Bold Unfounded Guitar Predictions for 2023

Bold Unfounded Guitar Predictions for 2023

EVERY YEAR

Musical instrument companies innovate, expand, and reevaluate their product line to bring us some of the coolest gear we didn’t know we needed. Around this time, us folks at the shop like to speculate about what cool products guitar companies might have in store for the following year. We’ve got some pretty cool theories for what’s coming next, and maybe if any high-level executives at these companies are reading this blog, we’ll see a few of these in the year to come!

As a disclaimer, the content of this blog is pure speculation! Nothing that is represented in this post comes from any type of leak, rumor, or insider information. These are 100% unfounded predictions based entirely on whimsy and a tinge of wishful thinking. All of the "prototypes" featured in this article are poorly edited renderings of what these pieces of gear might look like. If it turns out we got something right, then that was just a lucky guess. To reiterate, the products on this list are unsubstantiated by evidence, and baseless in their statement. 

So here they are! Dave’s Guitar Shop presents; Bold Unfounded Guitar Predictions for 2023!

Gibson Reissues “Pancake Body Les Paul”

Gibson Product Line

1969 brought about many big changes in the world of music. The Beatles recorded their last studio album as a band with Abbey Road, Jimi Hendrix had a legendary performance at Woodstock, and Gibson switched from solid mahogany bodies to two slabs of mahogany with a thin piece of maple separating them. 

This spec change is divisive amongst the guitar community. Some folks say that this era of Gibson (guitars in general) are dubious at best, favoring cost cutting measures in lieu of quality instruments. Simultaneously, an equal number of folks say that “Norlin Era” Les Pauls are some of the best around.  Regardless of your stance on the Pancake Body Les Paul, It would be an interesting development out of Nashville.

Guitars from the 70's are becoming increasingly popular, and while there are many factors to point to when explaining this surge in interest, sadly not everyone can own a real 70’s Les Paul. The opportunity to have a modern guitar with vintage appointments is an interesting prospect, and we bet Gibson is thinking of a way to do it. 

We think Gibson will produce a Limited Run Murphy Lab 1969 Les Paul Custom to 500 pieces. 1969 is a transitional year, so 250 will be full mahogany bodies, while the other 250 will have the pancake design. From there, Gibson USA will produce a 70’s Les Paul “Reintroduced” Standard, with the pancake body design. Lock it in, it’s going to happen, 2023 marks the reintroduction of pancake body Les Pauls.

JHS Makes a 3-Knob Transparent Boost that Adds Delay and Reverb

What is the best lead tone? Is it clean, chunky, smooth, sweet, compressed, or none of the above? In truth, there is no one answer to this question, but there is at least one common trope many guitar players use for their lead sound. To create a full sounding lead for intricate melody lines that cuts through a mix, guitarists often add a little delay and reverb. If they're about to take a solo, they might even add a boost to their signal chain. 

Fake JHS Pedal

It’s odd that it doesn’t already exist in a mainstream capacity, but a transparent boost that adds delay and reverb seems like a no-brainer. This pedal technically does exist, but generally they are two button pedals that have upwards of 6 knobs. We’re predicting one button and three knobs to control reverb, delay rate, and boost level (pictured to the left.) One pedal that controlled all of it would be ideal for the pedal minimalist, because it’s only putting your existing tone forward in the mix with a subtle effect on top.

JHS is going to be the company to do it in 2023. Towing the line as a boutique and production pedal builder, they can take a creative risk on a pedal like this. Sure, it’s maybe a little simple for the pedal community, but if we’ve learned anything from “That Pedal Show,” Josh is all about trying things just to see if they work. 

Warmoth Starts Selling Pre-Built Guitars

Fender Custom Shop Wall at Dave's Guitar Shop Milwaukee

Warmoth is one of the coolest guitar companies around, because  partscasters happen to be some of the coolest guitars around! Building a guitar to your exact specifications is a thrill. We’ve all dreamed of having a signature guitar, and because of companies like Warmoth, that dream can become a reality. 

It’s a fun hobby that, with a little knowhow, anyone can learn to do. Unfortunately, some folks have space and equipment constraints that make putting an instrument together difficult. Not to mention, with the wide array of companies and builders out there, it's likely that a guitar built to your exact specs already exists. If it doesn't, then maybe Warmoth can build it for you.

Warmoth already has the parts, they already have the staff, it’s just a matter of taking that final step towards assembly. Warmoth should dip their feet into this market, because they could offer a service that few companies can. It would almost be akin to the early days of Charvel/Jackson, building custom guitars designed to preferred specs. Additionally, Fender has a licensing agreement with Warmoth to produce parts to Fender dimensions. So, if Fender doesn’t make the guitar you want, Warmoth could! Fingers crossed for a new year of custom guitars!

