Winter NAMM 2018 - part 2


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DiDonato Guitars

I forst came across DiDonato Guitars at the first Holy Grail Guitar Show and he made a strong impression both as a builder and as a person. This combined display of insturment and stand was very interesting. Unfortunately, Mr DiDonato was not at hand when I visited so I don't know the story behind this, but I will definitely research it.



Dusenberg seems to have found it's niche with semi hollow Gretch inspired guitars with their very own twist.

I certainly would not mind owning one.

Elegee Guitars

A very cool and unusual design. I didn't get to play it but for some reason I think it may sound good.


Empress Effects

Empress showed the Zoia and when asked what it was I was told it could be almost anything I wanted. Apparantly it can be programmed by the used to be one effect, or synth or even many effects connected in a pedalboard like way.

These was a sign showing some ways to program it. Interesting. When I tried it I made all kinds of sounds suitable for the adventurous sound chaser.



ESP made an effort to cram every ounce of craftsmanship they could display into this Custom Mystique.



Dennis Fano continous to design guitars in shapes we seem to recognize. I think the middle one reminds me of my first Hagström H2N.



Much of the Fender showroom on level 3 was reserved for their acoustic lines. In an effeort of differentiating their guitars from Martin and Taylor they have gone for the strat headstock and colors and I don't think anyone would mistake these guitars for a Martin. I also doubt that they will interest the old fashioned player but the new generation seem to have caught on.

Brian Swerdfeger is the man behind the designs. For those who don't know, Mr Swerdfeger is a legend among us who have been in the MI business for a while. He is a guitar player with a great set of ears for good sounds. He has also designed a guitars behind the scenes for companies we all know.

The Custom Shop had its customary wall of the usual strats and teles but with unusual finishes.

The Custom Shop usually puts out a special guitar/amp set and this year was no different. This is the Pinball Tele.

And here is the complete set.


Frank Brothers

I welcome this fresh perspective on the set neck guitar. Frak Brothers have taken a lot from history but made it into something that's truly theirs. Great playing and sounding guitars!


Frank Hartung Guitars

I have always admired Frank Hartung for his work. He seems to be able to work in the more traditional vein as with this Embrace Worntage ...

... as well as in a more futuristic mode as proven with this Caligo.
If you get a chance to try them, please do!


I remember very vividly the first time I came across G&L guitars. It was at the Frankfurt Music Messe and it was because of two things. The ugly pickups and George Fullerton standing on a G&L neck to show how strong it was.

I still have mixed feeling about how the pickups look but most G6L guitars I have tried were very good instruments.



A friend of mine with golden ears told me to check out the Genelec The Ones. I'm sort of glad I did. Glad because I found a superb small monitor but less glad because I don't think I can afford them. :-)


Ghost Freedom Guitars

This brand was new to me. The body shape looks familiar with some very cool finishes.

The headstock on the other hand looks anything but familiar. I really don't know what to think! I would like to know what the designer thought!

This guitar looks almost unfinished. This price tag says USD 30.000:-. I don't see anything that justifies such a price tag.

To put that into some kind of perspective, they also showed a few basses that cost USD 150.000:-. I don't feel compelled to visit them any time soon.



I was a huge fan of 10cc when I was young. When I saw them live and Lol Creme used the Gizmotron I went banans. So did my guitar playing friend. He later bought one of the original units and never could make it work. This new verion is supposedly better made. I'm looking forward to hearing new music made with it.


Greer Amps

Previous to NAMM 2018 I had only heard of the Lightspeed pedal by Greer Amps by reputation so I was happy to see them at the show. They have, as you can see, many pedals and the ones I heard sounded good. Hoping against hope that someone in Sweden will pick these up for distribution so I can check them out and do a review.

From the name we can assume that Greer also make amps and here thay are!



I tried this blue Gretsch Electromatic and felt like it could be a future purshase.

Next surprise was this iConnect Audio 4+. This is both a MIDI interface and an audio interface. It has the same MIDI functionality as the MIDI 4 but one outstanding feature is that you can connect a Mac and a PC and an iOS device and they will all show up as available audio channels on all the connected devices. So if you wanted to record something you did on your iPad into your DAW on your PC. Just select the iPad as input in your DAW, hit record and play and that's it.



Yet another old name has been dusted off and made ready to use for a new line of guitars and amps. This time it's Harmony. They are not bad nor are they cheap. And I for one, think they look quite nice.

This little amp has old school looks!

As does this. I did get to hear it and was pleasantly surprised.


Henrietta Engineering

If you think most pedals are just confusing and difficult to set, you should get some of these one switch pedals. These could also be the answer if you want to put just one more effect onto an already over crowded pedalboard.



Hotone showed the Binary Amp, a programmable amp simulator.

From the same Binary series comes the CAB simulator. Their demo board was occupied every time I passed by, so I didn't get a chance to try them.


Hughes & Kettner

After the success with the Era 1, it was only logical that H&K released an Era 2 amp for acoustic players.

Available after many requests are rack mount kits for the Grand Meister and Tube Meister series amps.



At first I thought I had taken a wrong turn and gone to either the Suhr or the Tom Anderson booth. This is the Ibanez AZ series.

More AZ.

The finish of the one to the right looks like different version of a Tyler Jimburst.


IK Multimedia

One very interesting new product was shown by IK Multimedia. This is the iRig Stomp I/O. It's pedal and a audio recording interface and controls the iPad version of Amplitube. It can be set up so it changes presets or switches the stomps on/off.

The Lesile plugin was developed in collaboration with Leslie and Hammond and thus they can use the brand name. The demo I heard was very good. If you like spinning sound on just about everything, check this one out!

For on old synth enthusiast like me the Syntronik package was one of the high lights of the show. To have the sounds of all these dream machines available as plugins is übercool. Mind you, these arenot modeled per se. It's a combination of sampling the many different waveforms and wave tables of these synths and then adding modeled filters and setting the correct envelopes. On top of that the synths have a common set of parameters available to modify the sounds and make your own presets. But they have lovingly laid them out in a design that looks like the original synths. Long ago when I was an avid synth programmer and loved programming the Yamaha SY77, I would probably have scoffed at the Syntroniks common user interface but now find it very effective to have the same parameter as it makes it much faster to get where I want to be. As I get older I appreciate the faster work flow this gives. I can also see the advantage this gives people not experienced at programming, as they only have to learn one set of parameters to work with all sounds.

So, does it sound good! Oh, yes it does! I especially like the Oberheim. And the PPG sounds better than the one my keyboard player used to own. Could be down to a lack of programming skills with my keyboardist.



I had no initial intention to stop by the Indigisounds booth but when I heard the caribbean grooves I knew I had to. I was absolutely astounded by the Cuban and Latin grooves Johann Chuckaree conjured up with their sound libraries. Too many demonstrators just play the samples, but Johann sure played the instruments and I definitely liked what I heard. If you want percussion from south of the border, these are hard to beat (pun intended).


J. Rockett Audio Designs

J. Rockett displayed a new range of pedals that are slightly less costly.

Here's the old range.

If I made pedals of this quality and/or worked at such a cool company, I would probably look this happy too.


James Trussart Guitars

There are always a few interesting metal guitars to consider at James Trussart's place.


Jenning Guitars

Jennings Guitars was a new aquiantance for me. A California company founded and run by Chad Jennings who takes a lot of traditional elements and melds it into something identifyably his.

I particularly liked this Voyager model.


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