20 Gear Milestones

By Teja Gerken, Acoustic Guitar Magazine

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EXCERPT: The past 20 years have been an incredibly innovative and productive time for manufacturers of acoustic instruments and related accessories. Riding a wave of heightened interest in acoustic music, guitar companies came up with new designs that addressed more sophisticated tonal and playability requests, and revisited vintage designs, modifying them to be better than ever. Acoustic amplification became a significant part of the market, growing from initial attempts to simply make a guitar louder to sophisticated systems that allow guitarists to be heard and sound good. And accessories have seen some radical innovations, giving musicians longer-lasting strings, smaller tuners, and more convenient capos, to name just a few. Acoustic Guitar has kept a close eye on new gear, and while there were many candidates to choose from, we feel that these 20 products really defined the past two decades. 

#5: Kevin Ryan Mission Grand Concert 

Although luthier Kevin Ryan didn't start building guitars until 1988, his career took an accelerated course through the first wave of the '90s custom-guitar boom. Inspired by Jim Olson's instruments, Ryan was one of the first luthiers to specialize in guitars for modern fingerstyle players, and his background in aerospace engineering led to a fearless approach to design and the use of high-tech tools. With its small jumbo body, cedar top, and alternate tuning-friendly long scale, Ryan's Mission Grand Concert created a blueprint for scores of other builders, making it a modern classic.

Copyright Stringletter Media. February 2010. Reprinted with permission.