AfterNAMMth: 2017 Edition

Thousands descended into Anaheim for the annual NAMM convention. This convention showcases all of the new and exciting gear that manufacturers are excited to debut, and gear heads like myself, are even more excited to check out. I found myself making daily wish lists of gear that I had to have, and that list is constantly changing – even weeks after the show has ended.

One of the first booths that I checked out was Earthquaker Devices. Their pedals are gaining popularity with an assortment of musicians and it’s one of those booths that remains crowded from the start of the show on Thursday till the shows end on Sunday. The two new pedals that were debuted were the Space Spiral delay and the Transmisser reverb pedal. Both of these pedals offer a variety of unique and functional sounds that will have the user spending hours with each exploring their tonal options.

Gibson’s booth is always a treat and this year was no exception. Their True Historic guitars are fantastic and the first thing that I check out are the Custom Shop models. A standout at their booth was a Custom Shop Les Paul Jr. that was so meticulously built, you would’ve thought that this was the actual guitar from the late fifties. Another highlight was the joint collaboration between Johnny A and Joe Bonamassa on a new Johnny A model. This model, didn’t have the f-holes associated with his previous models and is much lighter. This is one of those guitars that can do it all and won’t take a toll on your back after hours of gigging. 

Photo: Steve Rose

Photo: Steve Rose

The Ernie Ball/Music Man booth was very eventful as St. Vincent discussed her signature model guitar and three new finishes were introduced for this popular model which debuted at NAMM 2016. Owner, Sterling Ball, mentioned that this guitar is one of the more popular selling models for their brand and that there has been discussion of possibly developing a short scale bass with St. Vincent. That will be something to look forward to at next year’s show.

Photo: Steve Rose

Gretsch consistently has amazing guitars, but this year they unveiled the “Salute” Jet, which is a Malcolm Young signature model made by the Gretsch USA Custom Shop. This was my favorite guitar at the show and a fitting tribute to such a famous Gretsch musician. Another model making it’s debut from the Custom Shop is the Tom Petersson 12 string bass. This instrument has long been associated with Tom and it was great to see him honored with this bass.

Photo: Steve Rose

Photo: Steve Rose

There was a great deal of buzz around the Supro booth now that they’ve added a few awesome looking guitars to their already successful line of amps. These guitars will be popular with both vintage enthusiasts and garage rockers looking to have a unique, cool sounding guitar slung across their body.

Photo: Steve Rose

Martin makes some unbelievable guitars, and as a Martin owner, I can say that their sound and build quality are second to none. This year, my two favorite guitars that they unveiled were signature models for Dwight Yoakam and John Prine. Each of these artists are giants in country music and these guitars reflect their stature. Dwight’s DD-28 had the best inlays that I’ve seen on a guitar. The pair of deuces inlaid on the fretboard is a great touch for this guitar. 

Photo: Steve Rose

NAMM 2017 is in the books and I’m looking forward to how these companies will try to outdo themselves at next year’s show.

NAMM 2017

Photos by Steve Rose

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Brian Setzer Orchestra Spread Holiday Cheer at the Microsoft Theater

Photo: Steve Rose

Photo: Steve Rose

Brian Setzer and his Orchestra brought their annual Christmas show to Los Angeles for a stop at the Microsoft Theater. Shortly after 9pm, the curtain came up to a festive display of oversized candy canes, Christmas trees, and Nutcrackers. The band opened with an upbeat version of “Rocking Around the Christmas Tree,” before tearing into fan favorites “This Cat’s on a Hot Tin Roof,” “Stray Cat Strut,” and “(She’s) Sexy + 17.” Some notable favorites of the night were “Here Comes Santa Claus,” “Great Balls of Fire,” and “Rockabilly Rudolph.”

Photo: Steve Rose

Photo: Steve Rose

Throughout his performance, Setzer used a number of drool worthy Gretsch guitars including his original and updated Hot Rod series and his familiar orange 6120. His Fender Bassman amps and Roland RE-301 Chorus Echo provided that signature tone that can be described as the classic Setzer sound. Before playing the Santo and Johnny cover of “Sleepwalk,” he added a little more echo before delighting the crowd with the timeless song.

Brian Setzer is a fantastic performer and the talented groups of musicians who make up his orchestra make glorious music together. The crowd was signing and dancing along with the music; some in ugly holiday sweaters and others with their young children whose faces were filled with joy and wonderment. This was my first time seeing one of his Christmas shows and it was a definite treat to experience his 12th Annual “Christmas Rocks” show.

Photo: Steve Rose

Photo: Steve Rose

Photo: Steve Rose

Photo: Steve Rose

Photo: Steve Rose

Photo: Steve Rose

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Daily Gear Obsession: NAMM Edition Part 2

The obsession over the gear that I saw at last weekend’s NAMM show continues…

Here’s what I’m obsessing over today:

Dunlop Band of Gypsys Fuzz Face Mini – In keeping with the newer trend of mini pedals, this offering by Dunlop is one that I’m very interested in checking out. The larger, traditional sized version of this pedal was released toward the end of last year and is designed to give you the fuzz sounds of the Hendrix Band of Gypsys era of music. This is Dunlop’s fifth mini Fuzz Face pedal and the second relating to Jimi Hendrix.

