NAMM 2020: The penultimate day of the show was arguably the busiest so far, with larger crowds, longer queues and faster shredding. Besides catching performances from the likes of Orianthi and Lari Basilio, these are our picks of the best gear we spotted – plus a bonus interview with Maroon 5’s James Valentine.
Vintage guitar showcase with Reverb
One of the main highlights from today has to be hanging out with Joe Shadid from Reverb while he showed us a trove of vintage 60s electric guitars from Australia (Maton Fyrbyrd), Italy (Wandre Polyphon Beta) and Japan (Tokai Hummingbird).
Walrus Audio Mako D1 High-Fidelity Stereo Delay
With the Walrus Mako series, the brand ventures into the realm of studio-grade, high-fidelity devices. The first pedal out of the blocks is the D1 High-Fidelity Stereo Delay, a digital delay with five programmes: Digital, Mod, Vintage, Dual and Reverse.
Mono Pedalboard Carbon
The Mono Pedalboard Carbon is a lightweight series of ‘boards – available in three sizes – built with carbon fibre for maximum toughness and for an ideal strength-to-weight ratio. Mono went for a flat design this time ’round, augmenting it with ergonomic touches such as aluminium handles and rubber protectors to prevent bumps and scratches.
“One guitar for many different styles”: James Valentine on his Music Man signature
We chanced upon the Maroon 5 guitarist at the Ernie Ball booth, so naturally we stopped him to chat about his relationship with the Music Man brand, the new colours on his signature guitar and why he wanted it to look like something you’d find in a pawn shop.
Manson Guitar Works x Cort x Matt Bellamy MBM-1
The Muse frontman has collaborated with the two guitar companies to launch the META Series MBM-1, which can be thought of as a more affordable answer to Manson Guitar Works’ instruments.
These six-strings feature a sleek maple neck with a satin finish, a solid basswood body and a special Manson-designed bridge and neck humbucking pickup set, reflecting the layout of several of Bellamy’s stage and studio custom instruments. And, of course, the MBM-1 has his infamous kill button.
Anything Dennis Fano touches is gold – and there’s plenty of proof of that in the Solus, Novo’s latest offset creation.
Of particular note is the tempered maple neck, which comes with an incredibly beefy C-carve, lending it a chunky yet comfortable feel in the hand. The guitar’s slab body is made of tempered pine, and the version we took a look at this NAMM comes fitted with a single-coil pickup in a T-style bridge plate.
Blackstar bills the Sonnet Series – currently available in 60- and 120-watt options – as its most natural-sounding acoustic amp, and it doesn’t disappoint. Each amp has two independent channels – for an instrument and a microphone – each with their own EQ and reverb level settings, plus two additional inputs for MP3/Line in and Bluetooth playback.
Ernie Ball Music Man Sabre
One of the more visually striking production-line instruments at NAMM 2020, the Sabre is touted to be “truly the player’s guitar”, according to Ernie Ball Music Man. And that means it combines playabiity with gorgeous cosmetics.
Specs-wise, the Sabre has an okoume body on which a carved maple top sits – with elegant natural binding to bring out the figured maple wood grain. Meanwhile, the guitar’s slim, heavily contoured body combines with a wider neck for comfortable playing.
Rainger FX Minibar
It may not be the best pedal, but it certainly is the thirstiest. Rainger FX’s bizarre Minibar doesn’t make a peep until you pour liquid into the tiny container that’s embedded into the middle of the distortion pedal’s chassis. And depending on the type of liquid – water, coffee, beer – the character and EQ of your distortion changes accordingly.
Beetronics Fatbee Overdrive
From the buzzing brains over at Beetronics comes a new stompbox series: Babee, which is smaller and more affordable than the brand’s other products. The Fatbee is the debutante of the range, a straightforward JFET-based OD box that Beetronics claims to provide tube-like behaviour.