As we head towards a return to the January Winter NAMM Show in Anaheim, we look back on a year of brands re-establishing their position in the market post-covid, with some celebrating significant milestones. Check out some of our gear release highlights from 2023.
Boss, for example celebrated their 50th anniversary this year and led with special 50th anniversary versions of the DS-1 Distortion (DS-1-B50A), SD-1 Super Overdrive (SD-1-B50A), and BD-2 Blues Driver (BD-2-B50A), three of the most popular and influential models from the legendary BOSS compact pedal lineup. These collectible versions were produced in strictly limited numbers, with only 7,000 units available worldwide.
Boss also expanded their Katana Amp range with three new models. The Katana-50 MkII EX is an expanded version of the entry-level Katana-50 MkII, offering enhanced performance features derived from higher-end Katana models. The Katana-Artist MkII Head provides the premium sound and features of the flagship Katana-Artist MkII combo in a powerful 100- watt amplifier head. The Katana Cabinet 212 Waza is the ideal companion for the Katana-Artist MkII Head, offering ultimate rock tones in a 2×12 configuration loaded with custom Waza speakers.
One of Boss, exciting new products for 20023 was the the SL-2 Slicer, the latest addition to the company’s legendary compact pedal lineup. This original BOSS effect chops sound into unique percussive patterns—including many processed with internal filters and effects—and provides multiple output options that bring grooves to life across the stereo field. https://australianmusician.com.au/news/boss-announces-sl-2-slicer-pedal/
Another exciting new product from Boss was the DM-101 Delay Machine. Classic sound meets modern power with the DM-101 Delay Machine, the ultimate analog delay. Driven by eight BBDs under smart CPU control, this inspiring pedal delivers 12 unique modes, stereo operation, and a wide array of tonal colors, all while maintaining 100 percent analog signal processing throughout. And with 127 user memories, tap tempo, carryover, MIDI, and more, the DM-101 brings you the features and versatility of an advanced digital pedal—but with the vibrant, characterful sound that’s only possible with authentic analog BBD circuitry.
Also promoting a milestone was Epiphone. In celebration of Epiphone’s 150th anniversary, they were proud to release these special 150th-anniversary editions of the Epiphone Sheraton, Wilshire, Crestwood Custom, and Zephyr DeLuxe Regent guitars. https://australianmusician.com.au/gear/epiphone-announces-ltd-edition-150th-anniversary-models/
Epiphone was busy releasing many artist models, notably the Kirk Hammett/Peter Green ‘Greeny’. The story of “Greeny” is shrouded in mystery, but few guitars are as illustrious. Greeny is one of the most iconic original Les Paul™ Standards ever made, with a unique sound as recognizable as the guitar itself. Previously owned by Peter Green, it was used throughout his time with Fleetwood Mac and later sold to Gary Moore, who used it for three decades with Thin Lizzy and as a solo artist. Now owned by Kirk Hammett, Greeny has passed through the hands of three legendary guitarists. Its distinctive sound is partly from the out-of-phase middle switch position due to the neck pickup’s reversed magnetic polarity. The Epiphone Kirk Hammett “Greeny” Les Paul Standard is a collaboration between Epiphone and the Gibson Custom Shop. https://australianmusician.com.au/gear/epiphone-kirk-hammett-greeny-1959-les-paul-standard-greeny-burst/
Epiphone had a ball with Joe Bonamassa this year, releasing a Joe Bonamassa 1963 SG custom
Epiphone was also delighted to announce its first-ever partnership with Dave Mustaine, the legendary guitarist, vocalist, songwriter, and founder of the multi-platinum selling and GRAMMY® Award-winning band, Megadeth. Epiphone and Dave have unveiled the Flying V Custom and a limited-edition Flying V Prophecy. https://australianmusician.com.au/gear/dave-mustaines-epiphone-flying-v-custom-prophecy-kramer-vanguard/
Epiphone was particularly proud to announce the Adam Jones Les Paul Custom Art Collection, an unprecedented, limited-edition collection curated by Adam Jones of TOOL, which brings Adam’s love of fine art and music together with seven, iconic and unique Les Paul Custom Silverburst masterpieces featuring the artwork of five distinguished visual artists handpicked by Adam. The Epiphone Adam Jones Les Paul Custom Art Collection is now available worldwide in limited quantities at authorized Epiphone dealers, and on www.epiphone.com. https://australianmusician.com.au/gear/adam-jones-epiphone-les-paul-custom-art-collection-unveils-final-guitar/
Jackson guitars was pleased to announce the launch of the American Series VirtuosoTM guitar. A high octane instrument, built upon Jackson’s legacy and designed to suit the modern player’s need to blur genre lines and push sonic boundaries, the Virtuoso expands the success of the American Series platform, embracing the brand’s Californian origins while prioritizing the diverse sonic needs of its players. Australian Musician editor Greg Phillips sat down with Marty Friedman over zoom call to chat about the Jackson American Series Virtuoso guitars, his time with Megadeth, his recording regime and asked his thoughts on AI in music.
