Gear fanatics will find a lot to love in this issue. For starters, our cover story details 44 new instruments, amps, and effects that wowed us at the Winter 2015 NAMM show. And our reviews start out with a roundup of four face-melting metal and hard-rock amps—Randall’s Ola Englund Satan, Engl’s Invader II E642/2, Mesa/Boogie’s Mark Five:25, and Friedman’s Double J Jerry Cantrell signature model. We also take a look at new gear from Ibanez, Demeter, Fender, Free the Tone, Radial Engineering, Dawner Prince, Acoustic, GreenChild, Phil Jones, and Slick Guitars. Rounding things out, we’ve got an in-depth feature on the history of steel guitar, as well as interviews with a wide array of players—from Imagine Dragon’s former jazzbo Wayne Sermon to avant-gardist Ben Chasny, experimentalist Oliver Ackermann from A Place to Bury Strangers (and Death by Audio pedals), tone alchemist Reine Fiske from Sweden’s the Amazing, and globetrotting acoustic adventurer Sir Richard Bishop.
This month our gear reviews include a killer array of acoustic tone toys—from Martin’s D Jr. to the Cole Clark CCFL2EC, Taylor’s 562ce, and parlor flattops from Fender and Ibanez, and DiMarzio’s new Black Angel soundhole pickup—as well as Marshall’s JCM 25/50 2555X Silver Jubilee head, the Ethos Clean-Fusion preamp, L.R. Baggs’ Stadium bass DI, Schroeder Amplification’s SA9+, the Keeley ME-8 Multi-Echo, SolidGoldFX’s Horizon, and Mike Lull’s TXB4 bass. Meanwhile, in our interviews section, famed record producers Zeuss (Rob Zombie, Hatebreed), and Steve Evetts (the Dillinger Escape Plan, Every Time I Die) offer tips and tricks for recording crushing guitar tones, while Paul Gilbert, Nigerian Tuareg guitarist Bombino, Lukas Nelson (country icon Willie Nelson’s son), neo-bluegrass renegade Michael Daves, genre-spanning veteran Gary Lucas, Jeremy Earl and Jarvis Taveniere from folk-rock outfit Woods, and world-music guitar guru Adam Rudolph dissect the songwriting, recording, and gear behind their latest albums.