NAMM’s Believe In Music week, held virtually this past January, featured a slew of new products from music manufacturers across the globe. From the newest portable amplifiers to new signature guitars from top artists, 2021 promises to be a year filled with new creative tools for all players. Here are a few highlights, with technical specs and text supplied by each manufacturer:
Taylor GT 811e
The GT 811e, part of Taylor’s Grand Theater line, combines rich rosewood tone with the nimble handling and response of a small-body guitar, bringing a unique musical personality—one that sonically punches above its weight class—to Taylor’s popular 800 Series.
In addition to its solid Indian rosewood back and sides and solid Sitka spruce top, the new GT 811e features a Crelicam smoky ebony fretboard, mother-of-pearl “Element” inlays, an abalone rosette, maple binding with rosewood top purfling, a rosewood pickguard, gloss-finish (4.5-mil) body, Taylor Mini smoked nickel tuners, and onboard ES2 acoustic electronics.
PRS John Mayer Silver Sky Limited
John Mayer continues his innovative partnership with PRS Guitars and introduces the Silver Sky Limited, which features a new flip-flop, polychromatic finish called Lunar Ice.
Limited to 1,000 pieces, the PRS Silver Sky Lunar Ice blends classic elements of 1963 and 1964 instruments with modern references and is outfitted with a unique polychromatic finish that accentuates the lines of the Silver Sky’s body in opalescent splendor. From shades of green, pink, blue, purple and more, this “flip-flop” finish reflects hue and light differently at different angles, giving the guitar a dynamic look that is both delicate and powerful.
The headstock shape is based on PRS’s trademark design but inverted both to accommodate Mayer’s playing style and also to keep a consistent length of string behind the nut, which makes staying in tune easier. The 635JM single-coil pickups are very round and full, with a musical high end that is never “ice-picky” or brash. This Silver Sky Limited Edition comes with a maple fretboard.
Gibson Hummingbird Standard
Gibson’s new Hummingbird Standard (pictured here) is part of their Acoustic Modern Collection, which pays tribute to their iconic past while offering a modern take with innovative appointments that appeal to the needs of today’s player.
Features include modern voicing, easy-playing SlimTaper necks with a flatter fingerboard radius, high-ratio enclosed tuners and advanced pickup systems to round out the Modern collection.
Also new for 2021 is the J-45 Standard in Cherry, a J-45 Standard 12-String model and an SJ-200 in Wine Red and Autumn Burst, as well as new colorways that reflect Modern Collection principles.
Martin David Gilmour Custom Signature Edition D-35 (as seen in feature photo)
Martin introduces two new David Gilmour Custom Signature Edition D-35 Guitars, which take inspiration from the Pink Floyd guitarist’s legendary 1969 original, and then adds a few new creative changes to them. The first model is a 6-string and the second, guaranteed to make “Wish You Were Here” fans happy, is a 12-string version.
Gilmour chose a stiff Adirondack Spruce for the top of the 6-string model, which was then torrefied using the Martin Vintage Tone System® (VTS), a process that “ages” the wood and adds vintage sound characteristics without waiting years for it to happen naturally.
Both guitars come in a slate blue case, a nod back to the blue cases in which David’s original D-35s would have left the factory all those years ago. Finally, and as if all this isn’t already special enough, every guitar bears a custom internal paper label, each one individually signed by David himself. Through this partnership, Martin Guitar is also supporting the David Gilmour Charitable Foundation.
Only 250 pieces will be produced, split between the two models
Fender 75th Anniversary Guitars
Fender kicks off their 75th year with a big celebration, including new updates to the Stratocaster®, Telecaster®, Precision Bass® and Jazz Bass® guitar lines. Each one is available in made in the USA and Ensenada import versions.
The limited-edition guitars in the 75th Anniversary Series honor the timeless Fender designs and feature unique finishes, premium pickups and comfortable necks. The exclusive, upscale package includes a custom Inca Silver molded hard shell case with plush Lake Placid Blue interior, a special certificate of authenticity, a 75th anniversary ingot inlaid into the back of the headstock and an engraved anniversary neck plate. All models are available with ash bodies in 2-color Bourbon Burst, one-piece maple necks and Custom Shop pickups.
