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

Please like & share:

AfterNAMMth: 2016 Edition

It’s that time of year when gearheads like myself get excited for the late-January trip to Anaheim. It’s always hectic trying to deal with the masses when parking and then having to join them as we funnel through the few available entrances of the convention center. NAMM is the only time of the year when I agree to wait in line to use and escalator and only be allowed to ride it in small groups.

Photo: Steve Rose

Photo: Steve Rose

The Ernie Ball Music Man booth was my favorite booth of the convention. They showcased all of their new products in a thoughtful way that encouraged interaction with those visiting the booth. Some notable standouts from EBMM were their new line of overdrive and delay expression pedals, the Cutlass and Stingray guitars, and new signature models for St. Vincent and James Valentine. The St. Vincent guitar is by far the most unique and visually intriguing instrument of this year’s guitars. The guitar I was most impressed with, and the one was named Best in Show for 2016, was the new James Valentine signature model. This guitar looks great, plays great, and that’s all that you’re really looking for in a quality instrument.

Photo: Steve Rose

Photo: Steve Rose

Another standout booth was D’Angelico guitars. Their guitars are mainly hollow, or semi-hollow, body instruments that feel like art pieces as much as they do as guitars. I am highly considering getting a EX-DC as my next guitar. I was also a fan of the EXL-A, an acoustic archtop guitar that was stunning. I would recommend those to anyone looking for an affordable, well built instrument and especially to those looking for a great jazz box. D’Angelico also had a cool looking, limited edition EX-59 Marilyn Monroe guitar that caught the attention of many, but is only limited to a run of 20 — 12 of which will be for the US. The most unique guitar in their booth was the Teardrop New Yorker, which is part of their New York made Master Builder series.

Photo: Steve Rose

Photo: Steve Rose

Both ESP and Schecter impressed me with their instrument diversity and are sure to attract a variety of supporters. In the past, I felt like ESP and Schecter both catered toward the hardcore, or metal player, but now I feel like they are trying to branch out with more classic shapes, while still providing the radical designs that brought them to the forefront. Schecter had a great take on a Gibson Explorer-type of guitar that will definitely be of interest to many. They also unveiled a new Jeff Loomis guitar, called the Cygnus, which I expect will be a very popular model for them. ESP debuted two signature models that both look awesome: the Glen Tipton signature and a new James Hetfield V.

Photo: Steve Rose

Photo: Steve Rose

The Fender booth is consistently impressive and this year did not disappoint. They announced the limited edition Magnificent Seven series of guitars, which will be released for only one month per model and with limited quantities of each. Similar to last year’s 10 for ’15, these guitars are sure to sell out and become instant collectors items. I was excited about the release of both a signature guitar and amp for The Edge.

Photo: Steve Rose

Photo: Steve Rose

The U2 guitarist’s sound is immediately identifiable and a good portion of that has come from using Fender products. The black strat and maple neck are timeless classics for a reason and it was not a surprise that The Edge chose them for his signature model. His hardwired Edge Deluxe amp is the fourth signature amp that Fender has made, building upon the success of the Eric Clapton amps. Fender also introduced the Bassbreaker Series of amps which consists of nine different models that will appeal to a diverse group of players. This is definitely one of the new releases at NAMM that I wish I could’ve spent more time playing.

The return of the CE model from PRS was a definite highlight for me. After being off the market for at least 10 years, PRS has decided to bring back this popular model that first debuted in 1988. Between the resurrection of the CE and the jaw dropping Private Stock models, PRS continually puts out high quality instruments. I also appreciate that Paul Reed Smith can often be found taking pictures and answering the questions of players, dealers, and associated media.

Photo: Steve Rose

Photo: Steve Rose

In the matter of full disclosure: I’m not only a fan of these guitars, but I’m also a proud owner of a 30th Anniversary Custom 24 and couldn’t be more pleased.

The lackluster booth of the NAMM show (in my opinion) unfortunately went to Gibson. Their 2016 lineup featured the departure of the robot tuning gimmick and returned the brand to the quality and reputation that its fans have come to expect. The lowered price points will definitely help soothe the sour taste in the mouths of those who jeered the moves that Gibson had made in years past. I felt like the booth was too dark and it felt more like Club Gibson than a company trying to showcase their beautiful instruments. I like that Gibson had some top of the line models available to demo, including the limited edition Bob Dylan SJ-200, which was a treat to play. Gibson was more sad city than music city and that was kind of a let down.

As the 2016 winter NAMM show comes to a close, I’m excited about all of the new gear coming out soon. I have already begun plotting how I’m going to afford some of the things that stood out. My legs are excited to have another year to prepare for the hell I put them through walking the floor. It may be an insignificant detail, but I was impressed that D’Angelico passed out little bottles of hand sanitizer in their gift bags. I appreciated that D’Angelico was thoughtful enough to help us fight the dreaded NAMMthrax virus.

