who only spent more than $1500 on a guitar, I’d only buy a new guitar every 3 years. With $200 guitars you can buy a new one almost every month and just keep putting them back into the market and doing experiments with them.
I want to try every single guitar that there is and cheap guitars happen to be what I can afford to that. And there is this niche in the YouTube market for that, I don’t see a lot of people doing what I’m doing where I buy a cheap guitar and spend 5 or 6 videos doing mods to it or exploring it and demoing it.”
Matt: Money aside or modifications aside, if the Fender or Gibson Custom shop was going to build you a dream guitar, what would you pick?
“I play surf rock and a lot of more classic/retro music, but I started out, my very first guitar was this Floyd Rose, 24 frets, shred kind of thing. That’s one thing I really like about the Harley Benton guitars, they all have really flat radius. I’ve always wanted a guitar that has that early ‘60s look like a Jaguar or Vox Phantom, but is like a secret shredder. Like a Jaguar with a Wizard neck on it or something. And a pickup that is wound just a little bit too hot. Like some sort of a Jazzmaster or Jaguar that is secretly hot rodded to be a fast player and high output with some sort of ridiculous metal flake look.”
Cost: $799.99 new, or find a better deal on Reverb.com!
Huge thanks to the whole Gretsch/Fender team for lending me this stunning semi-hollow!
Overview & Final Score: 8.3
The Gretsch Electromatic Series gives players classic Gretsch sounds and shapes in a more affordable, imported design. The G5622T may just be the best of the whole Electromatic group, with its center block design, Bigsby tremolo system, and this eye catching Walnut Stain finish with gold pickguard. These G5622T models also feature two Hilo’Tron humbuckers that can really chime and sing. The controls may seem daunting with knobs all over the place, but are actually quite simple. The 3-way selector sits right at the top of the near body wing, while a master volume sits across the way from it, on the far body wing. Above the f hole are dedicated volumes for each pickup, with a master tone knob on the other side of the f hole.
For a fraction of the price of an American-made Gretsch, their G5622T model gets pretty darn close that classic Country Gentlemen sound. While the Hilo’Tron pickups don’t maintain all the clarity that classic Filter’Tron models do, they have that same chime and Gretsch sound. They sound the best when plugged into a cranked tube amp, providing a ton of breakup and sizzle that is somewhere between a Telecaster and a Les Paul.
Plugged into the Harmony 8418 I just reviewed, I got the most authentic ’50s and ’60s guitar tones I ever have. All three pickup configurations provided plenty of output, more than expected, making fuzzed out lead riffs and punk power chords fill my whole house with sound. The neck pickup has far less clarity than other Filter’Tron style pickups I’ve played and sounded best when played with a slide. The middle and bridge positions had more clarity and jangle, letting me dial in everything from Beatles to Rancid with ease.
One of the most fun things about this guitar is the Bigsby, even if it makes changing strings a complete hassle. Bigsby’s are back in the mainstream suddenly, with tons of players putting them on old pawnshop guitars or new signature models. It really gives the guitar some added dimension, especially when you drench the guitar in reverb. You can go from surf to rockabilly to new wave so fast, I loved how many styles I could play with this plugged into my Vox AC15.
Overall, the G5622T’s tuning stability is a bit compromised by the Bigsby, with it quickly slipping if you push the tremolo bar too far. If you ignore the vibrato bar all together, you’ll find a much more reliable guitar waiting for you. The neck feels about right for the price, maybe a bit better than expected. The 24.6″ scale length felt really comfortable, even though I’ve never really played a lot of Gretsch products before. The 22 medium jumbo frets had no sharp edges, and the neck was straight, stable, and fast. Some of the higher frets may look hard to reach, but still felt pretty easy to get to, especially with a slide.
Finish & Construction: 9.0
Gretsch’s Walnut Stain on the G5622T is killer, and the other finish options (Black, Georgia Green, and Vintage Orange) are probably equally as impressive. I can’t find any flaws on the finish or construction, even if the hardware isn’t the top shelf stuff you’d find on slightly more expensive models. It’s pretty close to perfect, with only a few overall issues throughout the whole guitar. Durability wise, the guitar seems well built and solidly put together, even if I’m always a bit skeptical of semi-hollow or hollow guitars. The tuning stability, looks, and almost noiseless pickups make it a reliable live option.
