2022 is officially drawing to a close, meaning it’s currently the perfect opportunity to look back over the past 12 months to revisit some of the best guitar gear we’ve had the pleasure of coming across.
It’s certainly been a year to remember, with a number of knock-out new releases making their way onto the market, from long-awaited electric guitars and boutique acoustic guitars all the way to surprise pedal drops and modern-minded guitar amps.
Not only that, 2022 has also helped cement the status of numerous pre-existing products as serious fan favorites, with many guitars, basses, pedals, amps and more from previous years earning their way onto our end-of-year round-up.
With that said, here is our 2022 holiday ultimate gear guide for the best acoustic guitars of 2022.
Charvel Pro-Mod San Dimas PJ V
Charvel relaunched its San Dimas bass range in 2021: now the five-string has been beefed up with a DiMarzio pickup in bridge position. There’s an alder body for familiar tones and weight, a graphite and maple neck that is almost comedically fast under the fingers, and a focus on general practicality that makes the San Dimas easy to work with.
A range of solid hardware – a hi-mass bridge, open-gear tuners and heavy-feeling controls – is designed to work without any fuss. The treble and mids pots perform in a bitey, aggressive manner, while the bass boost is truly huge, especially when you hit hard on the low B string.
Zero in on the new pickup, noting that DiMarzio themselves caution that it is not intended for high overall volume; instead, it allocates punch to the center of the tone. The results are solid, sleek and professional, offering 99 percent of all the tones you would ever need.
Ernie Ball Music Man DarkRay 5
The new DarkRay five-string combines features of Ernie Ball’s Music Man StingRay with built-in Darkglass Alpha (distortion) and Omega (fuzz) circuits and a new two-band EQ preamp, also designed by Darkglass. The neck is crafted from roasted maple and features 22 high-profile/wide stainless steel frets, and there’s an ebony fingerboard and a solid, top-loaded steel bridge.
The original StingRay bass is known for its distinctive midrange character. The DarkRay, however, lives up to its name by delivering an inherent tone that is warmer and richer with the preamp-only setting engaged and the treble and bass EQ controls centered, although the StingRay growl comes out in the Alpha and Omega settings.
The noise-free specs of the Darkglass electronics provides an excellent clean base that keeps harsh overtones and attack transients under control. This bass is perfect for players who love the StingRay’s feel, tone, and character but want even more tones and textures.
Cort Artisan B5 Element
The new B5 Element from Cort draws on the most popular features of the brand’s Artisan range, adding into the mix a Bartolini electronics package, Hipshot and MetalCraft hardware and a roasted maple fingerboard. The five-piece walnut and panga panga laminate neck is connected to the body courtesy of a four-bolt attachment.
The bass comes with a full Bartolini MK-1 package, comprising a pair of soapbar pickups. A three-band EQ circuit offers cut and boost across their respective frequencies, and there’s also an active/passive selector. Its forthright character is very apparent, and no matter which playing style you wish to employ, a throaty midrange punch is noticeable.
The bass has a pleasing bounce in its core tone, and at this price, there is very little to complain about. The B5 Element puts other, more expensive instruments to shame, so if you’re looking for an affordable five-string, we highly recommend it.
Fender Player Plus Active Meteora
This new active Meteora has been slotted into Fender’s Player Plus line of high-functionality instruments with a user cost in the low four figures. It’s inspiring to play a bass that has no neck dive: The extra mass at the back and bottom of the Meteora keeps that headstock where it should be.
That body has bits of Jaguar and Mustang in there, and once you’re playing, it makes total sense. The neck finish is grippy enough for your fretting-hand thumb to feel at home, but there’s enough glide to make speedy upper-register fills doable. There’s a lively set of tones, with tons of range and enough power to defeat more or less any band mix.
The bass boost is monstrous, and while the top end is less violent, there’s plenty of glassy edge. Whether or not you like the body shape, you’ll enjoy the amped-up power and tone range, as well as the player-friendly feel.
