The 2015 Holiday Gear Guide

Godin Multiac Spectrum SA Acoustic-Electric (left) (Street: $1,579) No matter what your taste or playing purpose, you normally can’t go wrong with a Godin guitar, and the company’s Multiac Spectrum SA is no exception. Godin has always been a rule-breaker, and they’ve done it again with this acoustic-electric that has a Seymour Duncan lipstick pickup in the neck, as well as individual transducer saddles under each string, giving the option of blending the bridge piezo and the Duncan. And for the player who takes things a few levels higher, it has a 13-pin connector for controlling Roland GR Series and Axon AX100 guitar synths. If you’re really adventurous, you can blend both pickups and the synth with each other using the sliders in the top of the guitar body. The guitar has a chambered mahogany body that’s designed to fight feedback, with a spruce top, mahogany neck and Richlite fingerboard. And it’s got a way-up-the-neck cutaway that allows access to the 22nd fret. A cool and versatile guitar for the player who’s looking for something out of the ordinary that’s sounds great and is highly functional. Made in Canada. Paul Reed Smith SE Custom 22 (right) (Street: $729) The PRS SE Custom 22 is a good all-purpose electric that can deliver everything from nice vintage rock tones to smooth jazzy sounds, and all points in between. Equipped with PRS Tone Furnace neck and bridge humbuckers, the guitar’s three-way toggle switch allows each pickup to be used separately, or for the two to be used together, with different tone combinations achievable using the single tone knob. The mahogany neck with a rosewood fretboard lends itself to both speed and accuracy, and PRS-designed tuners and stoptail bridge help ensure the most perfect intonation available. On top of it all, this double-cutaway guitar is gorgeous, continuing the PRS tradition of making great-sounding axes that combine both fine art and engineering craftsmanship. The guitar features a beveled maple top and a mahogany back that comes in either a vintage sunburst or a sweet whale blue. And, of course, the neck inlay features the always-cool PRS bird inlay. A nice axe for both the stage and the garage.

Videos by American Songwriter

Videos by American Songwriter

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Martin DRSGT Acoustic-Electric Guitar

(Street: $1,299)

One of Martin’s Dreadnought Road Series acoustic-electrics, the DRSGT brings to mind the company’s Style 18 dread. The sound is nicely balanced from bottom to top, with clear harmonics and no untoward overtones, and the black Richlite fretboard is smooth and fast. With 14 frets clear, the top and side braces are reliable Sitka spruce, and the back and sides are made of sapele. The low-oval style neck is made of sipo, and the back, sides and neck have a satin finish. The bridge style is modern belly.

This guitar has the classic Martin look with the iconic Martin & Co. signature on the headstock, and clean construction, with no top, back or sides inlay, and a simple single-ring soundhole rosette. Fishman’s Sonitone preamp system provides the amplification, and a handy USB port allows for easy computer plug and play recording. It sounds great plugged in or not, and it’s made for everything from campfire pickin’ to gigging to recording an album.

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Casio CGP-700 Keyboard
(Street: $799.99)

Casio sure has come a long way, from making some pretty cheap instruments for novices – which are still great, by the way – to making instruments the caliber of the really nice 88-key CGP-700. A variety of grand piano, organ, string and other sounds – 550 total – make this a good keyboard for live and recording situations alike. But it also has great capabilities as a writing instrument. And if you’re a piano player first, the keys have a heavier weighted action that feels very acoustic, but they can also be adjusted to one’s preference for a lighter touch.

It has both MIDI and USB onboard audio recorders, built-in speakers (in the stand as well as the keyboard), an effects system and ensemble rhythms. The duet mode, which splits the keys into two equal ranges, is great for teaching. This is a versatile instrument that is at home on the stage or in the living room, and the price is right.

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