Ultimate Guitar Gear Awards 2011

It's that special time of year when we can all sit back and reflect on the highs and lows of days gone by. 2011 truly would not be complete without someone fabricating a definitive list of awards for you, the ultimate-guitar.com reader.

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It's that special time of year when we can all sit back and reflect on the highs and lows of days gone by. 2011 truly would not be complete without someone fabricating a definitive list of awards for you, the ultimate-guitar.com reader. Keep in mind these awards have no official capacity other than my own humble opinion, which is never wrong.

Strange Guitar Pedal of the Year

Electro-Harmonix Ravish Sitar

It's hard to find a company that walks the line between bizarre/quality/useless/and amazingly awesome quite like my favorite pedal company Electro-Harmonix. One of their signature releases this year is the 'Ravish Sitar', unequivocally the number 1 sitar simulation pedal on the market today.

It actually does a lot more than just emulate a sitar, you can use it for any amount of atmospheric effects, and even use it with a bass. For $239, it sure beats buying and learning how to play a sitar. The following video does a good job of demo-ing the pedal, and also sums up the bizarre nature of EHX pretty well, considering the first 2 minutes consist of a disoriented old man inexplicably blabbering on about nonsense before showcasing the pedal.

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Trainwreck of the Year

Gibson

Let's take a moment to truly give Gibson a round of applause for another full year of terrible customer support, lackluster quality control, and refusing to allow smaller, local music vendors to reasonably become dealers. In addition, they released a grand total of ONE new guitar (the Firebird X, which only runs $4,000), and somehow managed to have their factory raided by armed federal marshals for illegal wood trafficking. All in all, a banner year.

Disappearing Act of the Year

Fender American Standard Telecaster

Where have all the Tele's gone?! I won't go so far as to say that the Telecaster has undergone somewhat of a revival (because it's always been a mainstay) but it seems like you can't go to a concert or turn on the TV without seeing that classic Fender guitar. So why is it so hard to find a good American Standard Tele anywhere?

Maybe it's because the good people at Fender are choking the supply of the guitar to increase the demand in a masterfully orchestrated plot to make Telecasters the most sought after guitar of all-time. Actually, no. That's not it at all. The truth is, Fender's long-time paint supplier went bankrupt, leaving the savvy Fender brain-trust scrambling to fill orders for all their American Standard guitars. Hopefully you were able to find a dealer with a good backstock, or you might be waiting awhile. That's right, failure to acquire the right color of paint has robbed a year's worth of new Telecaster players the privilege to join the ranks. Look out Gibson, you've got company. Which brings us too...

Underrated Guitar Manufacturer of the Year

Ernie Ball Music Man

A company known first and foremost for their guitar strings, then for their consistently spectacular bass guitars, and lastly for their electric guitars. It's an outright injustice that Music Man guitars don't get more respect.

They consistently turn out guitars with impeccable quality control, craftsmanship, finish, and setup. Truly a step above other manufacturers with their consistency (check out the Albert Lee if you get a chance). Music Man is a great American company that doesn't get mentioned as often with the big boys as they deserve.

Achievement in a Tuning Pedal

DigiTech Hardwire HT-6

Just when you thought tuner pedals had evolved as far as possible, DigiTech drops the HT-6 on us. It's a polyphonic tuner with LED displays for 4-6 strings (bass or guitar), ALL AT ONCE! Gone are the days of having to tune one string at a time. Just give the guitar a strum, and it's able to pick out each individual string's pitch, displaying it in a precise, easy-to-read interface. You can set it to any number of different tunings and even connect to a computer via usb to download crazy different ones. It's housed in the Hardwire single-space, stomp chassis, the best in the business as far as I'm concerned, and still kept it under $100. Very cool.

Honorable mention to the TC Electronic PolyTune which may have been first to the table with this concept, but DigiTech's seems nicer.

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Digital Plug-In of the Year

Native Instruments Guitar Rig 5 Pro

If you had to choose one word to describe the current landscape of digital guitar processor plug-ins, it would be "saturated". Nevertheless, Native Instruments has updated their award-winning Guitar Rig series with a 5th installment. Useful for guitar and/or bass, it sports 17 faithful amps models and 24 cabs. Fender, Mesa, Orange, Vox, Marshall and anything else you can think of is represented (albeit overtly disguised). It provides you with an endless array of options for tweaking your sound and the results are the closest to the real thing I've encountered in the plug-in world. The low-end warmth of a tube amp still isn't quite there as far as digital modeling goes, but it gets closer every year and Native Instruments is at the forefront of the movement.

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Totally Un-biased App of the Year

The Ultimate Guitar Tools iPhone App

For a mere $3.99 (20% of the cost of a decent standalone tuner), you can turn your iPhone or iPod Touch into a chromatic tuner with a bunch of different options and easy interface. It also comes with a metronome and comprehensive chord library finder. What a totally unbiased deal!

