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Welcome to UpFront Guitars and Music

Welcome to UpFront Guitars! Well, we survived NAMM, if you can call 75 degrees, sunny and dry "survival." The show is always a noisy, bustling time, and from a sensory standpoint kind of like drinking from a fire hose. But like every year we always learn something new or latch onto some cool new gear. Please scroll down below to learn about some of our finds.

UpFront Guitars is your informative, professional source for high quality North American made guitars from G&L, Breedlove, Godin and Knaggs. We specialize in a few selected brands of guitars, amplifiers and accessories that are all made in North America, and offer exceptional value for the gigging performer, serious hobbyist, or player looking to take their gear up a notch. We also play, test, and photograph every piece of gear you see on our site, and can tell you more than just what color it is and the price. Every word is written by us, and we don't cut and paste ad copy from our supplier's websites. It's a time consuming process, but it's our mission to make shopping for gear engaging and satisfying. The internet is here to stay, and many players are comfortable making a significant purchase on line....if they can get knowledgeable information and talk to someone who really cares. At UpFront Guitars we offer guitars made by craftsmen, not accountants.

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So What's New At UpFront Guitars?

Knaggs - We had a blast at the Knagg's booth and spent a good deal of time talking about guitar ideas, new products, and how well the line did in 2014. Knagg's is making a run of 100 Steve Stevens signature guitars, and we had to put one on order. These are not just a dressed up version of another model but a unique shape, appointments and Steve's own signature Bare Knuckles pickups. We've also custom ordered the first two Severn guitars with 12" radius fingerboards and medium frets. We really like these guitars but feel that the 9" fingerboard and narrow frets don't really fit the spirit of the guitar. Our rep agrees, and we're really looking forward to these guitars.

Breedlove Guitars - It's Breedlove's 25th anniversary, and they've released some special models to commemorate the event. Truthfully, we steered past those because we were too enamored with the Legacy line of guitars. The Legacy line is the next step up from the USA Premier line and feature upgraded appointments, woods, and finishes. We've got a couple great guitars on order, a Coccobolo Legacy Dreadnought, and a Maple Legacy Jumbo. Both these guitars feature beautiful burst finishes, and the balanced expertly crafted tone that is the Breedlove signature. Also in the pipeline is a Premier Dreadnought Mahogany and a Rosewood Laminate Solo Concert.

G&L - G&L was not displaying at the show, but being a ten minute drive from the Anaheim, they dropped by and we got to bend their ear a bit.

G&L Pine Guitars - Take if from us: some of the best ASAT guitars are pine. In terms of sound, pine has a sweet top end, ample bass, and touch of compression that provides a natural “give” that responds to playing nuances. Plus if you like lighter weight guitars -- and many do -- it's the most certain way to guarantee a solid body ASAT under eight pounds. We've even got a pine Bluesboy in stock, which is a real honey. Also in the pipeline are a couple SB-2 pine basses, and these should also be lightweight with a rich, warm low end.

G&L Empress Wood guitars - G&L obtained enough Empress wood to build about 50 guitars, and we’ve still got a few in stock. Empress is a fast growing hardwood native to China but also planted in North America. It has an attractive broad grain, a bright top end like swamp ash, but punches like alder. Plus it’s very light and Empress guitars are typically in the low 7’s.

G&L Fallout - What do you get when you take G&L's great P-90 neck pickup, add a Seymour Duncan JB bridge pickup, and wrap it in an SC-2 body? You get the G&L Fallout. The Fallout is a barrel of fun, and packs a ton of classic rock tones into a lightweight high quality package. A great USA guitar value with a typical street price of less than $1300.

Godin - Godin is always busy, and like every year they had quite a few new things to show us. Here's a quick sample of what we liked and put on order:

Session Ltd - Godin has taken the popular Session guitar, contoured the body, made it a little thinner to reduce the weight, and dropped in a Seymour Duncan  SH-11 pickup in the bridge instead of the standard Godin humbucker. They look about twice the money, but are just a small premium over the standard Session. These also come in some very nice metallic finishes.

Session Custom '59 - Think of this as a "Godin Bluesboy" and you get the picture. But Godin switched to the Seymour Duncan '59 in the neck to provide a little more attack and a better tonal match to their Alnico bridge pickup. Good idea, we say....so we got one.

Core CT - We love the Godin Core line, and for 2015 Godin added a carved top, and chambered Spanish Cedar back to help keep the weight down. Spanish Cedar is really a form of mahogany, but it's typically lighter in weight than other varieties. These guitars still play an feel like the originals, but look better and weigh in the comfortable mid-seven pound range. At the moment they are only in Black and Sunburst, but I don't imagine that lasting.

David Allen Pickups - We hit it off with Mr. Allen and his namesake pickup line, and will be adding them our list of products shortly. David Allen makes some "vintage inspired" pickups but does not restrict himself to only replicating vintage construction. He's chasing "the tone" by using high quality materials and techniques without being hemmed in by the "vintage" moniker. The result is great sound in both vintage styles and more modern flavors. His Tele pickups totally knocked us out, and we could hear clear differences between the various styles. His P51 Humucker set uses Alnico IV for a great blend of vintage tone with better attack, and these are now optional in the Knaggs Kenai and other models.

Traynor/Yorkville Sound - We spent a lot of time wandering around the Traynor booth and walked away with a couple new finds. First off is the YGL-1 combo amp. This is a simple 15 watt EL-84 amp with reverb and a 12" Celestion speaker. It really fits what many players are looking for these days. We're also going to grab a couple of their Small Block bass amps. These are "cube" type amps that combine 200 watts of Class D power and a single 15" speaker with tweeter. At only 31 pounds, they are perfect for practice or clubs. They also feature an XLR out when you need a little help for larger venues. We're giving the Hughes and Kettner line some thought too. While they violate our "North America" ethos, they do offer tremendous flexibility for players who want both great cleans and huge crunch tones.

Arcane Pickups - We will admit availability has been an issue, but we bumped into Rob at NAMM, and he assures us that things will get better.  That's good news because customer feedback on the Arcane pickups is very positive, but the hard part is getting them. We still have a few models in stock, so drop up a line to see what we have, and what’s in the pipeline. With any luck, we'll get backlog filled by March.

Emerson Custom Guitars - Emerson has upgraded their kits again with their own Emerson/CTS Pro pots. These are tight tolerances pots with a high quality audio taper, and easy turning. They have a great feel and they “do something” all they way through the range. Need parts and not a full wiring kit? We’re stocking both the Emerson pots and capacitors for your Mad Scientist projects. 

Rio Grande Pickups - It’s hard to imagine a pickup that Rio Grande doesn’t make (or won’t make). We’ve got a great selection in stock a all times and really like their Dirty Harry line of single coils for Strat and Tele guitars. Built like a P-90, they give guitarists a great way to getter fatter, richer rock tones without losing the single coil edge. There is a Dirty Harry humbucker too that splits like a real single coil.

UpFront Guitars Cables - Our guitar cables are getting a makeover with a nicer, silkier feeling tweed covering. And don’t forget our UpFront Evidence Audio patch cables. Solid core is sonically better, and these cables do make a difference. You can spend less, but you’ll only have to buy these cables once, and you’ll sound better.