Gretsch Makes Players Edition Center-Block Guitar with a Stop Tail Bridge

“That great Gretsch sound” has cemented itself in rock and roll iconography. Think about it, they've got The White Falcon, The Penguin. The Country Gentleman, and The Tennessean for crying out loud! If you weren’t a musician, you might think I was talking about rival mob bosses in turn-of-the-century New York (lest we forget The New Yorker, as long as we’re talking about it.) The point is that Gretsch is iconic, and some may argue that status in the guitar community comes equally from their sonic quality, and the frequent use of a Bigsby Tremolo System. 

2023 is going to be different, because this year Gretsch is making a ES-335 killer with their centerblock semi hollow guitar featuring a stoptail bridge. Imagine a guitar like the Richard Fortus Signature model that Gretsch currently makes, but available in the Player’s Edition with a few spec changes. Pull out all the stops with locking tuners, 25.5” scale, BroadTron pickups, and of course their v-stoptail bridge to make an absolute tone monster! If our prediction is correct, Gretsch is already working on it, and we’re looking forward to it in 2023. 

Wylde Audio Releases Dimebag Darrell Inspired Line of Guitars

Did you know Zakk Wylde has his own line of guitars called Wylde Audio? Did you also know that Zakk Wylde is currently touring with Pantera? It’s almost as if the Metal Gods themselves have already prophesied the creation of a Dimebag Darrell inspired guitar from Wylde Audio. 

Dimebag Darrell is rock and roll royalty. It wasn’t long ago that you would pick up a guitar trade magazine and find at least one article about Dime, his tone, or playing style every month. His influence is still felt today, and if anyone is worthy of touring in his place on guitar, it’s Zakk Wylde. Since Wylde is paying tribute to him with Pantera, he should probably be using a guitar that does the same.

In our opinion, if it’s not planned for 2023, it’s going to happen not long after. Wylde Audio, subsidiary of Schecter Guitar Research, are experts in the realm of high-gain alternative music. Additionally, they're already making some pretty unique models with nontraditional body shapes similar to the Dean Razorback V. So, it’s not too far out of the realm of possibility that they make a Wylde Audio War Hammer with a lightning bolt finish.

Fender Reissues Performer for US Market

This entry on our list was the inspiration for the article. Back in 2018, the guys in Milwaukee were speculating about what Fender would be releasing that year for NAMM. At the time, anything was possible, and supply chain wasn’t as crazy as it has been the last few years. So, as the conversation evolved, the consensus was that a new guitar shape would be introduced to their product line, but that it would be a throwback to the previous shape. They accurately guessed that Fender would rerelease the Lead I, so we’re pretty confident that we’re going to see a reissue of the Performer in 2023.

Not to be confused with the American Performer Series, The Performer was Fender’s go at appealing to shred guitarists of the mid 80’s. Featuring a floating tremolo similar to a Floyd Rose, unique slanted humbucker-style pickups, and a pointy headstock and body made for an absolute metal machine. They weren’t super popular when they were first released, but have developed a cult following amongst guitar players on the vintage market. Our theory is that they’ll be produced in Japan in the FujiGen plant,  similar to the reissue HM Strats from 2019, and they're going to rip! 

PRS Makes a Flying V

So, are we supposed to pretend that Mark Tremonti doesn’t own an Explorer-style PRS? The guitar is awesome, and such a wild departure from what we’re used to seeing from PRS. The pictures online have captured the imagination of guitar players everywhere, and that makes it hard to hear that it will not be a production guitar anytime soon. PRS owners are some of the most fanatical gearheads out there, and to show that it's possible for PRS to craft an offset guitar like this and not do it is unfortunate.

It shouldn’t come as a surprise that PRS won’t produce this Designer shape in their product line, because it is sort of at odds with PRS’ ethos as a company. One look at a Custom 24 tells us everything we need to know; they value fit, function, and finesse over most other aspects of building a guitar. Realistically, we shouldn’t expect to see this offset shape enter their product line in 2023… But get ready for a Flying V, baby!

Fake PRS Flying V Prototype

PRS already makes absurdly versatile guitars, it's time for them to just make something absurd (see above.)  After all, they somehow crammed thirteen unique tones into a 513, so the sky's the limit for what they could do to!

The nineties and early two thousands positioned them as the brand for alternative metal, and they’ve always seemed to maintain that aesthetic (perhaps to the chagrin of Paul himself.) This year, however, we think they’re going to lean into it. They’ve demonstrated how successful a new shape can be with the introduction of the Silver Sky, so we think a  "V" shape could be next. 

Mesa Boogie Creates Import Line of Amplifiers

Admit it, we all want a Mesa Boogie amp. No matter which one you plug into, after you tweak it you will get a gnarly tone. The difficulty is that it requires patience and experimentation to dial in that sound. It’s not the same as plugging into a one channel amp like a Victoria, and immediately getting a great sound, you need to really spend some time tweaking the individual channels until you get “the sound.” 

