At NAMM 2020 back in January, the worst thing you had to worry about was getting NAMMthrax (or NAMMonia), that is, a bad cold from shaking all those hands. We live in different times now; hope you and yours are healthy.
What this year’s winter show lacked in number of interesting product debuts it made up for in decibels. Complaints were constant about being unable to hear the gear, or talk to the vendors. (You can experience this in some of the videos). That said, there were a few cool releases that should appeal to the modern guitarist. If April seems late for the roundup, consider that many of these products are just now shipping.
Life and website issues got in the way of doing timely NAMM reports this year. In my defense many of these products just started shipping a couple of months ago. As has become habit, there were hundreds of cool pedals on offer, mostly variations on pedals you have seen and heard.
With NAMM 2020 coming up, I thought I would do a listing of the things I saw last year that might be different and of more interest to the modern guitarist. The theme in January seemed to be the return of modulation (flange, chorus, and phase), fuzz/harmonizer combos, and guitar synth pedals. I am featuring only what I consider to be the most interesting takes on each. Please check company websites for details.
NAMM 2018 was even bigger than last year, yet much more manageable. The brand new ACC (Anaheim Convention Center) North building housed most of the high tech and pro audio stuff, allowing guitars and related products to be centralized in one area on the main floor of the original building. NAMM further reduced the spread by offering the new boutique manufacturers—previously relegated to downstairs Hall E—smaller, more affordable booths in the main guitar product ghetto. Thus, I was able to cover the show in two relaxed, rather than three grueling, days.
Some of the coolest looking effects out there come from the British company Rainger FX. Their latest, a sidechaining pedal, is more typically-shaped than their usual fare but still reflects their creative graphics and off-center sensibility.
Sidechaining is a popular effect in modern recording. It can be used subtly, as in sidechaining a rhythm guitar with the kick drum, so that each time the kick drum hits the guitar volume dips slightly, or more intensely in dance music, to make the signal completely disappear with each kick drum beat. The Rainger FX Deep Space Pulsar ducks your instrument’s volume in this manner, creating a choppy effect similar to a slicer like the Boss SL-20.
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’.