Next year marks the 70th Anniversary of the introduction of Leo Fender’s most iconic and innovative creation: the Fender Stratocaster® guitar but Fender have already begun the celebrations by releasing a collection of limited edition models and anniversary color options.
The 70th Anniversary celebration is planned to extend throughout 2024, with additional news and releases from Fender and the Fender Custom Shop. Stay tuned for ongoing updates and special releases that will continue to mark this significant milestone
Just in time for the holidays, Fender is granting players early access to the celebration and introducing four anniversary models:
• 70th Anniversary Player Stratocaster® •70th Anniversary American Professional II Stratocaster®
• Player Stratocaster® NEW COLOR
• American Professional II Stratocaster® NEW COLOR
Fender revealed the next evolution of their vintage-style electric guitars and basses with Vintera II Series. Building on the success of the original Vintera series launched in 2019, Vintera II offers players a chance to embrace the vintage essence and sound of Fender’s iconic instruments from the “golden age” of sound, while remaining adaptable for modern compositions. https://australianmusician.com.au/gear/fender-unveils-vintera-ii-series/
One of Fender’s most popular releases this year was the launch of the Mike McCready Stratocaster®, a faithful recreation and an accessible homage to Pearl Jam’s lead guitarists’ iconic 1960s Stratocaster® guitar. Created in close collaboration with McCready, this signature Stratocaster® guitar pays tribute to his unique blues-inspired style and serves as a testament to his extraordinary artistry and sonic finesse.
In July, Fender announced the launch of My Bloody Valentine frontman, Kevin Shields, signature pedal, the Limited Edition Fender® Shields Blender – Fender’s first-ever signature fuzz pedal. Kevin Shields’ groundbreaking sound and his legendary pedalboard configurations have left an indelible mark on the music industry. Shields’ unique blend of distortion and feedback inspired countless musicians to experiment with new sonic textures. Now, four decades after My Bloody Valentine’s formation, Kevin Shields’ iconic sound has been captured in a new wild-but-versatile multi-fuzz octave effect.
Fender also pleased many a musician with the release of their Tone Master Princeton Reverb, the latest addition to Fender’s acclaimed series of legendary amplifiers. Using Fender’s proprietary Tone Master modeling process the Tone Master Princeton is a perfect replication of the legendary tube amplifier. https://australianmusician.com.au/news/fender-unveils-cutting-edge-tone-master-princeton-reverb/
In February 2023, Fender announced the launch of the Limited Edition Tyler Bryant “Pinky” Stratocaster®, marking the guitar phenom’s first collaboration with the brand. Australian Musician editor Greg Phillips sat down with Tyler Bryant over a zoom call to chat about the creation of Fender Custom Shop’s Limited Edition Tyler Bryant “Pinky” Stratocaster® Guitar and we learned more about the future plans of his band Tyler Bryant and The Shakedown.
From the drum world, Ludwig gave us the all-new Ludwig Continental series. Bridging the gap between high end and mid range, the Continental series offers two new hybrid models featuring exotic wood shells, contemporary and traditional sizing, elite appointments and impressive colour finish options. https://australianmusician.com.au/news/introducing-ludwigs-continental-series-drums/
Jointly developed by Roland and V-MODA, the VMH-D1 V-Drums Headphones bring you a complete personal monitoring solution purpose-built for the electronic drumming experience. Fine-tuned by the V-Drums design team and V-MODA engineers, these unique phones deliver premium sound that realizes the full sonic potential of your V-Drums set and any other e-kit. https://australianmusician.com.au/news/roland-vmh-d1-v-drums-headphones/
After the very special Gretsch Night in NYC and the release of “The Round Badge Stories,” Gretsch kept festivities rolling with the Gretsch 140th Collection. This line includes the 140th Anniversary Drum Kit (4- and 5-piece configurations) and the 140th Anniversary Snare Drum. These collectible instruments include extras and are limited to 70 units of each kit, and 140 units of each snare.