Achievement in Not Being Innovative at All

Boss

The most exciting news out of the Boss US guitar pedal offices this year? They've slightly updated their loop stations! Stop the presses! Is it just me or does it seem like Boss is comfortably trapped in 1992? Nothing has become less exciting over the years than simply looking at a Boss pedal.

Let's put it this way, their two most respected products are the Blues Driver (awesome) and their noise suppressor. Think about that for a second. It's hard to really get that excited about a noise suppressor, personally. How about a little innovation? PLEASE! And no, a GT-11 won't count.

By Sean Daniel

35 comments sorted by best / new / date

    JD2k9
    I actually liked this article. Kudo, UG, for entertaining me.
    rhcpjhlz
    The boss loop gets thrown under the bus here, but honored in another article, funny
    CatAmplifier
    Yeah, it's kinda sad for EBMM, most people prefer Gibson or else. I kinda hate it, 'cuase Gibsons are not the Gibsons they used to be before... just selling a name.
    breakinslash
    shredder3386 wrote: Gibson still makes good guitars, people need to stop ****ing complaining. I will take a Les Paul with illegal wood over anything else any day.
    Really? I would get an ESP LTD series which is nearly the same as a Lespaul but half the price and great service, Not hating on lespaul but still.
    Supersonic1
    That awkward moment when Gibson actually put out more than one guitar this year...
    PoloSG68
    I thought Boss released a couple of new pedals recently with the "Combo Drive" and "Feedback booster"?
    KerNeL_KLuTcH
    I want the ravish sitar, that pedal is so badass, can anyone say "paint it black" or "don't come around here no more"
    PerpetualBurn
    EBMM underrated? Bahahahahaha. Maybe they don't sell as well as their Ibanez counter-part, but they are certainly more hyped than just about any other product out there, except maybe the Axe-FX.
    sparkeyjames
    rhcpjhlz wrote: The boss loop gets thrown under the bus here, but honored in another article, funny
    I wouldn't actually call what they said a throwing it under the buss. They poked fun at it sure. But I saw no buss involved here.
    Tombe
    Good shout on Boss there. They seem to just make totally boring white goods these days that are just 'some' pedal that you buy by the pound like cheese at the deli counter.
    7Ivior7
    Most underrated guitars ever are indeed Suhr guitars... come on, Music Man, underrated? John Petrucci and his legions of shredders disagree.
    zeppaddict141
    you should play a 1978 les paul and a firebird and decide which one sounds better. and they never bashed boss too hard, they just pointed out that they really havn't done anything terribly innovative for several years.
    benjixoath wrote: i love how do you disrespect gibson and boss, yet out of the countless gigs i've been to this year, every one of them has featured boss and gibson products by many of the high level bands playing, must be doing something right UG or people wouldn't buy the shit.
    Skullivan
    Boss made a British combo amp pedal this year...I know, not much, and I'm a big BOSS defender.
    benjixoath
    i love how do you disrespect gibson and boss, yet out of the countless gigs i've been to this year, every one of them has featured boss and gibson products by many of the high level bands playing, must be doing something right UG or people wouldn't buy the shit.
    shredder3386
    Gibson still makes good guitars, people need to stop ****ing complaining. I will take a Les Paul with illegal wood over anything else any day.
    JesusCrisp
    This list is full of bullshit. I have the feeling that these articles are made up by morons, not doing any research at all and often being strongly biased towards the - for a huge part riddiculously stupid - UG community. Sorry, but this list could have easily been written by some 13 year old UG-forum user.
    Way Cool JR.
    If you want to talk about a way underrated pro quality guitar brand look at Gary Kramer Guitars (GKG). Their guitars are realy spectacular and are all fully hand crafted (no CNC or assembly lines), both import & American models. EBMM gets way more than enough hype from everyone, though they do deserve it because they are pretty good. If I had a choice between the two brands Gary Kramer would win hands down for me.
    philwhite
    Sad. My 2011 Gibson LP is perfect and my ST2 seems like a nice innovation from Boss. I bet if these two were released under an edgy botique obscure brand name they would be hailed as the best ever by UG.
    sparkeyjames
    As for other boss pedals I think they should take note at what mod makers are doing to their pedals and update them as most of the mods are quite simple and effective. Also most if not all the small pedals with COSM modeling suck.
    frankencaster
    sparkeyjames wrote: As for other boss pedals I think they should take note at what mod makers are doing to their pedals and update them as most of the mods are quite simple and effective. Also most if not all the small pedals with COSM modeling suck.
    I second that!
    zeppaddict141
    hey now! the boss giga delay is pretty awesome... and uhh...yea. that's all i've got. the ehx sitar pedal looks awesome, i'll have to try that out.
    frankencaster
    Whats so genius bout the BOSS BD-2? This pedal completely sucks: harsh tones, no sound, more highs than youll ever need and no blues at all. Only useable after some modifications made. a modded SD-1 is my alltime favrite. a t b for 2012!!