New Year New Gear: PRS' new Core models, Darkglass' ADAM distortion/compression and Fishman's PowerTap acoustic pickup system

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 – PRS’ new Core models, Darkglass’ ADAM distortion/compression pedal and Fishman’s PowerTap pickup system – that have grabbed Paul and Alan's attention, in this installment of New Year New Gear. 

New Year New Gear

(Image credit: PRS Guitars)

PRS has returned its Narrowfield pickups to the Core line for 2021 with two new models: the PRS Studio and PRS Special Semi-Hollow.

Designed to sense a shorter section of string, PRS Narrowfields deliver a thick single-coil sound reminiscent of soapbar pickups, but with the benefit of humbucking coils.

The Studio features a Narrowfield/Narrowfield/humbucker layout with volume, push/pull tone, and five-way pickup selector electronics controls, while the Special Semi-Hollow boasts a hum/Narrowfield/hum pickup configuration with a volume, tone, five-way blade switch, plus two mini-toggle coil-tap switches that split the humbuckers for a total of 12 sounds.

Other features on the Studio include a Flame Maple top with a violin carve, mahogany neck, back and sides, rosewood fingerboard with Birds inlay, PRS Patented tremolo and PRS Phase III locking tuners.

There’s also a variety of eye-popping finishes, including Eriza Verde and Purple Iris, and options like a 10-Top Grade Flame Maple Top as an upgrade.

For more information, head to PRS Guitars.

New Year New Gear

(Image credit: Darkglass)

Looking for a powerful bass distortion pedal? Look no further than Darkglass’s well-named Aggressively Distorting Advanced Machine. The ADAM, as it’s known, is a distortion and compression pedal collaboration with celebrated metal musician and engineer Adam "Nolly" Getgood, and captures his entire tonal arsenal in one enclosure.

The pedal combines parallel distortion and multi-band compression along with a six-band EQ and cab sim, making it ideal for both onstage and studio use.

The compression and distortion can be bypassed independently, and both have five selectable modes. Additionally, there’s selectable cabinet simulation with five onboard IRs, and the six-band graphic EQ boasts the same touch-sensitive sliders found on Darkglass’ Element pedal.

The ADAM boasts controls knobs for compression, drive, character, blend and level, and the three footswitches also double as rotary potentiometers, allowing players to select between the distortion modes, compression modes and cab sim IRs.

The pedal features MIDI input to externally control parameters, Bluetooth connectivity, aux input and headphone output and audio interface capability over USB-C.

For more information on the ADAM, head to Darkglass.

Fishman's PowerTap Earth

(Image credit: Fishman)

It’s a new year, which makes it the perfect time to tap into a powerful new acoustic sound.

Enter the Fishman PowerTap system, which features a Tap body sensor that adds layers of texture and depth to your acoustic tone.

The PowerTap is available in two versions – the PowerTap Infinity, which combines Fishman’s Tap body sensor with a Matrix Infinity pickup, and the PowerTap Earth, which pairs the Tap with a Rare Earth pickup.

The Tap attaches just under the bridge on the inside of the guitar, capturing percussive elements and natural dynamics without the risk of feedback, and allowing guitarists to achieve a whole new spectrum of ambience and texture.

The PowerTap Infinity features an enclosed, soundhole-mounted Volume and Tone control module plus a voicing switch, while the PowerTap Earth, boasts active electronics, miniature batteries and a neodymium magnet structure for increased string clarity. 

Both systems feature an adjustable Blend control that can mix the sound of the Rare Earth or Infinity and Tap signals in mono. 

Additionally, the individual pickup and Tap signals can be run into separate channels with the use of a stereo cable, allowing users to add separate effects, level control and EQ to each pickup independently.

The result, says picker Justin Johnson, who demoed the PowerTap for us, is more “three-dimensional” tone.

“What’s awesome about including the PowerTap sensor underneath the bridge is that it’s sensing basically everything that the magnetic pickup is not – all of the motion that’s taking place on the top of the guitar,” he says. “That’s the thing that’s so unique about the PowerTap.”

For more information, head to Fishman.

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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.