The Year In Review: Eastwood Team's Favourites
Here at Eastwood we're all about guitars - we're fans, musicians and collectors, just like you. So it's time to meet our team and find out what gear rocked our world in 2017!
On our previous blog about the Hottest Guitars of 2017 we highlighted some of the most talked-about, best-selling and eagerly-awaited models that we put out in the last twelve months.
Now, it's time to see what were the favourite guitars amongst the Eastwood crew - plus all the other gear that tempted our GAS in 2017.
We'd like to thank everyone who supported us this year, and we hope you enjoyed our new guitars as much as we did!
Mike Robinson (CEO)
Favorite Eastwood Guitar of 2017: SD-40 Hound Dog
There were so many cool new guitars coming out of Eastwood Custom Shop this year. It's tough to narrow it down to a single favorite, but the SD-40 captured all the things I've loved since I was a kid - too many pickups, too many switches, too many knobs - all packaged together with an awesome body shape and a tremolo to boot! Simple Math: Old school 60's vibe + modern build + playability = fun fun fun! VIEW GUITAR
Favorite other piece of new gear 2017: Magnatone Varsity Reverb
Yes, I'm one of those guys that has WAY too many amps. At last count it was over 20. Who needs 20 amps? And now, its one with the recent addition of this fabulous Magnatone. My favorite amp for the past 10 years has been my 1967 Fender Blackface Deluxe Reverb. I also like my Marshall 1976x, but it really is a one-trick pony; cranked up to 10 it sounds great, but not much use for anything else. In comes the Varsity Reverb and I now think I've found the best of all worlds. FIND OUT MORE
GAS wishlist for 2018: 1959 Gibson Les Paul JR
Yes, I was born in 1959 and yes, sooner or later I need a guitar made in that year. Right? I've been on the lookout for a '59 Gibson Les Paul JR for the last few years. I told myself I would pull the trigger before my 60th Birthday, so time is running out. If you know someone with a really clean one, drop me a line.
In the meantime, I'm keeping myself satisfied with the new Rivolta Combinata JR.
Carl Cook (COO/ Director of International)
It was a close call for me between the Airline 2PT, Sidejack Pro and Rivolta Mondata.
I was swayed to the 2PT because, I’m a lefty (no lefty Mondata yet, coming early 2018), I’m a bit of a ‘tele-guy’, and, I’ve been wanting to see an Airline hybrid since I started at Eastwood in 2010.
The 2PT has everything I dig about a good Tele, combined with everything I dig about the Airline 2P/3P. So, you get all that Tele-twang, with the lightweight Airline-chambered mahogany body that resonates like a semi.
I think it’s telling which songs you play when you pick up a guitar for the first time. I think the guitar often tells you what to play. Plugged directly into a cranked WEM Dominator combo, I felt forced to hammer out Mick Ronson’s Ziggy Stardust-era chords and riffs. Chords ring out with overtones that swell until you hit the next chords, while single note riffs bite in then open up with a fullness that never feels exposed or thin. After Ronson, I did Cropper…then early Zep Jimmy Page…then it was 4 hours later.
I had no problem dropping the 2PT straight into my Telecaster rack (that now contains 5 of ‘em). As a ‘tele-guy’, the Airline 2PT spoke my language instantly. VIEW GUITAR
Favourite other piece of new gear 2017: Strymon Flint - Reverb & Tremolo pedal
I love multi-function fx pedals, especially when the various sounds are usable. Pedalboard space is valuable, right!? My Z-Vex Box of Rock, Diamond Fireburst Fuzz and Line 6 M9 have been ever-presents on my board for at least 6 years, because they do their jobs really well and give great return on/for their space.
It takes something truly special to nudge it’s way onto my board, but the Strymon Flint did it this year.
Being a reverb geek (I currently have 8 or 9 reverb fx pedals, not including the aforementioned Line 6 M9), I’m ultra-picky about reverbs, and the Strymon has 3 totally different, totally unique and totally brilliant reverbs onboard.
