February might be the shortest month, but it’s still jampacked full of new axes, amps, pedals, and a fair amount of drama too.
In our most recent overview of the hottest guitar and music news, we check out some royal Epiphones, wall-shaking pedalboard amps, guitar smashing controversies, and more.
You can watch the video version or read the text version with a couple of extra gear news:
G.I.G.- the Latest Headlines in Gear, Industry, and Guitar News 1/29/21 – 2/12/21
Fender’s Spark-O-Matic Jazzmaster is a Mutant Combo of Firebird and Jazzmaster
I’m loving all these new Fender releases celebrating their 75th anniversary!
Fender’s latest Parallel Universe Volume II mashup sports three Seymour Duncan mini-humbuckers
As part of Fender’s Parallel Universe series, the Spark-O-Matic seems to have been pulled from an alternate dimension. And in this parallel reality, Leo Gibson and Orville Fender produced some truly funky-looking electric guitars.
The newest of these to be released is the Spark-O-Matic Jazzmaster, combining Fender’s offset Jazz body with the 3 mini-humbucker rigging of Gibson’s Firebird.
I hope I get to try out some of these Parallel Universe Vol. II axes soon! Head to Fender’s site to see the full specs of the new Spark-O-Matic or to order your own!
Epiphone’s New Embassies and Emperors
Those new Fenders are quite pricey, but here’s something more in my league—new models from Epiphone!
This last week saw the release of updated editions to both the Emperor and the Embassy line.
The new Emperor Swingster is a beautiful hollow-body electric guitar designed for rockabilly, jazz, blues, country, and more.
Epiphone is billing it as such a versatile axe because its dual humbuckers are both wired to push/pull controls. This series/parallel switching lets you go from beefy humbucker tones to a snappier single-coil-type voice in an instant.
These guitars are also, in my opinion, super gorgeous—especially in the forest green metallic finish.
Epiphone introduces new Emperor Swingster hollowbody model for 2021 https://t.co/VEm9N6VJuY
— Guitarist Magazine (@Guitarist_Mag) February 11, 2021
Epiphone’s 2021 rockers don’t exclude the bassists, either. They’ve just recently re-released the affordable Embassy Bass.
This solid mahogany low-frequency machine first debuted in 1963, and now it’s back stronger than ever. Outfitted with 2 ProBucker 760s for fat bass tone, the Embassy offers powerful bottom-end and bottom-level prices.
Godin Releases the New All-Mahogany Metropolis Composer
It’s always exciting to hear about a new Godin acoustic guitar. As a big fan of their Seagull models like the S6 Original, I always expect good things from this company.
Well, just a few days ago Godin released their newest model, the Metropolis Composer QIT. Equipped with the quality electronics typical of their acoustics, the Metropolis Composer is a booming dreadnought.
With both a back and top of solid mahogany, the warm, powerful resonance of the Metropolis Composer is set to make it one of this year’s best blues acoustic guitars.
Fresh Fuzz from Electro-Harmonix
Founder of the famous Big Muff fuzz, Electro-Harmonix, has just introduced its newest stompbox—the Ripped Speaker Fuzz Pedal.
If you don’t know the history of fuzz, its earliest intentional use was achieved by actually tearing or cutting speaker cones.
With this new EHX pedal, you don’t have to take a razor to your amp to get that vintage distortion. The Ripped Speaker is designed to sound like those shredded cones of the early 60s.
Available now for under $100, this Ripped Speaker is an extremely dirty fuzz effects pedal guitarists and bassists both can get behind.
Hughes and Kettner Pack Powerful Tube Tone into Tiny New Amps
German amp master Hughes & Kettner has debuted their latest creations, 2 miniature amp heads no bigger than an effects pedal.
Using their proprietary analog Spirit Tone Generator, H&K stuff 50-watts of emulated tube juice into their new AmpMan series.
In addition to the usual controls you can expect on a quality amplifier, the AmpMan series includes the Hughes & Kettner Red Box cab simulator. This allows you to choose between eight different cabinet types for use in headphone jamming, recording, or running through a PA.
If you’re short on space and want a powerful, compact amp, this H&K AmpMan could be your best choice in 2021.
The Pegwinder Plus Promises Painless String Changes
I’ve never been stoked about a string tool before now, but Ernie Ball’s new Pegwinder Plus could change that.
The first thing to note is that this string winder’s made with a universal peghead slot. This means you can use it for basses, acoustics, and electrics alike.
It’s not just a simple crank either but actually uses ball bearings to produce an easy, fast-turning motion that makes string changes a breeze.
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The end of its handle is equipped with a pin puller for those hard-to-manage acoustic bridges, and its comfortable rubber grip throughout ensures you won’t slip and nick your finish.
It doesn’t even cost 15 bucks, so this might be the next cool accessory I snatch up.
California Senator Requests FBI Investigation of Marilyn Manson
After several allegations of abuse have surfaced against shock rocker Marilyn Manson, Senator Susan Rubio has requested an investigation by the US Department of Justice and FBI.
This senator’s demand follows at least 15 women coming forward with accounts of various forms of abuse at the hands of Manson.
These are not the first allegations to be issued against Manson, proceeding at least 2 other counts from 2000 and 2001.
New Study Shows Heavy Metal Lowers Blood Pressure
If that story’s got you feeling stressed, help yourself unwind with some medicinal grindcore.
According to a new study by Vera Clinic, heavy metal might have therapeutic potential.
Now I don’t mean lead and mercury, but more along the lines of Meshuggah and Metallica.
By measuring the effects of different playlists on 1,540 subjects, researchers found that listening to heavy music genres slowed heart rates and blood pressure in 89% of the test group.
The only music more powerfully relaxing was, surprisingly, an 80’s pop soundtrack.
Phoebe Bridgers Guitar Smash Charades
You’ve probably heard about Phoebe Bridgers smashing her guitar at the end of her recent Saturday Night Live performance.
It’s sparked a lot of criticism from various corners of the internet, but now Dave Grohl has spoken out in support of the Danelectro’s destruction.
His overall judgment? Smashing equipment “feels — good”.
If you haven’t seen Bridgers give her guitar the beatdown, the whole performance is worth a watch.
My advice to Phoebe: when you swing your axe, you gotta grip the handle at the base for ultimate smashing momentum.
Single-Edition Skelecaster Hits the Scene
Our last story features one axe you definitely shouldn’t smash.
The one and only Uncle Filip Skelecaster:
— Prince Midnight (@princemidnightx) February 9, 2021
What you’re looking at is an electric guitar supposedly made from the bones of this metalhead’s uncle. Prince Midnight, the creator of this ghoulish guitar, crafted the axe from his uncle’s skeleton as a way to commemorate Uncle Filip’s life and love for metal.
The Tampa Bay Times has called into question the veracity of this guitar’s skeletal components, but as of now, we’ve gotta take Prince Midnight at his word. If this is the real deal, may his uncle forever shred in peace.
That’s our guitar news update, bringing us about halfway through February 2021.
It’s nice seeing all these new NAMM releases, and I’ll be glad when I get a chance to give the Ripped Speaker pedal a run.
So now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to go drool over those Epiphone Emperor Swingsters some more…