Monday, January 29, 2018

NAMM 2018 most promising offerings

NAMM 2018! I dig this time of year. Despite the fact I haven't been to NAMM in several years I always look forward to see what's new. This year has been particularly exciting and I thought I'd go over a few things that have caught my eye.


The Marshall Origin 50- Take Marshalls well thought out but expensive hand wired amp and build it with PCBs overseas and you get a killer looking, plexi based pedal platform with a few modern options. At this price point these should sell amazingly well.

Synergy Amps- Bruce Egnater has taken his modular preamp design and worked with the gurus behind Freidman, Fryette, Morgan and others to make an amazing tool for both the studio and the stage. Word is even Bogner is getting involved.

PRS Mark Tremonti Amp- Mark has been working on this for a couple of years. A 15 watt Archon lunch box head! With 2 6l6s it has better cleans than most lunch box heads and a massive high gain sound.

EVH 5150 III 50w- While not exactly a new amp they have added dual concentric knobs for channels 1 & 2. This was a deal breaker for some people and a welcome addition to the line.


Ibanez AZ Prestige and Premium- Ibanez has spent the last few years searching out the opinions of up and coming shredders like Martin Miller and Tom Quayle. The outcome is a new guitar that is being compared to brands like Suhr and Tom Anderson. I really want to try out one of these.

Ibanez Nita Strauss signature guitar - Long time Ibanez endorser and current Alice Cooper hired gun Nita Strauss has become the first female to have a Ibanez signature guitar. Based on her custom shop S series model it has an EKG fretboard inlay and a gorgeous blond burst finish that looks sick!

EVH Wolfgang Standard- Not a new guitar but I love the new Blue Frost color I've never wanted a $500 Chinese made guitar so badly.

PRS S2 Studio- Adding to the S2 range PRS now have a HSS model that sounds stunningly beautiful. Still made in the USA but cheaper than their core models the S2's have been a big hit for them.


Andy Timmons pedals- Andy Timmons is such a great player and has amazing tone in his fingers. So it comes as no surprise that pedals with his name on them tend to sell. Xotic has re-released the BB preamp Andy Timmons edition and JHS has added another gain switch to the AT Drive. I'd love to see another JHS/Keeley combo with Andy's AT Drive and Keeley modded Blues Driver (SPM) in one box.

The Friedman Wah pedal- With LEDs, a three voicing switch for classic, modern and extended range and a high quality designed buffer (with option to turn it off) this might be the wah I've been dreaming of.

Keeley Pedals- Robert Keeley and his team are blowing it out of the water again. The new Aria is a dual pedal with his famous Keeley compressor and tweaked TS pedal, the Duet has his version of the Boss Blues Driver with a delay/reverb and the long awaited ECCO delay pedal which should be available later this year. My wallet can't handle following Mr. Keeley on social media.


Line 6 HX- Line 6 took the Amp modeling out of the Helix and left you with a world class effects processor that you can four cable with your amp for live gigs. This is a better version of the M9 that ended up on so many pro boards.

Fractal Audio AxeFX III- The bar has been raised on what many people consider to be the gold standard of Amp modeling the last few years. The AxeFX III has FOUR processors among other improvements.


Fishman's Fluence pickups keep picking up endorsers left and right as people try them. I'm not sure if they are for me but I'm fascinated with the tech behind them.

One thing I'm starting to notice is that big brands like Ibanez, Marshall, and Boss are waking up to what the boutique builders have been doing for a few years. They aren't copying them but actually seem to be talking to their end user and asking what they want in a product. Let's hope this trend continues.

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