Guitar World Staff Picks: Paul Riario's 2013 Holiday Gear Wish List
As the holidays — and some much-needed time off — swiftly approach, I present to you my holiday gear wish list, all of which I hope Santa will be kind enough to leave under my tree.
I know certain items on my wish list are somewhat pricey, but hey, that’s why I call it a wish list! Even so, if I don’t get it all, just receiving one (or some) will give me holiday cheer well into next year.
10. Gibson Music City Jr. with B-Bender, gibson.com; $2,199
I love Les Paul Juniors and B-Benders, and the Gibson Music City Jr. combines both, along with a really comfortable maple neck and wood finish.
The P90 pickups offer up the right amount of grit to country-inspired licks, but the B-Bender (a mechanism that raises the pitch of the B string a whole tone simply by pushing down on your guitar strap for smoother pedal steel sounds) adds a whole dimension of possibility.
I know this device intimidates most guitarists, but once you overcome your initial hesitation and just try it out, you’ll be surprised at how much fun a guitar like this plays and sounds. It just might inspire you to add some really slinky pedal steel bends to your music.
09. VOX Custom Limited Edition Cream and Purple AC15C1 amplifier, voxamps.com; $1,000
It’s no secret that I’m a huge fan of the VOX AC30. I tell many guitarists that that is generally my go-to amplifier.
It is a perfect amp with the right amount of volume, compression and chime but most importantly, it’s ideal for pumping pedals through it to achieve any number of great guitar sounds.
This time around, I’m looking for a lower-wattage amp, and the new VOX AC15C1 is the one to choose. With a Celestion Creamback speaker, reverb and tremolo, channel switching, top boost and normal inputs, I can get a killer guitar sound in seconds, and at a reasonable breakup volume.
Get it now with these brand-new limited-edition colors that just add flair and collectability.
08. TC HELICON Harmony Singer, tc-helicon.com; $275
I remember being one of the first guitarists in my scene to use TC’s original VoiceLive Vocal FX processor, which was a bulky unit where you had to scroll through presets and key changes in order to get the proper harmony when singing back up vocals.
However, the new TC Helicon Harmony Singer detects what key I’m in, offers multiple harmony options, and onboard reverb simply by plugging my guitar and mic into it.
It also features an adaptive tone control that combines the perfect mix of compression, de-essing, gating and EQ to sweeten your vocal sound. What makes this pedal even more desirable is the fact it doesn’t alter your guitar sound because it works as a thru pedal and is compact enough to stay on your main pedalboard.
07. Dean Guitars Backwoods Six Electric Banjo, deanguitars.com; $369
Let’s face it: Today’s most popular music involves instruments other than just electric guitars driving the beat.
It seems mandolins and banjos are all the rage now and I must admit, I’m falling for the banjo’s charm. The Dean Backwoods is a six-string electric banjo, meaning, there’s no learning curve here for us guitar players.
Just plug in and start playing on its comfortable C-shaped neck, 25-½ inch scale and listen how loud the notes pop from its mahogany resonator back. It comes in polished black finish to make you look metal, even if you’re playing “Dueling Banjos.”
06. Levy’s Leathers M17SS guitar strap, levysleathers.com; $143.80
This M17SS strap from Levy’s Leathers comes in over eight different colors, and is without a doubt, the softest leather strap I’ve ever felt.
It features 2 1/2-inch triple-ply super-soft garment leather with contrasting double stitching and is adjustable from 41 inches to 54 inches.
It’s worth the price considering that it won’t pill your favorite T-shirt and feels plush on your shoulder.
05. Fender Classic Player Baja Telecaster, fender.com; $1099.99
In Black, with a black pickguard, please.
What more can I say? It’s a Telecaster, one of the most classic and iconic guitar designs, and one of the simplest. I had visited the Fender factory in Ensenada, Mexico, a couple years ago and was so impressed with the quality of manufacturing that I came home with a loud and perfectly setup Guild acoustic.
It’s safe to say the Tele that’s produced and assembled here is going to be just as amazing.
04. Martin OMJM John Mayer acoustic, martinguitar.com; $4,349
Back when John Mayer just started to hit his stride in popularity, this particular model fell into our hands at Guitar World, and we couldn’t believe how magical it sounded.
We all gasped, “What? A signature acoustic from a new artist that sounds this good? Can’t be."
Well, it does. With a vintage tint on its spruce top and solid Indian rosewood back and sides to make the acoustic visually appealing, it’s the OM 28 size that makes this body a wonderland for producing warm acoustic tones.
03. Yamaha THR10X Hi-Gain Modeling Combo, yamahaguitars.com; $460
This popular 10W modeling amp is designed for guitarists who want more gain and metal sounds.
The THR10X comes with a slew of effects, built-in tuner, editing software, and stereo 8-inch speakers making it the ultimate at-home practice and recording amplifier.
Not only does it look cool with art deco styling and a virtual tube illumination that lights up the front, but it also sounds killer whether you’re chugging along with its many hi-gain amp models, or using the auxiliary input with dedicated volume to listen or jam along to your favorite mp3s.
02. MXR Custom Shop MXR Phase 99, jimdunlop.com; Available only at hand-selected dealers
Few guitarists know that Dunlop has a slick custom shop that produces hand-wired, tweaked versions of their most popular pedals.
This new one, the MXR Phase 99, features two Phase 90 circuits in one Phase 90-sized pedal.
The result is some serious swirl that can be tamed for Leslie-styled runs or synchronized to feed one circuit into the other for extreme phasing.
01. Cruz Tools GrooveTech Guitar Player Tech Kit: cruztools.com, $74.95
With all the necessary tools to maintain, adjust and setup your guitar in a pinch, the GrooveTech Tech kit comes with precision 6-in-1 screwdriver, two nut drivers for truss rod adjustments, steel ruler, 11 hex keys, string cutters, thickness gauge, ruler, capo and much more.
Buy it once, and you’ll never need to use any other tools to work on your guitars again.
I try very hard to remain under the radar despite being on camera as gear editor, but in this age of social media it was only a matter of time before it had to come to this. So with that, I will make my blog painless and a quick and easy read so you can get on to more important things like sweep picking, or if you’re like me, obsessing how to race the Tour De France and trying to be Kristen Stewart’s next mistake. I will use this blog to inform you of things I find cool; like new gear I’m playing through and what I’m watching, reading or listening to at any given moment. So feel free to ask me anything that’s gear related—or if you have a problem with your girlfriend, you know, life lesson stuff, I’m pretty good at that too—and I’ll do my best to answer or address it here.