Dig into the details of a pile of new gear from Martin, Revv, Walrus, Dunable, Jam, and more!
Martin's D-18 StreetLegend
Jam Pedals' Harmonius Monk
One of the most buzzed about pedals is Eventide’s H90, which could be seen as a pair of H9s, but that would be selling it short. It packs a mind-boggling amount of features, sounds, and options while keeping a fairly intuitive interface. In our demo we caught some of the new polyphonic algorithms which were really amazing.
Dunable's DE Series Asteriod
The Asteroid is one of Dunable's latest additions to their import line. The V-style vibes of the Asteroid include a Floyd Rose trem, hotter blade-based humbuckers, and more. Plan is to have them available soon for around $1200.
Walrus Audio's Fundamental Series
Walrus' Colt Westbook wanted to give players that are just starting out in their guitar journey affordable options that not only can handle the wear and tear but sound good. The Fundamental Series is a group of nine stomps that have ultra-hip sliders and a toggle that lets you pick between three different modes. I'd say the standouts were the delay, phaser, and fuzz but since they start at only $99 it would be easy enough to pick up a few.
Revv's Dynamis D25
REVV’s Dynamis D25 cranks up the company’s popular D20 amp by another 5 watts, but with footswitchable gain boost (a button the front does the same) and reverb powering up a Celestion V-30-equipped combo. It weighs about 30 pounds and uses Two notes ’ reactive load and impulse response XLR-out, and takes REVV into the low-gain game, with gain and volume controls, and 3-band EQ. The new variation on Shawn Tubbs’ Tile Overdrive/Boost doubles up on the original Tilt, with boost and drive sides, plus EQ and a 3-position tight switch, and top-mounted outputs. The pedal streets for $269. Also, instead of 12 dB boost, the new tilt has a 20 dB bump.
Godin's Session T
Two-Rock's Vintage Deluxe
The Vintage Deluxe has the DNA of a classic American-style amp, but with a wealth of modern appointments and features. Coming in two different styles (35-watt 6L6 and 40-watt 6V6), this amp is bold with a flair for punch clean tones and rich overdive sounds thanks to the Tone Stack switch that allows you to move to a single-control setup. It also has pure tube reverb, bias tremolo, and a very intersting texture switch that works the midrange.
Santa Cruz Guitars' Catfish Special Pro
When Richard Hoover tells you that a guitar is made out of wood that is impossible to find your ears perk up. The Catfish Special Pro is a parlor guitar that is created from reclaimed wood that dates back hundreds of years. Designed for acoustic blues fingerstyle player Catfish Keith, this guitar barks and is surprisingly loud for its size. Be warned, it comes in at $11,500.
Yamaha FG9 M
Like peanut butter and choclate, phase and reverb work surisingly well with each other. The STS-88 is a shoegazer's dream. The phaser can get bubbly and warm or quick and off-putting (in a good way). With a single knob reverb control you can blend in just the right amount of space with ease. They are available now for $209.
Ovation's Adamas Models
Fishman's AFX Series
Fishman brought its new four-mini-pedal AFX series to NAMM, and showcased their ability to add EQ and preamp, looping, reverb, and boost capabilities to your acoustic guitar’s organic signal. The pedals work in parallel with your signal, rather than altering it, and can be blended alongside in highly controllable degrees. The Pocket Blender allows you to toggle between onboard pickup and mic settings, for example, and can be used as a boost by setting either the A or B section louder and hitting the footswitch for your big solo. It streets for $89.85. The Broken Record looper allows you to loop and overdub, and offers WAV file transfers via USB. The AcoustiVerb toggles between hall, plate, and spring reverb settings, with simple decay, tone, and level controls. And the ProEQMini has a 5-band EQ path. The latter three street for $119.95.
Pro Co's Lil' Rat
Since 1979, Pro Co has been producing more RATS than a New York City fast food joint—but to much better result. The RAT is a classic hard-clipping pedal that’s been on thousands of hit records and helped define the guitar sounds of the ’80s through today. Now, Pro Co has taken the Rat2 iteration and distilled it to a 2"-wide box. Same top-mounted jacks, same distortion/filer/volume control set, and a 9V input. Street price: $89.99.
Magneto Guitars' Starlux
LR Baggs' HiFi High Fidelity Acoustic Bridge Plate Pickups
Acoustic amplification can be a tricky dragon to tame, but L.R. Baggs’ new HiFi pickup is a non-invasive setup that offers a studio-quality preamp with accessible volume and tone controls. It comes with pre-wired bridge plate transducers, an endpin preamp, and over 700 hours of battery life.
