Acoustic Nation Report: NAMM Show 2014 Day 3
NAMM Day 3 was incredibly busy.
I must admit, I might be dragging from some late night fun, but I tried to cover a lot of ground and check out a larger variety of acoustic gear be it guitars, ukes, accessories or other odds and ends.
No matter how much you see at NAMM there are always some delightful surprises just one more aisle up! Here are a few stand outs.
Justin Horenstein is a guitar instructor and musician in the Washington, DC metro area who graduated (cum laude) from the Berklee College of Music in 2006. He plays in Black Clouds, a 3-piece atmospheric/experimental band. Their debut album was recorded by J Robbins (Jawbox, Burning Airlines). Justin’s 18 years of musical experience also includes touring the U.S., a record deal under Sony, starting his own teaching business, recording several albums, and playing club shows with national acts including Circa Survive, The Dillinger Escape Plan, Biffy Clyro, United Nations, Caspian, and more.
Godin released two ukulele models last year, called the Multi Uke. Just like their nylon string guitars, these Ukuleles are chambered with bolt-on neck construction. A piezo pickup system, custom preamp and truss rod make these quite the contender in the performance market. Because of their lack of a sound hole, they don't have the normal feedback issue that some acoustic instruments can have. This year we will see a Koa model added to the family.
Alvarez Guitars has updated their Masterworks Series for 2014. They have added full abalone binding and introduced a new 'shadow burst' finish. These upgrades really make the series stand out. Also new is their Mini Jumbo acoustic guitar with satin finish. Even though it's small and great for travel, it retains a full sound. It also comes with a gig bag!
New for 2014, Kala Ukulele is introducing it's U Bass - a ukulele bass with LR Baggs pickup system. They are also launching the Banjo Uke, in maple or koa. These unique instruments are made in the USA and seem to be very finely crafted.
Guild has updated their Arco Series of acoustic guitars with a Jumbo model, with or without a cutaway. They've also added a 12-string version and an acoustic bass. They are all finished in satin maple with an ached back design. Guild has also added an Orchestra model (both 6 and 12-string) to their Orpheum Series. This features a slotted headstock, a red spruce construction, and comes in several finishes.
This year at NAMM, Peavey is introducing a bunch of additions to their line of licensed graphic designs on small guitars and ukuleles. Collectors have a multitude of choices including Star Wars, MLB teams, The Simpsons, comic book characters, and more. They are all colorful and detailed. Great for kids, too!
Ovation has added a ton of new guitars to the family, giving their product lines a vibrant look. Perhaps the most notable is the New Hartford Series. This is their top of the line in terms of craftsmanship and design. They feature a redone headstock that looks really cool, as well as premium electronics and select tone woods. The necks and fretboards are very smooth to play. The company has also added to their Celebrity and Applause Series, and are are offering USA Limited Edition models.
Dean Markley's Helix Strings boast an enhanced life of up to five times longer than conventional strings. However, they aren't coated and rather use a compressed winding that increases the number of wraps without altering diameter. The company has also released a new polishing cloth that appears to be quite large and adequate for safely cleaning any instrument. Finally, Dean Markley's acoustic pickups have been housed in a new smaller packaging for convenience.
Kickstarter project, Roadie Tuner, is one of the more interesting pieces of gear I've seen this weekend. What's different about the Roadie Tuner is that it automatically tunes your strings for you. It receives your chosen tuning from an accompanying iPhone app via bluetooth and by just hovering over the tuning peg, it winds for you. This provides precise accuracy and effortless tuning for most stringed instruments. Look out for it in June of 2014.
This year at NAMM, Seagull introduced multiple new acoustic products. The first, and perhaps most unique, is the Merlin. It's a completely new instrument based on a dulcimer. Though it is aimed at beginners with it's diatonic tuning, anyone looking for something different to mess around with won't be disappointed. Seagull has also updated the excursion series, their earthy, all-laminate guitars. They now come in a full sized 12-string model, 6-string Dreadnought, and a mini Jumbo.