Music Man Majesty Artisan Series – These are some gorgeous guitars! I am quite fond of the Majesty series that was released during the 2014 Winter NAMM. The Artisan Series, consisting of five new colors, gives an already colorful line of guitars some more exotic flavor. Colors like Marrone and Azzurro are very striking and complimentary to this line. All of the Artisan Series of guitars feature gold hardware. While I’m usually not a fan of gold hardware, butit works very well in accenting the colors of these guitars.

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Daily Gear Obsession: NAMM Edition Part 1

I have begun to slowly digest all of the goodness that I saw this past weekend at NAMM. I saw some fantastic guitars, some that I will never be able to own, and some, like the Fender Steve Harris bass that I plan to pre-order this week.

Here is the list of everything that is on today’s Daily Gear Obsession:

Earthquaker Devices – Sea Machine V2. This is the ultimate chorus pedal! It allows the player to have complete control over depth, animation, and dimension. I didn’t even know that it was possible to control animation and dimension. This pedal is full of adjustable options and I would probably need to carve out a good part of my day to fiddle with it like I did with the Palisades.

Gretsch Brian Setzer Hot Rod – Gretsch has revamped this line of already great guitars to feature different color options like Green Sparkle and Harbor Blue. Gretsch makes some great guitars and it’s really nice to see so many great models laid out in a row. I used to own a 6120RHH and it was well built and played like a dream. I also love the Setzer Black Phoenix and Billy Duffy White Falcon.

Kramer Satchel Pacer – This is a fun looking guitar. It comes in either yellow or purple leopard print and I am leaning toward the purple. It comes with Seymour Duncan pickups and a Floyd Rose trem so you can bend that bar to your heart’s delight.

ESP Gary Holt signature – This is a thrash monster! The Liquid Metal Lava paint job looks awesome and almost like the guitar has swam through a sea of piranhas. The guitar comes with red EMG 81 and 89 pickups on both the ESP model and the higher end LTD model.

Dunlop Mini Cry Baby – Who doesn’t want a wah pedal that the size of an iPhone? This looked so cool and it will take up a lot less real estate on a pedal board. Given that Dunlop has scaled down the size of its larger pedals like the Fuzz Face, it makes sense that their wah was the next to get this treatment. If they ever do a mini Kirk Hammett wah I won’t be able to get my wallet out fast enough.

Ibanez Mini Tube Screamer – Ibanez has also miniaturized one of their iconic pedals and it looks more toy than pedal. I’m sure that it still retains all of its sonic tradition and I’d love to try it out.

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Day 2: The AfterNAMMth

Friday was another good day at NAMM. There seemed to be fewer people than Thursday which made it a little easier to get from booth to booth. The layout at the Convention Center is so spread out that it’s not uncommon to walk 4 to 5 miles a day.

I started at the Dean booth and was very excited to see they had Dimebag Darrell’s original Dean from Hell ML guitar. The guitar, housed in a thick glass case, showed every bit of road use and it was an honor to see such a historic instrument up close. Dean also had some impressive Dave Mustaine models, including the new Trans Blue Limited V.

The next stop was the Gretsch booth. They make some very iconic guitars like the White Falcon, Duo Jet, and Penguin. I was delighted to see an update to the Brian Setzer series of guitars. Gretsch has updated the Hot Rod series of his guitar to include a flame maple body, new colors like Harbor Blue, and his signature TV Jones pickups.

I then made my way to the EVH booth to see what goods Eddie and the EVH team had on display. The Wolfgang Customs look phenomenal, as did the famous Circles guitar. I was able to speak with one of their reps and learned that Eddie signs each prototype in gold or silver Sharpie. He showed me the latest Star guitar with Eddie’s approval on the back. As an owner of an EVH 5150 III combo amp, it was nice to hear how meticulous his approval process is across the full line of EVH products. I guess when your initials are the brand’s name, you want to make sure everything’s right.

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Gretsch and Bono Partner on New Signature Guitar

GRETSCH® & BONO PARTNER ON SIGNATURE GUITAR; 

NEW (GRETSCH)RED RAISES MONEY TO FIGHT AIDS(RED)

Photo Credit: Eoin McLoughlin

Photo Credit: Eoin McLoughlin

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. (December 9, 2014) – Gretsch and Bono join forces once again for a new signature guitar model, the (GRETSCH)RED. Bearing the special (RED) logo adorned on the pickguard and truss rod cover, every guitar sold will raise money for the Global Fund to AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria.

The double-cutaway (GRETSCH)RED G5623 Electromatic® Center-Block Bono “Signature” Model puts Bono’s personalized stamp on Gretsch’s new thinline spruce center-block design, which delivers “high gain-friendly” tone and greater control over the kind of feedback players want.

Other premium features include a bound arched maple top with bound sound holes, maple sides and arched back (also bound), maple neck, 22-fret bound rosewood fingerboard with Neo-Classic “thumbnail” inlays, dual “Black Top” Filter’Tron pickups with three-position toggle switching, and master volume and tone controls, anchored Adjusto-Matic bridge with “G”-cutout tailpiece, Grover® deluxe tuners, chrome hardware and deluxe case.

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