This year’s Black Friday guitar deals are almost upon us, and we're stoked at the prospect of seeing the prices of hundreds of guitars, amps and accessories dropping through the floor. In excited anticipation, and to help pass the time before the biggest deals hit, we've rounded-up 10 pieces of guitar gear we'd love to see discounted on Friday 26 November.
We've included hot products that are new for 2021, plus a few old favourites that we'd jump at the opportunity of buying if only the prices were a little cheaper. There are also some accessories in the list because Black Friday is the perfect time to stock up on strings, straps, cables, polish and so on.
What would be on your wishlist? As the magic date approaches, rest assured we'll be pulling out all the stops to bring you the latest deals on acoustic guitars, electric guitars, bass guitars, guitar amps, pedals and the rest. With any luck, you'll find exactly what you're looking for, so keep coming back to check out the hottest Black Friday music deals.
Keep an eye on our price widgets below, as some early-Black Friday deals have started to emerge on some of our picks.
Hmm. How many hands do you need to learn to play the guitar when jamming along to YouTube videos? Well, two to do the strummy, fretty bits, one to reach behind you to change sounds on your amp and a fourth to constantly rewind the YouTube video back to the tricky bit you keep messing up. Of course, you can never quite find the beginning of that section, always getting the same useless 15 seconds of the previous bit. So, a fifth hand is required to slap your forehead – doh!
Maths has never been our strong point, but we reckon that's got to be more hands than most of us can find at the end of our arms. Which is why we're praying that there's going to be a stonking Black Friday deal on the Boss Pocket GT.
Yes, it's pocket sized and it has a whole library of great Boss amp sounds and effects that'll tumble joyously from your headphones. That goes without saying. But the reason we're really gassing for it is that once configured with your phone or tablet it takes all the frustration out of learning by YouTube.
Load a video in its partner app and you can set markers that immediately take you to the sections you want to play along with. Magically, those markers can be programmed to automatically change your amp and effects settings too, so you'll be playing rhythm tones for the rhythm bits and a searing lead tone for the solo. Choose A/B looping and that tricky bit, and just that tricky bit, will replay again and again until it's no longer tricky.
Goodbye YouTube frustration. Hello fun, efficient practice.
Read the full Boss Pocket GT review
Strymon's NightSky epitomises a superb Black Friday bargain buy. It's an exquisite product that adds a new dimension – or multiple new dimensions – to reverb. It's also quite pricey, and you've probably got at least one reverb pedal on your board already. So, you've been umming and ahhing about buying it for months.
Hopefully, a Black Friday deal will enable you to finally pull the trigger on what's more than just another reverb pedal, it's an entire soundscape workstation. It sounds epic, cinematic even – a gorgeous, shimmering cloud of otherworldly expansiveness at your fingertips.
It's so tactile in use too. This is the most hands-on effects unit Strymon has ever produced, with no screen or hidden menus to get in the way. Just 10 rotary encoders to dial in some delicious out-there sounds.
We didn't become guitarists to spend our time changing strings, we became guitarists to play. Sadly, even the very best strings won't hang on to their tone forever, and will need changing pretty frequently. Which means hassle and expense.
Coated strings promise more longevity, but some players just can't get on with them, claiming they just don't sound as bright and that the coating feels unnatural. To address these concerns D'Addario launched its new XS coated acoustic guitar string line early in 2021, promising a 'true technological breakthrough'.
Essentially, D'Addario has applied an extra-thin coating – less than 1/10th of the thickness of a human hair – on the wound strings and a polymer-based coating on the plain steels. The effect is threefold. The strings don't suffer from damping, they're protected from the corrosive oils in your sweat and they feel supremely natural to play.
They're not cheap but they should outlast at least a couple of pairs of standard strings. If you can get them for a special Black Friday price then it's well worth stocking up on a few packs. You'll save both time and money in the long run.
Unless you've been hiding under a rock since the New Year, you've probably noticed that Grunge is back in the news again. Nevermind, the album that launched the genre, celebrated its 30th Anniversary back on 24 September and all summer the world's been riding high on a wave of Nirvana nostalgia. Which is lovely.
Of course, Soundgarden must take credit for being the original Grunge band. The late, great Chris Cornell and his Seattle bandmates predate Nirvana by some years and even had a 1990 Grammy nomination for their album Ultramega OK.
