NAMM 2022: It’s back! The biggest gear event of the year is taking place in June rather than the usual January, but we’re on hand to bring you all the news you need to know about.
Even better, we’re now able to bring this to you *LIVE* from the NAMM 2022 show floor, courtesy of the fancy new liveblog you’re reading right now.
Our intrepid editor-in-chief is roaming the halls, scouring for the hottest and, let’s face it, weirdest goings-ons, and he’ll be sharing his candid snaps right here, while the rest of the team will be serving up the latest goss from the major players.
Basically, if you like your news up-to-the-minute and served with a small side order of sass, we got you.
And for the full rundown of everything launched this year, be sure to check our regularly updated NAMM 2022 news hub, featuring all the latest guitar news, rumors and predictions.
And with this year's obligatory 'Anaheim Convention Center with gigantic banner, blue sky, luscious trees and water fountain in full flow' shot out the way, we can officially proclaim NAMM weekend to be upon us. We'll be bringing you the hottest – and weirdest – gear from the show floor over the coming days. Hold on tight...
The talk of NAMM so far has been Ernie Ball Music Man and Tosin Abasi's Kaizen, a surprise new seven-string that offers Ernie Ball Heat Treated pickups and a multi-scale design. A six-string version is due next year. For now, get a load of those rad contours.
A photo posted by on
Martin has unveiled a signature D-28 for Rich Robinson, and the Black Crowe himself was on hand to introduce it. It's based on his dad's '54 D-28, which not only ended up being the same guitar RR earned to play on, but also the instrument he used to write and record much of the Black Crowes' acoustic material. You could say it has something of a… Rich history.
Minarik Guitars is tapping into Anaheim Convention Center's jarring proximity to Disneyland with a one-off electric ode to one of The Big D's more NAMM-friendly IPs: yes, it's a Haunted Mansion solidbody. In a spooky frame. Plus, some (presumably living) guy's head is popping out the side of it. Chilling.
How many diamonds are embedded into Martin's 2.5-millionth acoustic? Thanks for asking: the answer is 436. And, just off the top of my head, I can tell you they've been laid out to depict the map of the stars that Martin founder Christian Frederick Martin Sr. and his family would have seen in the sky the day they arrived in New York City from Germany on November 6, 1833. Understandably, this prize piece was kept in a perspex case to keep it well clear of the ketchup-smeared digits of your average NAMM attendee and/or journalist. That's why you can just about make out the reflection of 'Please Do Not Touch' on the guitar's body, see. Good advice.
What is this witchcraft? San Diego startup Ciari has launched a more affordable version of its Ascender Custom folding guitar, the Ascender Standard, which now clocks in at $1,800. The mechanism is more refined than ever, and so are the instrument's curves: Grover Jackson and Joe Glaser redesigned the body and headstock, but the whole package still folds down to fit in a neat padded backpack. According to Ciari, said backpack will fit into a commercial airplane, motorcycle, RV/van, boat/yacht, and private airplane. One for the aviation and naval enthusiasts among you, clearly.
GW Tech Editor Paul Riario had an insightful chat with Rich Robinson about his gorgeous new signature Martin D-28, which is based on a 1954 model once owned by his late father.
“From Martin's standpoint, it's not about doing things on the cheap to make money; it's about getting it right,” Robinson tells us. “I sent them my dad's guitar, they had it, they studied it, they did everything really respectfully and correctly, and I couldn't be happier.”
Incredibly, it's been 10 years since Yamaha debuted the OG of desktop amps, the creamy, living room-friendly THR series. To celebrate, it's launched two new color variants of the latest and greatest version of said amp, the THR30II: black and white. Now, there's nothing different sonically – sorry, metalheads, that inky variant isn't a THR30IIX – but those new looks are really quite alluring. We can't help but want one. Or both. OK, both.
Everybody, stop what you're doing and get a load of these new signature models from Ibanez. Usually, we'd be waxing lyrical over those new-look Satch and Vai models, but the fresh Tom Quayle T-style model and Nita Strauss six-strings are simply stealing the show. Oh, and Jake Bowen's all-new 27-fret beauty (yes, 27!) is a sight to behold, too.
We look forward to snapping some of these stunners on the show floor later today...
It's good to be back. Welcome to the official day 1 of NAMM 2022 (anything we've been sharing beforehand has been from the incredibly exclusive press preview event the day prior.)