NAMM 2016

Please like & share:

Effects Pedals Will Be All The Rage at NAMM 2016

There will be a nice mix of top manufacturers and boutique brands showcasing their greatest and latest in Anaheim early next year. NAMM ’16 is just around the corner and I don’t know about you, but I CAN’T WAIT!

Demand for Personalized Sound Presses Boutique Pedal Market Forward

Craftsmen pedal builders are setting up shop nationwide backed by musicians looking to play their own unique tunes

Courtesy of NAMM

Courtesy of NAMM

Carlsbad, CA, (December 10, 2015) – Demand for customized, unique sound is driving fretted products and effects sales to a seven-year high, while fueling a new wave of boutique pedal builders. Over the last decade, the retail value of the effects pedal category has increased more than 45%, with a 13.7% gain in 2014.

Pedal builders will have a noticeably larger presence at the NAMM Show this January 21-24 as boutique brands including Strymon, Walrus Audio, Chase Bliss Audio and Dwarfcraft Devices join established brands Boss, Dunlop Manufacturing, Inc., Fender Musical Instruments Corporation, EarthQuaker Devices, Electro-Harmonix, Pigtronix, Seymour Duncan, TC Electronic and Wampler Pedals to debut new effects gear at the NAMM Show.

The emergence of hundreds of up-and-coming pedal brands can be traced to new technology and easier global distribution, of both ideas and components. Robert Keeley, founder of Keeley Electronics, Inc., has seen his Edmond, OK business double since 2012. It is now producing more than 2,000 units per month. “Our products are almost completely hand-built and we cater to a group of people who are in the market for specialty-purpose pedals,” said Keeley. Big- name players including John Mayer, Jimmy Buffet and Dream Theater’s John Petrucci are among those who have called on Keeley for customized pedals, with some of those pedals crossing over into a limited-edition commercial run.

Joel Korte, founder of Minnesota-based Chase Bliss Audio has seen sales double in the last year and adds, “Musicians like to experiment with sound using pedals because the experience is very visceral and pedals are hands-on and offer the artist control right away.”

Affordability has also emerged as a major factor in the surge as artists add distortion, phasers and vibrato to their signature sound. The cottage industry of boutique pedal makers offers ways to tweak and discover sounds for an average price of $100-$400 dollars.

Many of these emerging builders, including Akron, Ohio’s family-owned EarthQuaker Devices, have also focused on demonstrating their products for non-traditional pedal players, such as sax, synth and violin players. Julie Robbins of EarthQuaker Devices emphasizes that innovative, specialty-designed sound is a key factor in the company’s success. “We answer the call of experimental musicians who love to create sounds that inspire them to go in new directions,” said Robbins. “Some just want to recreate classic tones, while others use their pedals as a way to actually define their newest album, and we cater to both.”

Demand is also up for pedals that couple long-lasting new technology with “old school” parts to create coveted “vintage” analog sounds. Pete Celi, co-founder of growing Southern California builder Strymon, says interest in vintage pedals has skyrocketed, including tape delays, vintage amp tremolos, pedals from the 70s, but he notes these originals can be unreliable on tour and prices make those purchases beyond the reach of most musicians. “This creates an opportunity for pedals that can capture those sought-after sounds and yet be conveniently and reliably used at gigs,” said Celi.

Strymon employs a one-on-one strategy with musicians, regularly holding open-studio parties. Celi says the conversations are paying off. “We believe everybody is an artist.”

Plan now to join the global music instrument and product industry January 21-24, 2016 at the NAMM Show in Anaheim, CA. NAMM members are encouraged to register for badges by January 6, 2016, at which point badge registrations will incur a $50 to $100 fee depending on the badge type. Learn about the more than 5,000 brands planning to exhibit at the 2016 NAMM Show here:https://www.namm.org/thenammshow/2016/directory.

Please like & share:

BOSS introduces the DD-500 Digital Delay

Some exciting news out of Summer NAMM from BOSS.

