EXPO GEAR 2022: One of the cruelest realities of life in the guitar industry is that it only bares its tastiest treats after the holiday season (at the Winter NAMM show, in “normal” times) – the time when we are most exhausted, er, financially exhausted. The good news for 2022, however, is that many of the must-have guitars come at attractive price points.
Whether it’s the highly anticipated PRS SE Silver Sky, the boutique-style workhorse of Cort G290 FAT II, or one of the newly finished Gretsch G2215-P90s, there are plenty of instruments on this list that can be achieved by us mere mortals.
That’s not to say there isn’t something for those looking for premium options (hello to the PRS Fiore), but from 40th Anniversary Squier builds to the new Epiphone Joan Jett Olympic Special, there might be more tempting low to mid-priced options on display than ever before.
On second thought, this may not be such good news for our wallets…
PRS SE Sky Silver
$849 / £899
PRS has confirmed the long-awaited SE version of the John Mayer Silver Sky signature guitar with details on all four launch finishes and specs.
The £849/£899 model had been hoped for since the PRS version launched in 2018, but brings a distinct take on the plan. Four new finishes are offered for its launch with Moon White, Dragon Fruit, Ever Green and, our favorite, Stone Blue. The biggest surprise with the SE offering is a distinct change in base spec; an unusual 8.5″ fingerboard radius compared to the original PRS model’s 7.25″.
The body wood is poplar with a bolt-on 635JM maple neck and rosewood fingerboard. The trio of pickups are again 635JM ‘S’, with a five-position selector switch and volume/two-tone control. The 2-point steel tremolo continues the specifications of the PRS version. The tuners are a departure with the non-locking PRS Vintage style this time and a synthetic bone nut is used.
Learn more about the PRS SE Silver Sky
Signature model PRS Fiore Mark Lettieri
$2,449 / £2,599
For 2022, Mark Lettieri’s signature PRS model, Fiore comes in a new solid blue finish, evocatively named Larkspur.
All other specs remain the same, so if blue is your color, you’ll find the Larkspur Fiore to be one of the most versatile high-end electric guitars on the market today, bringing you a fresh take on the HSS format. with a custom-designed pickup array and driver circuitry including a five-way pickup selector and a pair of push/pull controls capable of producing sounds for almost any style you want to imagine.
Read more about PRS The Fiore in Larkspur Blue finish
Cort G290 FAT II
Original G290 FAT from Cort received a five-star review and now, with the G290 FAT II, those sleek double cuts just got sleeker. Features include roasted maple necks and matching fingerboards, fresh color option, Graph Tech TUSQ nut and Luminlay side dot markers.
Now available in Antique Violin Burst, Trans Black Burst and Bright Blue Burst, it’s built for performance. The Voiced Tone VTH77 humbucker pairing offers a wide range of tones via the five-way pickup selector, so there’s plenty of mid-tones to complement full humbucker voicings.
With the compound fingerboard radius from 12″ to 15.75″, the feel is contemporary, but the Ergo-V profile is a nod to the old school neck and balances the need for speed with the need for comfort. Construction sees figured maple on top of solid alder, and Cort doesn’t skimp on hardware, with offset locking tuners keeping things solid, so you can use this CFA-III tremolo unit at fund.
Learn more about the Cort G290 FAT II
Gretsch G2215-P90 Streamliner Junior Jet Club P90
$399.99 / £385 / €440
New finishes for the Junior Jet Club P90 from the Streamliner collection are arriving in 2022. This single-cutaway solid body model combines the “new” Broad’Tron BT-2S bridge pickup (we think tweaked) and a P90 soapbar in the neck position for a very attractive combo. Especially in Shell Pink!
The controls for shaping these tones are a master tone control, a master volume control, and a three-way pickup selector. The body is NATO-bound with bolt-on mahogany-stained mahogany necks with 12-inch-radius laurel fingerboards, elegant neo-classic mother-of-pearl thumbnail inlays, and 22 medium jumbo frets.
Finish options are Havana Burst, Ocean Turquoise, and Shell Pink.
Learn more about the new Gretsch Streamliners for 2022
Squier 40th Anniversary Telecaster Gold Edition
$599.99 / £499 / €599
Squier celebrates a big anniversary with its 40th anniversary collection. The Gold Edition models all feature anodized aluminum pickguards, Fender-Designed Alnico single-coil pickups, and vintage-style gold hardware.
