Best Gear Of 2010

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(Pictured above: Minimoog Voyager)

As the music industry prepares for NAMM, the annual winter trade show which runs Thursday January 14 through Sunday in Anaheim, California, American Songwriter counts off our 25 favorite musical products of 2010.

American Songwriter‘s Top 25 Products Of 2010

Reason 5
The Swedish masterminds at Propellerhead unleashed their newest version of Reason in 2010, and recording nuts rejoiced.

Taylor GS Mini
Don’t call it a Baby Taylor – the new GS Mini is one of the most fun guitars we played all year long.

LR Baggs Anthem pickup
L.R. Baggs brings another stellar product to the acoustic amplification market – this time with a pickup that blends mic and piezo.

Gibson J-45 Legend
The J-45 Legend, part of our “Legendary Guitars” feature early in the year, has a hefty price tag, but nails every detail of what a handmade Gibson should be.

Guild F-212XL 12-String
The 12-string is what made Guild famous – just think Richie Havens at Woodstock or Doc Watson’s “Beaumont Rag” – and the company’s new Standard Series continues in the great tradition.

Moog Minimoog Voyager
2010 was The Year Of The Moog, with a festival in their hometown, Asheville, North Carolina, and more great products like the Minimoog Voyager.

Yamaha CP5
Pianomen like Elton and Leon continue to choose Yamaha’s top shelf offerings, but the more-moderately priced CP5 is a great stage keyboard, equally adept for studio use.

Roland SP-404SX sampler
Roland channels the original BOSS Dr. Sample as well as previous versions of Roland’s SP series for a powerful sampler used by Animal Collective, and which also pops up on AS faves Javelin’s year-end gear list.

Boss TU-3
The industry standard tuner for touring musicians got even better in 2010 with BOSS’s update to the iconic TU tuner.

Fender G-DEC
Fender got crazy electro-digital on the guitar world with the G-DEC amp, which has real tubes and also dials in digital models of classic tones.

Richmond Dorchester Guitar
Orange Tiny Terror Amp
M-Audio Fast Track and MobilePre USB Interfaces
Fishman Loudbox Mini
Elixir Cables
Native Komplete
Focusrite Liquid Saffire 56
KEL Audio HM7U Microphone
PRS Hollowbody Guitar
Martin Performance Series Guitars
Zoom Q3 Handheld Digital Video Recorder
Tanglewood TW70-H Grand Auditorium Guitar
Nord Electro 3
Korg PA500

American Songwriter’s Artist Poll

In a companion piece to our favorite gear in 2010, we asked some of our favorite artists, musicians, and writers what their favorite gear was. Keep reading to see what members of the Zac Brown Band, electro-funk outfit Chromeo, and others were digging in 2010.

John Bohlinger, Songwriter, Guitarist, Writer
Chihoe Hahn Telecasters, PRS Starla with Bigsby, Jayson Bowerman Guitars and Glass Lapsteel

Jake Kelly, Guitarist, Writer
Gibson iPhone app, GFS Surf 90 pickup, Vox SSC-55 electric guitar, L.R. Baggs Anthem, Line 6 Pod HD 500, ZT Lunchbox Acoustic

Javelin, Indie-electronic artist, Brooklyn, New York
Critter and Guitarri Pocket Piano, Zoom R24, Roland SP-404SX, Teenage Engineering’s OP-1 in 2011!

Jonny Corndawg, Songwriter, Musician, Brooklyn, New York
Kyser Red, White & Blue capo

Van Dyke Parks, Songwriter, Pianist, Arranger, Los Angeles, California
Strum Stick. It’s a Google away, for anyone who wants to pick good who ain’t a picker. It’s a three string power house of plectrum perfection, and ya just can’t play a bad note on it. I use it, adjunctive to much sampled info, to give an aura of roots and random acoustics to the whole…a great antidote to “mondo digitalis” Very savvy on Celtic capers or musica Cubana – think “tres” or “hammer dulcimer,” with a cutting edge at about 2300 Hz.

