Today I started on the levels above the main convention floor. Seems like a number of exhibitors are moving up there for a number of reasons. I left the convention center for a couple hours to meet with Tom King and get some hands-on time with the Atomic Amplifire. After grabbing some lunch, I settled down in Hall E and completed my sweep through the show. But enough about my schedule, the reason you're on this page is to find out what I saw.
Beveled tops seem to be all the rage this year. While this trend seemed to start with the PRS S2 series, this year's variation has veneer tops that are a different color from the bevel. I didn't take a picture yesterday of the beveled Kiesel guitars I saw but here's a Schecter as an example.
Chris Mitchell builds CMG guitars (as well as his amp line) in Georgia. They start at $799 which is unbelievable for a US-made guitar. This one is a bit more but I thought the thru-body stripes were pretty cool.
D'Angelico is building some hollowbodies with very non-traditional paint jobs.
The ESP NAMM guitars had no shortage of bling.
Fender custom shop had a number of funky instruments on display.
Gibson had some nifty instruments on display. The new Satchel signature model by Kramer.
The "Less Plus" Les Paul. It's about 3/4 of the thickness of a regular LP with a very deep belly cut.
Some Custom Shop models with heavily carved backs
And a ton of other, more traditional instruments.
Doug Kauer was here in force with his full product line.
Buck Dharma was at the K-Line booth when I dropped by.
Line 6 had their Pacifica-based Variax Standards on display. Interesting that they come in a SSS configuration while the Pacificas don't offer that pickup option.
PBG had their brands out on display.
Peacekeeper had an interesting concept of having interchangeable "onboard" effects housed in an M16-style magazine. Cool concept but I'd prefer something a bit less obtrusive.
Some cool looking guitars from Stephallen.
Chris Mitchell (the guy behind CMG guitars mentioned earlier) also has his line of Devilcat amplifiers. These US-made, cathode biased hand wired amps go for about $1500.
Roland introduced a new Blues Cube. It has tone modules (one endorsed by Eric Johnson will soon be available). I think that they were overly cute when they made it look like a 12AX7, though.
Two Rock was in the PBG booth.
Aclam had some cool modular aluminum pedalboards. They can be single or double depth and can attach pedals using Aclam's mounting clips or velcro. They have a number of options for mounting power supplies, tiering the board, and angling the board up.
Boss has a new effects switcher that supports up to 8 loops.
There's new product called Loknob that allows you to lock the knob positions on a pedal, amp, or even guitar. To adjust, you pull lightly on the knob. When you release it, the knob won't turn. Pretty slick idea if you find your controls getting changed when moving your gear.
I dropped by a number of other FX booths but don't have a lot of commentary to provide:
Digital / Modeling Gear
I got to spend two hours with Tom King talking about and demoing the Amplifire. When Tom handed a unit to me, it was shockingly light. Despite its lack of mass, it's a very capable amp modeler. The UI is definitely user-friendly and the editor seems well thought out. I'll write up a more detailed review later but the question of the day was answered: Yes, it does mid-gain grind and cleans up very nicely with the guitar's volume knob.
Pro Audio / Other
In addition to their pedalboard, Aclam has a cool guitar wall mount that holds the guitar using the strap buttons. They have a number of models to accomodate different styles of guitar.
Hear had their new model. Major changes include 16 channels (up from 8) and the addition of a talkback mic on each unit.
The new Line 6 wireless models are pretty cool. They have lots of routing possibilities, a built-in tuner and a sliding battery cover, meaning it won't fall off.
I stopped in on fellow Colorado resident Curt Mangan.
...and got my picture taken with Regi Wooten
Here's Brian Murray and Walt Tavares from Guitar Workshop Plus. GWP is very similar to the old National Guitar Workshop but IMO Brian improved on the format. Until this year, GWP sessions were only held in Toronto and Vancouver (where I attended in 2013). For those not eager to travel north of the border, this June GWP will be holding its first US session near San Diego.
And our final eye candy installment. The first one was interesting in that she was actually knowledgeable about the product.