Being a newbie at NAMM this year, I spent most of my time resembling a wide-eyed kid in a candy store…Only it was better than a candy store, it was like a humungous guitar store.
Picking my favorites hasn’t been an easy task. The truth is, I haven’t stopped talking about NAMM since I got home (my poor wife). Ultimately, being a guitarist, I have narrowed my favorites down to three categories, favorite acoustic, electric, and effect. I would have also picked a favorite amp, but it was so loud that I had a hard time telling what sounded great and what didn’t.
So, in no particular order,
here we go!
Favorite Acoustic: Giannini Craviola
For those who don’t know (which I’m guessing is most of you), Giannini is a Brazilian guitar manufacturer. In the late 60’s they created a unique acoustic which was rounded on the top, giving it almost a tear-drop shape. It was decided that the guitar produced a sound that lands somewhere between that of a harpsichord (Cravo in Portuguese) and a 10-string Brazilian Viola. Give the two instruments a celebrity name and you have the Craviola.
The Craviola saw some minor international distribution in the early 70’s, but for the most part it has remained unknown outside of Brazil. Jimmy Page did use a 12-string Craviola for several live performances and (at least, according to the Giannini site) he used it on the recording of Stairway to Heaven. But, outside of Page the Craviola didn’t really catch on.
Why am I so fascinated with the Craviola?
It is because I grew up in a home where the Craviola was the epitome of all guitars. My Dad purchased a nylon string Craviola in 1973, and it has been his main guitar ever since.
Although we have looked for more Craviola’s over the years, we haven’t been able to find one. At one point, I even went to the extent of having a Brazilian friend search his home country for one. So, imagine my surprise when I came across a whole booth of Craviola’s in the dark basement dungeons of NAMM.
It turns out that Giannini is back in the USA once again. In addition to the Brazilian models, they have also introduced a line made in China. But don’t be fooled, the Chinese models feature high-quality build and they sound fantastic.
Needless to say, the next acoustic on my list will be the coveted Craviola. Fez bem meus amigos, fez muito bem.
Favorite Electric: G&L Fallout
Everyone seems to have a whole lotta love for Leo Fender’s namesake company, but all too often his other commercial ventures are overlooked. In all reality, G&L is the rightful heir to the Leo Fender legacy. From day 1, Leo used G&L as an outlet for creating great guitars. There weren’t any compromises on quality when Leo was there and that tradition of excellence continues today, as can be attested to by all instruments released with the G&L stamp, American made or imported.
In their efforts to keep the legacy of Leo Fender’s innovations moving forward, G&L has released the Fallout: a new guitar that is flat out awesome! It features a Seymour Duncan JB humbucker at the bridge and a G&L custom wound P-90 at the neck to produce growling leads and nice mellow rhythms (every guitar should feature at least one P-90… IMO).
The Fallout’s body is slightly smaller than G&L’s Strat-inspired Legacy, making it light and comfortable to play all night long. They also come in a killer array of bright colors as you can see in the image below.
If I was in the market to buy a new electric today, no doubt about it, the Fallout would be at the top of my list.
The Fallout model (upper right) and other G&L Guitars and Basses.
Favorite Effect: TC Electronics Ditto Looper
I love loop pedals. I love being able to quickly record a new progression or riff, and then jamming over top of it. This is particularly cool option when you don’t have anyone to jam with.
Now for the not so awesome: I hate how nearly every new loop pedal is more complex than the previous generation. Sure, drum loops, backing tracks, and 2000 storage bays are great, but they’re also generally confusing and difficult to use. And FYI, I hate reading instructions.
When TC Electronics announced a single button, simple-to-use loop pedal, I was ecstatic. I couldn’t wait to get to TC’s booth to check things out… and once I did…I was impressed.
The Ditto is simple, compact, user-friendly, features impeccable playback audio and is gig-quality tough. On top of that, it list for only $129, making the Ditto substantially less expensive than your average loop pedal.
I’m going to classify the Ditto Looper as a need, not a want.
Honorable Mention: CA Weather
Ummm, yeah. This is what I came home to:
Holding NAMM in January in Anaheim = pure genius!
In closing, NAMM was a well spent weekend with good friends, good times, copious amounts of gear, and great weather! You really can’t beat that.
-”Guitar Guy” Tim Hemingway
Follow Tim on Twitter: @GuitarGuyTim