Mesa Boogie Amplifiers

Secondly, Mesa Boogie amplifiers are all hand-built in the United States. That means you’re paying for an amp with high-quality parts and assembly, but it also means that the financial barrier for entry is higher than other comparable brands. Compounded with the sophisticated tone stack on most Mesa Boogie amps, guitarists may be scared off from trying these out. That is why we think Mesa Boogie is developing an import line of amplifiers for 2023.

Mesa Boogie has dipped their toes in this arena before, but not to the extent of which we’re suggesting. Since they were acquired by Gibson earlier this year, and are affiliated with brands like KRK and Maestro, channels for import production are more viable than ever before. The amps would still be designed by Mesa Boogie, but production could take place in factories that already make products under the Gibson family of brands. Guitar players would more readily take on a sophisticated tone stack if the financial barrier wasn’t as high. This begs the question, will we see an import version of a Triple Rectifier Head in 2023? We hope so!

Epiphone Murphy Lab Signature Model

Epiphone is on fire lately! They’re quickly becoming the best way to get classic Gibson specs at an affordable price, and people are really starting to take notice. With their bevy of signature models, streamlined approach to categorizing their product line, and upgraded specs from previous years, they’re changing the minds of how gear junkies view the Gibson subsidiary.

Some folks will tell you that beat up guitars are better instruments, because it shows that the previous owners played them nonstop. Aestheticly they’re pretty neat too, especially if an artist’s name is attached to the instrument. In summation, because of their growing roster of artists and recent collaborations with Gibson Custom Shop, we predict that Epiphone will make a Murphy Lab signature guitar in 2023.

So, what guitar is going to get the Murphy Lab treatment? If they’re going to do it right, they’re going to choose a unique guitar from a modern player. Our guess is a Murphy Lab collaboration with Jared James Nichols, recreating his Gold Top Les Paul with P-90’s featuring a trapeze tailpiece “Dorothy.” It’s unlike most things in the Epiphone product line, and that is why it’s coming your way in 2023!

62 Reissue Journeyman Relic Mini Strat “The JourneyMini” 

This might be the boldest and least supported by evidence prediction on this list. Transparently, Fender Custom Shop will probably not do this. However, Dave’s Guitar Shop Madison is convinced that this is the next big move to come out of Corona. They claim that in 2023, Fender Custom Shop will release a ¾ size ‘62 Reissue Journeyman Relic Strat dubbed “The JourneyMini.”

You’ve no doubt seen the Starter Pack Squier Mini Strats before. They feature ¾ Scale Strat bodies with 22 ¾ scale length maple necks, top mounted bridge,and simple controls. They’re excellent beginner guitars for young first time players, but a fringe group in the guitar community has been taking these beginner instruments and modifying them to feature high-end specs. Since vintage style-instruments are becoming more and more popular, it's not too far of a reach to think that Fender might produce a Journeyman Relic ¾ size guitar with historic vintage specs.

We suspect they’ll produce Sonic Blue nitrocellulose lacquer finished body with custom wound fat 50’s pickups. While the neck will be a shorter scale, it will still feature period correct clay dots with slab rosewood fingerboards. The bridge will be tricky, as there isn’t a good way to mount a tremolo onto the Strat Mini body, so it will have to be a hardtail Strat, a historically accurate custom order appointment for 1962. This is certainly a longshot, but history favors the bold! We’ll just have to see if it also favors the unfounded in 2023.

The Guitar you Shouldn’t Have Sold 15 Years Ago Comes into Dave’s On a Trade

We all make mistakes when it comes to gear. Selling cool gear is always a gamble, even if it makes sense at the time to part with it. However, it’s no exaggeration that every day someone will come into the shop and say, “I used to have a {name of guitar}” and follow that up with, “I should’ve never sold that one.” 

“Good news, everyone!” The one that got away is coming back to the shop this year, and now is your chance to get it back. It might not be the same serial number, but maybe it is, and it’s going to be yours soon. Who knows, do you have something to trade for it? 

Definitely on the side of wishful thinking, this isn’t as absurd as it might sound. Dave’s Guitar Shop is always taking in trades, and updates the website in real time when cool gear comes through. You have to be quick, though, because cool gear does not last long at Dave’s. So, when that piece of gear comes through the shop, make sure you pick it up!

Customer Looking at Les Paul Collection

There you have it! These are our bold unfounded guitar predictions for 2023. If anything on this list happens next year, just remember who broke the story first. It’s important to state that, again, we do not have any insider information that would suggest that anything on this list is actually going to happen. This is intended to be a fun, speculative article about what cool things could happen next year. 

What do you think is going to get released next year? Do you have any theories of what company is going to shake the industry next? Leave a comment below, and let us know your predictions for 2023!


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