Winter NAMM 2014


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This year's addition to the Tube Screamer amp line is this little beauty with the awkward name TSA5TVR. A 5 watt amp with a tried and true Accutronics spring reverb and a Jensen 8" speaker. I definitely like the way this looks. Let us not forget that it has a built in Tube Screamer.




Incident makes an entry level instrument that's aimed at people wanting to learn guitar.

The lights on the fretboard tells you what fret to finger and what string to pluck.

If you want to use it as a party decoration item you can turn on all lights at once.



Italia is also the brain child of designer Trevor Wilkinson. I like the his quirky take on the Italian brands of yesteryear.

Above to the left is a Guitar/Sitar.


J Backlund Design

This is the first time ever that I have seen a woman who has such a keen fashion sense that she matches her guitar color to her dress and her pick guard to her hair. Aside from this, I must say that Backlund's retrofuturistic design ideas are appealing to me. To me this is as much pop art as guitar craft and I say this with great respect to the man behind the guitars.



Art or guitar pedals? Well, maybe a bit of both. When tested in FUZZ, the esteemed Swedish guitar magazine, they got great reviews. They certainly look good. Maybe even so good that I would hesitate to bring them on the road as I don't want to hurt the great looks. 21st century dilemma!


JHS Pedals

The Color Box from JHS will give you the console sound of a great sounding British Neve studio console. This will give you the sounds of a direct to console connection as well as many other sounds. Also works great at the end of your pedal board to shape your sounds.


K-Line Guitars

One builder I have heard so mush praise about but never had the chance to check out is K-Line Guitars. Therefore I was very happy to see K-Line displaying a number of cool looking guitars and a bass.

I tried the green K-Line Springfield in this picture and was very pleasantly surprised with how good it felt. Base price for a guitar is $2.400:- and that must be considered something of a bargain when you get this kind of what other companies call Custom Shop quality.

I would not consider ordering a guitar from someone if I didn't feel confident that the luthier was up to par. Chris Kroenlein of K-Line Guitars spent a generous amount of time with me discussing his views on guitar building and how he does things, I wouldn't hesitate to place an order with him if I was in the market for a guitar of this kind.


Kalium Sound

Many strings!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


Kauer Guitars

Too many guitars and not enough time! So I didn't get the chance to try these guitars that people praise on the Internet. Next time!



Feels kind of natural to see a compressor coming from a company most known for its compressors. This time they showed a full featured compressor aimed at another kind of sound sculpting.

Keely wants you to know they make a lot of other products too. Here are 2 overdrives.



Out front, playing his butt off was fellow Swede John Huldt. Great sound came from the Kemper Profiling Amplifier using the latest updated software with new fx and new signal path options.

Kemper also introduced the Rig Manager which is a very nice librarian with direct connections to the Kemper Rig Exchange so the user directly can audition litarally thousands of free rigs and download the ones that meet approval.

This is the man himself, Christoph Kemper. He told me a few things off the record that makes me look forward to an interesting year for KPA users.


Knaggs Guitars

Some people think Joe Knaggs guitars are too much "furniture" and some love them. Nobody denies the fact that the guitars are great sounding and great playing instruments. I'd love to own a few!



Two new (I think) pedals were shown at NAMM.

The connections on these pedals make me think that I should try them.

They have a recording compensated output but I still would like to try them through the Two Notes Torpedo CAB.



Who needs Comedy Channel when you have NAMM. I laughed really hard when I saw this sign of cancelled appearances at the Lace booth.



Paul Lairat's basses looks really intriguing. Didn't get to hear them but the one to the left would be my first choice for a test drive.


Line 6

One of the most talked about product before NAMM was Amplifi from Line 6. The pre show ad blurb stated that Line6 had "reinvented the guitar amplifier". I doubted that statement before the show and after having seen and heard the product I'd like to say that it's more accurate to say that Line 6 has taken a few cool step in the evolution of the home practice amp. Sounds OK and has some interesting iOS features to make your guitar playing part of your iOS experience. It's also a good playback system for the music in your iOS devices.

I would not be surprised to see the Amplifi in furniture catalogs and Amplifi clinics in your local furniture or interior decorating store.