Boss DD-500BOSS Unveils DD-500 Digital Delay Effects Pedal Advanced delay pedal with superior sound and exceptional versatility Summer NAMM Show, Nashville, TN, July 8, 2015 — BOSS (Booth #924) introduces the versatile DD-500 digital delay pedal. Filled with newly developed BOSS technology, this stompbox offers 12 distinctive delay modes and superior audio quality, along with deep editing controls, a graphic display, patch memories, MIDI and much more. Small in size but large in creative potential, the DD-500 allows musicians to create any delay sound they can imagine. The DD-500 delivers its sophisticated sound-making capabilities in a compact design that fits easily on any pedalboard. Each delay mode has been carefully crafted for a unique sonic personality and highly musical tones at every setting, realized by high-powered DSP running at 32-bit/96 kHz. Included among the DD-500’s 12 modes are basic delays, warm analog and tape echo types, patternbased effects, and complex modern delay lines that employ pitch shifting, filtering, and other unique processing. The pedal’s Vintage Digital mode offers BOSS’s first emulations of sought-after classics from the 1980s, including the legendary SDE-2000 and SDE-3000 rack units from Roland and the BOSS DD-2, the first stompbox digital delay. Hands-on knobs allow users to quickly shape essential parameters and create sounds right away. Each delay type also includes a semi-parametric four-band EQ, modulation, ducking, and many other parameters, enabling a huge range of tonal refinement. The large, integrated LCD fully supports the DD-500’s capabilities, providing clear visibility of delay time, patch ID, and more on one screen, plus intuitive navigation for detailed parameter tweaks, naming, and system management. Freely assignable controls enable extensive creative expression and performance flexibility. By default, the A, B, and TAP/CTL switches provide control for two patches, bypass, bank selection, tap tempo and more. However, they can be customized to operate in alternate ways, such as providing top-level access to three different delay patches, or controlling various real-time functions like Warp, Twist and many others. Additional parameters can be controlled via an optional expression pedal or external switches, and MIDI I/O opens up even more options with advanced setups. Along with its other capabilities, the DD-500 includes an independent Phrase Loop function with up to 60 seconds of stereo recording time (120 seconds in mono). On board USB provides a simple computer connection for patch backup and MIDI control with DAW software. The DD-500 features a 100-percent analog dry signal path, and users have their choice of bufferedbypass or true-bypass operation. Able to run on four AA-size batteries or an optional AC adapter, the DD-500 is equally suited for grab-and-go playing, pedalboard installations, and studio setups. To learn more about the DD-500 Digital Delay, visit www.bossus.com.

 

Please like & share:

Earthquaker Devices Park Fuzz Sound

Photo Credit: Earthquakerdevices.com

Photo Credit: Earthquakerdevices.com

Named one of the 10 “Must Have” pedals at NAMM by Guitar Player magazine

When I read about the painstaking process that Earthquaker Devices went through during the development of the Park Fuzz Sound, I was very interested in checking out this rare and mysterious device. I wasn’t very familiar with Park Amplification and didn’t know that it was a company started by the legendary Jim Marshall in 1965. I had seen some Park amps in pictures or videos, but didn’t know of their origins. I also didn’t know that they made pedals, specifically the Park Fuzz Sound. In 2013, Mitch Colby resurrected Park Amplifiers and sought the help of the pedal wizards at Earthquaker Devices to reintroduce the Park Fuzz Sound. Earthquaker had an original Park Fuzz Sound and was able to inspect its nuances in order to ensure they got it right. The original Fuzz Sound had some powering issues and was limited in that it couldn’t be daisy-chained along with other pedals, but the clever builders at Earthquaker fixed that problem on their reissue and even added some more fuzz, which is always good. These pedals are handmade in a mythical land in Ohio, named Akron.

Continue reading

Please like & share:

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.

Please like & share:

Daily Gear Obsession: Marshall Jubilee 2555X

I was happy to see this was being released at NAMM last week. In 2002, I bought a Slash signature Marshall 2555 and really enjoyed playing that amp. That was one of those pieces of gear that I regret selling. The Jubilee was the first Marshall to offer Pentode/Triode switching, which cuts the power output in half. The Jubilee has been regarded as one of those special amps in Marshall’s long history and now that it is being re-issued, it allows for more people to experience this great amp.

The amp will sell for $1899

Please like & share:

Daily Gear Obsession: Knaggs Steve Stevens Signature Guitar

Photo Credit: Knaggsguitars.com

Photo Credit: Knaggsguitars.com

Knaggs Steve Stevens

I was able to see this up close at NAMM and the guitar looks fantastic. The neck feels great and the red paint job is breathtaking.

 

Please like & share:

Steel Panther Tears Through NAMMJAM 2015

IMG_0564For the past few years, the annual NAMM Jam has been the hottest ticket in town and this year was no exception. The headliner for this year’s show was the delightfully outrageous Steel Panther. The quartet, decked out in leather, leopard print leggings, and teased hair looked like they were ready for a show at Gazzarri’s in 1986.

They took the stage at 10:30 and opened with Pussywhipped, a fan favorite that got everyone in a partyin’ good mood. Lead singer, Michael Starr did a great job interacting with fans by reaching his microphone into the crowd to have them sing parts of the chorus with him or high fiving other fans as he worked every part of that stage. After some back and forth jokes between Starr and Satchel, the band’s guitar player, as to who did what to the whose mom, special guest Marty Friedman was brought out. Friedman, an accomplished guitar player known for his time in Megadeth, is now living in Japan playing “J-Pop,” or Japanese pop music. This must have inspired the band to play Asian Hooker, a song off their debut release in 2009. It was obvious Marty Friedman was having a fun time up on stage playing with the band, and given how loud it got from the time Marty was announced to when he left the stage, it was clear the audience was also enjoying his time up there.  Continue reading

Please like & share:

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.

Continue reading

Please like & share: