August 2008 New Products: Summer NAMM Wrap Up
July 10, 2008
We’ll take this moment to be completely honest.
We love Austin as much as the next guy wearing a tie-dye “Keep Austin Weird” tee, but Summer NAMM in Nashville is the shit. Since there’s pretty much an incredible picker around every corner – and on many of the corners themselves – you couldn’t turn around without hearing someone playing twangy, bent double-stops better than you.
Whether it was the demo guy in the booth or the entertainment at industry parties large and small, Nashville felt like a celebration thrown for guitarists by guitarists, and we just happened to get the invite.
Interestingly, some of the major industry players like Seymour Duncan and Paul Reed Smith opted to eschew the booth to instead scope out the show from the floor, and even Gibson – whose coinciding Summer Jam was a massive draw – scaled back the booth in their hometown. But after a show that exceeded every metric, from excitement to traffic, NAMM could be back in Nashville to stay – and SD, PRS and Big G might be bringing a lot more next year.
Of course, there were still tons of new products to check out on the show floor, and they weren’t all the Moog Guitar. Here’s a sampling of some of the gear that got our mouths watering in Nashville. When you’re done with these pages, head online to premierguitar to see exclusive videos from the show, including some great performances by pickers like Brent Mason and Vince Gill, and our exclusive interview with George Gruhn. Here’s to Music City USA.
|The Moog Guitar
Hands down, the debut of the Moog Guitar was the biggest buzz at the show. Featuring revolutionary technology that works its magic on the strings themselves (instead of working through an effected signal), the Moog Guitar can indefinitely sustain a string or remove energy from the strings in Mute mode, yielding a number of cool, banjo-esque sounds. Also included is a Moog ladder filter and a completely blendable piezo pickup for an extreme range of sounds. Combine all of that with a 5A maple top, a swamp ash body and ebony fingerboard (which look much better in person, we’ll note) and you have, without a doubt, the innovation of the year.
Even though it was the company’s first NAMM appearance, they had seven fully featured pedals to show off. Included was the company’s Chorus, based on the Roland CE1 but much more guitar friendly (smaller and 9V compatible), and their Phaser, which is based off an old MXR Script 90 pedal and features Level and Depth controls. Every pedal sounded impressively deep and expansive. Thanks, Canada.
starting at $175
|Peavey 2084V6 Head
Peavey is poised to get into the custom amplifier business within the next couple of months. One example of these handmade, point-to-point amplifiers is the 2084V6 head, which features both EL84s and 6V6s in a diminutive frame; players will be able to select between the two via the rear panel. Featuring 20 watts, a selectable tube or solid-state rectifier and custom colored tolex, these amps look to be worth the wait.
|Hahn Guitars Model 228
If you’ve been searching for a time machine back to the Golden Era, luthier Chihoe Hahn has an unbelievable deal for you. Made from a solid piece of swamp ash and packed with Lollar pickups, the Model 228 is truly a handmade instrument; even the hardware is fabricated in Hahn’s Garnerville, New York shop. The 228 also features a wafer-thin nitro finish and a Bakelite pickguard. This has to be heard to be believed.
starting at $2800
|Duesenberg Vintage Analog Effects
Duesenberg is getting into the analog effects game and their three new pedals have all of the German sensibilities that we’ve come to know and love. The Red Echo provides up to 600ms of delay, the White Drive is a classic booster that works well with your guitar’s volume, and the Green Comp is a vintage-style compressor with a more controllable attack. While the names aren’t the most inventive, they are hand-wired, feature Neutrik jacks and are true bypass.
starting at $369.98
|The String Cleaner
Voted Best in Show, the String Cleaner promises to dramatically extend the life of your strings. A microfiber pad made up of hundreds of thousands of little loops is pulled across your strings, soaking up all the oil and dirt without chemicals or solutions. The pads are cleanable under water or in the dishwasher, and we’re told that the pad itself can last for several months.
|Babicz Crescent Series 12-String
From the brilliant minds at Babicz comes an ingenious solidbody acoustic. Packed with Fishman’s Aura technology, four acoustic images (including a Shure SM58 and Neumann condensers), a gorgeous book matched maple top and the company’s signature adjustable neck system – allowing for action adjustments with the turn of one screw – this could very well be the first 12-string that you’ve had to purchase. Did we mention it’s completely made in the U.S.?
|St. Blues White Lightning
One of our favorite companies from south of the Mason-Dixon line, St. Blues heated up Nashville with some tasty designs, including the debut of new U.S. models from their Memphis Custom Shop. The White Lightning features three custom wound P-90s and a push-pull tone control, which activates a passive overdrive. Their Custom Shop Mississippi Bluesmaster is completely made in the U.S. and features Fralin pickups and a Honduran mahogany body (price TBA). Expect good things from these folks.
This company surprised us with some cool twists on old ideas. The company’s 12-string model features rings around the fretbar to ensure even pressure on all 12 strings without putting undue tension on the neck. Their “extreme bender” model was designed to keep your strings in check and in tune under the craziest of Tele bends. The fact that they are on the guitars of players like Vince Gill and Keith Urban means that they actually work.
starting at $24.95
Billed as “the first real breakthrough in the design of a solidbody electric in at least a generation,” by an enthusiastic rep, Flaxwood guitars will appeal to the conservationists out there. Five years in development, Flaxwoods are made out of a wood-based, injection molded material that promises to create one of the most stable, toneful instruments on the market with a lot fewer trees. Impervious to heat and cold, packed with Seymour Duncans and featuring a truss rod that only requires adjustment once, you’ll want to check these out if Space Age materials are your thing.
Starting at $2800
|Fender Custom Shop Limited Edition ’51 Nocaster
Okay, we’ll admit we’re suckers for this stuff, but Fender’s Custom Shop continually releases unbelievable relics like this ’51 Nocaster, featuring a body of lightweight ash, a Twisted Tele pickup in the neck and a Nocaster “U” shaped neck. With only 50 to be available worldwide, you’d better get approved for that line of credit quickly.
|Pedalflex Effects Pedal Remote
Sure, you may not think you need this, but consider how many times you’ve tried dialing in a knob on your pedal with the tip of your shoe, only to discover that your shoe was not made for precision adjustments. If you’re tired of groping around dark stages for the Drive control, Pedalflex’s new Effects Pedal Remote will allow you to adjust up to two knobs from the comfort of your mic stand. While it’s still a mechanical system and a little limited in scope, it’s better than nothing. We were also informed that a wireless system is in the works, which will open up the possibilities greatly.
starting at $69
|Bourgeois Guitars Ricky Skaggs Limited Edition Dreadnought
Based out of a small shop in Maine, the folks at Bourgeois Guitars amazingly produce 400 guitars a year. This year ten of those will be their Ricky Skaggs Limited Edition, featuring (stunning) Brazilian rosewood back and sides, an Adirondack spruce top and an ebony fretboard. If those select cuts of wood aren’t enough to get you going, the guitar features tasteful appointments like a mammoth ivory bridge, ivory heel cap, engraved tuners and handmade bridge pins with raised ivory centers.
|TiSonix Titanium Bridge Pins
The folks at TiSonix are obsessed with improving the tonal transfer of your instrument. From acoustic bridge pins (shown here) to saddles and complete bridge assemblies, TiSonix’ all titanium components promise more sustain and a clearer tone. If it’s good enough for battleships and the International Space Station, it’s gotta be good enough for your guitar.