10 best guitars, pedals and amps of NAMM 2020
We came, we saw, we conquered. Here are our top picks from NAMM 2020.
NAMM 2020: The biggest music gear show on Earth is now officially over this year. We trawled the show floor for four continuous days, taking in the overwhelming amount of gear – as well as the collective cacophony of booth demos – in search of the very best.
Thankfully, we’ve managed to cut through the noise to come up with a list of 10 products that truly stole the show. Until next year’s show, we’re signing off from Anaheim Convention Center.
Single-pickup guitars have a special raw appeal to them and Novo certainly appreciates that. The Solus is a lightly relic-ed offset single-cut that comes with a single T-style pickup in the bridge, though it is also available as a P-90 version. The slab body is made out of tempered pine and the neck is a similarly treated maple. Other features include 9.5-inch-radius fingerboard, a wrap-over bridge and Kluson vintage single-line tuners.
Epiphone Les Paul Special
Gibson turned more than a couple of heads when it announced the latest ‘Inspired by Gibson’ collection for sub-brand Epiphone. The new Les Paul Special features the ‘Kalamazoo’ headstock design that’s much closer to Gibson’s ‘open-book’ headstock, and continues the tradition of featuring a slab mahogany body and neck with a rosewood fingerboard. Other features include a pair of P-90 Pro soapbox pickups and CTS electronics for high performance.
The Comet is not only the latest addition to Harmony‘s growing lineup of guitars, but it’s also the rejuvenated brand’s first semi-hollow guitar design. Based on the 60s-era Harmony H-72, the Comet features a double-cutaway mahogany body paired with a mahogany set neck and a 12-inch-radius ebony fingerboard. Harmony’s proprietary gold foil pickups are also featured here, but have been tweaked for more warmth and fullness.
Fender Parallel Universe Volume 2 El Magico Telecaster
The term ‘cowboy class’ may be head-scratcher for some, but those are the words Fender used to describe the new El Magico Telecaster. The guitar was designed in collaboration with Fender Custom Shop Master Builder Rob Thorn, and features eye-catching pearloid pervades on the binding, pickup rings and Cabronita-style pickguard. The El Magico Telecaster also comes loaded with a pair of custom-designed Fender Gold Foil pickups and a modified Tele-style ‘ashtray’ bridge.
Eastman‘s latest offering may be an indication of a single-pickup guitar renaissance at work. The SB55/v-SB takes its inspiration from the classic Les Paul Jr for its silhouette, while upping its class by including premium features like a one-piece mahogany body and neck, an ebony fingerboard, Jescar frets, Faber hardware and a Lollar Underwound Dog Ear P-90 in the bridge position.
Walrus Audio Mako D1
New from Walrus Audio this NAMM is the D1 High-Fidelity Stereo Delay, the forerunner for its brand-new Mako line of effects pedals. The D1 delay uses a Sharc digital signal processor and offers five studio-grade, high-fidelity programmes: Digital, Mod, Vintage, Dual and Reverse.
Orange Terror Stamp
This NAMM, Orange Amplification had good news for fans of its Micro Terror and Micro Dark amplifiers. Combining the best bits of both amps, Orange unveiled the Terror Stamp, a pedalboard-friendly 20-watt class A/B amplifier. It features a hybrid valve/solid-state design, with a 12AX7 valve-based preamp and 20-watt Class A/B solid-state power amp. According to Orange, the latter can even power a 4×12 cab.
The Blackstar Sonnet is the brand’s first foray into the acoustic guitar amplifier market, and is touted to deliver “the most natural possible response”. The amp, designed in collaboration with Jon Gomm, features two independent channels – instrument and microphone – with individual EQ and reverb controls, MP3/line input, XLR and USB outputs as well as Bluetooth audio playback.
Yet again, Boss has taken things up a notch at NAMM. This time, it has unveiled the Waza-Air, which is a digital modeling amp in wireless headphone format. Yes, you read that right. Touted as a “personal guitar amplifier system”, the Waza-Air wirelessly connects to your guitar and offers five amp types from the brand’s Katana series. You’ll also have access to over 50 effects types through the Boss Tone Studio app. At $399.99, the Waza-Air won’t tear a huge hole in your pocket, either.
Taylor Builder’s Edition 324ce
Joining Taylor’s stellar Builder’s Edition line-up is the 324ce, a Grand Auditorium in urban ash with a mahogany soundboard. We had the opportunity to take it for a spin, and it’s interesting to see just how far Taylor has come with the Builder’s Edition. Key in this guitar’s design is the ergonomic flourishes the brand has added. These include rounded body edges, a forearm bevel and a bevelled cutaway.