NAMM 2016: Friday Report

Guitars

While waiting for my interview with Paul (to be published tomorrow), PRS ran me through their changes for 2016.  The highlights were

  • Guitar of the Month Program.  To commemorate 20 years of the Private Stock program, PRS is doing a Guitar of the Month program with a handful (5-20) of instruments made with a particular set of specs.  The initial instrument is a short scale bass.
  • Return of the CE model. The CE was my favorite PRS model and I still own two.  The CE returns to the PRS lineup with a bolt-on maple neck with satin nitro finish, mahogany body, maple top, Core line electronics including 85/15 pickups, S2 hardware, and a shallower carve on the maple top.  Price falls between the Core line and the S2 line at just under $2K.
  • Additional S2 models. PRS is one of the few major US builders offering a US-made guitar with a street price under a grand.
  • 277 SE. This is a 27.7" 6-string baritone.  In the interview, I ask Paul about why some features seem to pop up in the SE line before the Core line.

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Fender had their usual range of Strats & Teles as well as other FMIC brands like EVH and Charvel.  The portrait of Jimi made from guitar picks has gotten a lot of attention.   EVH introduced a relic Wolfgang including an appropriately stenciled road case.

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Floyd Rose had two new products: The Rail Tail and the Lok-N-Roll.

The Rail Tail is a drop-in replacement bridge for six-screw trems.  It has a much smoother action and deeper dive range than traditional terms.  Installation is easy and completely reversible.  It has a bar (rail) that acts as a pivot point providing the dive-only unit with a solid connection with the body for great sustain and tone.  The saddles were also designed to maximize physical connection with the body. The term block also is designed to minimize friction points with the string to maximize tuning stability.

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The Lok N Roll is a compensated locking nut designed by TGP's own Gregory Decker.  Is is the result of years of ongoing experimentation dating back to his years as a touring musician.  He first focused on setting the compensation to get the guitar to sound more in tune up and down the neck.  After improving the intonation, his later efforts emphasized evening out the perceived tension in the strings.  It's a drop-in replacement for the standard Floyd Rose locking nut and is expected to adopted by a number of Floyd-equipped guitar manufacturers.

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Finally, I went back and got a proper picture of the Strandberg I purchased.

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Amps

Not too much to report on the tube amp front today.  Boss introduced a new Waza digital amp and extended their Tone Capsule line with a Steve Vai Legacy model.  Marshall introduced their Code line of digital amps.

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FX

New for Digitech in 2016 are the Trio+ and the Looking Glass overdrive.  The Trio+ builds upon the base Trio's functionality with more sections, added styles, and a looper. Original Trios will get some of the new features via a firmware upgrade to be available soon. The Looking Glass overdrive is designed by Chris Venter, best known for his work developing SHOE pedals.  The LG fills the void left when the 250 overdrive was discontinued.  The LG features high and low drive levels (with high providing asymmetrical clipping) as well as an unusual pre-drive EQ control to help adjust the character of the drive.

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While I was visiting Digitech, I learned that Harman is now providing US distribution to the AClam pedalboards I discovered last year.  The AClam product is a modular design that offers a variety of size and tilt options.

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This was Line 6's first NAMM opportunity to demonstrate the Helix. There's been plenty of discussion about it but we did get to see the Helix backpack as well as the new G-10 wireless.

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Big Joe had a clever battery power supply that adds a display indicating how much time (rather than percent) remains on the current charge.  It changes in about two hours and can provide up to 500ma.

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2016 continues to be the year of cool delays with the introduction of Source Audio's Nemesis delay.  The Nemesis continues Source Audio's tradition of combining deep features (via an app) with intuitive hardware design for more traditional users.

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Gator

This was my first look at Gator's aluminum pedalboards. While relatively heavy, they're very solid, come in colors other than black, and have a handy bracket on the bottom for power supplies.

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Other

Monoprice introduced a digital drum set with a street price of only $329.  It might not make your drummer forget about his Pearl set but it's a decent sounding and cost-effective option for those looking for silent practice.

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For those wondering where the booth babe coverage went, this year has not provided as many opportunities as 2015.  I'll provide what I can find but I've heard that promotions budgets are down this year and that seems to reflect in the eye candy.

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Dean girls are not nearly as glamorous these days

Dean girls are not nearly as glamorous these days