The 3 modes- 60s, 70s and 80s - basically cover the entire history of reverb for electric guitar. From short Scotty Moore-type slapback to full on Dick Dale/Ventures surf sounds, or from Jimmy Page/Led Zep plates to full on Cocteau Twins/Sigur Ros type dreamscape reverbs, the Flint does it all. And quick. No menus, sub menus to frustrate… just plug in and play.
AND, as if that wasn’t good enough, that’s only half of it’s tricks. It also does the same thing with Tremolo! It’s basically a trem-o-pedia.
Possibly my favourite Reverb pedal. Possibly my favourite Trem pedal. Without a doubt my favourite Reverb/Trem pedal ever. FIND OUT MORE
It’s not often I get GAS for guitars these days, but there are 2 that have crept up on me this year.
We gave birth to Rivolta Guitars this time last year with Dennis Fano. Mike and I visited Dennis’ workshop at the time and I got my hands on a (right-hand) Novo Serus T for the first time. That first time of picking it up felt like I’d picked it up a million times before, I didn’t want to put it down, and I have thought about it for an unhealthy amount of time since.
When Dennis and the Novo team moved to Nashville this summer, I asked Dennis if I could get the first lefty Novo out of Nashville. I have deliberated over the finish and pickups I want, but think I’m there now… so, that itch is getting scratched!
The second one that’s got me is a Gibson.
However, amongst all this, someone at Gibson had the idea of combining a Firebird with a Les Paul Custom’s colour-scheme and aesthetics.
I like both of these models, and 2+2=5 for me with this one. If a lefty one happens, I don’t think I could stop myself pulling the trigger. (I’d have to change the tuners for banjo style though.)
Oh yes, and if anyone wants to ‘wishlist’ a Kemper Profiling Amp to someone this Xmas, you can get me on email@example.com. :-)
Vince Schaljo (Web/Systems Manager)
Favorite Eastwood Guitar of 2017: Sidejack PRO DLX
The Sidejack DLX has been one of Eastwood’s flagship models for years; far predating my beginnings with the company back in 2011. It’s always been one of my favourites, so you can imagine my content when work began on the Rolls-Royce of all Sidejacks: The Sidejack PRO DLX.
It’s easy to think “Surf Guitar” just looking at it, but the first time I played one of these it was apparent that these are so much more. Yes it’s got a shapely silhouette, and yes the P-90s just explode when you strike a string – but for me it’s all in the feel. I’m a sucker for satin necks, and combined with its updated shape and more rounded radius, the Sidejack PRO DLX felt like an old friend immediately. VIEW GUITAR
Favourite other piece of new gear 2017: Acoustic Karol
OK, so I may be a tad biased here… but throughout 2016 and leading into 2017 I had the opportunity of working with esteemed Canadian guitar maker Tony Karol to build an acoustic guitar from scratch.
This was a yearlong endeavor, learning a TON about the construction process of a handmade instrument under Tony’s direction and watchful eye. The guitar that came as a result of this is definitely my favourite new piece of acquired gear over the past year, even if there’s a large bit of sentiment attached.
If you haven’t heard of Karol guitars, please check out Tony’s work! FIND OUT MORE
GAS wishlist for 2017: Gibson L5
GAS is an issue I’ve been pretty successful taming in recent years. I haven’t succumbed to the impulse in quite a while now (pats self on back), but if there was anything I’d like to add to my guitar wall it’d be a Gibson L5.
I’ve always loved the sound and feel of a big-box archtop, and if I’m going to have GAS for any then it may as well be the L5! They’ve got a gorgeous Lee Ritenour signature in the works right now with a super-cool tailpiece on it. It’s straight to the point: a single neck pickup, and one volume control.
Unfortunately the price-tag is going to have me GAS’ing for a while!