Tallest Trees, Indie-electronic band, Nashville, Tennessee
Casio SK-1, Eventide Ultraharmonizer, Digitech Wammy Pedal, Boss Super Chorus CH-1, Pignose mini amp, Yamaha RM-1X

Niko Bolas, Producer/Engineer
ATC Speakers, UAD cards for PT 9 Native

Jimmy De Martini, Violin/Mandolin with Zac Brown Band
Genz Benz Shen 300LT (Acoustic Amp) with 2- 10″ extension cabinets, Dunlop Pork Loin Overdrive Pedal, Thomastik Infeld Dominant Violin Strings, Andrea Violin Rosin

Clay Cook, Multi-instrumentalist with Zac Brown Band
Gibson Les Paul, Gibson Firebird, 65 Amps London, Collings MF mandolin, Ernie Ball Regular Slinky strings

Coy Bowles, Multi-instrumentalist with Zac Brown Band
I got a TV white Gibson Les Paul Jr. that’s great for slide playing. I bought another Voodoo Lab Sparkle Drive Pedal. You can’t have too many of those. By far one of the coolest pedals and a big part if my tone. I got two new Nash guitars. A tele and strat model. They look old and beat up and even feel dried out and old. But they are new and a lot cheaper in price than a old vintage deal.I got a Swamp Thang Vibrato Pedal that is way cool. The light blinks as to how fast the vibrato is set. It made a couple songs on my new album. Budda SuperDrive II 80 watt amp made the album as well. I wanted a solo that sounded like a guitar exploding. The Budda SuperDrive along with a Vintage Super Reverb made that happen. I bought a Beard resonator. By far the best resonators built. Jerry Douglas came out on the road with us and played mine for a few minutes and made me want to cry. Speaking of Jerry Douglas I also got a Fishman Jerry Douglas model Aura pedal. It helps to make the guitar sound like a true resonator instead of an electric acoustic.

John Hopkins, Bassist with Zac Brown Band
I play Modulus basses. Earlier this year, Modulus built a P bass for me to perform with at the Grammys. Matt Mangano helped me spec it out technically and I chose Bartolini passive precision pickups and a single tone knob for authenticity. It remains one of the most amazing instruments I have ever owned. The guys at Modulus are outstanding!

P-Thugg, Chromeo
Analogue Solutions Leipzig: Great new product. Monophonic, 2 pure VCOs (no DCO funny business), warm filters, great routing capabilities and big sound! This is one of a kind. The structure is a bit unorthodox and is different from the typical build of Moog or Sequential Circuits synthesizers, but once you wrap your head around it, you’ll discover the wide range of sounds you can get out of it. Definitely original and worth a try.

Nord Electro 3: The Nord Electro 2 was already a classic and they decided to take it a step further. I like that attitude. The new Chamberlin and Mellotron sounds, and the possibility to import your own samples and map them is a great addition to previous versions. This is a great way to have all your classic electric piano sounds in one machine with no tuning problems and no heavy lifting. The samples sound great and they even have a CP80 electro-acoustic piano in there!

Akai MPC-5000: We all know the virtues of the MPC series. This one is a bit more clean and solid sampler than the rest of them. It’s the big brother to the MCP-500 and 1000. I’ve had a couple of issues with the first version but the latest OS fixed all the bugs. Very good for layering drums. Great effects are accessible at the touch of a button. But this machine really sounds good naturally, with the default compression on the machine. Big plus with this is the Phono input that allows you to plug in a turntable directly in.

Sonic Projects OPX Pro: Although we’re usually not big fans of plug-ins, this one is really cool. Considering the growing rarity of these beasts, I think it’s becoming necessary to make peace with some of the plugins. The interface to run it on a mac is still a bit shaky, but the project is promising. I bought it, even if I have the original machine, it’s a great way to keep your patches in memory, instead of the very unstable cassette dump.

Rocktron Talkbox Banshee 2: Cool new add-ons to my favorite talkbox, you can now add other effects into the talkbox signal path via the effects loop, which is a great option if you want to EQ or add flange, octaver or anything you want to your “talkboxed” signal.

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