The Black Friday 2018 guitars
It's time to list off my personal picks for guitars to get this holiday season.
Black Friday lands on November 23 in 2018, so to get the jump on what's good out there, I'm listing what I think are the axes to get before that day comes around.
My picks are a bit different this year in the respect that I'm covering a wide price range. The list below is from $200 to $2,500, starting with the lowest-priced first.
This is, without question, the "easiest" Jazzmaster there is, as it's just a simple hardtail build with two humbuckers. Great introduction to the Jazzmaster shape, and works great whether you leave it as-is or mod it.
If the Jazzmaster shape doesn't suit, this will. For a little more, this absolutely incredible value from Schecter is a genuinely good guitar. It looks way more expensive than it actually is. Very solid build all around.
This is a guitar I've personally owned before. Great Strat. Very easy way to get the big Strat headstock with a modern comfortable neck shape. This is one I regretted parting with and might buy another one someday because this axe definitely delivers proper Stratocaster tone and just looks cool.
This is the Strat to get if you prefer the '50s style and smaller headstock. Again, great guitar. Where this differs other than in appearance is that it has pickups with alnico III magnets that, while not having as strong of a pull as alnico V, does result in higher treble response and works better with vintage-style tones. In other words, if you want a Strat with as "clean" of a sound as possible without having to upgrade it, get this one.
The Tribute ASAT from G&L is a killer Telecaster style axe. It's a nice combination of vintage and modern touches, but what really sets it apart are the MFD pickups made in Fullerton, California. Pickups like what's in the ASAT are what most Tele players upgrade to, but you get them stock in this guitar.
Most people cannot afford a Gibson Les Paul Standard (the 2019 model is over $3,000 now,) so the sensible choice is to go Epiphone. And the one people want is, of course, the Standard Plus Top PRO in Heritage Cherry Sunburst. This guitar is absolutely loaded with goodies and includes coil-splitting with its ProBucker pickups, so you really are getting something special with this guitar. I'm not a Les Paul guy myself, but even I can see that this Epi delivers.
I mentioned very recently this guitar will probably go away in 2019. 2018 will most likely be the very last year we'll see the Mexico-made Fender Standard Stratocaster. Fender lists that the Sunburst is the only one available right now, but you can also get it in black as seen above or in Arctic White.
This may be your last chance to get a Standard before it's permanently retired and the Player model (which costs more) completely replaces it.
Originally a Fender Custom Shop model, this worked its way into the regular Fender lineup because so many players like it. The trick up the Baja Tele's sleeve is a 4-way switch where you can change back and forth between series and parallel wiring, and the S-1 switch for some serious tonal options. It's a hot-rodded Tele that completely keeps the look of a classic vintage Telecaster.
A mainstay in the Schecter lineup for a while now, the C-1 Hellraiser is a serious rock guitar. It's always sold well and everything is very well put together. This is a no-brainer buy for anyone that wants a rock guitar that needs absolutely no upgrades whatsoever. Out of the box, this thing is ready to go. And it's a gorgeous guitar with a nice sense of elegance to it. Not overdone, not underdone. Just right. You'll get a smile on your face every time you look at this resting on its guitar stand before picking it up to play it.
While true the current Fender American Professional Jaguar is largely inspired by the Marr Jaguar and costs less, I still prefer the Marr version because of the extra controls on the top horn. That, and I think the headstock logo on the Marr Jag looks cooler. The mods done to this particular Jag are what most fans of this guitar would want in the first place. Easy-to-use four-position blade selector on the bottom horn, upper horn switches (one "universal bright" switch, one "4 position bright" switch,) taller tremolo arm with nylon sleeve to prevent arm swing, and just an excellent player all around. Great Jag. Again, the Am. Pro Jag is no slouch, but I still think this is the better guitar where a modernized Jag is concerned.
I've said it before and will say it again, this is the best Artist Series Stratocaster that Fender makes. Yes, even better than the Clapton Strat. Why? Because it has the most features that players would actually use. Note that there are no string trees on the headstock because it already has special staggered-height tuners that eliminates the need for them. The fingerboard is a 12" radius like a Les Paul, making for easier note bending without fretting out. The neck shape is a "soft V" contour (very comfortable.)
A note on this guitar: It does not have a plastic rear cover for the rear tremolo spring area, nor are there any holes drilled in the body to place a cover on back there. This is the way Eric Johnson wanted it, and I 100% agree with the decision since getting strings through that cover has ALWAYS been a pain in the butt when doing string changes.
Again, this is the best Artist Series Strat there is. There are of course other Artist Series Strats, but they all have dopey things done to them while this one has all the things done you would want to have (much like the Johnny Marr Jaguar mods.)
Last on the list and most expensive is the Ibanez JS2410. While not my style of guitar, I can't deny that this is one serious badass axe. It has all the toys. The pickups are both DiMarzio with the bridge being a "Mo' Joe" and the neck being "Satch Track" (note the dual rails, there's no hum noise here.) All frets feature "Prestige fret edge treatment," meaning every fret is machined to perfection. Neck is a 3-piece of maple + bubinga for ultimate stability. Electronics feature push/pull coil-tap on the tone knob that changes the humbucker to a single-coil. Even the tremolo arm is an "Ultralite" for ridiculously smooth and easy tremolo use.
Like I said, this is a badass axe. It has a high price tag, to be sure. But there's nothing else like it. The color is MCO, which means "Muscle Car Orange." And that's just cool.
Again, not my style of guitar, but with this one you totally do get what you pay for. And yes, it does come provided with a hardshell case.
Happy shopping, everyone.