The 2013 Holiday Gear Guide

Videos by American Songwriter

Videos by American Songwriter

Etymotic In-Ear Music PRO9-15
(Street $399)

ETYMOTIC_INEAR

Your ears are key to your musical career so you need to protect them. The Etymotic Music Pro ER915 noise cancelling earplugs provide welcome relief from those moments when the other musicians in the band (or yourself) feel the need to play as loud as possible. The folks at Etymotic are very serious about protecting your hearing while not sacrificing the quality of your musical performance. This is no amateur tissue in your ear solution, which never really works anyway, does it? The ER915 works via a switch on the plugs. There are two modes: Natural hearing with 15-db sound reduction and enhanced hearing with 9-db sound reduction, which also gives you a 6-db boost for softer sounds. It’s a little tricky at first placing them in your ear and determining which mode is activated, but once I determined which side is up, all was good.

I tested these in two situations: a hard rock performance using primarily the 15-db setting and an acoustic duo setting with the 9-db activated. I was pleasantly surprised that the intensity and quality of the metal band’s performance was not compromised in the slightest. And the acoustic guitar and vocal combo sounded completely natural and not muffled. The attenuation actually evens out the sound, cutting out the annoying high frequencies and tightening up the mids and bottom end. You’ll be spending a few bucks for these earplugs but maybe it’s time to skip purchasing another guitar, amp or pedal and focus on the health of your ears so you can enjoying rocking out for years to come. – W.L.

Griffin Technologies

Guitar Connect Cable
(Street $30)

Griffin GuitarConnectCable_01

Mic Connect
(Street $40)

Griffin MicConnect_01_HiRes

Nashville-based Griffin Technologies is known for their tablet-style accessories and products. They’ve taken the leap into the MI world with the launch of several mobile recording interfaces. The Guitar Connect Cable is the gateway between your instrument and the creativity that awaits in your iPad, iPhone’s recording software. It’s a cleverly designed 6’ guitar cable with a 1/4” male end that plugs into your guitar, a 1/8” male end that connects to the tablet input and a 1/8” female end for your headphone or powered speakers. From there, open up GarageBand or any Core Audio app and jam away, record your newest song ideas and more. Similar to the Guitar Connect Cable, the Mic Connect does the same for your vocals. It has an XLR input on one end and a 1/8” connector to your iPad. A +48 switch accommodates phantom-powered dynamic and condenser microphones. – W.L.

Dunlop Fuzz Face Mini Pedals
(Street $99)

Dunlop Fuzz FFM2

Dunlop’s Fuzz Face Mini line offers a pedalboard friendly adaptation of the classic Fuzz Face. Three models – silicon, germanium and Hendrix – are available. Besides providing legendary Fuzz Face tones, these new pedals feature on/off LEDs, 9V AC and battery power options, and reverse “in” and “out” jacks.

The FFM1 silicon fuzz is spec’d off a 1970 silicon Fuzz Face. It runs a pair of matched BC-108 transistors. This is a must-have for those who want a bright and aggressive fuzz tone, a-la Eric Johnson. The FFM2 germanium fuzz uses new, slightly mismatched transistors. The full and open nature of germanium allows for a classic late ’60s wooly fuzz tone, with an excellent cleanup when rolling back on the guitar’s volume. Lastly, the FFM3 Hendrix fuzz is a scaled-down version of the hand-wired JHF-1 Jimi Hendrix Signature Fuzz Face. It also runs BC-108 silicon transistors, but has a less aggressive fuzz tone with a midrange bump. The FFM3 is great for running into a straight clean channel – it can cover as a pleasant distortion with the guitar on about 6 or 7, up to all-out fuzz when on 10.

Dunlop has taken the common issues guitar players have struggled with in the original Fuzz Face and corrected them in this new line of pedals. And at a $99 street price, you can’t go wrong with any of these fine offerings in fuzz. – CHRISTIAN ACE

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