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Live from NAMM: Thursday Midday Update

It''s our first day in Anaheim, and all we got were these lousy hangovers.

It''s the first day of madness at this year''s winter NAMM show in Santa Anna-besieged Anaheim, California. A few quick hits from the morning:

Fender kicked off the proceedings with the announcement of the New American Standard Series, featuring “evolutionary, not revolutionary” updates to time-honored Strat, Tele, J-Bass and P-Bass designs. “This is about a tonal journey – this is not about a fresh coat of paint,” said Justin Norvell, Senior Product Manager of Electric Guitars. There was a lot of talk of evolution, Fender’s biology and Leo’s never ending quest to build a better mousetrap. There''s a host of refinements, including the addition of two screws at the top of the Tele bridge, giving it a more secure base. Fender was also showcasing a hot mess of custom color ‘50s Relic Top Bound Esquires in the Custom Shop area. Featuring thin nitro finishes, ’59 Esquire C-shaped necks and a ton of cool colors – Burgundy Mist, anyone? – these beauties will set you back $5k.

Gretsch was celebrating 125 years in business and was showing off a cavalcade of gorgeously vibrant guitars, including their G6136DL David Lee Limited Edition, featuring a simplified White Falcon design with TV Jones pickups. There was also a tasty, race-striped G. Love artist model Corvette and the ever-popular White Penguin reissue, featuring TV Jones and enough gold to make plenty of challises for Lil’ Jon and his crew. Yeeah!

We hung out with Billy at Digitech, and he was cordial enough to hip us to their new HardWire true bypass effects. A frenzied demo of the new GSP1101 precluded us from giving them a listen, but they look bullet proof and are priced reasonably – starting at $119. They also feature a new design that promises to deliver more consistent voltage to your pedal as the battery wears down, meaning more consistent tone. Add in new precision pots that click with every adjustment and a Stereo Reverb pedal that boasts of its Lexicon heritage, and you''ve got some sure winners.

ZOOM was rocking their new ZFX interface, designed to get guitarists and computers grooving together symbiotically. The idea in a nutshell is to warm up the signal before it hits your USB port, and responded really well to input dynamics during the demo. Our friendly ZOOM sales rep informed us that the program can run comfortably on a standard laptop, eliminating the need to lug your expensive MacBook Pro to those smoky gigs -- a definite plus for those guitarists looking to get into computer modeling but holding off due to the expense. It can be coupled with the C6.1t foot controller or the S2t desktop interface. Geeky!

That does it for now -- look for more updates from the beautiful Anaheim Convention Center later!