NAMM 2015: Friday Report

Yesterday was just a warmup. Today was the first full day at the show.  I got through Halls C and D along with the parts of Hall B I didn't get to yesterday.  I visited with a lot of folks.  Pix and commentary below.

Guitars

As you're no doubt aware, Carvin guitars is being transferred to the Kiesel brand.  They still look great but there seems to be an expansion of the headless designs as well as a lot more 7 and 8 string models.

Kiesel0   Kiesel1 Kiesel2  Kiesel3  Kiesel4  Kiesel5

This guy still appears to support the brand even though he only plays six string guitars.  At least his signature model is a headless instrument.

Kiesel6

Mojotone had some new pickup models at the show.  All were signature models.

Mojotone2

Yamaha introduced their updated Pacifica guitars.  They have three models.  The first has a single Seymour Duncan P-Rails in the bridge position and a yellow tint on the neck.

Yamaha3 Yamaha4

The second has a Yamaha-designed humbucker / P90 combination.

Yamaha2

The third has Seymour Duncan pickups (a Custom 5 and P90) and a fancier finish.

Yamaha5

Amps

Mojotone also is the company behind the Lerxst brand of amps

Mojotone1

 

 

I visited a number of other amp builders.  We didn't talk about much but I at least got pictures.

Albion

BadCat1 BadCat2

McCaff2  McCaff1

WGS

FX

My day started with a visit to the Source Audio booth.  They had a lot going on. First, they had the re-released pedals in a more traditional form factor (see top row).

SourceAudio1

Even thought he pedals were smaller with fewer knobs on the chassis, they retain all the tweakability of the older pedals via an iOS editor.  I don't recall if they had an Android version.  Rather than use USB or some proprietary connector, Source Audio uses a 1/8" to 1/4" TRS cable to communicate between the iGizmo and pedal.  For people using their effects hub, there's also an OS X app that allows you to tweak the whole pedalboard in one shot.

SourceAudio2 SourceAudio3 SourceAudio4 SourceAudio5

Source Audio also announced a new delay pedal.  It has a number of algos and even allows for some user-defined delay models.  It sure has enough app-enabled params.

SourceAudio6

Finally, there were some devices that allow non-Soundblox pedals to be controlled by the hub.  First is an external device that allows you to bypass the legacy pedal.

SourceAudio7

Second was a board that lets you retrofit another manufacturer's pedal to allow full Soundblox control (knobs and bypass). The MXR pedals in the photo below have the Soundblox circuit board, allowing the hub to manage them as if they were Source Audio pedals.

SourceAudio9  SourceAudio8

While there has been a lot of attention given to the fact that there seems to be a void between multi effects like the Line 6 M series and the Fractal FX8, Source Audio seems to have something that provides a lot of that sort of functionality while embracing stomp boxes and other manufacturers' products.

While Caline appears to be just another Asian pedal vendor, what caught my eye was their line of battery operated power supplies.

Caline1

Diamond pedals had some new offerings: a 4-stage phaser, the Nine Zero Two dirt box, and a smaller form factor compressor.

Diamond5

EarthQuaker had some new and newish stuff on display: a new version of the Park fuzz, the Fuzz Master General, the Cloven Hoof fuzz, and the Sea Master Chorus.

EQ1 EQ2  EQ3 EQ5

Like Hotone and Mooer, Joyo seems to be getting in on the small pedal game.

Joyo

Speaking of Mooer...

Mooer

There's a new Australian pedal company entering the US market called MC Systems.  Aside from their distinctive styling, they have a feature called the V-Switch that enables a different parameter value based on how hard you hit the activation switch.  I rather like the styling and found the airport references (LAX, BWI, CGN) to be amusing as well.  I got a chance to audition them and they sound nice, too.

MC3  MC1

Mojo Hand FX had their broad array of dirt pedals plus a few others.  I really enjoyed talking to Brad.  He's a nice guy who builds some nice pedals.

MojoHand0  MojoHand1

 

RJM had their programmable effects switcher on display.  It's pretty impressive how they leveraged their development of the MIDI foot controller into a effects switcher.  They seem to have thought of pretty much everything and the form factor seems about right for a tool designed to solve a complex problem. Like Brad, Ron was a very friendly guy to chat with.

Rjm2  Rjm1

 

Much as I like my Pedal Train, I might find myself replacing it with a board from Temple Audio.  Like PT, Temple constructs their boards out of aluminum but takes a different (and even lighter) approach.   The boards look cool and can have a wide array of connectors attached.  Temple will also build a custom-width board if you have a specific need.

Temple1  Temple2

I didn't take any pictures but today I got some hands-on with the Digitech Trio.  I think it's a pretty cool piece of kit.  It works pretty much as advertised, though the riff I played with some pedal tones seemed to throw it a bit.  Of course, that's not giving it chords to follow so I wasn't necessarily playing by the rules. When you give it chords, it gives you backup.  Other than that, I found three things noteworthy:

  1. The "Style" control is useful to tweak the drum/bass arrangement for a particular genre of music.  There are up to 12 ways that you can select the backing to run.
  2. The genre knob can be used to change the genre for an already-learned chord progression. It's interesting to see how it plays the same progressions going from Jazz to Rock to Country to Pop.
  3. The tempo control doesn't just make the backing go faster/slower.  It maintains an appropriate rhythm based on tempo so backings don't get too frenetic or too sparse.

With a looper, this could be a killer songwriting (or song learning) tool.  Even without a looper, I think that Digitech can sell a lot of Trio pedals at $179 (plus $30 if you want the three button foot controller).

Here are a few more booth pics from the day:

Voodoo  Wampler1  Walrus Zvex1

Digital / Modeling Gear

Yamaha had the THRs prominently displayed at the show but nothing new on hand.  I asked them about technology crossover between L6 and Yamaha and they politely declined to answer.

Yamaha1

 

 

Mission had their booth but under the noise conditions, I didn't stick around to to audition their cabs.

Mission

I stopped by the Two Notes booth

TwoNotes1  TwoNotes2

Pro Audio / Other

I've been a V-Pick user for a long long time and finally found something that I think I like even better: Chicken Picks.  While they're not unknown on TGP, this was my first opportunity to experience them.  They take what I love about V-Picks (the bevel and thickness) and added a better grip and non-chirpy material.  The only downside is that they're not cheap.  They're not in Read Bear territory but a bit more pricey than Vinni's product.

ChickPix

I got to catch my friend and sometime guitar instructor Dave Martone performing at the Cordoba booth.  Dave manages to rock out on nylon string guitar.  Cool guy and a cool player.

Martone

As a reward for your patience reading this extra-long installment, here are some folks who I suspect don't rock out on nylon string guitar.

EyeCandy1  EyeCandy2