Right about the time the boutique pedal boom hit its stride, I was at a NAMM show talking to a Boss executive. I posited that his company, while not really threatened by the two or three other major effects companies, might be dying the death of a thousand cuts from the plethora of small manufacturers. While he was circumspect about it, I felt he knew it was true. I then suggested Boss partner with one or more of the boutique manufacturers to combine the Japanese giant’s manufacturing and distribution power, with the hipness cache and sonic innovation of these smaller companies. He was noncommittal, but now here we are, long after his departure from Boss, looking at something something similar to what I suggested with this combination of the Boss classic Blues Driver and the JHS boutique Angry Charlie.
Despite the rise of the custom indie craze, many touring guitarists still prefer using Boss pedals because, unlike your hand-painted small batch honey, on the rare occasion your Boss pedal stops working, it is readily replaceable all over the world. Now players can have their cake and eat it too thanks to the melding of Boss and JHS to produce the JB-2
This year’s winter NAMM was INSANE! Thursday was as crowded as a typical Saturday and it escalated from there. The noise floor was non-stop jet-engine level. I came home with ears ringing and NAMMthrax. Was it worth it? You bet. Three full days was barely enough to cover all the cool stuff. It opened with a terrific concert band doing a modern composition that incorporated either recorded or live recitations from young people (I couldn’t see from my vantage point) about the difficulties of growing up. This boded well for a forward-thinking show and, in fact, there were ample examples of manufacturers leaving the traditional behind to explore new territory.
Other than the upward trajectory of the business evidenced by the crowd, the only trend I noticed was the invasion of the pedal market by Greece and Brazil. As usual, NAMM often stands for “Not Available, Maybe May,” so stay tuned to the manufactures’ sites and guitarmoderne.com for updates, and, if you would like to hear me talk about this year’s winter NAMM, check out Matt Wakeling’s Guitar Speak podcast featuring yours truly.
The good news is that NAMM keeps growing. The better news is that the amount of gear, well, geared to the modern guitarist is growing as well. This year, Anaheim featured a plethora of pedals that made new and glorious noises, a far cry from your standard Tube Screamer and Klon clones (though there were some great versions of the latter from J. Rockett). Also in evidence were unique guitars that managed to look both modern and retro. Hall E, always the land of new ideas good and bad, this time served up some really good ones.
The only bad news was how difficult it was for my one-man show to cover even the equipment of interest to Guitar Moderne readers. Premier Guitar and Guitar Player offer access to much of what I missed, but here is what I found to be the best of the rest.
Nick Reinhart shows what you can do with some Red Panda pedals and a Line 6 DL-4. Check out the color coordinated strap, sneakers and pedal. The man is talented and stylin’.
Hybrid descriptions of music are often a lazy way to avoid digging deep into a band’s musical qualities and, as often, inaccurate. But to call the music of Tera Melos Punk/Prog/Math/Metal/Ambient/Noise is necessary to cover all the ingredients of the band’s cut and paste style. What makes this ADD pastiche work where others fail is the depth of Nick Reinhart’s technique. His seemingly limitless command over both his guitar and the array of pedals at his feet, combined with the bloodletting energy he brings to the stage, make every musical digression compelling. I first met the man described as “Nels Cline’s younger punk rock brother” at the Earthquaker booth at NAMM, improvising up a storm, and finally got him to talk to Guitar Moderne.
The 2013 Winter NAMM (National Association of Music Merchants) show had the most palpable excitement of any NAMM in the last five years. Whether from the rising economy, or because with the death of record sales, musicians need more instruments to play live, who can say? The bottom line is: this show was alive with fantastic new technology, much of it of special interest to the modern guitarist. There was way more than I can cover alone, but these were the products I found most interesting. Read on for words, pix, and vids of this year’s extravaganza. Keep in mind that NAMM unofficially stands for Not Available Maybe March (or May), so check the company sites for shipping dates.
Oz Noy in the Seymour Duncan booth, with Steve Ferrone and Darryl Jones. Poor kid can’t muster up a decent rhythm section.