It's here. It's really here. Ibanez may have just won NAMM by sticking Steve Vai's actual triple-neck monstrosity, the mythical Hydra, on the wall. They've even cooked up a neat little preamp, complete with inputs for each of the beast's pickup systems. Sadly - though not unsurprisingly - it's kept away from mere mortals courtesy of a roped-off area. Probably for the best.
Also turning heads at the Ibanez stand: a swirl-finished PIA35TH prototype, paying tribute to 35 years of Steve Vai signatures. 😍😍
Out come the wolves! ESP has unveiled its ultra-exclusive 2022 Exhibition Limited lineup, and it's certainly got some eyebrow-raisers. This guitar – appropriately named "Wolves" – features a pair of literal carved wolves for its body and moon cycle inlays on its Macassar ebony fingerboard.
Sure, Queen Elizabeth II's big milestone is getting most of the attention this weekend, but Takamine’s celebrating a big anniversary this year, too. 2022 marks the company's 60th year in business, and the firm is celebrating with The 60th, a hand-built Hawaiian Koa acoustic guitar with a diamond embedded in the headstock.
The Boutique Guitar Showcase is a reliable resource of WTF luthiery, and this year is, of course, no exception. The 'Play-Well' was assembled by Tel Aviv's OD Guitars as an homage to the builder's love of Lego. Sadly, it isn't playable. But everything else is awesome.
What makes this guitar unveiling great? Why, the fact that Rick Beato joined Tosin Abasi and Ernie Ball's Brian Ball and Drew Montell to officially launch their collaborative effort, the Kaizen. We'll be serving up our own grilling later on, but for now, enjoy their radiant smiles as they present the fruit of their collective loins.
Bones UK fuzz savant and Jeff Beck collaborator Carmen Vandenberg is launching a limited-edition 10-watt version of her signature Blackstar combo. The CV10 is packing a 12" Celestion Seventy-80 speaker, single ECC83 and 6L6 tubes and a natty built-in overdrive circuit. So natty, in fact, that Carmen herself claims you can get "ANY tone" out of her new amp. Good news for the reverse-bagpipe flanger tones that accompany the voices in my head.
Not to be outshone by Kirk Hammett's recent dalliance with Gibson, ESP has officially confirmed a V signature model for the Nicest Man in Metal. An offset V design - presumably extremely carefully proportioned to avoid alerting a certain company's legal team - the LTD KH-V will land in 2023 in three finishes: Black Sparkle, Red Sparkle and Metallic Gold.
AWOOOOOOO (cough). ESP never ever fails to drop jaws with its Exhibition Limited series at each and every NAMM, and pride of the pack this year is the EX22-26 Wolves. You can tell because it's enclosed in the world's most reflective perspex case. It's the closest thing I have to a nemesis.
Branching out into the dizzying world of 2.42” OLED screens is Brit amp icon Laney, which dropped the ambiguously monikered The Difference Engine – a digital delay pedal that emulates pristine, analog and dynamic-style sounds but offers the ability to blend them to create hitherto unimagined delays. Yes, I just dropped 'hitherto'. Come at me, bro.
Spare a thought for Tosin Abasi. The poor fella has been pulling double-duty at both the Ernie Ball booth and his own Abasi Concepts pad, which meant we ended up spending more time together than he was probably comfortable with. On the upside, he did cradle a few of his new guitar babies for us, including this Strat-style double-cut take on his acclaimed ergonomic design. A Space-S? Watch this – yes – space.
Forget the Queen's jubilee: guitarists were coming face to face with real royalty on the show floor. Yes, the Strat King of Europe himself, Thomas Blug, was waxing lyrical about his eagerly anticipated AMPX, an analog programmable guitar amp that aims to do, well, pretty much everything. It's been a real labor of love for the six-string monarch, to the point where the BluGuitar team are working day and night on the device during the show itself. Anything to deliver the goods to Blug's loyal European subjects by the end of 2022 (US launch is looking like early 2023 – that's what we get for not having a monarchy).
Quiet your furious cries: yes, we know the Z-One, Billy Corgan's heavy-focused new Reverend signature model, launched in April. But it was pride of place at Reverend's booth, and don't those new Railhammer pickups look really quite lovely in the flesh? Yes. Yes, they do. The Metallic Silver Freeze finish and aluminum scratchplate are to die for, too.
