Each year we ask our writers who attended NAMM to let us know what new gear really caught their eye. With over 1,700 exhibitors involved no one person can canvas the entire Anaheim Convention Center, so we need their help to report to you. Plus we all have different interest as people and musicians. Take a good look at their lists as you will see some of this gear show up in future product reviews where we can dive deeper into what makes them so cool. Let’s start with my top 5 cool things

Bruce Adolph

  1. Meters Headphones
    Seriously cool idea. The VU meters are on the side of the headphones. Comfortable and high quality to boot. $349
  2. Electra Electric Les Paul Jr.
    The revived Electra brand put it’s best foot forward with this Les Paul Junior style guitar with a P-90 pick-up. $595
  3. Kala Elite USA Koa 3 Baritone Ukelele
    Handmade in the US, this highly figured koa wood uke felt great to play and just as great to look at. $1,349
  4. Yukon Reverb Roller Pedal
    A small room to large hall reverb pedal with a large roller wheel instead of an adjustment knob, so you can change the level of the effect with your feet live on the fly. Brilliant! $199
  5. Beard Resoluxe Electric Resonator
    This electric resonator with a P-90 pick-up just dripped with that bluesy/swampy vibe. Loved the feel of it! $2,200

Doug Doppler

  1. Fender Stelecaster
    The Stelecaster is the coolest guitar I’ve never seen. At first the outline made me think it was a Strat, but upon closer inspection I realize the lower bout was actually from a Tele. $5,450
  2. Kala Walkabout Cajon
    Like the Stelecaster, this is one of the coolest combinations I’ve never seen, before NAMM that is. Players like Phil Keaggy and Tommy Emmanuel use the guitar as a roaming instrument, and now your drummer can too. Coming soon… Price TBD
  3. Line 6 Helix Native Plug-in
    Line 6 got their start making the groundbreaking Amp Farm and Echo Farm plugins. The Helix Native plug-in will be out in the coming months and is something I can’t wait to make part of my studio production workflow. $399
  4. Ampeg Bass Preamp Pedal
    The Ampeg SVT is on the stage with many of the most influential Worship and Christian artists. This soon to be released pedal allows bass players at any sized church to get that classic sound with the push of a button, without the volume or backache. $99
  5. Yamaha TF Series Mixers
    Sporting great feel, smart presets, and all of Yamaha’s expertise, this new line of digital mixers is really awesome. The demo made it more than clear that Yamaha is just as on top of their mixing game as they’ve ever been. $1,799 – $3,599

Eric Dahl

  1. Martin Aged D-28
    Plays and sounds like a 30 year old guitar and has distressed played in areas on it already! Street $7,500
  2. Taylor GS Mini Bass
    Similar to the popular GS Mini guitar but in a bass configuration. Sounds great acoustic but like a standup bass plugged in and has a built in tuner. Specially designed strings make it easy and fun to play at home or traveling. Street $699
  3. Finger Weights
    Great way to strength your fingers (especially your weaker ones like the pinky with me), helps increase speed of playing and hand strength for chords. $79
  4. PRS McCarty 594 Electric Guitar
    I played this through the new John Mayer head and cabinet, loved the tonality, shape of the neck and top mounted toggle switch. Plus the single cut has a familiar look that I like. $3,600
  5. Mono Pedalboards
    Made from lightweight futuristic looking extruded aluminum with holes on top and front to manage cables and power it also comes with a Mono bag.  My favorites were the Lite and Lite+ models for easy flight dates. Starting price $109

Mitch Bohannon

  1. VOX MV50 Amp Head
    This series of three mini amp heads from VOX are quite impressive. Had my eye on them when headed to NAMM. Could prove to be quite useful on a worship platform! MSRP $199
  2. Gator Transit Collection Gig Bags
    These really caught my eye. Seem to be very durable with a substantial interior. Street price $99
  3. Fender Acoustic Line
    Specifically the mid-range all solid mahogany guitars, this entire line was redesigned by Brian Swerdfeger, who did a fantastic job! Mahogany models start around $600
  4. McPherson Carbon Acoustic
    Relaunched under the trusted McPherson name. I’m partial to these. The new full-size Sable plays like a dream and includes specially tuned LR Baggs electronics. MSRP $3299
  5. Fishman 330x (with expander and sub)
    This is a performance audio system tower speaker with a total of six mic-inputs after the expander is added. Great sound and simple to use. Street $1700