The Ensenada Made Diamond Series guitars feature Maple fingerboard, a “Modern C” profile, medium jumbo frets and a satin finish for supreme comfort and playability.
The 75th Anniversary Commemorative Stratocaster® (pictured on left) is decked out in a 2-Color Bourbon Burst finish over an ash body with gold hardware and pearl button locking tuners. The one-piece maple neck features a Deep “C” profile, rolled fingerboard edges, a “Super-Natural” satin finish and a sculpted neck heel for unsurpassed comfort and playability. Custom Shop Fat ‘60s pickups provide sweet Strat tone with added low-end punch while a 2-point tremolo with cold-rolled steel block enhances sparkle, sustain and tuning stability.
Corona Made 75th Platinum Anniversary Series range from $1949.99 – $2049.99
Ensenada Made Diamond Anniversary Series: $849.99
Fender Ben Gibbard Mustang®
Fender partners with Ben Gibbard, guitarist for the influential bands Death Cab For Cutie and The Postal Service for a new signature guitar model. Based on Gibbard’s modified ‘70s Fender Mustang, the guitar features a chambered ash body design for increased resonance. With its reduced weight and one-piece 22-fret modern “C”-shaped maple neck, 9.5” radius fingerboard and medium jumbo frets, this guitar is a comfortable and versatile stage performer. Electronics include a set of custom, vintage-inspired Ben Gibbard Mustang pickups and a stage-ready 3-way rotary pickup selector switch.
Fender and Gibbard added some new enhancements to the guitar as well. What appears to be a vintage-style Mustang bridge is actually an innovative modified hardtail setup, providing rock-solid stability, intonation and sustain. The guitar is offered in a natural finish and includes strap locks and a Fender gig bag.
Breedlove Premier Series
Breedlove updates their Premier Series line of Custom Shop guitars for 2021 with a lot of bling options, hand-voiced craftsmanship and a new “Test Drive” guarantee. The Custom Shop Premier series are crafted in Bend, Oregon and feature East Indian rosewood back and sides and a choice of three distinctive, classic tops—the warmth of coastal redwood, the eternal sparkle and definition of Alaskan Sitka spruce or the fabled dynamic power of Adirondack spruce.
The guitars also feature LR Baggs EAS VTC electronics and deluxe hardshell case. Improved appointments for 2021 include exquisite diamond fret markers, rich yet reserved burst finishes and subtly dazzling spalted maple rosettes.
The Premier “Test Drive” Players’ Event allows prospective buyers, through select dealers, a risk-free 30-day at home trial (with in-store pickup and shipping options available.)
Price: $1849 and up
D’Addario XS Strings
D’Addario introduces XS, an innovative new coated acoustic string which promises to offer longer life and an unprecedented level of strength and stability without sacrificing tone. What makes XS strings different from others is a new, thin film coating that completely protects the wound strings from corrosion, without dampening the tone. This new film covering (which is slimmer than human hair) is combined with D’Addario’s proprietary dispersion coating, used in their XT line, to protect the plain steel strings as well.
D’Addario XS will be available in April 2021 in Phosphor Bronze string sets for acoustic guitar, 12-string guitar, and mandolin in the most popular gauges.
Price: $17.99 for an acoustic 6-string and mandolin; $24.99 for a 12-string acoustic guitar.
Yamaha THR30IIA Amplifier
Yamaha’s new THR30IIA is a 30-watt stereo amplifier designed specifically for acoustic guitars. It boasts three authentic-sounding microphone models—dynamic, tube and condenser—as well as onboard effects, including compression, chorus and studio-quality delay and reverb. The stereo reverbs and audio playback in particular utilize Extended Stereo Technology (EST), which results in a more immersive listening experience than standard stereo. The THR30IIA incorporates a professional-quality Yamaha D-PRE microphone preamp, as well as a dedicated mode for nylon-string guitars and a multipurpose flat setting. Three-band equalization provides for comprehensive tone shaping, while a specially designed playback system was optimized to provide hi-fi sound quality through two 3.5″ speakers.
A built-in rechargeable battery lets musicians play anywhere their music takes them, while the integrated wireless receiver combines with an optional Line 6® Relay® G10T transmitter to offer players a fully cable-free performance. The amp also includes a USB port for direct recording and playback.