New Year New Gear: Dean and Spector conjure multiscale madness, Maxon cranks up the gain with the Custom Shop SSD-9 Super Sonic Distortion pedal

We may be just a few weeks into 2021, but the year has already provided us with plenty of great new products from the MI world. 

But have no fear – Guitar World's Paul Riario and Alan Chaput are here to help you find exactly what you need to bring your playing to the next level. They've waded through tons of new equipment so you don't have to (and also because they really, really love it). 

With that in mind, check out three products – Dean’s ML Select 7 Multiscale guitar, Spector’s NS Dimension Series multiscale basses and Maxon’s Custom Shop SSD-9 Super Sonic Distortion pedal – that have grabbed Paul and Alan's attention, in this installment of New Year New Gear. 

New Year New Gear

(Image credit: Dean Guitars)

Dean has introduced the new ML Select 7 Multiscale, a beast of a guitar that combines the legendary Dean ML shape with serious next-level tech.

Features include a mahogany body and burled maple top in Satin Natural Black Burst, a Slim D three-piece maple neck and an ebony fingerboard with a 16” radius, 24 jumbo frets and pearloid dot inlays.

The 27” to 25.5” scale length, meanwhile, adds tension to the lower notes to keep them in tune, while making sure lead work is comfortable and easy on the hand.

There’s also a USA Kahler tremolo system designed specifically for multiscale guitars, and pickups are an angled Seymour Duncan Sentient at the bridge and an angled Nazgul at the neck.

The multiscale ML is also available in six- and eight-string versions, as well as with Dean’s Exile body shape.

You can preorder the guitar at ProAudioStar (opens in new tab).

New Year New Gear

(Image credit: Spector)

Also new to the multiscale arena is Spector’s NS Dimension Series, its first-ever multiscale model. The 34-37” length basses combine iconic looks based on Spector’s NS design with next-level multiscale features.

In addition to neck-thru construction, the NS Dimension features a variety of premium tonewoods, including a fully-curved body carved from lightweight ash, a highly-figured poplar burl top, a five-piece maple and wenge neck and a 24-fret wenge fingerboard with a compound radius and Luminlay illuminating side dots.

Other specs include cutting-edge Fishman Fluence electronics, a brass nut and black hardware.

The NS Dimension basses are available in four- and five-string versions and two finishes, Haunted Moss Matte and Super Faded Black Gloss.

You can preorder any (opens in new tab) one (opens in new tab) of (opens in new tab) the (opens in new tab) NS Dimension basses at ProAudioStar.

New Year New Gear

(Image credit: Maxon)

On the hunt for some rich, tube-like super saturation in 2021? Look no further than Maxon’s Custom Shop SSD-9 Super Sonic Distortion pedal.

Designed by Tube Screamer creator and former Maxon head engineer Susumu Tamura, the Super Sonic Distortion mod was developed based on suggestions from professional guitarists as to how the stock SD-9 circuit could be improved.

And improve it Maxon did, with a dramatically increased output level to push signal chains harder and allow for use with a wider variety of guitar and amp combinations, and a shift in the center frequency of the pedal’s Tone control for a greater emphasis on lows and lower midrange.

That’s not all. Other mods include: Attenuation of the 1K range that can make the stock version sound “fizzy” in higher settings; changes in several component tolerances to allow for operation at 18 VDC for improved headroom and less compression; and true bypass switching.

The new pedal is available for $199. For more information, head to Maxon FX (opens in new tab).

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Richard Bienstock

Rich is the co-author of the best-selling Nöthin' But a Good Time: The Uncensored History of the '80s Hard Rock Explosion. He is also a recording and performing musician, and a former editor of Guitar World magazine and executive editor of Guitar Aficionado magazine. He has authored several additional books, among them Kurt Cobain: Montage of Heck, the companion to the documentary of the same name.