(return to Best of NAMM 2014 Part 1 or Best of NAMM 2014 Part 2)


Roli Seaboard Controller


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Perhaps the most innovative product ot NAMM 2014 is the new Seaboard keyboard controller: maybe “keyboard-like” controller would be a better term.


The Seaboard has a ridged silicone pad that has the familiar black and white key arrangement, but the “keys” don’t truly depress under your fingers: instead your finger kind of sink into the soft silicone foam.


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Pressing any one of your fingers harder increases the volume of that note, moving your finger (or fingers) side to side creates vibrato, sliding your finger upward increases the pitch.  Each finger operate independently, so you can increase the vibrato or volume on one note (or two, or three, or so on) while the others remain unaffected.  Revolutionary!!


B.C. Rich Mockingbird Polarity Deluxe


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The Mockingbird looks like hard rock and heavy metal…but what’s a rocker going to do for those soft sensitive acoustic intros or passages that instantly gives way to heavy headbanging?


Enter the Mockingbird Polarity Deluxe: 


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The Mockingbird Polarity Deluxe combines an acoustic guitar style bridge with a Fishman Sonicore under saddle pickup and the Fishman Powerchip, along with the Mockingbird’s conventional double humbucker set up.


Gibson SG Standard Bass


Gibson SG Standard Bass


For their 120th anniversary Gibson is putting some extra push behind their often over-looked but ultimately short scale basses.  Originally known as the EB-3, Gibson displayed the SG Standard Bass in both gloss walnut and cherry red.


A less expensive matt finished SG special bass also made an appearance.


Gibson ES-335 Bass


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Gibson’s second bass, the EB-2, that came out in the late 1950s used the same body construction as the perennial favorite guitar the ES-335.  New for 2014 is the ES-335 Bass.


Like the old EB-2, the ES-335 Bass uses the double cutaway semi-hollow construction, but this time the neck is a longer 34” scale; a pair of smaller T-bird pickups in the bridge and middle position replace the extra large neck pickup of the original.


Fishman Fluence Pickups


Fishman Fluence Pickups


It really was only a matter of time.  Fishman, the company renown for their innovation and pursuit of pure acoustic tone, has turned its eye towards the electric guitar pickup.


Their new Fluence pickups use racetrack shaped aluminum bars with their own circuit board, and stack them to take the place of the copper coil windings as found in typical pickups.  By eliminating the uncertainty of coil winding counts and the possibility of unevenness within those windings, the Fluence pickups are consistence from pickup to pickup.


There’s more magic and details about these pickups we’ll cover in a future review.


The Fluence is available in several humbucking-sized models, along a with Stratocaster single-coil sized pickup.




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One of the more interesting drum kits on display at NAMM this year was at RotodruM’s booth.


On each of the drums, the top and bottom heads are mounted on separate rims of the same size that are held in place adjacent to each other, but with a variable sized gap between the two. This space allows the back side of the top head to be mic’d.


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The company also displayed a spring-loaded cymbal mount that they claim can prevent cymbal breakage.




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Fantastatix drumsticks were one of the more colorful offerings in the percussion section of the show.  In addition the wraps shown here,  the company also offers personalized drumsticks.


Rickenbacker 360/12W


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There are few instruments more iconic than a Rickenbacker 12-string electric guitar.


For 2014, Ric presented a trio of oil-finished walnut bodied instruments…okay, it is actually a quintet, since they offered both guitars in 6 and 12 string versions.


Shown above is the 360/12W, with a rounded top contour.  Other models in the Walnut Series are the 330 guitars (6 and 12 string) and the 4003W solid body bass.


Ampeg B-15N


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Ampeg, back in the day, created an incredible piece of gear.  It was an amp head and a cabinet that was built into a single piece of gear.  No, it was not a combo.


The head was attached to a portion of the top of the cabinet.  This portion could be flipped upside-down and latched into place for safe tansport, forever endearing itself into bassplayers’ hearts.


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The novelty of the flip-top wouldn’t mean a thing if the amp didn’t have tone.


Obviously, it does.  Ampeg had the B-15N on display in a very attractive white covering.


Line 6 AMPLIFi


Line 6 AMPIFi


Line 6, the company renowned for their amp and instrument modeling…and their more recent live audio innovations, re-imagined the guitar amplifier.


The new AMPLIFi, available in 75-watt 10” woofer or 150-watt 12” woofer versions, are stereo amplifiers.  Built into each unit is a stereo amp and five speakers, with the largest (the 10” or 12” speaker depending on the model) operating as a sub-woofer.


The units have Bluetooth connectivity for playback from such equipped devices, and some mojo to give the guitarist the ability to jam to those tracks with models of the original tone.  (More on this intriguing piece of gear in a future review.)


Akai M49


Akai MPK49


It should not come to any great surprise to anyone reading this that the computer has become the recording media device of choice.  Of course, recording on this gear can be facilitated with input interfaces and made easier with one of the many mixing consoles with USB capabilities; there are applications that can can be handled better with a keyboard or a drum pad..or, a unit such as Akai’s MPK249.


The MPK249 has 49 touch sensitive keys, 16 MPC pads, 8 assignable faders, 8 assignable knobs, USB and 5-pin MIDI to function as a great computer-recording introductory device and one that will continue to serve well.





– Jake Kelly