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What Guitar Players Need To Know about 2018

by vaughn skow January 01, 2019 3 min read


Okay, I'm NOT(!!!) going to waste a lot of time on this one, since it's been covered to death already; I'm only going to share the take-away that ALL of us guitarists need to remember.  After years of f-ing up the great Gibson name with over-priced stupid guitar designs and features no one wanted, and a ill-conceived attempt at making Gibson a "consumer electronics brand" rather than a guitar company, Gibson went into bankruptcy in 2018.  Gibby has "re-structured" and has new folks at the helm who promise to bring back everything we have always loved about Gibson, while shedding the crap we hate.  If THAT actually happens, I predict Gibson will do just fine.  My fingers are crossed!

2019 Gibson Les Paul Standard


Personally, I think this news is JUST as big as the Gibson news, but in inverse.  While Gibby did everything wrong, Fender did everything right.  2018 has seen Fender make soooo many good decisions that I won't even begin to list them all here.  I can easily condense all that Fender did in 2018 down to this small statement:  Fender is making exactly the guitars and guitar accessories that people actually want and are willing to shed out their dollars to purchase.  I predict 2019 will continue to be fantastic for Fender, they truly are making the best guitars this side of 1965!

Fender makes the guitars people really want


Speaking of Fender ... like I said, Fender GETS IT, they don't blindly make shit nobody wants, they actually take the time to research what their players want and then turn those into actual instruments.  As part of their research Fender uncovered some VERY important statistics for the guitar world: 50% of new guitar players are female!  Oh, and Fender, of course, is sure as heck making guitars that appeal to those girls buying their first guitar.  Smart.

Larkin Poe Girls Play Guitar

The Larkin Poe Gals : Some of the coolest guitar grooves of 2018!


In 2017 most "experts" said the pedal market had reached a horrific point of over-saturation, and that the market would implode in 2018.  That didn't happen ... at all.  Sure, a few mom-n-pop pedal companies gave it up, but hundreds more BEGAN production.  Personally, I think the reason to feel positive about the long-term health of the pedal industry is simple: technology.  In a nut-shell, there's just ALWAYS so many cool new stuff being developed, and I see no end.  From all the new DSP based stuff to the honest-to-goodness "new" vacuum tube variant, the "NuTube", there's a freakin torrent of new tech flowing for pedal designers to tap into.

Ibanez NuTube Screamer

One of the first uses of the "NuTube" ... the NuTube Tube Screamer!


Following right along the lines already established in the past few years, amps keep getting smaller and lighter.  There are lots of reasons why;  Folks like Quilter are just making such good SOUNDING micro-amps, and more and more stages are going "in-ear" and don't want any big amps on stage.  Sure there are a couple of exceptions (think Greta Van Fleet), but for every new VBIG amp that came out in 2018, there were probably 100 new tiny amps released ... and many of them sound very good indeed!

Quilter 101

Guitar PLAYERS themselves:

Here the rule is that there ain't no rule!  2018 saw the rise of the fore-mentioned Van Fleet gang, who are stuck in a time-machine set to 1971; Steel Panther who set THEIR time-machine to 1985, and a plethora of guys and gals playing every conceivable style with every conceivable tone.  Wow!  From virtuosos with insane over-the-top rigs to uber-simplistic roots players with WWII era gear, in 2018 there was room for EVERYBODY.  I predict more of the same in 2019 ... and that's a good thing.  Very good, indeed. 

Steel Panther 2018 LiveNope ... this ain't 1985 ... it's Steel Panther circa 2018 :-)

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