Michael Hodge

  1. 2hp Small Format Euro Rack Synth Modules
    If you are into Euro Rack hardware synths this new line from 2hp is really cool. They sound great and are the smallest width you can fit in a Euro Rack (about ½ inch). There are 13 modules ranging from $35.00 to $150.00
  2. Seymour Duncan Powerstage 170
    What if your guitar amp was actually on your pedal board? This is the cool idea for the Powerstage 170. It only weighs 2 Lbs, and is about 5”X 5”. Should be available soon. Street Price $399
  3. BOZ Digital Labs Transgressor
    If you like punchy drums, take note. The Transgressor is a unique plug-in that lets you EQ your transient and sustain signals separately. I was really impressed with how intuitive it is. Street $99.00
  4. James Brown Pressurizer
    James was one of the head amp designers at Peavey, and now on his own builds really cool stuff. The Pressurizer is a FET compressor with some amazing features like a Bloom Switch that changes the compression swell. It’s very cool. Pre order at $209.00
  5. Wampler Dracarys Distortion
    I’m a huge fan of Brian’s pedals. The newest pedal from Wampler sounds amazing. It has tons of gain yet a strange clarity at the same time. I’m sure you will see it on my pedalboard when it’s available. $199

Manuel Luz

  1. The Roland Aerophone AE-10 is a spacy, all-new digital wind instrument featuring traditional saxophone fingering, onboard SuperNATURAL sounds, and DAW connectivity. Battery power and built-in speakers provide excellent user mobility and flexibility. Plus, you can score that gig at the Star Wars Cantina. Street: $799.
  2. Speaking of Roland, the System 8 is a deep eight-voice, three-oscillator synth that not only provides modern sounds, sequences, and effects, but is considered a “plug-out synthesizer,” Roland’s term to describe being able to plug in up to three vintage synths at a time. System 8 is pre-loaded with JUPITER-8 and JUNO-106 plug outs, so you are ready to rock with these classic sounds. Also includes vocoder, 64-step sequencer, and arpeggio. MSRP: $1,499.
  3. Behringer has plunged into the deep end of the synth pool with their new DeepMind 12, a 49-key, 12-voice, true-analog synthesizer with all the bells and whistles. Killer bass lines, shimmering pads, arpeggiated grooves, and screaming leads are all under your fingers at an extremely reasonable price. Street: $999.
  4. Although released last year, the Yamaha Reface Mobile Mini-Keyboards are worth mentioning. These 37-note keys are the perfect complement to the guitarist who needs to add auxiliary key pads, or to the synthesist who needs one more keyboard with a small footprint. Check out the Reface CP (for classic Rhodes, Wurly, and Clavinet), Reface YC (for Hammond B3, Vox, and Farfisa organs), and Reface DX (with signature DX7 sounds). MSRP: $649. Street $399.
  5. Now Nord players can rock your keyboard in the most traditional settings. In addition to some new sample releases, Nord released a gorgeous new Wood Keyboard Stand to match your Nord Piano 88 or Stage 88 keyboards. This stand can definitely tame your race red Nord for the sanctuary. MSRP: $699. Street: $599.