Michal Lipe Guitars

Master Luthier Michael Lipe displayed a number of goodies at NAMM. This bue Tele-meets-Strat with a reverse Tele bridge pickup was one of my favorite guitars at NAMM.

An offset guitar from Lipe.

The HSH bolt-on at the top is a very, very nice guitar.

Here's the man himself, always ready to meet the customer and talk guitar.



I have tried a number of Loar Archtops since they first started displaying at NAMM and I'm surprised there aren't more Internet conversations regarding these instruments as they rate highly on my value-for-money-meter.


LSL Guitars

The first time LsL displayed at NAMM they only showed the T-Bone. Now, as you can see above, they have diversified and now make a load of very nice instruments with a distinctly vintage character.

T-Bone at the bottom and a newer model with T-Bone configuration on top.


Mahaol Ukuleles

One simply can not go through NAMM and not be aware of the ukulele invasion. At Mahalo there was singing and dancing to entice people to stop and shop.


MC Systems

MC Systems from Australia wins my "Most Enthusiastic Displayer" award this year. And with a large margin! Their enthusiasm and friendliness was fortunately matched by some very interesting products.

What first attracted me to the booth was the statment of dynamic effects pedals. I love dynamics! So when I started talking to them I found out what this is all about. Take this NKM Dynamic Drive for example. Not only is the drive circuit itself dynamic. You have two alternate output levels which contributes to a more dynamic performance. What's new to me in the world of pedals is the V-Switch that allows dynamic switching. Hit that switch soft and you get a softer drive and hit it hard and you get another level of drive. You can set the levels of drive yourself.

There were some odd-ball pedals like the SYD String Reviver which purpose is to add definition to the guitar strings.

For the chorus lovers (like myself) MC Systems offers two different kinds of chorus.

They would not divulge the secret but for some reason all their pedals are named after airports around the world. I like the looks of both the rugged pedals and the packaging. Looking forward to giving these pedals a real workout.



Michael Kelly


"Boutiqe within reach" is the motto of Michael Kelly guitars. That's a pretty bold statment but judging from the looks that maybe close to the truth. But I didn't get a chance to try, some I can't judge but I'd be interested in checking them out.





There are some people whoi think the guitar market is boring because they say all guitars are more or less copies of Gibson and Fender designs. Those people haven't been to NAMM lately and they definitely haven't seen Minarik Guitars. These guitars definitely have their own thing.  




Amid all the wonderful synthesizers at Moog I found this pedalboard populated with members of Moogerfooger pedals. These are of the newer variety without the wooden ends and, I've been told, at a lower price point.



Moolon always have some nicely engraved pedals on show. Here's a good sounding Super Lead Overdrive.

Smaller and more colorful! A new line of pedals from Moolon.



Apart from one boss I once back in the 90s when I still worked in the MI business who once said "I hate music", I think most people at NAMM actually likes music. Many of us practice, play and perform and many, like me, would be totally lost as humans without it. So it is very nice of NAMM to arrange live concerts. There are concerts all over the place. At the hotels and inside the convention center. Mostly these are concerts by aritists who wants to be seen to further there carreers in some way. Put outside the conventions center, NAMM builds a big stage where really big name acts put on a show, free of charge to everyone who likes to come and enjoy. This year on the Thursday we were treated to a perfomance by Johnny Lang and on Friday there was the ever so groovy Sheila E.

This year there were food vans set up so in case the groove got you hungry you were never too far from satisfaction.


Music Instruments Accessories


You want to get a piece of music history? This company who's carved out a piece of the action in the movie memorabilia market is now entering the music field. I got the full spiel from the guy and I came away impressed, This company has some really cool stuff. Both musical instruments of historic interest as well as more esoteric items for music and gear nerds like this author. The catalog he shows in this picture had some mouth watering entries.

Displays like this is part of what makes NAMM so entertaining.


Music Man

This new John Petrucci signatur guitar is is called The Majesty. Definitely a radical change compared to his last signature guitar. I like it!


Here's a guy who knows how to rock and twang along the best. Legendary picker Albert Lee and his merry band of backing tracks performed at the Ernie Ball/Music Man booth.



