The day before NAMM officially opened, Chris Martin IV really kicked things off by unveiling Martin Guitar’s reimagined Standard Series—the biggest update to the company’s flagship line in its 185-year history, and one that triggered some extremely “animated” discussions amongst the team. But Martin understands it needs to evolve—even after close to two centuries (that’s a joke, there)—and it also plans to spend 2018 letting players know the company makes more than just dreadnoughts and unamplified acoustics by promoting other styles and their acoustic/electric lines. (Don’t miss the affordable X-Series.) The Taylor Builder’s Edition K14ce and the Fishman Loudbox Mini Charge were also big acoustic stories at NAMM, but we covered the K14ce in the March issue, and the Loudbox gets a full review this month on p. 104. For more info on the many great new acoustic products debuted at NAMM, go to guitarplayer.com and search for “NAMM 2018.”
Kyser may have developed a nearly perfect device for relieving the frustration of backing up singer/songwriters who never know what chords they are playing as they move their capos up and down the necks of their guitars. The free Kyser app for iOS and Android smartphones reveals all, and quite simply, by identifying chord sounds for many fingering and capo positions. An tuner and metronome is also included, and Kyser even makes an optional phone holder that attaches to their capos. Gotta love “easy.”
Bob Weir’s Real Deal Acoustic Preamp
Bob Weir is no slouch when it comes to audio innovation, and when he wanted a natural acoustic-guitar sound at high volume levels onstage, he worked with Grateful Dead tech Mike McGinn to solve the problem. Then, he defied Pigtronix to translate the variable low- and high-frequency filters and other sonic mojo into a pedal ($279 street). Weir patiently explained the processing to me when I talked to him at NAMM, but then smiled, and said, “I just like to play acoustic guitar really loud.” What more can you say?
Align Acoustic Series Pedals
These dedicated acoustic pedals ($179 street each; Active DI $159 street) are designed to function together as a system for live performance and recording. The Align Equalizer works as a preamp/EQ and for notching out feedback frequencies, the Align Session is a compressor/saturation pedal for adding girth and richness to your sound, and the Align Reverb brings sweet, airy dimension to it all. Lastly, the Align Active DI with its XLR and 1/4” outs, 48-volt phantom power, and other hip features facilitates connecting to your amp rig or the house system.
The trend of onboard effects for acoustic guitars shows no sign of abating, and now the technology appears to be trickling down to more affordable models. For its part, Yamaha is including its TransAcoustic system—with integrated reverb and chorus effects—on the affordable FG and FS series guitars this year. As an FG-TA or a FS-TA costs just $599 (street), players can get those cool ambient/modulation effects along with a solid, Sitka spruce top, mahogany back and sides, and a rosewood fretboard and bridge.
One of three new Angelus SE models introduced at NAMM, the SE A40E ($749 street) is a fine-playing and lush-sounding guitar that features ovangkol back and sides and a solid-spruce top that’s matched with PRS’ hybrid X/Classical bracing to allow it to vibrate more freely. The Fishman GT1 pickup system delivers a very natural amplified sound, and the guitar has lots of high-end touches such as an ebony fretboard and bridge, bone nut and saddle, and PRS bird inlays.