It’s a wild time for guitar players. Vacuum tube cathodes around the world continue to boil off electrons to their anodes, while microprocessors crunch bits and bytes in an increasingly successful attempt to—well, sound like tube cathodes boiling off electrons to their anodes. Amp heads the size of a lunchbox often replace stacks o’ speakers in the studio, and the funny thing is, you can’t really tell the difference on playback. Guitars themselves do everything from driving MIDI synthesizers to tuning themselves automatically. And despite living in a high-tech world, the sound of a PRS Signature Series guitar or a classic 1966 Paisley Telecaster have lost not one iota of their charms.
Imagine if the guitar had never been invented, and some new company set up shop in the NAMM show’s infamous “Hall E” (a.k.a. valley of the mad scientists). Their pitch? “We’ve got this fabulous new instrument— think of it as six monophonic oscillators on a plank of wood, with three program changes and a pitch bend lever!” A lot of people would probably just walk on by, but the fact remains that a pantheon of guitar gods have taken those six strings and created some serious magic—magic whose power has not diminished over the years, or in many cases, decades.
When it comes to recording guitar, the options have never been more plentiful, or more interesting. So, we cast a wide net to find out the latest cool stuff in guitar recording technology, filtered out the crème de la crème, and now present the results for your reading pleasure.
One thing’s for sure: There’s never been a better time to be a recording guitarist. Need proof? Keep reading.
Cakewalk V-Studio 20 ($299 street)
IK Multimedia AmpliTube 3 ($299 street)
Apogee GiO ($395 street)
Line 6 POD Farm 2 (from $49 street)
Gibson Dusk Tiger ($4,128 MSRP)
Lâg Tramontane guitars ($199.99 to $729.99, depending on model)
Zoom G2.1Nu ($200 street)
Traynor DH15H DarkHorse ($520 street)