The Best Of NAMM 2008: Jimmy Page, Satriani Models Among The Highlights

artist: Namm date: 01/29/2008 category: industry news
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If the NAMM convention was intended to be the ultimate retail outlet, countless visitors (myself wholeheartedly included) would have been broke by the end of the 4-day event. While it's true that we couldn't buy most of the products that were on display at the Anaheim Convention Center this January, it did mean we were one step closer to seeing some incredibly cool new products in stores in the very near future. It's seemingly all business, but the truth of the matter is that NAMM is a consumer's visual and aural wonderland. Of the thousands of items introduced for 2008, Ultimate-Guitar has compiled a list that features a few that we deemed the most talked-about and memorable among the bunch. Keep in mind that our list only skims the surface, and it also only features guitar-oriented products. Although there were some very cool drum kits, grand pianos, and soprano saxes that were showstoppers, alas, we are called Ultimate-Guitar. So here is just a little taste of the guitars, amps, and effects that we can't stop talking about.

Fender

American Standard Series
When you first glance at any of the guitars in Fender's new American Standard series (photo), you might find yourself asking, And what exactly is different about it? The answer lies primarily in the sound. The company took apart classic instruments like the Stratocaster and Telecaster to determine where there might be any imperfections and what could be tweaked to improve upon the tone. While some might call it blasphemous to change anything about the Strat, the general feedback so far has been positive. Among the updates are a new bridge with a copper-infused block and bent-steel saddles for increased resonance, and a thinner paint finish to allow the Strat to breathe.

Mesa

Fathom Bass Amp Mesa focused upon bass players' needs at this year's NAMM. Behind the impressive Fathom Bass Amp (photo) is a 600-watt output section that allows the player to capture a perfect balance of power and tone. Mesa took time to ensure players could have quick, accurate control with the new amp, which features 5 position voice controls and a Pull Deep knob for either a percussive bottom or a low, rich end.

Gibson

Les Paul Axcess With Floyd Rose
While some Gibson devotees have expressed doubts about the silverburst finish and the lack of innovation in the design, there are just as many people drooling over this Les Paul's deep tone - not to mention the addition of the Floyd Rose tremolo. If the idea of attaching a whammy bar to a Gibson leaves you feeling nauseous, there is good news: The Axcess (photo) is apparently also available without the Floyd Rose. This particular Les Paul was produced directly as a result of customer requests, and it definitely has players talking. Check out any Gibson message board and you're likely to find guitarist both singing its praises and cursing its creation. Jimmy Page Les Paul Custom W/Bigsby It's not as easily recognizable as Page's double-neck Gibson reissue from last year, but the latest recreation is just as iconic. The Les Paul is modeled after Page's 1960 Black Beauty, a 3-pickup guitar that was stolen and unable to be recovered. You won't have to wait too terribly long for the new Page model, either. It looks to be available at retail stores like Guitar Center in February.

PRS

The Mira
PRS made an impressive move this year with The Mira (photo), an indie-rock styled guitar that definitely takes a turn from the usual PRS faade. The 24-fret guitar is available in either a regular or wide-neck shape, features abalone moon inlays, and is available in colors such Vintage Cherry, Orange, and Powder Blue. There is a distinct retro feel to The Mira (photo), but the solid workmanship is still very much present. Basically it has the same top-quality playability as other PRS guitars, just with a funky new twist.

Digidesign

Pro Tools 7.4 Software Features With Pro Tools becoming the standard of many recording studios today, Digidesign (photo) has not surprisingly come out with another impressive upgrade. The 7.4 version is centered around the new concept of Elastic Time, a tool that allows you to change time or tempo at a moment's notice. Another new option called Concept Preview makes it possible to try out loops or clips into your track before committing to anything, while the HD version offers tri-level synch compatibility with SYNC HD and eliminates signaling issues. For users who have Intel-based Macs, you will now be able to work with the Avid Mojo and Avid Mojo SDI programs.

Dean

Cemetery Gates Razorback
It's fairly unassuming at first, but the new Razorback (photo) to honor Dimebag Darrell's memory eventually reels you in. While the graveyard-themed graphics are well done, it's the hidden image of Dimebag within the cemetery that makes this Dean guitar a worthwhile buy for any Pantera and Damageplan fan.

ESP

GL-256 (Distressed 3TB) If you're shopping for a guitar that will make you look like you've been a shredder since, well, the heyday of Dokken, ESP has got the guitar for you. Veteran ESP endorsee George Lynch has released 3 new models including the ESP Super V SE, the LTD Serpent-600, and the LTD GL-256. While the ESP Super V and Serpent earn points for looking extremely cool, the GL-256 (photo) is a more affordable version of Lynch's classic GL-56 model. The distressed, 2-tone guitar retails for a little over $500 and features ESP tuners, a vintage bridge, and an alder body. EC-Sin
For those who want a guitar that is more of a rarity, the company has come out with 2 models that exemplify ESP's amazing custom shop. The EC-SIN (Sin City, photo) and EC-GTA (Guitarsonist) are among the colorful examples of craftsmanship in this year's ESP line. Although affordable, these could be tough to hunt down. Apparently each retailer is supplied with only a few models per store, so it's best to start the shopping now.

