As the rest of the nation was seemingly gripped in a cold snap, Southern California was having typical postcard weather. Perhaps that was one of the reasons for the smiling faces of the attendees of the Winter NAMM (National Association of Music Merchants) 2014 Show.
Or perhaps it is because of all the shiny new gear the manufactures had on display in the massive Anaheim Convention Center.
Here is some of the best that show had to offer.
Fano RB6 Thinline
While NAMM is dominated with the major manufacturers, smaller independent luthiers, inspired innovators, and manufacturing entrepreneurs can join the fray as well. A few highly skilled guitar makers and amp manufactures banded together under the moniker of the Premier Builders Guild.
One of these builders is Dennis Fano. Fano guitars have elements of several of the major guitar companies during the golden era of instrument manufacturing (1950-60) combined into single instruments as if the companies were working in collaboration.
The guitar (Fano RB6 Thinline) above has National, Rickenbacker, Fender and Gibson influences and is aged to look as if it were manufactured some fifty-odd years ago.
Gibson Les Paul Supreme
Gibson has several versions of the Les Paul model guitar, and apparently the innovations haven’t stopped yet. The newest version of the Les Paul Supreme is a center blocked, f-hole model.
An interesting addition is the floating neck pickup as typically found on an archtop hollowbody guitar, while the bridge pickup is the typical body-mounted pickup. Presumably this is to give the neck pickup very traditional jazz guitar tones, while the bridge position would have more bite.
In addition to the semi-hollow construction and J-200 style fret markers, this Les Paul deviates from conventional Les Pauls with a flamed maple back that matches the gorgeous top.
Back when MIDI first appeared, keyboardists were finally free to breakout from behind their mad scientist surround of keys.
Korg’s new RK-100s is a nod to their original “keytar” controller, but this time it includes built-in sounds. Among other features is USB MIDI connectivity, glissando ribbon strip and vocorder.
Fender Starcaster Bass
Back in the 1970’s Fender decided they needed some semi-hollow instruments to compete with the music community’s infatuation of the Gibson ES-335 which had recently come back into vogue.
Now the Starcaster basses and guitar have been reissued with the same body silhouettes and large headstock of the originals which have gain cult status among players in the know.
Gretsch Brooklyn Drums
Gretsch Brooklyn Drums
Personally, I’m not a fan of white instruments: they glare too much. But the white instruments from the old days are no longer white. The lacquer yellows as it ages, to a creamy yellow hue.
Here Gretsch applied a perfect “aged” finish, aptly called Vintage White, for this limited edition drum kit.
VocoPro U-Diamond Mics
Catching just everybody’s eye was the rhinestone encrusted mics from VocoPro.
The U-diamond mics have a built-in wireless transmitter that is compatible with several UHF receivers. This makes sense as VocoPro also offer moderately-priced PA heads with built-in receivers.
Teye showed off a beautiful selection of colors of their Coyote model. Obviously, one of the most striking feature of the Coyote is the etched aluminum pickguard, armrest and pickup surrounds.
That along with the pinched waist body shape brings to mind the guitars of Tony Zemaitis, but with the Coyote the various finishes of the wood bodies to shine through.
Graph Tech, the company known for their TUSQ nuts and saddles, introduced Ratio tuning gears.
The basic concept for these precision gears is to equalize the number of turns of the tuning gears for each string so that one complete rotation changes the pitch by one tone…regardless of which string is being tuned.
Commonly, guitar tuners have a ratio of somewhere between 12:1 to 16:1 ratio: it take 12 (or 16, respectively) turns of the head, to achieve one complete rotation of the string post. But because each string has a different diameter, the amount of pitch change per string varies, sometimes wildly.
By changing the ratio of each tuner, the Ratio set changes each string’s pitch to close the same amount regardless of diameter.
The Supro name has been revived to accompany a trio of amplifiers with the old company’s vintage aesthetics and tone.
Music Man Magesty
The Music Man Majesty features a neck-thoug
h design on a double cutaway body that has a unique look.
The mahogany neck is capped with a ebony fingerboard, which runs through the basswood body which is topped with a maple cap. The vibrato and pickup controls are set into their own routes in the body for a sleek, modern look…which, of course, is set off by Music Man’s distinctive 4+2 cpmpact headstock.
Godin Montreal Premier P90
For something more traditional, Godin has added a couple of guitars to their Montreal line. New for 2014 is the Montreal Premiere P-90, available with or without a Bigsby vibrato. The non-Bigsby version features a stop tailpiece.
Tree Audio Roots
As technology forges ahead, more and more companies are offering digital consoles often with USB connectivity and the ability to be controlled with iOS devices. But, Tree Audio is looking back with a retro mixer that appears to be a favorite at this show.
The Roots mixer is a tube/hybrid mixer that looks as if it was taken directly for Abbey Road or RCA’s Studio B in Nashville.
A single channel strip, the Branch, is also available for those that want to integrate the vintage vibe in a modern studio setting.