A few weeks back, I wrote about the most metal moments at NAMM, but now I'd like to touch base on some of the amazing products at the one of the largest music trade shows in the world.
Manufacturers seem to have found a way of creating affordable instruments that sound amazing, and at NAMM I discovered quite a few.
But I'm not talking about the usual brands like Marshall and Fender -- there are a ton of other instrumental purveyors that have an impressive lineup of products, and two of my current favorites are Korg and Samson.
I mean, rock stars love Vox (owned by Korg) but choose Marshall because they want the wall of speakers. Vox is one of the most iconic guitar amps ever. It's been Paul McCartney's favorite speakers for, well, as long as anyone can remember, since it's what the Beatles always used. Other musicians that opt for Vox include the Rolling Stones, Kings of Leon, the Cult, and the Black Crowes.
Korg USA also handles distribution for Blackstar Amplification and Ashdown Engineering, both of which are UK-based, as well as a few other companies. Blackstar even won Brand to Watch at NAMM this year.
Korg has a ton of fantastic products that I saw at NAMM. First off, the brand is known for their keyboards. They first debuted the RK-100 keytar in 1984, and this year Korg resurrected it -- except this one is made out of wood, comes in three different colors and has a ribbon the whole length of the key bed, so you can do dive bombs and a ton of other stuff. And out of the blue, one of my favorite products is the limited-edition MS-20 Kit.
"We also came out with an MS-20 kit. It's an analog synthesizer that you can build yourself. It comes in a flat box, you put it together and wire it, and the directions are easy to understand," says Korg artist rep David Ungar. "It's something really cool that no one else is really doing."
There's also the PiBass 240 and the Rootmaster Series, both from Ashdown, which is distributed by Korg. Some of the artists who have played Ashdown over the years are Adam Clayton from U2, Nate Mendel from the Foo Fighters, and Eric Wilson from Sublime.
Blackstar's new ID: Core series won Best in Show at NAMM as well. The new entry-level amp line features three models, the ID: Core 10 Stereo, the ID: Core 20 Stereos and the ID: Core 40 Stereo, and each punches way above its diminutive size. Each model is affordable, starting at $99, $149, and $199.
"Another new product people are excited about is Korg's limited edition scarlet red AC15C1 V-Type," says Ungar. "The AC 15 and 30 amps have such a such an amazing signature sound, tone-wise, that it is the most classic guitar amp out there."
In fact, Ungar just signed Munky from Korn to an AC30 deal.
"We also just came out with the Night Train G2, which is like the AC30 on steroids," adds Ungar. "The G2 has the traditional Vox clean tone with a little more of a punch that can be added with the flip of a switch."
Another brand I appreciate is Samson, whose Expedition XP1000 Portable PA system is an all-in-one sound system with loads of features, and tons of power that packs into a single compact design. The XP1000 is Bluetooth-enabled, allowing you to wirelessly stream music from your smart phone tablet, or laptop. It also has a removable 10-channel mixer with an impressive 1000-watt lightweight amplifier and 16 presets of high-quality DSP effects that are particularly suited for vocals.
I also love the Meteorite USB Condenser Microphone. It captures high-quality vocals on your computer, featuring a 14mm diaphragm with a smooth, flat frequency. There's also no need for drivers, as the mic can be directly connected to any computer via its integrated USB cable.
Here are a few of my other favorite products at NAMM 2014:
Some of ESP's most high-profile endorsees have helped create new ESP, E-II and LTD Signature Series guitars and basses, all of which are made their debut at the show.
Wood Violins Vipers, which are the most versatile and innovative electric violins ever offered to the modern violinist. It's completely self-supporting (no chin rest) and the cobra cello, which is a gorgeous full-scale lightweight electric cello.
Dean's Dimebag Roots ML. This very special guitar was limited to only 200 individually numbered pieces, and it features an oak razor blade inlayed directly into the body of the guitar. The 200 razor blades were cut from the branch of an old oak tree branch located right outside the studio window in Dime's backyard.