Considering it’s the ultimate workhorse, the Tele dresses very well. The Gold Edition pairs a nyatoh body with a thin C-shaped maple neck and Indian laurel fingerboard with pearloid block inlays, along with a three-saddle string-through-body bridge. Available in Black and Sherwood Green Metallic.
Learn more about the Squier 40th Anniversary Collection
Solar T1.7 Vinter
Ola Englund’s Solar Guitars has launched five new electric guitars for 2022, each equipped with active Fishman pickups and a high-performance specification that makes the brand a good choice for guitarists familiar with the dark arts of heavy metal.
We love the look of the seven-string T1.7 Vinter, which features a vaguely T-style alder body, three-piece bolt-on maple neck in a Thin C profile, a pair of Fishman Fluence Modern humbuckers, ebony fingerboards and 24 super jumbo stainless steel frets and an EverTune bridge.
As with the others in the series, you get high-ratio 18:1 solar tuners, glow-in-the-dark Luminlay side markers, and overall a serious metal guitar.
Learn more about Solar’s new 2022 Fishman-equipped lineup
ESP LTD James Hetfield Snakebyte Camo
$1,676 / $1,899
Loosely inspired by the Gibson Explorer model, strategically sharpened and modernized, the Snakebyte Camo shape is now familiar. But this finish is something new, even bespoke, and was inspired by Hetfield’s favorite high-performance hunting gear maker, KUIU.
The Snakebyte Camo has a solid mahogany body with a thin U-profile mahogany set neck and an ebony fingerboard that accommodates 22 extra-jumbo frets. Its TonePros locking TOM bridge and tailpiece provide a simple platform for fierce downpicking, while Hetfield’s signature EMG active humbuckers provide the firepower.
Just be sure to run it through something high gain and monstrous when it releases in May…
Learn more about the ESP LTD James Hetfield Snakebyte Camo
Epiphone Joan Jett Olympic Special
£489 / $549
Epiphone and rock legend Joan Jett have teamed up for a signature guitar inspired by his favorite stage six-string. The Epiphone Joan Jett Olympic Special arrives in Aged Classic White with a black pickguard.
Comprised of a lightweight mahogany body with a wide, shallow double-cutaway design and set-in mahogany neck, Jett’s Olympic Special is a cousin of the Gibson Melody Maker that Jett has been associated with since the late 70s.
There’s a PowerHammer Pro located in the bridge position, with pickup controls limited to a single CTS volume pot and – like its Gibson signature – a kill-switch toggle.
Gibson’s DNA is carried over into the 24.75-inch scale length and 12-inch fingerboard radius, but as with others in Epiphone’s contemporary range, we have an Indian laurel board. Dot inlays further add to the launch and start vibe.
The narrow-style Olympic Special headstock features Jett’s signature on the back and is equipped with a set of sealed die-cast tuners. Avoiding a tune-o-matic bridge, Jett instead opts for a wraparound bridge and an easily adjustable tailpiece.
Learn more about the Epiphone Joan Jett Olympic Special
Ibanez AZ Premium AZ42P1
$1,299 / £1,079
The AZ42P1 is a first for the AZ Premium series – this time in the form of a rosewood fingerboard. As with the other new models, the body is basswood, this time without a fancy top, and instead finished in a glossy matte black.
The pickups are Seymour Duncan Hyperions, and just like the AZ427P1PB, they are controlled with the dyna-MIX10 switching system, offering the same 10 variations and coil. Hardware-wise, you get a Gotoh T1502 tremolo, Gotoh MG-T locking tuners, and a Graph Tech nut.
Learn more about the new guitars in the Ibanez RG and AZ Premium range
Fender JV Stratocaster modified from the 60s
$1,299.99 / £1,249
The new Japanese JV series draws inspiration from the much-loved reissues of the 1980s, but with added changes to the wiring mods that will give players even wider sonic horizons.
Here is one of our favorite guitar mods; the addition of the neck pickup to positions 1 and 2 of the Strat via the push-pull Tone 2 potentiometer makes the versatility of this classic guitar even greater.
A vintage “V”-shaped soft satin maple neck is featured here, with a 9.5-inch-radius maple fingerboard and medium jumbo frets. This Olympic White model is also equipped with a 6-point synchronized tremolo with bent steel saddles. Like all JV models, it also features vintage locking tuners.
Learn more about Fender’s JV Series