Ivan Silva (Content Manager)
Favorite Eastwood Guitar of 2017: Rivolta Combinata Jr
I've always been a fan of the Les Paul Junior and the whole "single pickup" concept - specially if it's a P-90! So when I saw the Combinata Jr I immediately loved it! I think 2017 was definitely the "Dennis Fano year" - all the new Rivoltas are amazing, true works of art - but the Combinata Jr was definitely my favourite.
Favourite other piece of new gear 2017: Acid Fuzz Repeater.
I'm a big fan of Spacemen 3 and I've been looking for a great Vox Repeat Percussion clone for ages - the Acid Fuzz Repeater is by far the best I've come across! It's a choppier, more "percussive" type of tremolo unlike any other. FIND OUT MORE
GAS wishlist for 2017: Electro-Harmonix Green Russian Big Muff
I love fuzz... but I really don't need another one! In 2017 alone I bought a British Pedal Co. Tone Bender MkII replica, a vintage Shin-Ei FY-2 and a Plan 9 Super Wild Fuzz (Univox Superfuzz clone) to add to my collection - which also includes a 90's Germanium Fuzz Face, Electro-Harmonix Double Muff and vintage Little Big Muff. What do I need a new fuzz for?
But... I just fancy this little Green Russian Big Muff pedal so much! We usually associate GAS with spending big bucks, but it's the cheaper stuff that's really tempting, because you can so easily buy it even if you don't really need that particular gear - that's classic GAS material! Will I be able to resist my GAS impulses in the New Year? We'll see, we'll see...
Matthew Nevin (QC Tech/Warehouse Manager Europe)
Favourite Eastwood Guitar of 2017: Rivolta Mondata
There have been a lot of great guitars come through the workshop this year but the moment I lifted the first Mondata out of its case I knew I was holding something special. The build quality and finish is fantastic and you instantly feel at home with the neck profile. Then there’s the plethora of tones you can pull out of it. This thing has you covered, no matter what genre of music you play. It takes every bit of will power for me to not sit and doodle away for hours.
Favourite other piece of new gear 2017: Kemper Profiling Amp
I know this wasn’t new for 2017 but it was a new addition to my rig. Amazing is an understatement. I’m all for big cranked valve amps going through 4x12’s with a nice big array of analogue pedals, but i’m also all for not having to carry all that stuff around and not having to play at ear splitting volumes to get my amp to break up! For me, the Kemper sounds as close to the real thing as I have ever heard. FIND OUT MORE
GAS wishlist for 2018: Taylor 914ce
I’ve lately been feeling my hard rock days fading away. My Spotify playlists are getting loaded up with country instead of metal and as a result of this I’ve been lusting for a quality acoustic. I’ve always had a soft spot for Taylor acoustics but never actually owned one. Will 2018 be the year this changes? At that price.... Probably not, but it’s nice to dream.
Lee Carmichael (QC Tech/Sales Manager Europe)
Favourite Eastwood Guitar of 2017: Eastwood Fireball
My favorite Eastwood Guitar of 2017 is the Fireball. My taste in guitars has changed massively over the course of 2017, I’ve gone from loving big baritone’s with high output hum-buckers to feeling much more at home on a shorter scale 24 ¾” with P90’s making the Fireball my perfect match!
Every time we have a Fireball being prepped for dispatch I find myself loving just how comfortable the small offset body feels and the versatility of tones that can be achieved using the coil split P90’s. VIEW GUITAR
Favourite other piece of new gear 2017: Ibanez Mini Tubescreamer
Ever since I’ve been playing guitar I’ve only ever owned a few traditional amplifiers and have always favoured modelling. My first modeller was the Line 6 Kidney Bean POD 2.0, which was great at the time, but over the years modelling has come a long way.
