Hiwatt, Modal Electronics + more: our top five gear releases of the week
22.04.2021

Hiwatt, Modal Electronics + more: our top five gear releases of the week

Words by Will Brewster

Plus the latest arrivals from Gibson, Frederic Effects and Ibanez.

With so many brands to keep up to date with, it can be easy to lose track of all the latest equipment launched into the gear-sphere each week.

Today, we’re taking a look at some of the best product releases that you might’ve missed over the week, including a 4:20 themed release from Hiwatt, a down-sized synth from Modal Electronics and new gear from Gibson, Frederic Effects and Ibanez. Dive on in!

This week’s top picks:

  • Hiwatt Hi-5 420 Head
  • Modal Electronics Skulpt SE
  • Gibson Marcus King 1962 ES-345
  • Fredric Effects DuoFace Vintage Fuzz
  • Ibanez JSM20TH John Scofield Signature

Check out all the latest Product News here.

Hiwatt Hi-5 420 Head

Rise up smokers! In what seems to be an extremely logical move when considering their own brand name, British amplification gurus Hiwatt have pandered to everybody’s favourite stoner holiday with the launch of the Hiwatt Hi-5 420 amp head, available in either green tolex or traditional black with a green badge.

Boasting two independent channels for Clean and Overdrive, each of which feature their own volume controls in addition to a master Gain knob, the Hi-5 420 amp makes use of a simple two-band EQ for tonal control, offering a no-fuss solution for recorded guitar tones.

The amp packs five watts of power and utilises a 12AX7 valve in the preamp section and an EL84 for the output, while a 3.5mm AUX input lets you plug in your smartphone, laptop or tablet to play along with tracks.

There’s also the option to purchase the Hi-5 alongside a Hiwatt HG112 420 speaker cabinet, which features a birch ply frame and a 420 badge emblazoned on the front of the cab. Gnarly, dude – this one’s also a Reverb exclusive, so head there if you’re keen to pass that dutchie.

Modal Electronics Skulpt SE

The Modal Electronics Skulpt was a compact, cleverly designed digital desktop synth that was released to positive reviews back in 2019. Now, the company have revised the unit and stripped it down even further with the new Skulpt SE; a tiny four-voice unit with some pretty impressive sound design potential.

With two Wave groups per voice and four oscillators a piece, the Skulpt SE lets you easily move through waveforms without missing a beat, while an additional oscillator modulator lets you play with some wonky, moving textures.

State-variable two-pole filters allow you to trim the fat from any harsh frequencies, while three envelopes let you shape the sound of your signal’s filter, modulation and amplification. There’s also two LFOs that can be synced to internal or external tempo clocks, plus inbuilt delay and distortion and onboard arpeggiator and sequencer capabilities.

For a unit that’s barely bigger than your average iPhone, Modal Electronics look like they’ve tapped into something special with the Skulpt SE, and we can’t wait to hear it in action.

Gibson Marcus King 1962 ES-345

Here’s another fancy Gibson Custom Shop signature model! This time, it’s blues boss Marcus King who’s received the signature treatment, teaming up with Gibson on the new Marcus King 1962 ES-345 – a guitar based on the family heirloom used by King throughout many of his live sets.

With a ’60s Cherry VOS finish and era-correct six-position Varitone switch, the Marcus King 1962 ES-345 offers two Custombucker humbucking pickups, with CRS potentiometers and Black Cat capacitors ensuring only the best in the wiring department.

Elsewhere, the guitar features an ABR-1 Tune-o-Matic bridge with a sideways Vibrola tremolo, plus gold Grover milk-bottle tuners and aged hardware. Of course, models like these do come with a fairly heady price-tag to contend with, but it’s definitely a pretty cool looking signature model.

Fredric Effects DuoFace Vintage Fuzz

Upon first glimpse, you might assume the Frederic Effects DuoFace Vintage Fuzz is just another Fuzz Face clone, right? Well, yeah – it is. However, it does come with a pretty sophisticated design that combines two different circuits in parallel to make it all the more versatile, bringing the classic tones of the Fuzz Face smack bang into a modern era of guitar playing.

With a negative ground Silicon transistor fuzz and a positive ground Germanium transistor circuit running in parallel, the DuoFace Vintage Fuzz features a toggle in the centre position of the pedal to let you flip between each circuit. There’s also two micro-control knobs to adjust the bias of each circuit – a really nice touch in our books – while a Gain and Volume control assumes responsibility for the rest of the pedal’s endeavours.

Ibanez JSM20TH John Scofield Signature

John Scofield is an absolute titan within the field of jazz-fusion. He’s worked with the likes of Miles Davis, Jaco Pastorius, John Mayer, George Duke and Herbie Hancock, and has proudly touted an Ibanez signature guitar onstage and in the studio for 20 years now. To celebrate that 20 year milestone, Ibanez have revealed details of an anniversary model, decking out his classic ES-inspired double-cut hollowbody guitar with a crisp black finish and gold hardware.

Featuring a 24.75″ scale length with a maple body and mahogany set neck with a bound ebony fretboard, the JSM20TH boasts 22 Ibanez Prestige frets for an ultra-smooth feel, while acrylic and abalone block inlays help add a touch of class to the neck.

For pickups, the guitar features two JSM Special humbuckers with eye-catching gold covers and twin volume and tone controls for each one, while a three-way selector switch lets you flip between neck, middle and bridge positions. In the hardware department, the JSM20TH offers up a Gotoh 510BN bridge, GE101A tailpiece and Gotoh 510 tuners, while the nut is a bone/brass composite for optimum tone and tuning stability.

Catch up on all of last week’s hot gear releases here.