Korg displayed the SV-1BKRV performance keyboard now with black and red keys. The SV-1 is loaded with acoustic piano sounds and a bevy of classic vintage sounds such as the Wurlitzer electric piano and Hammond organs. The samples of these instruments were recorded keeping their quirky character intact, including the clicks and mechanical noise.
One of the great things about NAMM is that manufacturers from all over the world come to display their products, so you see some instruments that haven’t found their way into your local music store, such as the Memotron from Manikin Electronic, Germany. The Memotron is, essentially, a digital version of the Mellotron, the tape-based keyboard as used by the Beatles for flutes, strings and other polyphonic sounds.
Guitarists now have organ sounds at their fingertips without the need for a MIDI equipped guitar. Electro-Harmonix presented a pair (!) of stomp boxes that convert a standard electric guitar signal into a polyphonic (and authentic sounding) organs that can either be routed to the guitar amp or to a different system.
Gretsch added a new archtop to the Roots Collection, a New Yorker with a floating “monkey on a stick” pickup based off of the old DeArmond jazz guitar pickup.
Taylor revamped their 600 line of instruments to give the maple back and side guitars a fuller voice, in addition to the cut and projection maple is known for. Among the upgrades are new bracing and a torrefied top. This kind of roasting the wood for the top of the guitar reportedly gives the new 600 series more of a “played in” sound. An added benefit of this process is the resulting “aged” appearance of the top, which is a great match for the new stain finish used for the back and sides.
Gibson introduced a new line of studio monitors that are branded with the Les Paul name. As be fitting the new moniker, each of the three models has a sunburst finish.
Squire is a brand that falls under Fender’s umbrella, and the Fender design is prevalent throughout their line. This classy instrument is the Vintage Modified Baritone Jazzmaster in the classic Fender Antigua finish.
Gibson used the Les Paul name on a prototype acoustic they were showing at their booth. The body is their mini-jumbo shape with a cutaway, but what makes the guitar really intriguing is the pre-amp for plugged-in playing: it has labeling for 12 string, nylon, dobro, bass, banjo and more. Stay tuned.
Among Ibanez’ new offerings was a pair of instruments that are so clearly based off of another company’s instruments that they won’t be mentioned here. What’s also so clearly cool is the graceful shape of the RC465HMSB (top) and RC430IV.
Here is a pair of Danelectro electrics showing off a new sparkle finish and the upgraded adjustable bridge. Based off the designs of the company’s offerings from the ’60s, these guitars keep the instrument’s best features: the semi-hollow body, the original body shape and, of course, the lipstick tube pickups.
Is this your first guitar? Silvertone displayed a new acoustic, the model 604, that is based off one of the guitars sold by Sears in the ’60s when Sears use the Silvertone name for their musical instruments. Unlike the originals (like this author’s first guitar, and it’s a miracle I continued playing), the new 604 features a solid top, updated bridge and more comfortable neck dimensions to make playing the guitar a much more pleasurable experience in both feel and tone.
Godin offers entire lines of quality North American-made instruments at a price that rivals better overseas imports. The Montreal Premiere Supreme is new for 2015. A highly figured maple top is used, while retaining the cherry back and sides.
The Free Play is a small but powerful personal PA from Mackie. While it resembles a slightly larger-than-usual boom box, the Free Play boasts 300 watts of power. There’s a built in mixer and two combo XLR-1/4″ inputs. It can be operated off of battery power (up to 10 hours) and pole mounted, and also tilts back so it can be used as a monitor. It has bluetooth connectivity, wireless mixing and more.
New for 2015, Peavey added a biscuit style resonator guitar, the Composer AR, to their line of affordable instruments.
Peavey presented some new amplifier heads and cabinets. The Classic heads allow for direct recording with various options (headphone, USB and MSDI) without the use of a speaker. Of course, this dual channel head can be used conventionally with a speaker and has power attenuation to operate at 20, 5 or 1 high watt. For those wanting the same features with a more modern voicing, Peavey also offers the 6505MH head and matching cab.
Brian Setzer’s name is arguably as ingrained in Gretsch culture as Chet Atkins. Among the new releases for 2015 are new colors for the Brian Setzer Hot Rod series. Here is a trio of some of the new finishes: two-tone blue and red and a radiator-fluid-colored sparkle green.
Dreadnought guitars may be the first thing to jump to one’s mind when thinking about Martin instruments, but the company’s offerings are vast and deep… and filled with heritage. Here’s a Koa 000-28K Authentic 1921.