Gibson was thrilled to commemorate the legendary B.B. King and his landmark album Live at the Regal with the B.B. King “Live at the Regal” ES-335 guitar. Gibson and its Custom Shop Murphy Lab have created a perfect replica of B.B. King’s ES-335 in the original Argentine Grey Sunburst finish that was commissioned by the artist. https://australianmusician.com.au/news/gibson-b-b-king-live-at-the-regal-es-335-limited-edition-guitar/
Showcased at the 2023 Melbourne Guitar Show was Cole Clark’s innovative True Hybrid guitar. Australian Musician magazine has been privileged to follow the journey of Cole Clark’s True Hybrid guitars for some time and a while back we caught up with Cole Clark’s electronics guru Paul Gale, who gave us a detailed explanation into the technology behind the True Hybrid guitars. We also had a quick chat with Lloyd Spiegel at the Melbourne Guitar Show about the ground-breaking new models.
In March, PreSonus launched Studio One 6.1—the first major dot update to one of the best selling and most innovative digital audio workstations in the world. Version 6.1 offers several new features as well as improvements to key user-optimized features recently released as a part of Studio One 6.0 as well as bug fixes, and other updates to help musicians and producers alike achieve the ideal workflow. Then in September this year they upgraded to Studio One 6.5, complete with groundbreaking Dolby Atmos® immersive audio https://australianmusician.com.au/gear/presonus-announces-studio-one-6-5/
VOX announced the Brian May Signature Series, which includes two new mini-amps developed in collaboration with legendary Queen guitarist Sir Brian May, making his iconic tone accessible to all. These products, each designed as a nod to May’s classic custom-constructed red-and-black “Red Special” guitar, include the amPlug Brian May guitar headphone amplifier and the MV50 Brian May miniature 50W amplifier head, along with two Limited Edition bundles that pair each of these products with a matching cabinet and other accessories (specifically, a collectible keychain and postcards).
From the team at Orange Amps that brought you one of the most iconic guitar amps of the past 50 years comes the Orange Box — A powerful 50 watt compact Bluetooth speaker overflowing with rich, resonant tone, alongside Orange’s trademark of classic rock’n’roll personality
From Markbass, the new LITTLE MARCUS 58R is ready to replicate the worldwide success of MarkBass’ Marcus Miller signature heads, that they introduced a few years ago. It is the result of the meeting between Marcus Miller — renowned for his groundbreaking style and trademark sound— and Marco De Virgiliis, considered an innovator, being the first pioneer introducing lightweight, portable, powerful and great sounding bass heads and cabinets. https://australianmusician.com.au/gear/markbass-little-marcus-58r-demo/
Handmade and designed in Marshall’s world-leading UK factory, the Studio JTM is an ode to the original JTM, delivering the same iconic JTM sound, but more compact packing the power you know and love from Marshall, in a smaller, more compact size. The JTM is a welcome addition to the Studio range, offering players authentic, smooth, and valve-driven break-up at lower volumes – perfect for home or studio use. https://australianmusician.com.au/gear/marshalls-new-studio-jtm-amps/
Roland launched the ZENOLOGY Pro Collection, a cost-effective bundle of Roland’s flagship plug-in version of the ZEN-Core Synthesis System, as well as five Model Expansions that recreate iconic Roland instruments. Users can gain access to thousands of tones and drum kits, and it is easily expandable to include over 10,000 selections. The ZENOLOGY Pro Collection is available with a special Roland Cloud Lifetime Key purchase for huge savings (as opposed to purchasing each title individually).
Two Notes introduced OPUS, an end-to-end tone shaping Amp Simulator and DynIR™ Engine ushering-in the next milestone-evolution of the Two notes ecosystem. Building upon the C.A.B. lineage – and their critically acclaimed digital cabinet simulation legacy – OPUS adds Pre- & Power-amp Tube-Stage Modeling™ (TSM™), MIDI integration and a future-proofed USB-C specification, empowering players of all- walks with apex-level tone in a go-anywhere footprint. https://australianmusician.com.au/gear/introducing-two-notes-opus/
Yamaha Corporation announced the release of the MONTAGE M series of Yamaha music synthesizers with three new digital music instruments: namely, the MONTAGE M6, MONTAGE M7, and MONTAGE M8x. This series is the successor to the original MONTAGE series of synthesizers. https://australianmusician.com.au/gear/yamaha-music-presents-the-montage-m-series-synths/