I always thought the flowing forms of Musicvox were designed in a seance with the ghost of Salvador Dali. Musicvox is always at NAMM but I never see them in music stores and never on stage. There must be a market out there somewhere!




Two new pedals from MXR. The Uni-Vibe and the Fet Driver. I wonder how close to the original the Uni-Vibe is?



This is what meets me when I get near NAMM in the morning. I've been here for quite a few years but for some reason this sight set my heart racing and my blood pumping every day I get here.

A big part of why the experience of being at NAMM is the organization. Many people complain at the cost of displaying at NAMM but when you stop for a second to analyse the set up you tend to realize the expense of making an event like this happen this smoothly. And if you want to talk expensive exhibitions you should take a look at the Frakfurt Music Messe and what you get there.

As an international visitor to NAMM with press credentials you have access to the Press Room. This is a not so densly populated oasis outside of Hall E where you can get a coffe/tea and a donut in the morning and water during the day. This is where you get the info you need about the event from a press point of view. The staff people are always there to help and seem genuinely happy to help. One of them even suggested outing to do post NAMM and thanks to Christopher I found my way to and thorugh the canyons north of Malibu.

The most feared guys at NAMM! The Sound Control crew. But probably also the most needed!! Without them we would all be victims in the war between the widdley hardrockers or the owerwhelming wattage of the funk bass players.

In the evening when I leave after a full day of people, gear and music this is what I leave. Now it's time for an evening of more music and more people and ....

... food! You simply must not miss Roy's Hawaiian Fusion Cuisine. Clinton, our waiter at Roy's expertly and with great humor guided us through the menu. We ended up with a dinner experience that I can't wait to return to.



Nik Huber Guitars

Oooh, how nice is this? Doesn't get much better than Nik Huber's creations.

I like everything I see here.

And here!



No, these are not halloween masks. These guitar pedals from Ogre.

As you can see they are equipped with strategically placed LED lights.

Move the "protective helmet" to get to the control knobs.

They also showed a bass.


Oxygen Amps

Oxygen is a new company and they displayed a series of amps that were pleasing to both my ears and eyes. Very nice cleans and would be on my list if I was looking for a platform for my pedalboard.


Ozztosh Guitars

These guitars are made using similar techniques as when making airplane wings giving them their own tonal character.



The NAMM experience is so much about meeting people. The more I use and enjoy communicating over hte Internet, the more I enjoy the face to face meeting and the immediacy this lends to the exchange and development of ideas. Then there are a lot of people that are there to be seen. Here is a selection.

Speeding by in this somewhat blurry shot is the famous writer/journalist Art Thompson. I've read his stuff in Guitar Players for too many years to keep track of. Thanks to Art for many enjoyable hours!

If there's one person in the Musical Instruments industry and the musical press I consider a true superstar, it's Craig Anderton. I was very happy to see him and it's the first time I've ever seen him in a jacket. That's what being employed by Gibson gets you.

I don't know who these guys are but they sure dressed to be seen.

More people dressed to attract attention.


Meeting Thomas Nordegg is always an education. Thomas is the guitar tech of choice by Frank Zappa, Steve Via, Dweezil Zappa just to mention a few top touring acts. He can really tell a story.


I just had to laugh and take a picture of this police officer. To me it looks like he has a Jedi knight light sabre and stuck it into his abdomen.  


Don Ramsay is, apart from being a generally nice guy, the inventor of the Linear Tremolo. A really cool trem that you now can get factory fit from Suhr and other makers.



Scott Learner is definitely one of the players that belongs to the category "Guitarist people really need to listen more to".

Sitar soloing over a funk groove. Only at NAMM?!?


Back in my most formative years as a guitar player (80s and 90s) I listened a lot to an artist by the name of Tim Feehan. Imagine my surprise when I approximately 20 years later see a name tag with that name. Of course I stopped the gentleman in question and had a really nice chat. Life is good!

If you like music from that period, make sure to check out Tim's records. For the guitar oriented reader into the style of Mike Landau, Steve Lukather and Dann Huff of that period, they played a lot on those records.


A very versatile player with tons of taste is Tim Pierce. As Tim is reputedly into gear, NAMM is an obvious place to be.





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