Gibson Gene Simmons G2 Thunderbird
In the mid-'70s, Kiss bassist Gene Simmons experimented with Gibson Grabbers and Rippers, and here’s a T-Bird built with the Demon’s personal seal of approval. On first glance, it’s impressive. Handmade in the USA, it has an incredibly resonant mahogany body that rings loud acoustically before you’ve even plugged it in.
Once you do, the ceramic magnets in the Rhythm and Lead T-Bird humbuckers pack a powerful and immediate response with no shortage of punch and depth. The two volume controls allow for a blend of either or both pickups, with the rhythm unit alone bringing enough brightness to retain definition and clarity.
More highs can then be cut using the master tone knob, allowing for softer, jazzier tones when dialed in clean. Tuning stability and intonation feel impeccable: This is definitely a ‘set and forget’ kind of bass. All in all, this first offering from G2 delivers on virtually every front.
Luna Guitars Tribal Acoustic-Electric
Pick up the Luna Guitars Tribal and your lower back immediately thanks you, as it only weighs 4.6 pounds. The simple bridge is balsamo, a dense hardwood; there’s a pop-out battery compartment next to the output socket; and we’re given the usual phosphor bronze strings. What makes the Tribal bass better than most acoustics is Luna’s SL3 preamp.
Switch it on to tune up, and it mutes the output before offering you an unexpectedly wide range of options. While cheaper tuners simply point you in the direction of sharp or flat, this one tells you the note you’re playing, and also allows you to select notes by individual frequencies.
The tones are unusually broad, too. You’ll be taken aback by the huge low-end boost of which the Tribal is capable, and the mids and treble boosts are very effective. For a relatively meagre outlay, you’re rewarded with a range of tones that will suit more or less any situation.
Godin A5 Ultra AE
Godin’s sumptuous A4 and A5 acoustic-electric basses, the AE range, have been around for a few years: This new version has a redesigned electronics suite for bass players looking for an acoustic element to their sound.
Beautifully designed and assembled, the A5 that we’ve been sent for review comes with a pricetag that will make most of us wince – but you do get a whole lot of bass innovation for your bucks. It feels expensive but also innovative, partly because its construction – essentially a chunky, Precision-style neck bolted to a partly acoustic body – is genuinely unusual.
There are two outputs: Use the one marked Acoustic and leave the one labeled Electric alone, and you get a mix of the two pickup systems. Use them both, and they send separate signals. Big in body and tone, costly, and made of very fine materials, the A5 is resolutely luxurious, and delivers a very fine return for your investment.
$2,300 street, godinguitars.com
Sadowsky MetroExpress Hybrid PJ
In 2018, the acclaimed luthier Roger Sadowsky entered into a partnership with Warwick, resulting in the new MetroExpress range. Built in China, but with production overseen by Warwick’s builders, these basses are built and marketed under the new Roger Sadowsky Design trademark.
This Hybrid PJ is lightweight and comfortable to use, largely thanks to the use of okoume – a lightweight African hardwood – for the body. The neck is smoothly finished and quick to navigate, while the fretwork is excellent. The natural tone of the instrument is exemplary: The top end is unobtrusive, while the lower end pairs clarity with grunt in a satisfying manner.
The two EQ controls offer significant boosts to the treble and bass frequencies: A gentle treble boost adds the required bite for slapped or picked lines, while palm-muted grooves are well-served. With the MetroExpress boasting high build quality and a killer sonic palette, they’re onto a winner. Highly recommended.
Spector NS Dimension 4SFB
The Dimension is Spector’s first ever multi-scale bass and is available as a four- or five-string, with a finish that shows off the gorgeous figured burl poplar used for the top and headstock facing. Fretting on a multi-scale bass is always going to be more complex compared to that of a regular bass, but the quality of the work here is exemplary.
The pickups are a pair of splendid Fishman Fluence humbuckers. The preamp is also a Fishman Fluence unit, meaning that the controls on the front of the bass consist of Volume – pulled out for single coil – Pickup Pan, Bass, Treble and a three-way toggle switch for different mid-cut voices.
The Dimension has the most gorgeous mids voice, and you’ll notice how distinct the voicing of the bridge and neck pickups are. Like Spector’s Ethos, the Dimension bass is a fantastic instrument which, given the quality of its materials, spec and sound, represents great value.