HOME ABOUT MUSIC MEDIA/REPORTS GEAR CONTACT

NAMM 2017

- more music and more rain

Usually Californa welcomes you with sun in a clear blue sky. Not so this year when I landed at LAX the day before the opening of the 2017 Winter NAMM Show. The shuttle bus driver was cool and my fellow passengers were a lot of fun and generated a lot of new knowledge. And this is what's so awesome with NAMM and everyone involved. Everyone seem to be hellbent on having a good time and all realise that we can all benefit from sharing knowledge. I heard so many good stories at NAMM 2017 that they will last me well into the year.

But I also have the impression that there was more music at NAMM. I heard more artists play and share their thoughts about music than I've experience for many years both at NAMM and at the Frankfurt Messe. I had the plesure of seing Stevie Wonder peform informally twice. At previous NAMM shows he's been around but this year he was really up front. I also caught Corey Henry at the Hammond booth and that man is a monster player. John Mayer made an apprearance at the PRS booth and he showed himself to be a guitar player with such a swing to his playing and an interesting person. Some of these performances can be found on Youtube.

This report, however, will focus on the instruments and technology which we all love and lust for and I hope I can do them justice.

Please read my usual disclaimer here.

This personal report should bee seen as my very own point of view and does not reflect the view and/or opinions of any other person or company of which I may be associated either through my work or in these pictures. If you find any faulty information in this report please e-mail me at mats.n[at]nermark.com.

I have placed the products in alphabetical order for your convenience. I also have divided the report into 5 sections. Otherwise the load times would be problematic.

Please also accept my apology for any language errors as English is not my native language.

 

Go to Part 1 Go to Part 2 Go to Part 3 Go to Part 4 Go to Part 5

 

The 2017 NAMM Hall E Crawl

For many years now, Craig Anderton of Harmony Central has asked me to just walk around all the weird, whacky and wonderful products and people down in the basement that is called Hall E and talk to people about their products. This is a lot of fun so, of course, I do it. This year was no less fun than usual and we found a lot more than we bargained for. Join us for a chance to find out what goes on down there.

 

And now to the individual products!

 

Alloy Guitars

Ther are a number of ways to build your own guitar. You can get some pieces of wood and get going. Or you can get some quality parts from Warmoth och Musicraft and assemble. But what if you are unsure of what to get and what you really need to complete the build? There are some cheap CHinese guitar kits you can get. I got one of these and payd about $100 for the complete kit with strings and I felt I did not get my mony's worth. This is where Alloy Guitars come into play. They have two lines of kits. One where they take a Chinise kit and replace the parts below a certain level of quality with better parts. Then they have a higher quality kit that they put together themselves. Judging from the assembled guitars in the booth, I'm tempted to try one of their own kits.

 

API

I know most people read my reports for the guitar oriented content, but as I enjoy recording I can't pass the opportunity to look at this API Model 1608. When I win the Lotto, this will be one of very few consoles on my short list.

 

Aristides

Need an 8-string metal beast? Aristides offers two mdels for guitar players with a lower note inclination. If green is not your thing, there are numerous other finishes to choose from.

 

Asher Guitars

This green metallic T-Deluxe is so cool and while I realise I really don't need another guitar, just looking at Bill's guitars immediately obliterates such logic.

Gretchy type guitar.

A pair of Asher Resosonic Ramblers.

Bill Asher himself with his own favourite show guitar, the GT-3.

 

Atomic Amps


Photo credit: Atomic Amps (I was invited to a private showing of the pedal and was so into the discussion, I forgot to take my own pictures)

In the realm of digital amp modeling, the Ampli-Firebox was the hit of the show. I don't mind menu driven systems as long as there is a good user interface, but many times I find myself wanting the directness and the ease of turning knobs like I used to do on amps. For those latter occasions the AmpliFirebox is just the ticket.

Here, you'll find knobs for bass, mid, treble, presence, gain, matser and reverb. Again, just like on an amp. The difference being that you can connect this unit directly to your soundcard and start recording. You can select between 9 different amps and some speaker impulse responses so you will sound good.

The amp modelling is the same as in Atomic Amp's acclaimed AmpliFire products so all is good here. This product allows you to get productive without a lot of tweaking, but what if you want to tweak? Well, you can hook the Ampli-Firebox to a computer via USB and select other amps for the nine slots in the pedal. According to Atomic Amps all amp models in the AmpliFire range will be available for the Ampli-Firebox. So you can custom tailor you pedal to hold just the amps you want. You can also select what impulse responses you want. I can see the Ampli-Firebox coupled with some good IRs being the only tool a lot of players need for a lot of situations, myslef being one of them.

 

Audio Sprockets

If you read my report from the 2016 NAMM Show, you read about the Tone Dexter. It is now near final form and since last year they have streamlines it to fit what players told them what they wanted since then. Now it's even easier to use and is almost 50% lower in price. All this without sacrificing sound quality.

Andy and James, the two creators behind the Tone Dexter. The demo was very convincing for both steel string and nylon string guitar, but I can't wait to throw a real challenge at it, the Yamaha Silent Guitar. While I can get good results with the Silint on its own, I'm hoping the Tone Dexter can make it even better.

 

Bassics

The Bassics is a new entry in the bass pedal market. What's interesting about it, besides sounding good, is that all three eq bands have their own bypass switch in addition to a master eq on/off switch.

