NAMM 2020 is next week. I will try and get my report up sooner this year. If you are looking for a distillation of some of the most interesting gear for the modern guitarist to come out of 2019, this is a good place to start. Nick Reinhart, and Juan Alderete always have their fingers on the pulse of what is forward thinking and cool.
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.
The record was titled Never let me Down, but apparently David Bowie felt he had let himself down when he recorded it, or perhaps his audience. Either way, within a five-year plan the artist left, outlining projects he wanted to be accomplished or completed after his death, were instructions for re-recording this 1987 album. He specifically requested a pair of modern guitar icons, Reeves Gabrels and David Torn be on the project. The finished version is included in 11-CD, 15-record box set called Loving The Alien (Warner Music/Parlophone), released October 12.
Guitar Moderne sat down with Gabrels in Nashville, and spoke to Torn by phone in his Bearsville home to get their recollections of working on this major reimagining. As always, the two were candid and wide ranging, so dig in.
Full disclosure: Though Source Audio is not one of my advertisers; I am their rep in Nashville. As with my advertisers, I don’t claim they make amazing things because I work with them, I work with them because they make amazing things, so I feel touting them at every opportunity is providing a service to you, the reader. The latest fab product from Source Audio is the True Spring Reverb pedal
There is a wonderful world of effects out there, but maximizing their usefulness often requires modifying parameters on the fly—think Whammy pedal, or runaway delay feedback. Unfortunately, modifying parameters, and even engaging or switching off effects, tethers you to the pedal in a way that can hamper your visual performance.
There have been solutions: In 2014, Livid came out with Guitar Wing, which I covered in Guitar Moderne. It allows control of MIDI effects parameters right from the face of the guitar, unchained from pedals and standard hardware controllers. Source Audio’s Hot Hand, covered here, also permits free-ranging parameter control, either through MIDI (using the Neuro Hub), or through an expression input on the pedal or switching device. The folks at GTC Sound Innovations have come up with yet another solution that debuted at NAMM a couple of years ago and I recently got to put it through its paces. First watch the GTC folks demo some classic effects.