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.
American Standard Series
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.
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.
Les Paul Axcess With 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.
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.
Cemetery Gates Razorback
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.
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.
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.
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.
Joe Satriani's 20th Anniversary JS
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.
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.
D-28M Elvis Presley Commemorative Limited Edition
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.
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.
PXD Guitar Series
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