 

BOSS

Boss has been around so long now that I'm sure they can find a product every year with an anniversary to celebrate. This year it's the DS-1 Distorsion compact pedal. From what I can gather from the press kit, it's the same as the ordinary DS-1 apart from color and gold topped knobs.

The new Boss Katana were introduced late 2016 and has been met with success. Not only as a standalone amp in its own right but also as the amlification of choice for digital amp products from companies such as Atomic Amps, Kemper and Fractal Audio.

 

Celestion Plus

 

How about that? Here were have the company responsible for more good guitar speakers than any other company going digital! Yes, you read that right. Celestion is now selling impulse responses (IR) of 7 of their speakers. They are sold in packs where you first select the speaker (example: Creamback 65) and then what kind of cabinet (example: 2x12 closed). Each IR pack consists of 33 IRs and you'll get them made with SM57, MD421 and R-121 microphones. Both individually and a few mixes plus a few room versions. Do they sound good? I have already reviewed them and they sound excellent!

 

Chase Bliss Audio

There's a lot more to this gain pedal than meets the eye. Especially at first glance. Here you will get two channels of overdrive, distorsion and fuzz. One channel is FET based and the other is an IC design. Both can do all three kinds of drive and you can use one channel into the other. I heard some really cool tones from this pedal. Analog sound under digital control.

 

Chicken Picks

 

I seldom get excited about picks but this is different. When I first saw them I thought they had a corny name and passed by. Next time I passed their booth they stopped me and asked me to try it. So I got a Original Light (2.2mm) and that was it. Fast forward to about a week after NAMM when I looked at what I had brought home. There it was. I picked it up and tried it and wham, something happend both with my tone and my speed and execution of phrases. Especially the latter. I was VERY surprised at this and put it away and tried my old Dunlop pick that has been my pick of choice for the past 25 years. Did sound the same and definitely did not aid my playing the same way.

The Chicken Picks has more mass which equals tone and the bevel of the pick seems to fit my playing style very well.

They are more expensive tan my old Dunlops but they just may be worth it!

 

 

CIOKS

Poul Ciok is, in mind, the Grand Master of Power Supplies and I use his supplies on both of my boards. This year he had moved up from Hall E to a more prominent space on the main floor. New for this year is the DC-8 above.

In case you need more of just about everything, then the new Overkill may be your best bet. I didn't pick it up but I would venture the guess that it will add to the weight of your pedal board. But it will most certainly haandle everything you throw at it (within reason, of course).

 

Classic Audio FX

The big roller seen on these pedals from Classic Audio FX was news to me. It makes sense that there may be a parameter on the pedal that you would want to control in real time. Cool idea!

 

Collings Guitars

 

 

Since the day Collings introduced hte I-35LC, people have asked them to make a ES-330 style guitar. The I-30 is the answer to that request. This red example got a lot of play at the show.

Collings now offer a degree of aging for their guitars. Here's a very nice black I-35LC with the aging applied. I apologise for the picture not showing that very well. Probably not at all.  

 

Coppersound

... --- ... anyone?This is the Coppersound Telegraph Stutter which is a kill switch. It's a hand operated device that kills the signal. You use it the same way as you sent telegrams in the (really) old days. The switch beside the handle makes it an activate pedal, i.e. the signal only gets pass the pedal when the switch is down. One of the collest ideas at the show.

The Coppersound Strategy Boost. Love that name! Volume and tone on a boost.

Some other boost pedals from the Coppersound Custom Shop

 

Cruz Tools

I'm usually met by Dan Parks of CruzTools to go through what's new. This year, the meet-an-greet duties were handed over to the younger generation. Meet Billy Parks!

 

Danelectro

From the looks of it, Danelectro has aquired the rights to the old Mosrite designs.

I would not be surprised if we are to think this will make us sound like Larry Carlton, a.k.a. Mr 335. I have heard good things about the Dumbloids, but there was no way to audition them.

 

D'Angelico Guitars

 

 

Excels in different colors and configurations.

An Excel EXL-1 with a historic blond on top.

 

 

Blues man Matt Schofield on the D'Angelico stage. This guy sure knows how to shuffle.

 

DigiTech

 

 

The FreqOut is a feedback creator that can work like a Sustainior or sound almost like an E-Bow. Get's my personal Coolest New Pedal at NAMM 2017 Award.

The Carcosa is one of the most vesatile fuzz units I've tried. I'm not quite sure how it works but it has controls for Before and After and you can get myriads of different great sounds balancing the two controls.

 

 

 

 

Slide master Robert Randolph asked to try the Carcosa and the FreqOut and proceeded to play some extraordinary licks! Besides being a monster player Mr Randolph is also a snappy dresser.

 

Donovan Lear

Donovan Lear was one of many luthiers who displayed in the booth where luthiers beloning to the European Guitar Builders Guild held fort.

I found this headstock very attractive.

 

Dwarfcraft Devices

If weird and wacky is your thing, then look no further than the Super Wizard from Dwarfcraft Devices. If I got the sales pitch right, this is a delay with a number of ways to pitch the delays.

Ben and Louise, the couple behind the brand.

 

 

 

 

Go to Part 1 Go to Part 2 Go to Part 3 Go to Part 4 Go to Part 5