Arguably one of the more hard-rockin' signature guitars we've seen at this year's show so far: the Tread 1 is a new six-string made by Godin in collaboration with Honeymoon Suite's Derry Grehan. It's packed with a host of riff-ready appointments, including a pair of EMG humbuckers and a Floyd Rose 1000 Series tremolo.
But its visuals definitely steal the show. Just take a look at those yellow-on-black tire track marks...
Yes, 16 is amateur numbers for a brand of ESP's experience, but it's quality over quantity for this new drop, which contains new signature models for Lamb of God's John Campbell and Behemoth's Tomasz Wróblewski, as well as a wealth of new-look four- and five-strings. Fans of the low-end will be suitably impressed.
In the first of a double dose o' Tosin, the Animals As Leaders virtuoso-turned-guitar designer extraordinaire takes us through a few of his latest creations, chiefly the company's first double-cut offering, the Emi. Three different flavors were on display at the show – including the Strat-style model we posted about earlier – and we also got a peek at Abasi's nylon-string Larada, which could be a major development in the evolution of the classical guitar. Really.
Tom Quayle's new TQMS1 is one of the hottest signature models to emerge from Ibanez's 2022 'drop', so we were positively giddy to have a demo from the man himself (over at the Laney booth of all places). I promise not to make a habit of using the phrase 'cheeky tortoiseshell'. Blame the jetlag.
Two of the more impressive gear releases we've seen at NAMM so far have been Laney's sweet-looking The Difference Engine delay pedal and Tom Quayle's new Ibanez signature guitar, the TQMS1-CTB.
It was a treat, then, to witness those two come gloriously together at Laney's NAMM booth. Check out the ensuing demo.
"I was really inspired by [Ernie Ball Music Man's] craftsmanship and innovation," Tosin Abasi tells GW when we sat down with him at the NAMM show. Ernie Ball and Abasi's new creation, the Kaizen, is definitely aimed at modern players. However, Abasi says, people will be "surprised at some of the tones you can get out of" the guitar. Find out why that's the case, and discover just how awkward sharing one mic between three conversationalists can get (curse you, wireless receivers).
*Yawn* Sorry, what was that? Oh yes, it's day 2 of NAMM 2022, I've been up since 4am and we're here bright and early just as the crowds begin to settle in. First stop: coffee. Next stop: new gear.
And we're off! First up, Eastman, who are hoping you'll fall in love with Juliet, the latest in the company's series of guitars inspired by the bard. Featuring an offset body with a raised center bar and laid-in pickguard, the new solidbody design offers a choice of Bare Knuckle Old Guard humbuckers or P-90s, and comes in three finishes – Antique Black Varnish, Vintage Red and Pomona Blonde – starting at $1,799. Whatever you make of the look, a guitar by any other name would play as sweet…
And the award for NAMMiest booth goes to...
New Cort logo klaxon! We like its Cort case. That's a typeface pun, by the way.
How much pink paisley is too much pink paisley? "Does not compute," say French luthiers Wild Custom, who are showcasing some outrageous designs at its booth this year. But this pink Wildmaster is our pick of the litter. Mmm mmm mmmmmmm.
The Klontar lives! This mythical Chibson USA creation is the result of a huge collaborative effort between several companies – you can read about that in the Instagram description below to save me typing it all out again – and was demonstrated over at the Laney booth by an actual live centaur. All totally normal, everyday stuff. Yep.
A photo posted by on
Accompanying the Klontar was Chibson USA's returning Durst Burst. Still sucks.
MXR has become the latest brand to partner with Jack White's Third Man Hardware for the Double Down. Essentially, the DD crams two of White's long-favored Micro Amp circuits into one pedal to drive two separate amps at once. It features side-mounted phase and buffer switches, comes in yellow and black finishes, and is due out later this year. Could it cause… Double trouble for the boost pedal market? If you're driving two amps at once, maybe.
Tele purists avert your eyes: Vega-Trem has offered a sneak peek at its second tremolo unit, the smooth-sailing VT2. It's an ornate creation and even features brass saddles. It's a classy-looking piece of kit.
Now, I don't enjoy shooting vertically proportioned headless guitars, least of all clogging up the live blog with an enormous image, but I simply had to share the fact that Mooer are bringing their GTRS tech to headless guitars, which seems fairly notable. The W900 is packing a roasted flame maple neck, alder body and, of course, the GTRS's Super Knob – please, no sniggering at the back – which controls 11 guitar sims and 126 effects. Natty finish, too.