Chris played a lot of different guitars, especially Gibsons, but he will always be associated with Gretsch Duo Jets. He was said to have exclusively used a Silver Sparkle Jet on Black Hole Sun, although a Gold Sparkle model appears in the track's trippy video.
Earlier this year Gretsch took the opportunity to resurrect these iconic models as part of its top-end made-in-Japan Professional Collection. The G6129T-89VS Vintage Select ’89 Sparkle Jet, in both silver and gold sparkle, includes a chambered mahogany construction, a maple set neck, 12"-radius rosewood fingerboard, G-arrow knobs, Bigsby vibrato, Adjusto-Matic bridge and Gotoh tuners. TV Jones pickups are onboard to nail the Filter'Tron sound too.
They're hardly an impulse buy at $2,799 RRP but fingers crossed for some healthy reductions on Black Friday!
If you're patiently waiting for Black Friday before buying your first 'proper' bass then this Ibanez series is definitely one for the shortlist. In fact, it's a very tempting proposition even at full price.
The SR600 series is brand thumb spanking new for 2021; it was launched at NAMM earlier this year with three models starting at around the $750 mark. There's a SR600 four string, a SR605 five string and a SR606 six string in the line-up.
They're unashamedly modern – contemporary silhouettes, fast necks and capable of some high-octane, full-bodied punch from the onboard electronics.
According to Ibanez, the solid ash body is there to provide a 'powerful tonal foundation' while the rosewood fretboard brings 'tonal focus and note definition'. Sounds good to us, but it's worth mentioning that they look great too.
The defining feature of these basses is, of course, their Nordstrand Big Break pickups. They're a noiseless split coil in a soapbar pup that can be full and ballsy one minute and the epitome of single-coil clarity the next.
In combination with Ibanez's Custom Electronics 3-band EQ these pickups deliver huge sonic versatility. There's little these basses cannot tackle.
Goddammit! Don't those inconsiderate engineers at Universal Audio know when to stop? I've been battling insomnia for years, night after endless night spent deliberating over how I can possibly justify purchasing one of their outstanding but expensive audio interfaces.
Now they've only gone and added to my misery by developing three incredibly lust-worthy effects boxes, condemning me to more wide-awake time in the small hours. There's a Golden Reverberator for reverb duties, and an Astra Modulation Machine for chorus/vibrato effects, but the one I'll be scanning the Black Friday deals for is the Starlight Echo Station.
It boasts three glorious echo/delay engines. First up is tape echo, said to match the sound of iconic vintage hardware from the 70s. Wow/flutter randomness, splice noise, new tape/old tape/worn tape – it's 1973 all over again and again and again…
Next we have the syrupy repeats of an 80s bucket-brigade analog delay unit, including accurate modelling of a colourful preamp for hazy zaniness. On tap.
Finally, there are the pristine digital delays for shimmering modulation effects and ping-pong repeats.
All three stompboxes, including the Starlight, are tough, beautifully built and use powerful new dual-processor engines to get the very best from UA's analog modelling expertise.
Modern modelling amps are all very well, but we question whether some, in the pursuit of making our lives easier, have got too clever for their own good. Bluetooth connections, partner phone apps, downloadable sound libraries, a ton of effects, OLED screens, assignable footswitches. Sometimes, we hanker after a time when less was more – 1968 to be precise.
Which is where the '68 Custom Vibro Champ Reverb fits in. It's a barely enhanced version of Fender's 1968 Vibro Champ, which was just 5 watts of tube lusciousness in a modest-sized enclosure. Fender's 2021 interpretation doesn't wander too far from the original vision by adding reverb and a slightly larger 10" Celestion speaker.
How does it sound? Clean, the Class A circuit delivers a rich tone with trademark Fender clarity and sparkle aplenty. Spin the Champ's volume knob and quickly enough it becomes deliciously saturated but cleans up immediately with some dynamic playing or a tweak of your guitar's volume pot. If you can't dial in the tone you're looking for in the time it takes to yell 'Duane and Eric' then there's something wrong with you.
Why faff about with a modelled copy when you can enjoy the real thing? Trust us, there's nothing quite like grabbing your guitar, plugging it straight into a small tube amp and letting rip. Let's hope this little Champ gets discounted on Black Friday.
