NAMM 2018 – Thursday Report

Got to the show first thing in the morning after a 6:30a.m. flight out of Denver.

There were requests to check out A Little Thunder, mainly because of interest in the Tosin Abasi brand guitars.  Unfortunately, they didn’t have any info on those but I did check out their pickups.  The pickups have a built-in octave effect for the lower strings which can make for some big tones.


Tom Anderson

Aria Pro II is a brand near and dear to my heart: I got a TS400 for my 16th birthday. They’re coming back to the U.S. with these basses as well as the PE series guitars.  They didn’t have any guitars on display due to CITES issues with the rosewood used in their fretboards.

There was interest in Bad Cat, particularly the new pedal.  Unfortunately, there wasn’t any info other than this one sheet.

Bartel Amps

BC Audio has some lovely wiring. They also have a prototype amp on display that allows for a lot of variety in the power section.  Powered by 4x6V6’s, it has switches that allow for switching between

  • Two or Four power tubes
  • Pentode / Triode operation
  • Fixed or Cathode bias
  • Solid state or tube rectification

BC Audio was colocated with Henretta Engineering

Big Tone Amps

Catalinbread’s newest pedal is the Epoch Pre, a buffer/boost based on the EP3 circuit.

Chase Bliss

As has been my custom, I visited my friends at Chicken Picks.  As with last year, they were sharing stroopwafel (a delicious Dutch cookie) at the booth.  They’ve been expanding distribution in the past year and are now available on Amazon.

James Demeter of Demeter

Diamond Pedals


Disaster Area Nice to see companies engage in philanthropy, particularly with something near and dear to my heart.  Great MIDI controllers.  I have one for my Atomic Amplifire.

DRS Racks.  Some lovely wood guitar racks that might allow you to rationalize buying more guitars to fill them.

Earthquaker Pedals


Empress Pedals


Friedman now has a little bit of everything: guitars (built by Grover Jackson), amps, pedals.  Dave is so versatile, he even tends bar!


Henretta has some cool no-knob pedals


Ibanez. The big thing at the booth seemed to be the 40th anniversary KISS guitars.



Koll had a prototype of a thinline (and super light weight) guitar.


Komet’s newest device is the KODA (Komet OverDrive Amplifier) pedal.




MojoTone’s new catchphrase is “Build. Modify. Repair.”  With pickups, parts, and tools, they seem to be living up to that motto.

Mooer didn’t seem to have any major new stuff but it was interesting to see how the recently-introduced GE-200 is as diminutive as the rest of their line.

No Shadows is a Colorado company that installs light-up inlays on guitar necks.


Outlaw Effects

I’m a sucker for lightweight guitars and also a sucker for non-traditional materials.  Ozztosh does both with his aluminum guitar bodies and necks.  The unusual material also allows for some interesting “finish” options such as transparent decals and physical vapor deposition (seen on the multi-color T-style).

Peterson Tuners is celebrating their 70th anniversary and starting to ship their clip-on tuner in large quantities.

Positive Grid

Rainger had some interesting concepts with small pressure-sensitive disks that can be used for expression or tap purposes.  The pedals can also take an input from a bass drum mic for tap tempo purposes.

Sankuer Composite Technologies had a carbon fiber guitar that weight a whopping 3-1/2 lbs.

Scuffham was demoing their new preset management that improves workflow by enabling more drag & drop functionality.

I really like the CSL Sophia bridges.  They’re lovely and very functional with options for global tuning and trem stabilization that can allow for D-Tuna type functionality while retaining full floating capability.

The Standback booth had a number of interesting products:

  • An amp stand that uses straps to support the amp that folds down to nothing.
  • A phantom power system that uses TRS to pass power from your amp to your pedals to your active pickups
  • Their Power Chain product is individual daisy chain segments of varying size that allow for the exact number of terminals and spacing between them

I’m still a big Strandberg fan!  They had a ton of guitars on display, from the overseas lines, to the new US Custom Shop models, Swedish Custom Shop Models, and Made to Measure.  Note adjustable per-string zero frets on the Made To Measure instrument.

They also had the Boss V-Guitar variant as well as a prototype of the bass.  Bass production is expected to start soon since they’ve worked through some of the design issues with the larger instrument.  They also had a new T-style model.  Finally, they showed some of the chrome and red tuner options.



Tone King

Two Rock


Walrus Audio