This guitar is no doubt a phenomenal six string, I really have loved playing it. Part of me still thinks it’s priced about $100 too much. With so many awesome sub-$500 on the market today, I feel like you are paying just to have “Gretsch” on the headstock. Plus, Bigsby’s are so ridiculously up-charged, that I’d rather have the guitar without one if it saves me some money. Apparently, there are only left handed models available of that version too?? It’s not a rip off and it’s a fantastic guitar, but my final thoughts are that I would only pay $700+ for this if I absolutely wanted this Gretsch guitar above all other Electromatics. I’m sad to see it go, and I went back and forth over trying to find a way to keep this thing because at the end of the day, it just feels and sounds killer!
Good For: Rockabilly, New Wave, Classic Rock
Huge thanks to Ben from BandLab Technologies for loaning me this awesome combo amp!
How it Works and Final Score: 8.5
Harmony’s recently released 8418 combo amp was one of my most anticipated amps of 2019. I’ve been dying to try it since I first saw it was available for sale last Fall. Luckily, Harmony agreed to loan me one of these 5 watt beauties for review. The 8418 is a reissue combo amp that boasts the same looks, circuitry, and construction as their original 8418 amps from decades ago. 6V6 vacuum tubes paired with an Italian-made 6″ Jensen speaker provide classic ’50s and ’60s guitar tones in an apartment friendly package. The amp has two input lines, but only one controllable parameter. A volume knob lets you go from subtle tube tones that never really get clean to Jack White-friendly crunch that never really gets distorted.
Harmony’s 8418 provides some very interesting sonic soundscapes. It kind of sounds exactly how I imagine every amp in Dan Auerbach or Jack White’s garage sounds like, just much quieter. The tones you can produce are phenomenal but lack clear note to note definition. This should be expected though as this classic ’50 amp is meant to provide a ton of vintage vibes. It’s got an almost radio-like quality to the tone, and I mean that as a compliment!
I noticed that after the launch of the amp, the 8418 was advertised as doing two things: taking pedals great and having plenty of headroom for clear tones. First off, this amp does take effects, especially drives and fuzzes, incredibly well. You can warp the fuzzy, crackly tones from the the amp with ease through a Blues Driver or Big Muff. However, I really didn’t feel it actually had much headroom and the clean tones still retain some sizzle (which sounds great!) and lack note definition. Overall it limits the versatility of the amp to be a true practice amp unless your playing styles are limited to the blues and crunch-drenched rock. BUT, every tone you can get of this amplifier is otherwise fantastic and inspiring!
Durability & Construction: 9.0
Despite an incredibly budget friendly price, this amp boasts the original handmade construction and wiring of the first 8418s. That craftsmanship is evident and the amp not only looks awesome, but seems perfect for a bedroom or studio setting. The Tolex wrapping, compact size, and lack of complicated wiring make me think these things will last a lifetime. Sometimes it is hard to judge an amps durability in comparison to a guitar, but considering this amp isn’t likely to hit the stage soon, I’m a big fan of the job Harmony did here.
In addition to stellar vintage tones, the 8418 is also incredibly affordable. Coming in around $400, this makes the amp even more appealing for players who want a smaller combo amp to pair with their main gigging amp. In my opinion, it isn’t quite as versatile as something like a Vox AC4, but it has just as much, if not more character and magic inside. Overall, Harmony knocked it out of the park with this one and perhaps even I’m being too hard on this little amp. Check out the 8418 soon as they are only a limited edition reissue!
Supro has continued in the current trend of major guitar makers sharing their new NAMM models early! They also really hopped on the Bigsby bandwagon this year, and included the re-popularized tremolo system on both the Conquistador (on the right) and Clermont (on the left) models.
The Conquistador and Clermont are essentially the same, stunning guitar but with different pickup configurations. In “Trans British Racing Green”, the Conquistador packs the familiar single f hole Supro style into a larger, 335-sized body. A Bigsby B7 tremolo graces the guitar along with a Gold Foil Mini-humbucker in the neck, and an Alnico 3 PAF humbucker in the bridge.
Dazzling thanks to its “Aqua Burst” finish, the Clermont pairs two of those same Gold Foil Mini-humbuckers in the same 335-sized package. Unlike the Conquistador’s Mahogany body, the Clermont has an all Maple, flat-top construction. Both guitars also feature the vintage “Hofner Tea Cup”-style knobs. Even better, both cost just under $1000 each, providing surprising value behind the glamorous looks and features.