NAMMs traditional trade show format was cancelled this year to the dismay of many music merchants, manufacturers, and enthusiasts. The multi-day event is always a positive experience thanks to an optimized format, well-prepared exhibitors, and great entertainment in the evening. Every year, musicians around the world get excited to see old friends from the field. Thankfully, the organization made the most of the situation and opted for a virtual event called the Believe in Music Week. I have to say, it was a very well organized and designed experience that brought all the industry’s family members together. I’ve made a list of the most intriguing and exciting new products that were announced.
Yamaha’s Prestigious Clavinova line gets a new entry-level model
Yamaha’s Clavinova series is their top of the line, authentic digital piano experience. This year at NAMM, they expanded the 700 line with two new models, including the CLP-725. This is a great opportunity to get a high-quality instrument with all the benefits of the digital world. An interesting fact to note is that the sampling was done twice for the built-in speakers and the headphone output. The latter uses binaural imaging, giving the player a highly immersive experience when playing silently. Read about the other model announced this year, the CLP-785, and other new products here.
Nancy Wilson’s stunning new Signature Guitar
Although the Gibson family was relatively quiet at NAMM, Epiphone excited the guitar community with a product announcement: Nancy Wilson’s Signature Nighthawk: The Fanatic. Back in the ’80s, she apparently drew up a design for this body shape herself, and decades later it is now available in an affordable format. The model has tremendous value thanks to great looks, great electronics, and even a hardshell case. Read more about it in my Epiphone NAMM overview here.
Busy year for Slash
One of the world’s most famous rockstars was very busy this year. First of all, Ernie Ball collaborated with him to release a limited edition set of strings. If you are familiar with Slash’s playing, you know that he needs great durability and tuning stability, so that’s the focal point of this set. It also comes in a cool collectable three-pack tin box. Additionally, Epiphone teased a whole collection of new Les Paul’s that they will release in the summer of the current year. The man himself even shared images of two unannounced signature acoustic models.
Create complete songs with Roland’s Verselab
If you are into hip-hop style beat making, you owe it to yourself to check out the Roland Verselab. The many possibilities of this unit really impressed me. A 808/909 inspired step sequencer will streamline your beat making, and 16 pads will offer even more flexibility. It even handles bass, melodies, and chords. It doesn’t stop there; a microphone input and vocal effects make it easy to record high-quality verses and hooks. Last but not least, a series of arranging, mixing, and mastering options will make your tracks Soundcloud (or any other platform really) ready. Check out other exciting Roland products announced recently here.
Vox’s headphones redefine silent practice
If you are looking for a compact practice solution, or if you’re generally a night owl, Vox has a treat for you! With the help of Audio-Technica’s know-how, the amp builder has designed a headphone/amp simulator with built-in effects. Simply plug your headphones into your instrument and off you go! There are two models for guitar (VGH AC30 and VGH Rock) and one for bass (VGH Bass). An auxiliary input lets you jam along to your favourite tracks.
Streamline your YouTube practice with Boss’s Pocket GT
Boss is helping us make our YouTube practice more efficient and pleasant with the Pocket GT. This handy guitar processor has a built-in YouTube player with cool features. You’ll be able to create video play lists, add looped sections, and even automatically activate sound changes, amongst the unit’s 100 amps and effects. Furthermore, dedicated hardware buttons will help with navigation. Check out the other Boss products featured during the Believe in Music Week.
Touchscreens finally come to guitar pedals, thanks to Zoom
Zoom’s G6 will be released worldwide, and what an addition this is. The number of features packed into this floorboard is impressive, and I’m happy to announce that it even includes a touchscreen—an element that’s desperately lacking in the guitar world. With many amps, impulse responses, and effects on-board, the usefulness of the unit is compounded by multiple operation modes and a USB connection that makes the product double as an audio interface. The best part, however, is its reasonable price!
D’addario’s new coated XS strings
D’addario is one of the biggest string manufacturers out there, and they are constantly innovating. This year at NAMM, they are treating us to a new coated string, XS. With a coating as thin as 1/10th of the size of a human hair, this might be the answer to the players that can’t get around the feeling of coated strings. Personally, I’m one of those traditionalists, and I’m very curious to see what D’addario has to offer.
Korg keeps innovation in the synth department
Korg has really focused on its synth line at NAMM and is reintroducing its classic DW-8000 synth with a modern approach, the Modwave. If you are into synthesizers, get ready for a mind-boggling number of possibilities in this wavetable-based machine. With 200 of them—each made out of up to 64 waveforms and the possibility of changing their character with modifiers and morph types, you get over two-hundred million possibilities. On top of that, the inclusion of a Kaoss pad adds further control over the modulation, making it a synth nerd’s dream to own.
Gibson explores Augmented Reality in teaching guitar
Gibson is pushing the envelope in teaching platforms with the addition of Augmented Reality in their new Gibson App. The AR interacts with players and gives real-time feedback while you learn new songs and explore various guitar tutorials. This is really innovative, and students will move closer to a private-teacher experience thanks to this technology. The app itself is free, but you’ll have to subscribe to a monthly or yearly membership.
All things considered, this was a very exciting start to the year for the industry. It’ll be interesting to see how things develop and how these new products will fair in real-life scenarios.
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