Here it is! The best, biggest, brightest, and boldest of the gear covered here on this site for the 2020 calendar year!
Based on reader feedback, the gear will be (in alphabetical order by brand):
Some brands did receive votes for multiple products. In that instance, we’re just looking at the highest hitter for each brand. For more specific details and for any respective specs, click on each description for a link to take you to the original article on the item.
Bare Knuckle Pickups Silo Humbucker Set
The Silo humbuckers strike me as particularly versatile. Not too nor too polite, while still being both. The bold and juicy character of the Silo bridge is great for hard rock, heavy metal, prog rock, and doom metal. A range of Jake E Lee to Jerry Cantrell to Tony Iommi quickly pop to mind.
The Silo neck is chock full of personality and voice. An even balance to the EQ and a tone that exceeds the specs. Good cut up high and a bold low end.
EVH Gear Wolfgang Humbucker Set
These bad boys shine with a clean amp setting. They are not ill-mannered, but they are not quite well-behaved. They are equally touch sensitive on a clean setting as dirty. From one pickup to the other, as well as blended, all the clean settings were very usable. Chimey and open to full and round. Rolling back the volume pots accommodates big strumming chords all the more so.
When switching to a dirty amp setting, you remember why you wanted to play guitar. This is the zone that these EVH Wolfgang pickups live in. All the notes are exactly as you want them to be. None too sharp and none too loose. Punchy power in the neck, while still offering an excellent lead voicing. Focused attack in the bridge, and still maintains a touch of sweet highs.
Mighty Mite 1300 Humbucker
The 1300 comes out of the gate swinging hard, with punchy solid lows and a sparkling high end. It’s a massive riff-monster with character and powerful crunch for rock and metal players. This is a classic blend of harmonically rich sustain and a hard-hitting voice.
An intense ceramic-based magnetic field captures every nuance of your playing style. That means changes to both right and left hand technique can yield a range from heavy blues to metal thrash. The power is focused by 12 (i.e., a dozen!) slugs poles.
Nash Guitars Bill Nash Q&A
“Necks are maple and maple with rosewood fingerboards. All necks are a 10 inch radius and have 6105 size frets. The bodies are mostly alder and ash and we do not use any bodies above 4.5 lbs (~2 kg). The neck come in a medium C or a Large V shape. We do vary form the original Leo Fender specs on the necks as they used a 7.25 radius and smaller frets.
Bodies are swamp ash or alder depending on the year and are in 1, 2 or in some cases, 3 piece construction. 3 pieces are rare but but in some cases three light and resonant pieces of wood will make a much better guitar. Bodies go through triage before production to keep within our weight and resonance specs. Heavy, ugly and clunky wood is rejected. We don’t use any body over 4.5lbs (~2kg).”
Seymour Duncan Antiquity Texas Hot Strat Set
The Texas Hot is a reasonably smokey and gritty set for single coils. Not overbearing by any means. There is some spank, but maybe not as much glass. Chimey warmth might be the best way to put it, especially on a clean amp tone. The middle Texas Hot is RWRP, meaning that you have some quack out of 2 and 4.
Getting in to the dirty amp tones, the Texas Hot single coils have a touch of a chewy growl to them. These are single coils and they do have the Custom Shop all over them. So you do get the articulation and clarity. The Texas Hot pickups will take overdrive and distortion very well. When I want to push the dirty amp channel into more saturation for heavier rock, things hold together.
There you go! The Top 5, as selected by you guys.
Keep your eyes peeled for more fun stuff coming soon, including a few items that I get many requests about. And remember that if there’s something you want to read about, contact the company as well as me. Maybe their gear will be in the Best of 2021!
For reference, gear evaluations are conducted with a Fractal Axe-Fx II XL+ featuring Celestion Impluse Responses and Fractal MFC-101 MIDI Foot Controller. Real cabs in use are Marshall 1960B, Mojotone British, and Peavey 6505 cabs loaded with Celestion Classic Series Vintage 30s and Classic Series G12M Greenbacks.
7 string 8Ω 16Ω 59 Alnico 2 Alnico 3 Alnico 4 Alnico 5 Alnico 8 Bare Knuckle BKP Brown Sound Celestion Ceramic Custom Shop Dean DiMarzio DMT Dual Resonance EVH Fishman Floyd Rose Fluence Gibson Humbucker Ibanez JB Jimmy Page MJ Mojotone Nut PAF Pariah Pickup Professor Guitarism Satch Satriani Schaller Seymour Duncan Singlecoil Single Width Speaker Steve Vai Tech Tip Tremolo