Better Late Than Never: NAMM and Summer NAMM 2019

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.

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Nick Reinhart: Willie Wonka of Guitar

If there is a young guitarist you captures the Guitar Moderne ethos perfectly it is Nick Reinhart. In his work with Tera Melos and with Nels Cline in Big Walnuts Yonder he exhibits a spirit of musical experimentation and pushes the guitar’s sonic potential as far as it will go, with virtuosic technique and wry humor. Premier Guitar caught up with him when he came through Nashville and did an extensive rig rundown, revealing his fan bestowed nickname (no pun intended). Reinhart also reveals one of his sonic secrets. Spoiler alert: Superglue.

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Cairo Knife Fight

The band Cairo Knife Fight is Nick Gaffaney, a drummer from New Zealand, and George Pajon Jr, a Grammy award winning songwriter and guitarist who has worked with The Black Eyed Peas, Fergie, Carlos Santana, Macy Gray, John Legend, and Sting. The duo redefines what two musicians can create live with Gaffaney drumming, playing keyboard bass, live looping, and singing, while Pajon generates live looped soundscapes and riffs. Thanks to Pete Thorn, we get a glimpse of how they do it. Are bands like this and Josh Dion’s Paris Monster the future?

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Board To Death: Nels Cline

EarthQuaker Devices corralled Nels for their Board to Death series. He talks about and demonstrates his gear alternating between brilliant playing and hilarious commentary.

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Spotlight: Álvaro Domene

More and more guitarists are experimenting with noise. Making noise with a guitar is easy; making music with noise, not so much. Álvaro Domene has mastered the art of turning non-pitched abrasive sounds into a kind of beauty. “Beta Particle,” on his record The Compass is record offers up a glitchy din ala Stian Westerhus, but with Domene’s personal stamp all over it. Elsewhere, ambient clean tones morph into Wagnerian waves of distortion, as he employs the entire range his 7-string guitar. He joins a growing number of European-born players making, er, noise on New York City’s modern guitar scene.

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