GEAR EXPO 2021: One of the reason the artist collaboration works is the celebrity kudos. But that doesn't tell the whole story. Perhaps the enduring appeal of the signature guitar is that it is developed with the artist, and these two-way conversations can often drive innovation.
That is true of the electric guitar. And that is true of the acoustic. This year sees that innovation going two ways. As ever, progress in guitar building is a Janus-faced process, some look back to vintage designs, bringing back classic builds that hitherto would have been available only through the eye-wateringly expensive vintage guitar market. Other tear up the rulebook.
There are guitars from both tribes in this list. There is the classic, the David Gilmour Martin with a sinker mahogany build. Then we've got the 2021 acoustic, spec'd up and developed in partnership with acoustic phenom Jon Gomm. And then
Gibson Orianthi SJ-200
Gibson's artist partnership with Orianthi was always going to throw some curveballs our way, and the former Alice Cooper and Michael Jackson guitarist's SJ-200 does not disappoint.
That nitro gloss Cherry finish is one evocative shad of red, a sort of 100-watt toffee apple colour that works very well with the SJ-200's classic silhouette and period correct features such as the moustache bridge.
The big thing here is the ES-345 neck that Orianthi has had transferred over from the Gibson electric department. This, she says, makes it shreddable. A custom-designed L.R. Baggs pickup and preamp ready this for the stage, while other signature flourishes include lotuse flower inlays on the fingerboard, pickguard, and Orianthi's logo on the headstock.
Very cool, price TBC, but it's coming straight from the Custom Shop so it's not going to be cheap. Hey, it's aspirational.
Gibson Noel Gallagher J-150
In its epic January 2021 announcement, Gibson confirmed a Noel Gallagher J-150 is done, but were cagey on the details – perhaps waiting to release the spec once they had Noel in conversation with Mark Agnesi and ready to cut the ribbon.
The J-150 is easily mistaken for Gibson's popular J-200 at first glance – and was a more affordable alternative when it was available between 1999 and 2005. It loses the J-200's neck and headstock binding yet remains a lesser-known jumbo gem.
Ibanez Jon Gomm JGM10
“The JGM10 has deeper bass and brighter harmonics for a full sound when playing solo guitar music,“ says Jon. “It has louder frets (yes, that's a thing!) for clearer hammer-ons. It has a unique body and bridge ergonomically designed for percussive playing.
“It has the perfect scale and string spacing for modern fingerstyle playing. It has a more stable neck for retuning. It has a unique triple-source pickup system by Fishman – Rare Earth humbucker, condenser mic and Powertap body sensor – wired so you can use one regular cable, or split into stereo, or even split into three.“
“My dream is that this guitar will remove limitations for modern fingerstyle acoustic guitarists, in the same way that Ibanez electric guitars did for my progressive electric guitar heroes. It's such an honour for me to be a part of the Ibanez family with those heroes today.“
The JGM-10 is available to order now and we're seeing street prices around £2,779 / $3,399. For more on Ibanez head to Ibanez.com.
Epiphone Slash Signature Series J-45 acoustics
It was Slash himself who unveiled the latest in his Epiphone signature series, a pair of J-45 acoustic guitars finished a la their Gibson USA counterparts in Vermillion Burst and November Burst.
Just as he did for his Epiphone Les Pauls, Slash took to Instagram to confirm the news. Top man. While there has been no official announcement from Epiphone, we have high expectations. Epiphone is on one crazy hot streak, so here's hoping for a solid-wood build and a wallet-friendly price tag.
All will be revealed in due course. All you need is a little patience.
Martin David Gilmour signature D-35 and 12-string acoustics
Gilmour's original 1969 D-35 was his main recording and songwriting acoustic for over 40 years and he'll be using this signature model in future.
These signature models are the first D-35s to be made with sinker mahogany, chosen by Gilmour for its "warm, rich tones and exquisitely beautiful grain".
Top is an Adirondack spruce Vintage Tone System with antique white binding and a vintage gloss finish.
Tuners are Waverly Relic Nickel, while the the neck shape and fingerboard pattern here is unique to Gilmour's specification, and there is a special stamp on the reverse of the headstock.
The limited run will be signed by Gilmour and priced at $5,499 each with the partnership supporting the David Gilmour Charitable Foundation.
See Martin for more details.
Fender Joe Strummer Campfire acoustic
Inspired by the famed campfire gatherings Strummer held at Glastonbury Festival – now commemorated in the event's official 'Strummerville' area – the small-body acoustic-electric guitar boasts a solid spruce top with mahogany back/sides.
Fender says "reflects Strummer’s legendary aesthetic" with a matte black finish, nickel hardware and star inlays. It looks
The Joe Strummer Campfire will be available March 2021 priced £449 / $499 / €499.
See Fender for more details.
And, y'know, all this acoustic guitar and the talk of campfires? Maybe it's time to freshen up your chord vocabulary so you are ready for the summer....