Here's a new guitar from Taylor that we'd be overjoyed to see discounted on Black Friday.
We love dreads and jumbos as much as the next person but playing a small-bodied guitar can be a revelation. More often than not they sound more balanced without all that bass in the lows and mid-lows – sweeter is an adjective that's commonly used.
For smaller players they're just more comfortable too. Struggling with a guitar so big you can barely reach your picking arm around it is not going to improve your technique any time soon, or your tone.
Dreadnaughts and jumbos are popular for a reason though, they sound big, bold and loud. But, what if a guitar brand could develop a small guitar with the projection of a large-bodied instrument? Well, in 2020 Taylor did just that with its new GT series, which is short for Grand Theatre.
In a nutshell, master builder Andy Powers borrowed the curves from its Grand Orchestra (jumbo) style and scaled them down for comfort. He then added Taylor's newly developed C-Class asymmetrical bracing pattern that accentuates the lower frequencies. Hey presto, Andy ended up with a compact guitar with surprisingly warm bass and great projection.
Originally, the GT series comprised just two mid-range guitars, the GTe Urban Ash and its fully acoustic counterpart. In 2021 Taylor remedied this by marrying the GT shape with its high-end 800 line and the GT811e was born. The C-Class bracing remains, but it's now encased in Indian rosewood and spruce, which gives this new guitar a voicing that's warm, clear and slightly scooped in the mid-range.
This is a gorgeous Strat with a host of 'nice to have' features. Very 'nice to have' features. Truth is though, none of them are essential and the Ultra Luxe's price is quite high, placing it in a slightly awkward position in Fender's Strat line-up.
Spend a bit less and there's the 'regular' Ultra model. Spend quite a bit less and you'll still be wrapping your fingers around Fender's excellent American Professional II version, which is all you'll ever need from a Strat and then some. Spend more and Fender's Custom Shop beckons.
What if you could score an Ultra Luxe for close to the price of a Pro II? Well, that changes everything. What you'll get over the Ultra model is an augmented D-shaped neck – the profile alters as you play down the neck for increased comfort – and stainless-steel frets.
Ibanez and Suhr have been fitting stainless-steel frets for years but Fender, along with most other brands, has shied away from them because, frankly, they're a pig to fit. Once in place though, they'll last a lifetime, banishing future costly refrets.
A standout feature you'll enjoy over the Pro II model is Fender's now excellent Ultra Noiseless Vintage Pickups. Fender's noiseless pups have had a patchy history, but the latest version offers sublime, authentic single-coil tone with no 60-cycle hum.
Fender doesn't say as much, but you may end up with better wood too. We've regularly seen some lovely subtly flamed necks on Ultra and Ultra Luxe guitars.
Here's hoping, come 26th November, you'll be able to bag yourself a bargain Ultra Luxe Strat.
Lots of us lust after a '50s style Gibson Les Paul Standard but, let’s be honest, few of us can actually afford one. Take a look on Gibson's website and you'll find a stunning Les Paul Standard '50s for $2,699, together with an uber desirable 1959 Les Paul Standard Reissue for $6,699. Ouch! That's a serious wedge of cash.
For decades now, Epiphone has provided more affordable alternatives that looked the part and sounded great. Really great. Problem is, corners had to be cut in order to keep the prices reasonable, so parts and build were never quite as authentic as we would have liked. But that all changed late last year with the Epiphone 1959 Les Paul Standard, a joint collaboration with Gibson's Custom Shop.
Now, just like the real thing, the Epiphone gets a mahogany body with a maple top to produce that characteristically balanced Lester tone. Remarkably, it's also fitted with Gibson USA BurstBucker pups, CTS pots and '50s era wiring. Nothing Epiphone has made in the past comes this close to being a genuine replica 1950s Les Paul – it looks and sounds almost indistinguishable.
There are, of course, some differences. The maple top carries an AAA veneer, the fingerboard is Indian laurel rather than rosewood and, as always, there's that huge Epiphone paddle headstock.
Oh, almost forgot, the other difference is the price. At $849 the Epiphone is just a third of the cost of Gibson's Standard '50s, and an eighth of the cost of that amazing 1959 Reissue. Yet it plays and sounds pretty much the same.
Who knows, a Black Friday deal could give you that authentic '50s Les Paul vibe and tone for even less.
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