New Year New Gear: Tascam introduces new audio interfaces, FU-Tone brings fully-loaded guitars and Blackstar unveils the ID:Core V3 amp line

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 that have grabbed Paul and Alan's attention, in the first installment of New Year New Gear. 

New Year New Gear

(Image credit: TASCAM)

TASCAM has introduced the US-HR Series High Resolution USB Audio Interfaces, designed for use in a variety of environments – everything from entry-level recording to high-end studio work, podcasting to webcasting.

The new line consists of three models: the US-1x2HR (ideally suited for guitar and vocal recording musicians); US-2x2HR (for music production, podcasts, and live streaming) and US-4x4HR (for state-of-the-art music production environments).

All incorporate a wealth of features, including 24-bit/192kHz audio performance, ultra-low latency (4 sample driver buffer), Ultra-HDDA mic preamplifiers with +48V phantom power and a comprehensive suite of included software.

Each US-HR interface has multiple inputs, both XLR and 1/4", making them ideal for miking a cabinet/amp via XLR while simultaneously taking a direct signal with the quarter inch input. The US-4x4HR has four inputs – all a combo of XLR and 1/4" – which is great for being able to close mic an amp, take a direct signal and have stereo room mics all at the same time. It’s a perfect solution for being able to get the most out of your performance in just one take.

Additionally, all US-HR interfaces come with a software bundle that includes IK Multimedia's Amplitube – a diverse and quality guitar/bass amp simulator. If a guitarist wants to try something new, they have the option of going direct-in with a wealth of different virtual amps at their fingertips.

Rugged metal chassis and intuitive design make these interfaces long-lasting and incredibly easy-to-use. Record with a wide array of audio qualities and even stream your performances online with ease.

For more information, head to TASCAM.

New Year New Gear

(Image credit: FU-Tone) might be best known for its top-notch and widely-lauded tremolo upgrades, but apparently the company can also make a mean six-string. 

FU-Tone has just launched a new line of electric guitars, the FU PRO range, which, in addition to a smart tonewood combination – “San Dimas” style alder bodies, maple necks and a choice of maple or ebony fingerboards – also come stock with a feature set that FU-Tone proudly touts as “never before available on a production guitar.”

Chief among these are a custom FU-Tone FU2 tremolo with a 42mm L brass big block, titanium saddle inserts, EVH D-Tuna, heavy duty noiseless springs, brass claw and claw screws and a brass tremolo stopper, which gives the user the option to float or stabilize the bridge.

There’s also FU-Tone Custom humbuckers with individual coil tap switches, a wheel truss rod and a kill switch, and the guitars come in a variety of eye-catching custom finishes, including Black, Ferrari Yellow, Natural and Transparent Purple.

And you get it all – including a heavy-duty padded gig bag – for $1,099.

For more information, head to

New Year New Gear

(Image credit: Blackstar Amplification)

Blackstar, meanwhile, previously impressed with its ID:Core V2 collection of entry-level guitar amps, and now the company is back with the ID:Core V3, an upgraded, versatile model packed with plenty of smart functionality and available in 10, 20 and 40-watt iterations.

The updated ID:Core V3 features six familiar amp voices – Clean Warm, Clean Bright, Crunch, Super Crunch, OD1 and OD2 – and invites guitarists to get creative with their tone with Blackstar's patented ISF control.

Sounds range from the "Boutique" Clean Bright to the "Hot-Rodded" OD1, and the re-voiced and enhanced effects include modulations such as chorus and tremolo, a variety of delays and a collection of room, hall, spring and plate reverbs. What’s more, the reverb button turns into a tuner when held down – a convenient touch.

Additionally, Blackstar's free Architect editing and patch management software allows users access to Cab Rig Lite, a state-of-the-art cab simulator that allows for tweaking everything from mic choice and cab type to room environment.

Furthermore, the PB-1 Power Bank allows for recording and practice anywhere, and the four-channel USB audio turns the amp into an audio interface capable of easy recording, re-amping and editing. You can even live stream to your smartphone via an iPhone/Android-compatible cable.

The ID:Core V3 starts at $129 for the 10-watt combo, while the 20 and 40 will be $179 each. For more information on the ID:Core V3 series, head over to Blackstar Amps

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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.