Our editors'' favorites from the first day of Summer NAMM
Summer NAMM in Nashville is like a light version of the major show in
Anaheim each January. It's smaller, there are fewer exhibitors, and
there are fewer big releases. But that doesn't mean the gear is any less
cool. In fact, one of the great parts of Summer
NAMM is discovering gear and companies we've never seen before. PG's
six editors are on the floor covering the show (live on
Twitter), and we've compiled our picks for the coolest things we saw
today. Also check out our video with one of the show's big releases
thus far: Taylor's GS Mini.
Joe Coffey - Editorial Director
Taylor rolled out a mini version of their Grand Symphony. The GS Mini is designed to be a highly portable travel guitar that plays well, sounds great, can be used at a gig, and wont’ break the bank. Very innovative for this product category—check out the video for full deets.
Traynor lets it all hang out (iron-wise, anyway) as it enters the low watt, sub-compact head category. The DarkHorse is switchable between a 15-watt pentode output mode (6V6) and a 2-watt triode mode (12AU7). The preamp is powered by two 12AX7s. The amp is fairly straightforward, featuring a Gain, Treble and Master Volume control set. There’s also a Pure switch, which bypasses the tone stack.
This Roger Giffin Valiant single cutaway was designed by Giffin and built by Gene Baker through the Premier Builders Guild. Giffin has made guitars for a long list of stars since the ‘60s. The Valiant is his answer to requests for Les Paul specs with his own build quality. This Valiant features a mahogany body and neck, a rosewood fretboard and a cherry burst finish.
Jack Deville Electronics True Bypass Kit
Mod your favorite pedal with this true bypass kit. The switch has a "soft touch" feel to it and it eliminates on/off switching noise, too.
Shawn Hammond - Editor in Chief
Holloway is bringing this exotic and rare instrument within reach of everyday guitarists. Their harp guitar is based on the turn-of-the-century Dyer design and features a beautifully finished solid spruce top, solid mahogany sides, and a bone nut and bridge pins.
The 22-watt American Dream features two independent channels, one based on a 1962 brownface Fender and one based a 1965 blackface Fender. Includes a 10-watt mode, global presence knob, triangular speaker cavity, side air vent, and an alnico Celestion speaker.
Features retro-cool styling of the Airline and Supro variety—including the company’s most distinctive and alluring headstock design to date—as well as a P-90 neck pickup and a vintage Supro-style single-coil that uses six pole pieces and a blade and is housed in a chrome humbucker cover. Controls include Volume, Tone, Bass Contour, and pickup Blend knobs.
Andy Ellis - Senior Editor
Holloway Harp Guitars Model 5
Harp guitars—acoustics augmented with additional open bass strings—were popular at the turn of the century, but disappeared during the Great Depression. In the last decade or so, harp guitars have been making a comeback. Vintage harp guitar are extremely rare, and getting a custom built harp guitar is an expensive proposition. But now, there's another option for those wanting to explore this beautiful, booming beast: Holloway Harp Guitars has introduced a new line of production harp guitars priced at around $1500. These have a full regular fretboard plus six open bass strings, and sound great.
J Backlund Designs.
If you love the look of old hot rods, you'll dig the cool line of electrics from J. Backlund. Combining swept body designs, wild paint jobs, engine-turned chrome, Hipshot Baby Grand tailpieces, and a variety of Duncan, Lace, DiMarzio, and EMG single-coil and humbuckers, these retro-future guitars ooze vibe. Lordy mama.
Jordan Wagner - Associate Gear Editor
Another work of art from Dean Zelinsky and his team, and it's stunning. The construction is a traditional mahogany+maple cap combination, with an intricate Wild West-inspired theme carved into the top.
This might be one of the coolest-sounding effects that I've heard from the famed company. The Freeze is based upon the Freeze & Gliss function on their HOG Guitar Synthesizer, and lets you hold a note infinetly as you play over it. Combined with the POG, Nano Chorus and Cathedral, it can produce some REALLY convincing dual Hammond B3 tones!
This model is a commemorative tribute to Heritage's first guitar, and comes in a flame sunburst or silverburst finish. The silverburst models are limited to only 25 units.
Levana Studio Wizard
I'm a big fan of cool, huge rack gear with a minimalistic look. The Studio Wizard by Levana is just that, with Overdrive, Fuzz, Compressor and Distortion modes, and is capable of cleanly processing guitars, drums, synths and vocals.
Sonoma wasn't really happy with interface products that utilized its popular FourTrack app, so they decided to just design their own. The pocket-sized unit plugs directly into the docking jack of either the iPhone or iPod Touch, and provides extremely high recording quality.
Chris Kies - Associate Editor
I really dug Hanson Guitars when I first saw them last year in Nashville, but this year their tweaks to the Gatto really caught my eye. They added the Deluxe to the Gatto family with a flame maple top, slim mid-'60s neck profile and jumbo frets. The best part... it streets at $799.
Every since I heard the Lonesome Spurs' Lynda Kay Parker on tenor, I've been intrigued with the little booger ever since. Martin just introduced a cool, new tenor model with a solid Sitka spruce top, solid mahogany back and sides, and a traditional 18-style rosette. Compared to the other full-bodied Martin models, it's much smaller, but the 0-18T packs a meaty punch.
I'll give a listen or look at anything with Alex Skolnick's name attached to it and his Signature H-150 didn't disappoint. The Heritage Alex Skolnick Signature is built with precision and is pretty hefty since it constructed with a solid mahogany body and neck. It has a cream-bound carved ultra curly maple top with a matching headstock that bears Skolnick's John Hancock. It's loaded with Seymour Duncans--'59 neck, JB Jazz bridge. Now available as a production model at $3970.
Rebecca Dirks - Web Content Editor
Guitar Mill is a local Murfreesboro, Tennessee company that produces uber-light Tele, Strat, and Jazzmaster-style guitars. The guitars are built with traditional ash or paulownia (see natural Tele, upper left), which make some weigh in just under five pounds! The company primarily uses Lindy Fralin and TV Jones pickups, and debuted their first original body style, the Serpentine at the show. The guitars retail around $2000-$2500.
Forrest Lee Jr. Glitter Paisley Tele with B-Bender
Forrest Lee Jr.’s glittery paisley Teles were impossible to ignore. He showcased a brand new purple one (the lacquer was still drying!), but his green glitter with a B-Bender was the standout—particularly when Forrest played it!
Disclaimer—if you’re totally serious about your gear, skip this section and go to the next. This brand new company from the owners of the Felix the Cat brand was stocked with absolutely nutty graphics, shapes, and finishes, including kid-sized instruments.
Boutique pedal favorites Mad Professor announced that they’ll be selling less expensive versions of their Little Green Wonder, Sweet Honey Overdrive, and Deep Blue Delay. These versions are identical to the originals, but are built with a more automated process. They will street around $170-$180.