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2010 “Best of Worship” Awards – Guitar Edition

2010 has been a great year for innovations in technology, instruments, and materials that have an impact on worship and worship music.  It is no surprise that this year’s “Best For Worship” Awards were hard to pick.

We had the pleasure of testing these products ourselves over the past year.  In addition, we sent several of the products on the road to tour with some of the biggest names in CCM, sent them to churches with worship pastors to let them “play”, and even found a few that we loved enough to add them to our own arsenal.  No more waiting…here are the final results!

This was a tough category.  Over the past year, we played so many great sounding guitars – many had their own unique personality.  We attempted to divide them up in several different categories: Best Acoustic, Best Electric, Best Hybrid, and Best Specialty:

Best Acoustic

Taylor Guitars

This cat was already out of the bag a couple of month’s ago when we realized that we couldn’t find “a” specific guitar – but, rather, determined that on manufacturer couldn’t seem to make an acoustic we didn’t like.  So for that, Taylor Guitar gets to share the spotlight in this category.

Taylor Guitars has a superior lineup of guitars that give worship leaders across the globe that distinctive sound.  One standout that we have loved playing this year has been the Taylor 614ce.  This guitar has beauty and sound combined into one guitar that feels perfect to hold and play.  Using the exclusive Expressions system – it is the one guitar that I get absolutely no complaints on from our FOH engineers.

On the web at:

Martin GPCPA1 Performing Artist

When Martin first pitched their new GPCPA1 to us, we were skeptical.  Its looks appeared to be ver

y “Taylor-ish” with several feature changes and it boast of a new fretboard that gives lower action.  Our concerns and reservations melted away, however, the moment we played it.

If you like that deep, rich, full Martin sound – but love having a fretboard that plays like a Taylor – this is the perfect guitar for you.  With it’s F1Aura pickup system from Fishman, the deal just gets sweeter.  With thisunique pickup, you can select from several different sound images or mix them in with the true on-board pickup for the guitar for a unique yet beautiful sound.

On the web at:

Best Electric

This is one category that I expect to have some flak about.  After all, this is a conversations that 10 different guitarists will have 10 different opinions about.  With that being said – our top two choices would leave no one surprised.

Fender Telecaster

To me, there is one electric that will give you a great solid sound, fantastic playability, and legend-like quality whether you are leading worship with it, playing lead, or giving rhythm to your worship team.  That guitar is the Fender Telecaster.  Its sound is recognizable…and its legend is still strong today.

On the web at:

Fender Stratocaster

If you want to shred some licks in the style of Lincoln Brewster – then the sacred Strat is your best bet.  This guitar, to this day, still has one of the most easiest and fastest necks on the market.  Once you play one – all other necks become sub-standard.

On the web at:

Best Hybrid

Taylor T5 Hybrid

There is one lone ranger in this category.  There are electric guitars…there are acoustic guitars…but a single Taylor T5 puts the best of both worlds in your hands.

We played this gem live on stage and it blew our minds.  It took one of our reviewers through several sets at a worship conference with absolute ease.  It went to the studio and answered the call as both an acoustic guitar and an electric.  Our engineer and producer sang its praises.

This guitar is an absolute necessity if you are a worship leader who plays and leads with both an acoustic and an electric.  No more odd transitions buying you time to change guitars.  Flip one single switch and you go from that classic Taylor acoustic to sound to shredding on an axe with ease.

On the web at:

Best Specialty

Taylor Baritone 8 String

This guitar has been a blast to play and create new arrangements with.  Instead of an E-E tuning like traditional guitars, the Taylor Baritone is tuned from low B to B.  You fret the same as a traditional guitar – keeping in mind that your tuning is different.  This guitar truly opens doors for worship.  Have two acoustics on stage playing at the same time?  Use a Bari and you will hear two different instruments playing instead of hearing two instruments that are competing for frequency space.  Drop this bad-boy into an open tuning or DADGAD and you have a rich sound that will blow your mind.  With adding two extra octave strings, you have a sound range that is beyond impressive when strummed.

On the web at:

Best Direct Box

LR Baggs Para Acoustic D/I

This is one solid and clean D/I box.  You can take that to the bank.  Take a look through most tourning and seasoned acoustic guitarist’s gear and you will more than likely find this brilliantly dull looking box.  It’s plain and doesn’t attract attention to itself – which is a lot like the quality it gives:  It allows your guitar to be heard without losing its quality without sounding like you’ve done anything to it.

On the web at:

Best Tuner

PlanetWaves Tru-Strobe Pedal Tuner

This tuner gives the best of strobe tuners as well as the traditional layout tuner.  Its ability to be seen easily in darkness, normal lighting and in direct sunlight makes it especially useful.  It can also be used with Buzz Feiten ® and drop tuning presets.

On the web at:

TC Electronic PolyTune – Polyphonic Chromatic Guitar Tuner

Ever had to take a little extra time in your prayer in order to have time to tune all of your strings?  How about putting the sincerity back in a prayer and cut your tuning time into less that the amount of time it takes to sneeze and say “bless you.”

The challenger this year to the tuner world is the PolyTune.  This gem allows you to tune all of your strings at once.  It is a must have for ANY guitarist.

On the web at:

Best Gig-Bag

Mono Case

This case has suprisingly good looks and has plenty of compartments to store your extra gear – including the perfect hide-away pocket for your cables.  The best part of this case, however, has most other guys beat…it takes great measures to actually protect your guitar from falls.  Now theres a novel idea for a softcase!

I can’t stop singing the praises of these cases.  They have attitude and functionality all wrapped in one great looking case.  We sent one on the road with one of of our favorite guitarists and he came back to us asking how he could buy one or two for himself.

On the web at:

Best Pedalboard

Glam Rock Gear

I will readily admit – I’m biased here.  Nathan Westerfield is one of my favorite guitarists to play with on any given Sunday and he just so happens to make some fantastic pedalboard road cases.  His works are each custom – and each tailored to your taste.

To date, Nathan’s boards and cases are on the road with some pretty impressive names.  Not too shabby for a one-man-business being run out of a garage!

Best Strings

…For Acoustic

Elixr Phosphor Bronze Nanoweb

I hate having to change strings as often as I change underwear.  I need strings that last and still sound that good long past the average string life.  That is why most every acoustic I own has a set of Elixrs on them.  These strings are so good that they come from the factory on every single Taylor made.  Try them once and you’ll never carefor another set.

On the web at:

John Pearse Strings

These strings have a fantastic sound.  They don all of my specialty guitars for their impeccable sounds.  The people that manufacture John Pearse strings are top notch.

On the web at:

…For Electric

D’Addario EXP

Finally, a great sounding string for an electric that is coated for long life…but feels and playslike an uncoated string with plenty of natural sound.  Thank’s to D’Addario’s dedication to making quality products, all the electrics in our stock have D’Addarios on them!

On the web at:

More “Best of The Bests” are coming in the next few days.  Stay tuned!