Guild Guitars offered a new-for-2015 black finish on several of their Newark St. Collection electrics. The black finish on this M-75 Aristocrat nicely augments the guitar’s gold hardware.
Back in the day, Danelectro was more than a mere mass manufacturer of instruments – they were also innovators in the industry. One of the new instruments the current Danelectro reissued this year is the Electric Sitar. This gourd-shaped instrument is tuned and played like a guitar but sounds like India’s sitar, thanks largely to the design of the bridge.
Bohemian Guitars’ BoHo series is born out of the D.I.Y instruments built out of scrap materials in South Africa. Not only are the guitars novel because of their quality construction and quirky oil can graphics, but because of the company’s dedication to using renewable materials and planting a tree for every guitar sold.
This wood bodied Tricone from National Guitars was pretty hard to miss with its brilliant blueburst finish.
This Collings SoCo LC Deluxe’s red sunburst finish positively glowed under the lights at NAMM. With a 15″ lower bout, the semi-hollow SoCo LC is a slightly more compact, comfortable version of that type of guitar.
Collings electric guitars are available with customer or retailer’s options. This custom model 360 has the optional Bigsby True Vibrato tailpiece and a pair of Gold Foil pickups replace the standard model’s mini humbuckers.
TV stylings of the 1950s are clearly the design influence of this two-tone Ibanez Tube Screamer amp. This 5 watt amp features an 8″ speaker, angled legs, reverb and switchable Tube Screamer circuitry. Also on display were the company’s larger, more powerful amps with a more conventional look.
Kay had a couple of reissue basses on the floor, including this Jazz Special. Perhaps somewhat counter-intuitively, the thin blade pickup (set in a very cool boogie print pick guard) contributes largely to the bass’s subsonic sound that made the originals collector’s items.
Shure brought some new vintage inspired digital microphones to the party. Specifically designed for iPhone, iPod and iPad, along with the Shure app, these mics are built to seamlessly integrate with your device for plug n’ play convenience.
James Trussart guitars are a tasteful blend of art and function. Perhaps Trussart is best known for his all metal hollow body (and the accompanying engraving) versions of conventional solid body guitars, but he also offers wood body instruments such as this Steelmaster model. The etching theme of the large body plate is continued on the headstock (inset).
This is in! Souldier straps displayed (among their other offerings) these colorful thin guitar straps with a shoulder pad, a design usually equated with a black or brown all leather strap.
The graceful original body shape and unique finish add to the appeal of this Framus Idolmaker available from their custom shop.
Forget sparkles (and there were plenty of guitars with sparkle finishes for 2015): this Italia Torino 15th Anniversary uses a pearled wrap (as commonly used on drums) to achieve its distinctive finish.
Italia’s instruments are modern takes of the somewhat wacky guitars and basses from the ’60s. This Imola bass is clearly inspired by the old Ampeg bass, but with more familiar J-bass style pickups.
The face of live performance (and live performance recording) has been changing, and that point is exemplified by the QSC Touchmix Series. Using digital technology and a touch pad to replace the replicated knobs of an analog mixer, the Touchpad provided more control in less space. Plug in an external hard drive and all inputs and/or the mains output can be recorded. Available in 16 and 8 channel versions.
Pork Pie Percussion showed off their vintage inspired tuck and roll vinyl drum thrones, the Duece, but while at the booth it was hard not to notice their drums done up for the show. The Duece is available in a wide range of mix and match color options… and sparkles.
Santa Cruz Guitar Company has a standard line of instruments that can be ordered with the customer’s options to create a one-of-a-kind guitar. This custom H/13 model has so much pearl it would make a D-45 blush.
In addition to showing off new additions and standard line fare, some manufacturers bring some instruments all dressed up for the show, such as this custom Martin D-41. This limited edition guitar is one of 60 units and will only set you back $12,499.
Hot on the hells of last year’s non-cutaway thin line, The Loar introduced the LH-302T thin line hollow body with a single cutaway and a pair of P-90 pickups. Also on display was the LH-304T, a humbucking-equipped version of the same guitar.
Recording King showed off a few new additions to their Dirty 30 line of guitars, including this RPH-07 Harmonella 0. Clearly based off the old mail-order catalog and department store guitars of yesteryear, this guitar upgrade of the instrument includes a solid spruce top and an x braced top to improve the tone over the originals.