BC Rich

Chuck Schuldiner Tribute Stealth Long considered the father of death metal, Death frontman/founder Chuck Schuldiner (photo) left a lasting legacy among musicians after he passed away from cancer in 2001. BC Rich is keeping Schuldiner's memory alive with a new Stealth model in its 2008 line. While Schuldiner didn't limit himself to playing just one style or model of BC Rich guitar, the company has selected the neck-through Stealth with one black pickup for the tribute. Even if you're not able to afford the guitar (it will likely retail for around $899), definitely check out some of the memorable riffs that Schuldiner created while in Death at myspace.com/supportchuck.

Ibanez

Joe Satriani's 20th Anniversary JS
The new JS guitar marks the 20th anniversary of Satriani's CD Surfing With The Alien, which had its own reissue back in August of 2007. Out of all the guitars at the Ibanez display, it was the Anniversary JS (photo) that appeared to have its own shrine of sorts, complete with a gleaming, life-sized surfer statue that looks exactly like the main image seen on the guitar's body. Reaction was mixed to the graphics - some believed it was truly fitting of Satriani's brilliance, while others were pretty much horrified by the loud, neon coloring. Of course, all was forgiven when a lucky select few were treated to an Ibanez jam session that featured the likes of Satriani, Paul Gilbert, and Herman Li.

Vox

Vox Announcement In other Satriani news, he and Vox will be unveiling a full line of amplification systems this summer. While none of the products were on display at the Anaheim Convention Center this January, they are apparently very near completion. This project recruited some smarties, too - 5 engineers from 3 different countries were brought in to get the job done.

Martin

D-28M Elvis Presley Commemorative Limited Edition
Okay, so there are only 175 available for purchase to mark Martin's 175th anniversary, but the D-28M (photo) deserved a place on our list. The limited edition acoustic is the same model that Presley used back in 1955 and is easily distinguishable from other acoustics, particularly because of its custom-tooled leather cover that plainly reads Elvis Presley. Martin has also released a regular D-28 without the leather-enhanced Presley cover, although the company can add that to the guitar for an extra charge.

IK Multimedia

Riffworks This recording software product blew the NAMM crowd away and earned the title of Best In Show Trendsetter this year. Essentially, Riffworks (photo) allows you to record tracks, jam online with players around the world, and create instant podcasts. While other pro audio items focus in upon the engineering aspect of software, Riffworks had a more user-friendly approach that addressed the needs of everyday PC and MAC users. The graphics that appear on your computer are meant to look as much like real guitar gear as possible, eliminating a lot of the confusion you might get with hi-tech software. In the Riffworks package you'll also receive 7 studio-quality effects and the InstantDrummer program, which gives you the ability to dial in a variety of tempos.

Sims Audio

JamMate UG-1 Electric Guitar Sims Audio is also gearing products toward guitarists who spend lots of time at their computers. Rather than just offering a basic software program, Sims Corp is encompassing everything into one package. For about $250 you get the JamMate UG-1 guitar (which plugs right into your computer), AmpliTube Live software, headphones, a gig bag, a USB cable, strings, a strap, and picks. It's a pretty amazing deal when you add it all up. Although the UG-1 is meant to be used with the computer's AmpliTube software, it can also be played with a traditional amp as well.

Peavey

PXD Guitar Series
Metal players are the target consumers for the new PXD series, which was created for guitarists who play aggressive, shredding riffs. Aside from dark, foreboding faade of the 4 PXD models (choose from Tomb, Twenty-Three, Tragic, or Void), the guitars also feature high-output EMG or Peavey PFL active pickups, as well as the EMG-AB Afterburner tone circuit. To truly complete the beautifully bleak appearance, the PXDs are all shipped with Coffin Case cases or bags. Riffmaster Pro System and Guitar Controllers While most of the booths at NAMM stuck with the traditional instruments you've come to know, Peavey played it gutsy and took a step into the world of Guitar Hero and Rock Band (cue dramatic music). If you'd like to take your video game-playing skills to the next level, Peavey has got the equipment for you. Rather than use the same old boring TV stereo for Guitar Hero, Peavey's Riffmaster Pro System includes a fully functional PA system stack to ensure a concert-like experience. And then you've got the insanely cool controllers, which have pretty much the same construction as a traditional guitar - only with 5 multi-colored buttons instead of strings. Right now you can choose between limited edition designs that feature bands like KISS (photo), Pantera, and Lynyrd Skynyrd, but it looks like there will be more additional band graphics to come. Even if you don't like the idea of playing Guitar Hero, the designers at artguitar.com actually have some incredible options for creating your own custom designon a real guitar with actual strings. Article by Amy Kelly Ultimate-Guitar.Com 2008
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