Kernom's Moho Magmatic Fuzz Station
One of the most inventive discoveries at the show was Kern’s Moho Magmatic Fuzz Station. Fuzz has a range of flavors and textures and in our demo it was quite impressive how the Moho went from smooth Muff-style leads to spitty, almost glitchy rhythmic pulses. A lot of ground is covered by the mood and electricity controls which work together really well to cover nearly any era of fuzz. Plan is to have them out by July and they will come in at 349 Euros.
Vola Guitars' OZ ZT
How I’ll always remember Edward.
One memory often triggers another, so, while writing about my experiences with Metallica over a crucial decade in their career for this issue, I kept flashing back on my sole encounter with Van Halen—the man and the band. It was during 1988’s Monsters of Rock, and I was on assignment for the tour’s two-day stand in Akron’s Rubber Bowl, a decrepit concrete pit turned convection oven by the summer heat, to interview all the guitarists on the tour: Kingdom Come’s Danny Stag, Dokken’s George Lynch, Kirk Hammett and James Hetfield of Metallica, Rudolf Schenker and Matthias Jabs of Scorpions, and, of course, Edward.
For the first day I was there, Van Halen’s publicist kept nudging me aside. Nonetheless, I enjoyed their headlining set, save for the perplexing choice of a Sammy Hagar ballad about burying the placenta from the birth of one of his children under a tree. (If you know what that song is called, please let me know so I can more purposefully continue to avoid it.) Edward was especially brilliant, of course.
I was literally and anxiously sweating it out as Van Halen’s second-night performance neared, when the publicist finally ushered me back into the band’s dressing room, in the distressed bowels of the Rubber Bowl. Their green room was actually a casbah created within the area’s grim concrete walls. There were hanging tapestries, plush furniture, floor lamps, and other homey appointments, all cooled by giant fans at its edges. But the most impressive sight was Edward, Sammy Hagar, and Michael Anthony plugged into a vertical-standing road case packed with practice amps, jamming out some blues. Alex had a practice pad atop the case, and pounded so hard he cut through the astonishing web of sound. They tossed me a few nods, and I sat on the couch next to a table with a bowl of M&M’s on it—I did not check the colors—and watched them wail on for a good 10 minutes. Edward, plugged into what I think was a Fender Champ, still sounded every bit like himself. I thought, “Well, even if I don’t get to ask a single question, this is worth the trip.”
But they did unplug, and suddenly I felt like I was in the middle of a cartoon—or maybe an episode of The Monkees. They all raced toward me and piled onto the arms and back of the couch. I was surprised and surrounded. They answered my questions, but Eddie kept playing his unplugged 6-string, and nearly every reply came with a silly joke or a pun that left them in stitches. They all talked at the same time, sometimes completing each other’s sentences—always answering me but spinning off into all kinds of wild digressions. At one point, Sammy did a decidedly un-PC Ray Charles impersonation that put Edward, Alex, and Michael on the floor. And when I asked a guitar-centric question, Edward slid off the back of the couch and landed next to me to reply.
“But they did unplug, and suddenly I felt like I was in the middle of a cartoon—or maybe an episode of The Monkees.”
It was hilarious—almost sketch comedy. But it was also beautiful, because it was obvious that at this point they were deeply connected by friendship and the joy of still discovering what this line up of the band, which had released OU812 a month earlier, could do. There was a tangible, open-hearted purity to them—at least about this music they were making and the experience of making it—and it wasn’t drugs, because Edward had recently been through rehab and not even beer was allowed in their green room. They were, in June 1988, truly a band of brothers.
Somehow, amidst all the crosstalk and antics, I managed to get all my questions answered, and spent a few more minutes hanging out with them, enjoying a cold cola and avoiding the near-100-degree outside temperature, as they bantered with each other and prepped for the stage. Then it was time for the publicist to reappear and throw my butt out, and for them to hustle theirs into the spotlights.
There were more troubles to come for Edward—struggles with addictions, divorce, and cancers—and a lot more music to be made, until he died, too young, in 2020 at age 65. But because of that day, I always think of him as happy-go-lucky, practically exploding with positivity and elation. And I’m very glad for that. Seeing somebody at their best and happiest is always a gift, and when it’s somebody like Edward Van Halen, it’s a treasure.