The Holiday Gear Guide with The Apache Relay


Deering Eagle II five-string banjo
List price: $2,399

The literature says this instrument only weighs about ten pounds, but it seems a lot heavier than that. Which isn’t a bad thing. The Eagle II five-string is a great sounding banjo with excellent projection, due in part to the weight of its solid resonator and pot, but mostly due to Deering’s patent-pending “Twenty-Ten” tone ring, which gives the banjo a uniform tone that can be sweet and biting at the same time. The ebony fingerboard is easy to play and intonation is perfect all the way up the 22-fret neck.

Deering makes a point of mentioning that the truss rod is fully adjustable, but that doesn’t need to be a major consideration with a brand new instrument. This banjo looks as good as it sounds, with the maple resonator and neck stained a gorgeous red mahogany. The accompanying black hardshell case, with plush dark green lining, is designed to take a beating.

The Eagle II is suitable for any situation, making great music whether played with picks or with bare skin. Whether you’re into the styles of Scruggs, Keith, Reno or Grandpa Jones, the Eagle II is a versatile instrument bound to raise the currency of any player.

With a list of pickers from Bela Fleck to Taylor Swift to Chickenfoot shredder Joe Satriani playing Deering banjos, the company is changing the way the instrument is viewed. Located in Spring Valley, California, Deering trumpets the fact that its banjos are made in the U.S., a strong selling point these days. – RICK MOORE

Avid MBox and Pro Tools 9

List Price: $899.00

Avid took a hard look at how people are creating music and have unleashed new versions of Pro Tools and the MBox that are completely in step with the future of music making. Standalone mode, automatic delay compensation, ‘70 effects and virtual instruments, and Sibellius’ score editor are a few of Pro Tools’ new features, while the MBox has new pre-amps and converters. The future rocks!

Shure SRH550DJ Headphones

List Price: $99.99

Don’t let the “DJ” in the name of these headphones from Shure fool you – they work great in home recording studios too. The big cushy earpieces swivel 90 degrees for a compact fold-up, making them also perfectly suited to toss in your bag when you hop off the train or get to the office.

Digitech JamMan Delay Looper

List Price: $499.95

Digitech’s JamMan Delay Looper is a modern update to one of their legendary ‘80s pedals: the PDS-8000. It’s a two-in-one pedal that loops on the left and delays on the right, with a versatile range of delay effects like analog, tape, digital, and reverse delay.

Audio-Technica AT2022 X/Y Stereo Microphone

List Price: $439.00

Audio-Technica’s 2022 is a battery-powered stereo recording mic that makes beautiful stereo recordings on the fly. Plug it into a digital recorder, video camera, or use it for computer recording. There’s a world of sound out there, and the 2022 makes capturing it a breeze.

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