Speaking of technology-embiggened acoustics, the perpetually busy Donner booth played host to its Smart – and smart – acoustic design, which looks like it's had an iPod crammed into its upper side. Get over your mp3/m4a nostalgia, however, and the DMI Smart Guitar reveals itself as a forward-thinking device that offers courses created in collaboration with Berklee. Beat THAT, beginner acoustic guitar market.
Remember the Bixonic Expandora? Beloved by Billy Gibbons, the overdrive-meets-fuzz-meets-distortion circuit sadly fell out of circulation in the late-2000s. But weep no more, for the company has made a miraculous comeback for 2022, launching a new incarnation of its beloved design, now dubbed the Axentrix. Yes, it still has an unusually proportioned enclosure, but there's plenty new here, most notably a trio of memories for storing sounds – a boon given the pedal's versatility – and an Accent knob to fine-tune the tone. It's priced at a very reasonable $200 and launches in July. Unleash the dragon! Etc.
Those cheeky scamps at b3 Guitars were lurking in the shadows of the Boutique Guitar Showcase, presumably hiding from hardcore Fender fanboys who would take umbridge with their mashup of classic Strat and Tele specs. They'd be wrong, of course, because the Telstar is really rather tastefully done, with a combination of Lollar S and T pickups and a custom MannMade Hybrid Tremolo onboard. There are some neat contemporary tweaks, too, with a contoured neck pocket, double graphite-reinforced neck and stainless steel frets. It was quite literally the Telstar of the show. Ho ho.
There were a number of new companies making their debut at NAMM, with Cream Guitars among the most outlandish. The Mexican builder specializes in angular designs and bold finishes – clock the sparkly Revolver here – which offer a staggering number of sonic options, including series switching and built-in piezo circuits. But Cream also served up the most harrowing booth we saw at the show (see exhibit A below). We'll be having nightmares long after the surface trauma wears off.
Makers of B-E-Autiful boutique combos Black Volt Amplification set themselves a rather ambitious goal with the Earthcaster: to save the world one guitar at a time. How? By using reclaimed wood to build their T-types: it's all naturally dried and aged over the decades and features the original saw blade marks, bringing a whole new meaning to aged guitars, both aesthetically and ethically. Makes you think, don't it?
It's the final day of NAMM 2022! And via the ancient art of occasionally monitoring web analytics, I can sense that y'all are really digging what Ibanez just put out. So here are a few more shots of the signature highlights from their otherwise Hydra-dominated booth.
First up, the fresh Powder Blue finish for Steve Vai's PIA is really capturing some imaginations. "There’s something calming and comfortable about this color on a PIA," says Steve. Best dig out the herbal tea and slippers when you're playing this one.
We're overjoyed to see Jake Bowen's LA Custom Shop model get an actual release for mere mortals, and with such an excellent name to boot: the JBM9999. Alas, those digits don't quite tally with the remarkable fret count, which clocks in at 27. Widdly widdly.
Joe Satriani's Chrome Boy has a sibling! The JS2GD is as reflective and nightmarish to photograph as its bro, but instead offers an HSS pickup configuration with a neat switching system: there are individual on/off toggles for each pickup, coil-tapping and a highpass filter on the volume knob. We're intrigued to see what Satch does with this.
The eagerly anticipated Ghost colorway for Nita Strauss's JIVA also showed its spectral face – other tweaks include a five-piece maple-wenge neck and an Edge-Zero tremolo w/ZPS3. Oh, and it will haunt your ancestors for all eternity.
There have been fewer in-booth performances this year, so when they do actually take place, they draw quite the crowd. Felix Martin-masterminded brand FM Guitars always had one virtuoso or another delivering the tippy-tappy double-neck goods, and was accordingly rammed. I shoved my way to the front for this shot, but rest assured there were plenty of gawpers behind me.
The reliably moody lighting in Taylor's floor 2 booth has always been at odds with the company's laid-back vibe, not to mention the cheery disposition of acoustic design savant – and now CEO – Andy Powers. As a result, it made it hard to capture the enchanting grain of the all-koa builds that make up their newly revamped 700 Series. This was the only model left on the wall when I visited. Taylor fans are loving these.