Jeffrey B Scott

  1. Roli continues to astound me with their easy-entry, but really-expandable universe of playing surfaces. The Seaboard RISE is incredible, and while using it would take some getting used to for any keyboardist, its versatility is probably unmatched in the controller world.
  2. PRS Sonzera Amp
    Anyone who knows me knows I’m a fan of PRS Guitars. But they are making some great stuff in their Amplifier line as well, this year introducing the Sonzera amp line. The Sonzera comes in a 50-watt combo, 50-watt head or a 20-watt combo. The range of the Sonzera amps is impressive, from three-dimensional clean tones to big, gutsy overdriven tones. The reverb is especially nice – even cranked wide open, it isn’t overwhelming and would be a valiant competitor for even the priciest pedal ‘verb unit. $799-899
  3. Sticking with PRS. The J-MOD100 amp was developed in partnership with John Mayer, and is an amazing amp as well, capable of an incredible range of tones. John worked with Paul Reed Smith and head of PRS amp development, Doug Sewell, to create an amp that would deliver a huge variety of sounds whether using single-coils or humbuckers. The result is a thing of beauty and craftsmanship, both in the looks and sound of it. $5,990
  4. Presonus’ new line of StudioLive mixers are VERY cool. I’ve long been a fan of theirs, but they’ve taken the 3rd generation to all-new heights. The form factor is functional, yet even on the largest boards, more compact. And these consoles come with the ability to multitrack right out of the box with the Presonus Capture software already on board! When you’re finished recording, open your Capture session in Studio One® for Mac® and Windows® (included), and the entire mix scene will transfer to your Studio One session, including fader levels and Fat Channel settings. And, since recording is on-board, you can easily do a virtual soundcheck with the press of a button. $1,999-$2,999
  5. Sennheiser XSW 1-825 Handheld Wireless System
    Vocal freedom and affordable! Handheld Wireless System with 825 Capsule, 1-button Scanning, and Synchronization – A Range (548-572MHz) Lav & Guitar models too. $249

Paul Clark

  1. Manley Force® Four Channel Mic PreAmp
    I have a rack of Manley EL-OP’s. Even if I’m not using any compression on the front end, I still run my mic-pre signal path through them just to pick up the “audio magic” of the microphonics. In fact, when I’m recording in the room with all four of my EL-OP’s wide open, I assign a separate mic and channel just to pick up what’s in the air around these tubes. “Tubes Rule” is the Manley motto. In this day of cheap plug ins, and limited revenue, it’s hard for many to justify the high expense. I’m glad mine were paid for a long time ago. $2,200
  2. Manley Tannoy ML10 & ML10A Monitors
    For decades, my albums have been mixed and mastered using the original Doug Sax, Mastering Lab Monitors. If you can afford the best, these are still King of the Mixing Mountain. $4,000
  3. L.R. BAGG’S Synapse Personal PA System
    As a solo artist, 90% of the time the house system at the venue where I’m performing is more than sufficient. But, in those times, particularly in smaller venues, house concerts, etc., having great sound can be a challenge. After seeing and hearing Lloyd’s new portable Synapse System, I think I’ve found the answer to that problem. $1,995
  4. Telefunken ELA M 250 / 251 Vocal Mic
    Simply the best vocal mic I’ve ever sang into. The price is out of sight for most home studios, unless you have silly money to burn. The bottom line is that when I walk down the aisle at NAMM and am coming up to the Telefunken booth, and make visual contact with the ELAM 250-251 … well, it is like seeing a Black Porsche 911 Turbo sitting in front of The Ritz Carlton. It looks like it’s going 100mph sitting there. The same can be said of seeing that iconic cylinder. It makes my heart flutter and my vocals soar. $12,000
  5. Neumann U47 FET Collector’s Edition Microphone
    Tied for the second best vocal mic I’ve ever sang through. (C-12’s are killer). How many old photographs have you seen of this microphone being the recipient of an iconic singer laying down history through a Neumann U47. Timeless! $4,000

 

NOTE: Let me add this important summary…. All of the aforementioned pieces are Ferrari’s and I don’t want to come off as a gear snob. It’s just that I’ve been recording for 46 years and what is now highly sought after vintage gear is what was once commonplace in the studios that I started in 1971. That being said, I believe I could make a great sounding record with a pair of SM-57 Shure microphones. At the end of the day, a great instrument played by a great player on a well-constructed composition is all you need. Period!

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