There’s no denying that it’s getting cosier (or, well, more crowded) in the land of YouTube gear demos. High quality audio and video production gear is getting cheaper all the time, so it’s easier than ever for just about anyone to start a well–produced gear review channel on YouTube.
But that oversaturation has pushed the really good demoers to find a new way of doing things in order to stand out. These are our favourite mavericks finding fresh angles on the humble gear review.
That Pedal Show
That Pedal Show is probably the fastest growing channel in the gear–o–sphere, both in terms of views and respect. Mick and Dan eschew the short–and–sweet ethos pervading YouTube. They cover a chosen topic in its entirety and take as long as they damned please doing so.
Their longform approach works because their content is outstanding. The perfect balance of banter, geekiness, and mind–blowing playing keeps us entranced much longer than our theoretically short attention spans should allow.
Despite the name, That Pedal Show isn’t just about guitar pedals, but often the interplay between guitars, pedals, and amps. Expect some pretty in–depth discussion on the subjectivity of good tone that’s based moreso in technical knowledge than in philosophical musing.
For a while now, Andertons has been featuring gear demo royalty Rob “Chappers” Chapman. But the launch of Andertons TV in 2015 is what marked the start of Andertons really killing the demo game.
A whole bunch of talented demoers were brought on board, including touring guitarist Peter “Danish Pete” Honoré, former Guitarist editor Mick Taylor, Dorje guitarist Rabea Massaad, and a host of others.
Andertons TV’s first genius move was pairing presenters for its shows, and Andertons put a huge amount of effort into making sure each pair had the right chemistry. This results in freewheeling shows that barely need any editing, because even the tangents the presenters go on are too good to cut.
The show format also made Andertons TV into a bit of a hydra, with plenty offered for every type of viewer. Don’t like the banter? Just watch Danish Pete’s beautiful playing — with no talk — on the Top Shelf Guitars show. Love the banter? Watch the innuendo–packed bromance between Pete and Mick Taylor in Guitar Paradiso.
There’s one last thing that Andertons TV, somewhat surreptitiously, got right.
With the packed shooting schedule at its Guildford studio, there isn’t a whole lot of time between videos to experiment with the gear. That means most of the time, presenters are playing with gear for the first time as the cameras are rolling. This gives a rare and beautiful look at the process of first–time discovery, as they tweak and search for the sweet spots.
It’s incredibly educational and something most gear demoers leave out for fear of looking unprepared or unpolished.
The Pedal Zone
While still a fledgling, The Pedal Zone is quickly becoming a channel of choice for the guitarists who appreciate the weirder, more ethereal side of guitar effects.
Danish demoer Stefan Fast focuses on delays, reverbs, shimmers, and other ambient effects. He complements the gear with a laid back, beautiful style that lets the pedals breathe. While the ambient niche is pretty well covered in the US — where praise and worship guitarists abound — Europe has had a gap that The Pedal Zone now fills.
But The Pedal Zone didn’t tap into the niche with just a YouTube channel. Its popular Facebook group runs alongside and in concert with the channel.
I can’t think of a another demoer who has built a real community and shapes his demos around what that community wants to see. Inevitably, as The Pedal Zone grows, that community will grow too. I recommend that you join it now, especially if you, like this writer, secretly harbour ambient tendencies that you don’t feel comfortable admitting to the blues lawyers in your other Facebook groups.
The Guitar Hour
And now for something completely different. The Guitar Hour is, as the name implies, a weekly, hour–long live show, streamed on YouTube and Twitch. Taking the multiple presenters with great chemistry formula to the extreme, The Guitar Hour features four legitimately virtuosic guitarists: Tom Quayle, Dave Brons, David BeeBee, and Dan Smith.
Add some beer to the mix, and you get a live–streamed show combining honest gear reviews with interviews, debates, and incredible playing.
The four–man format means there are plenty of differing opinions and perspectives on each subject, keeping discussions interesting. There’s also audience interaction by the bucketload, with the four not just reading and responding to comments in real time but also running polls on what backing tracks to use.
The best experience is definitely watching The Guitar Hour live (Thursdays at 7.30pm GMT/BST). The show isn’t for everyone, but it’s well worth checking out especially if your guilty pleasure is mind blowing fusion guitar.
Do you have a favorite episode from one of these channels? Did we miss one that you love to follow and watch? Share them with us in the comments.