The 2013 Holiday Gear Guide

Videos by American Songwriter

Videos by American Songwriter

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PRS SE Angelus Custom Cutaway Acoustic-Electric Guitar
(Street $859)

As I played the PRS (Paul Reed Smith) SE Angelus Custom Acoustic Cutaway I wasn’t necessarily thinking about the tone, action, etc. in preparation for writing about it; I was just playing it for enjoyment, doing some fingerpicking, playing some chords, basically noodling and having a good time. And then I realized I was having a good time with this guitar.

With dimensions a bit under dreadnought, this guitar was a very comfortable fit for me, a man of a little under average height but not weight. The action was uniform and very good, with no buzzes anywhere, even when pressing hard or bending strings, a couple things that can reveal buzzes in even expensive guitars (than range in the thousands ) and can be telling of the craftsmanship.

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Because that’s where the surprise came in for me with the SE Angelus Custom. I didn’t know anything about the price point before I played it, but this guitar has a street price of under a grand, which, to me, makes it one of the best guitars in this price range for the current market.

The electronics are the PRS pickup system, an undersaddle design with three-band EQ, an anti-feedback loop and a tuner. The fretboard and bridge are ebony, the tuners and strap buttons are chrome, and the nut and saddle, which will appease those who aren’t Tusq fans and can definitely hear the difference, are both bone. Aesthetically, in what originally helped set PRS apart from so many in terms of design, it has the signature PRS headstock design and the PRS bird inlays. And I liked the contrast of the darker rosewood back and sides against the lighter mahogany neck and spruce top. – R.M.

AER Domino 3 Amp
(Street $2,599)

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Calling the AER Domino 3 an acoustic guitar amp is like calling a Ferrari a car – true, but not nearly the whole story. The Domino 3 features two 100-watt power amps pumped through a dual 8” twin cone speaker system for true stereo sound. Four independent, equally equipped input channels each offer a 32 bit digital processor. The effects come in 16 presets that can be modified with included software by connecting the amp to your computer through its USB port (unfortunately PC only). Like a luxury ride, the Domino comes with everything: phantom power, ground lift, recording out, aux in, effects send and return, headphones, tuner out, adjustable XLR DI-out, and more.

Paired with a PRS SE Angelus Custom acoustic sporting the PRS pickup system, the Domino 3 revealed every aspect of the instrument’s superior tone, from sparkling high end to booming lows, without adding any coloration of its own. The amp’s huge amount of headroom allowed enough volume to fill a small club and a heavy attack on a low E string tuned down to D – without a hint of distortion. The built-in reverbs remained warm and devoid of digital artifacts, even at their wettest settings.

Like a Ferrari, at a mere 35 pounds the Domino exhibits a high power to weight ratio. This compact combo will allow you to amplify your Piezo pickup, built-in mic, and vocals, with another input left over for an additional singer, second guitar, or looper – all in luxurious style. – MICHAEL ROSS

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