Allen Pickups displayed some of his wares, including this pair of Filtertron inspired pickups that are replacements for full-size humbuckers. Also on hand was the company’s slightly smaller Gretsch size pickups with that company’s screw through the cover mounting design.
Usually when one things of Hofner basses, it is the iconic violin shaped “Beatle” bass as made famous by Paul McCartney, but this bass shares the larger body of their Verythin semi-hollow guitars. As the name implies, the instrument is only 1.23″ thick, making it even thinner that Gibson’s 335 series of instruments.
Several companies were showing mini guitar effects stompboxes that allow more effects to fit onto a pedalboard. Mooer not only showed some such devices, but also several wah pedals and a volume pedal that share the same diminutive footprint.
The mandolin is a fairly small instrument, but it seemed fairly large displayed next to Weber’s Sopranolin (the fill name is the Gallatin F Sopranolin).
Collings showed a pair of instruments in a striking white finish: an I-35 semi-hollow guitar and this A-style mandolin which has a contrasting darker finish on the back and sides.
Proving that innovation is still alive in guitar construction, the Switzerland-based Relish guitars offers their Jane series of guitars. The display instrument’s cutout back shows the inner workings of the organic original body shape.
You might be tangled up in blue, but it is doubtful you’ll be tangled up in Orange with Orange Amplification’s Orange Twister cable. This cable features a “Twister Module” about 12″ away from the instrument’s end of the cable that allows up to two cable lengths to rotate 360 degrees to prevent the cable from twisting and looping upon itself as the guitarist or bassist moves about the stage.
Any guitarist worth their weight in denim or spandex seem to prefer tube amplifiers. Of course tubes have a limited lifespan, but outward appearance rarely gives an indication on the tube’s condition. Enter the Orange Valve Tester. (Valve is the British word for tube; tube is the British word for subway.)
In addition to manufacturing high-quality acoustic guitar pickups, LR Baggs has a long history of making studio quality pre-amps. The Session Acoustic DI is a new stompbox sized direct box with a mute switch and the extremely high fidelity the company is known for.
Last year Fender sold off the Guild Guitar division to Cordoba and the guitar community held its breath to find out the fate of the Guild line. Everyone seems to be breathing easier as Guild introduced some new instruments for 2015, including this non-cutaway T-50 Slim.
Just because an instrument is small doesn’t mean it can’t be striking in appearance, as proven by this Cordoba 25SK soprano ukelele.
Saul Koll is a member of the Premier Builders Guild, and the guitars Koll displayed at the show live up to the name. This triple pickup version of his Glide model features three lipstick tube pickups, but other pickups and semi-hollow construction options are also available.
Gibson Memphis division displayed a whole different take on a familiar body shape: the ES-Les Paul. While the guitar has the same outward dimensions of the LP, the body is constructed more like that of an ES-335’s semi-hollow design. Not only is the instrument lighter, but the tone is enhanced while still being feedback resistant. While offered in several traditional Les Paul colors and NOS finishes, this one is Alpine White.
Martin introduced a new Dreadnaught Junior that reduces the dimensions of the popular shape the company pioneered. This instrument is perfect for those seeking a more manageable sized guitar while retaining much of the distinctive tone and projection, as well as the looks, of its larger brethren.
The Kingman ASCE is a new cutaway acoustic from Fender that retains much of the iconic style of the company’s original acoustic guitar line in the 1960s, including Fender’s six-on-a-side headstock. Fender also showed a new electric acoustic resophonic guitar that uses the stylized “F” from the company’s logo for the soundholes.
Part of the fun of NAMM is seeing instruments one would seldom see anywhere, including your local music store, because they are too cost-prohibitive. Here’s a pair of PRS Private Stock guitars that fit the bill that are just beautiful.
PRS Guitars, mostly known for their electrics, also make acoustic guitars. Here is a bold Koa offering that is also from their Private Stock line.
Back in the day, John D’Angelico made the occasional arch top guitar with a single round hole in place of the instrument’s more conventional F hole. Today’s D’Angelico company followed suit with this intriguing round hole Excel EX-63.
Roland debuted a pair of Blues Cube amplifiers, a 60 watt and 80 watt version. The 80 watt version, in addition to the extra wattage, adds a second effect in addition to the shared reverb. Both models accept Roland’s tone modules. The Eric Johnson module for the Blues Cube make it debut as well,
Luna Guitars showed a series of ukeleles that featured some googie inspired graphics.
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