I now use a Kemper Profiling Amp, which I think sounds incredible, however the one part of the Kemper I wasn’t quite happy with though was the distortion pedal simulations. That is why my favourite new piece of gear in 2017 is the Ibanez Mini Tubescreamer. I was apprehensive before trying the Mini-Series but after a few tests of my friends I was sold! It sounds the part and is small enough to fit in the back of my Rack bag for carrying around with my Kemper.
GAS wishlist for 2018: Strymon Timeline Delay
After seeing how well pedals work with the Kemper Profiler my number 1 piece of gear on my wishlist for 2018 has to be the Strymon Timeline Delay! Nothing inspires me to write and jam more than a good delay and the Timeline has 12 different delays in a single box from digital delays through to crazy delays like Ice, Swell, Trem and Filter.
Carrie Hayden (Artist Manager)
Favourite Eastwood 2017: Rivolta Combinata (in Toro Black and Gold)
Handling all of the artists that come through Eastwood, you get to hear what appeals about specific guitars to guys and gals who are out there living the dream, and it rubs off over time. I seemed to notice more gushing about the Toro Black Combinata with the Gold scratchplate than I usually would, and, over the course of time, it's grown on me more and more.
Favourite other piece of new gear 2017: Taylor Big Baby Acoustic
I generally just want to pick up and play, and sing... maybe it's sacrilege to say this working for Eastwood, but I don't even own an amp! My Baby is just slightly smaller than a full size dreadnought and plays like a dream.
I feel totally at home with it and love how easily I can switch between fingerpicking or strumming, and it's always 100% responsive and just makes me want to play. FIND OUT MORE
GAS wishlist for 2018: Gibson J-200
Easy. Until I hold my own one in my arms, my dream guitar will always be a vintage Gibson J200. Can anyone tell me a better looking acoustic??
Noah Fleming (Business Development Consultant)
Favorite Eastwood Guitar of 2017: Rivolta Combinata Jr.
We visited Dennis Fano and the Novo team in Nashville this summer to discuss our new Rivolta partnership together. It was fantastic to see the love and appreciation being put into the new Rivolta guitars and watching Dennis perform a final set-up on one of the Combinata’s heading out the door.
For me, my favorite guitar of the year is the Combinata Jr. in Rosso Red. There’s just something to be said about the simplicity of this model, and the color is superb. A close second was the Eastwood Sidejack Black Widow that came out via Custom Shop.
Favorite other piece of new gear 2017: 1980’s Boss BF-2 Flanger Pedal (Made in Japan)
The early BF-2 “MIJ” Flanger pedals is one of the most unique and sought after pedals around. They're thicker and add a layer of complexity to almost every sound. I particularly enjoy working on my Tool, Adam-Jones style sounds with the BF-2. It’s just a fun, unique, and different sounding flanger. They’re more expensive than new ones, but they just sound better. It’s a deeper, yet more analog effect if that makes sense. Check Reverb and snag one if you can.
GAS wishlist for 2018: Novo Serus S in Sherwood Green
Does that stand for “Guitar Acquisition Syndrome?” You guys are a bit crazy, but the more time I spend with these guys, I get it.
I’m definitely looking to pick up a couple of the models mentioned on my favorite list, but outside of that, I’m always checking out the vintage stuff and some newer stuff. I was drooling over Sherwood Green Serus S from Dennis Fano at his shop in Nashville. The guitar was sold, and I tried to convince them to let me take it home for cash, but they couldn't budge. Next up would be some beat up, road worn vintage 60s Stratocaster.
Okay… There’s a bit more gear. I’m looking for a classic, sexy amp for my office. Initially, I wanted to find something vintage, but Mike suggested I check out the new, traditional line of amps from Magnatone which I think made his favorite list. The Varsity Reverb or the Twilighter Stereo both look fantastic.
COMING SOON: Eastwood's Chicago Team picks their favourites
Our Chicago Team will be sharing their favourites soon... so make sure to check this space again!
NOW... IT'S YOUR TURN!
Please tell us your fav gear and GAS list for 2018 in the comments section below!