This was really hard to capture on video, but yes, this gentleman is controlling a wah pedal with his shoe. The magic ingredient is these newly designed SoulPedal insoles, which can wirelessly control a separate wah or volume pedal, and even send MIDI commands – once you've seen a dude switch amp channels just by flexing his foot, you really have seen it all. The insoles are powered by one of those tiny watch batteries – no word on whether they'll help with your plantar fasciitis.
Two Notes' ReVolt was one of the more alluring announcements made prior to the show – a triple-channel, tube-driven overdrive pedal complete with cab sims that can essentially do everything you could possibly need from a preamp. We got a demo on the show floor and it sounded mighty sweet indeed – hopefully it will translate when we get that one uploaded and into your eyes/ears.
Positive Grid has partnered with hip young water brand Liquid Death for this super-limited Spark Mini, which was proudly on display at the show. Cans of Liquid Death were offered to us media types at the booth, and I hate to yell FALSE ADVERTISING, but I'm still standing after swigging mine. Maybe my immune system is made of stronger stuff than I thought.
Lore and behold, it's Walrus Audio's latest ethereal creation. With five wild programs built around reverse delay, reverb and pitch textures, the Lore promises to deliver a veritable dreamscape of spaced-out guitar tones. Which seems appropriate given the levels of jetlag experienced by many of us travelling types.
Silvertone has come a copper with the latest makeover for its 1303 reissue. The Copper Metallic look has a kind of future-retro vibe – the sonic spirit Silvertone embodies in the modern era. There are updates onboard, too, including a through-body bridge, solid mahogany body, contemporary C-shaped neck and a dual expanding truss rod. And lipstick pickups, natch. Always lipstick pickups.
Resurgent Brit brand Rapier – the latest marque from UK distribution behemoth JHS – was showcasing its new Saffire models, available in both six- and 12-string configurations. Capitalizing on the seemingly unceasing rise of vintage pawn shop guitars, the Saffire boasts a trio of retro-looking Astrosonic single coils, which utilize beefy Alnico 5 pole pieces. The eagle-eyed among you might notice a slightly different, rather more correct, spelling of Saffire on the fragmented scratchplate – I've been assured that will be amended for final production models.
The energy levels are flagging and the press coffee has run dry. Yes, the end of NAMM is nigh, so I'm going to wrap up our coverage with a few more highlights from the ESP booth, which I know for a fact you're all terribly interested in. Lurking among the Exhibition Limited series was the Pyrograph Nosferatu, featuring hand-burned artwork based on the classic 1922 horror flick. Up close, the detail really is quite stunning. They should call it NosferARTu, right? Right?! [Dies.]
Sure, Kirk Hammett's new V might be grabbing all the headlines – news broken by yours truly on this very blog, thankyouverymuch – but ol' Papa Het will also be bringing a new LTD signature variant to the market in 2023, and a V shape at that: yes, the James Hetfield Vulture will soon be available in an Olympic White finish. Enjoy.
Metallica was very much the theme of ESP's display this year, and along with a bunch of past Het 'n' Hamm models, the brand's uber-reflective perspex case also played host to two of the guitarists' personal, stage-played models: Hetfield's original Snakebyte Camo, which has been on tour since 2019, and the first ESP ever built for Kirk Hammett, his 1987 'Zorlac'. This guitar set the template for his incredibly long-running KH-2 Signature Series model, which makes it very special indeed.
And that's it: we're officially declaring NAMM 2022 over. Nobody was quite sure what to expect this year – owing to the absence of Gibson, Fender et al – but hyped-up crowds and a steady stream of notable releases ensured it felt just like a regular show. At least in the fact that my legs feel like jello/jelly and the caffeine crash is setting in. But exhibitors and media alike were enthusiastic about NAMM's return. There's a cautious optimism that 2020's bursting-at-the-seams exhibitor roster could be back to full force next year, but 2022 has also proven NAMM works perfectly well without the biggest industry guns.
We'll keep videos from the show coming, but this marks the end of our inaugural NAMM live blog for 2022. Thanks to all of you who have been following our exploits, whether digitally or physically. It's been emotional. See you next year.
We’d love to stay in touch, sign up for The Pick team to contact you with great news, content and offers.
Thank you for signing up to The Pick. You will receive a verification email shortly.
There was a problem. Please refresh the page and try again.