For acolytes of the unplugged, this year revealed that a fair amount of companies were revamping and/or evolving their acoustic-guitar lines, the ukulele explosion still had legs, and many manufacturers expanded their efforts to use sustainable woods for building their guitars. Other than that, there was simply a lot of jangly goodness to take in. Here are some of the new products that caught our eyes amidst the noise and crowds at NAMM.
A dreadnought kissed with a little California sun, the Kingman has the classic Stratocaster headstock, solid-spruce top, mahogany back and sides, a maple neck, and Fishman electronics. $899 retail
Grateful Dead Series
Fly your freak flag with official Dead artwork over a western red-cedar top, a rosewood fretboard, and a 12th-fret lightning-bolt inlay. $399 street
This blend of aluminum and copper offers increased projection and clarity, as well as corrosion resistance. $7.49 street
EXP Acoustic Sets with New York Steel
The NYXL strings that brought strength and tuning integrity to electric players are now available in EXP Phosphor Bronze ($11 street) and EXP 80/20 ($10 street) sets, as well as selected banjo sets.
Angelica Bella Voce
Designed for fingerstyle players, the Bella Voce orchestra model offers a western red-cedar top, East Indian rosewood back and sides, and an ebony fretboard. A parlor guitar—the Bellissima—is also available. $4,990 retail
Swing with some New York groove with this sophisticated archtop that includes a Fishman INK-4 preamp/pickup system. Price TBD
The ESP team really strived to revamp and improve its affordable acoustic offering with its new auditorium, dreadnought, and jumbo models. Shown is the A-300E with solid Sitka spruce top, mahogany back and sides, and a B-Band T35 preamp. $349-$629 street
Solid Top Mini Guitars
These cuties can travel with you nearly anywhere. The models are the Mini M in spruce/mahogany ($199 street, shown), the Mini R in spruce/rosewood ($249 street), and the Mini O in ovangkol ($279 street).
Avante By Veillette
Joe Veillette’s “mini” high-tuned unison 12-string is now handcrafted in Korea—which means you can save a bundle over his Woodstock, New York-produced models. It features a solid-spruce top, mahogany back and sides, a mahogany neck, and a rosewood fretboard. $1,495 street
Oregon Concert CE 25th
Built completely with Oregon-grown tonewoods—hence the name (the “25th” refers to Breedlove’s 25th anniversary this year)—you get a Port Orford cedar top, myrtlewood back and sides, an ebony fretboard, and an LR Baggs EAS VTC preamp. $2,665 retail
Evoking the J-45s loved by Hank Williams and John Lennon, this Epi features a solid Sitka-spruce top in a satin sunburst finish, mahogany back and sides, a mahogany neck, a rosewood fretboard, and a Shadow Sonic preamp system. Price TBD
Artist Concert Hall
A beautiful sunburst, an LR Baggs Element pickup, a solid spruce top, and a mahogany neck with an ebony fretboard—this stunner should wow audiences at both concert halls and coffee shops. $1,395 retail
Portable (25 lbs) and powerful (50 watts), the AC50 also offers dedicated guitar and microphone inputs, chorus, reverb, 3-band EQ, feedback suppression, and an onboard tuner. $249 street
Artwood Vintage AVN2
This charmingly earthy parlor guitar is all mahogany (top, back, sides, and neck) with an open pore finish, a rosewood fretboard, and vintage-approved Grover Open-Gear tuners. $499 street
Comfort Edge Ukuleles
Tired of your arms scraping against your uke’s sharp edges? These models provide a touch of relief with their beveled and bound padauk edges, and your fleet fingers also get a Florentine cutaway. Price TBD
SE Angelus A10E
This awesome-looking all mahogany guitar also includes a rosewood fretboard, undersaddle electronics with Volume and Tone controls, and a bone nut and saddle. $599 street
For a different take on the traditional 12-string, try this 10-string model that doubles the first, second, third, and fourth strings. It also has a solid spruce top, flamed okoume sides, a three-piece flamed okume and Ovancol back, and a Fishman Sonitone preamp. Price TBD
Custom Shop Artist Curated Ukulele Strings
Peer Power! Based on feedback from players, this new series of ukulele strings enhances tone and playability. Price TBD
Woodcraft Series Parlor Guitars
These parlor pups feature solid-cedar tops, mahogany necks, rosewood fretboards, and Fishman Sonitone systems. The WP26SENS ($500 est., shown) has rosewood back and sides and stylized pearl fretboard inlays, the WP21SENS ($483 est.) offers dot inlays over rosewood back and sides, and the WP11SENS ($423 est.) boasts mahogany back and sides.
Squier’s return to acoustic-guitar making produced this lovely black- or sunburst-finished dreadnought with a maple neck, a rosewood fretboard, and laminated basswood top, back, and sides. $99 street
Leave it to Taylor to transform the usually bright tonal characteristic of maple into a lush, warm, and dimensional sounding maple guitar. $3,798-$4,138 retail
More Goodies to Check Out!
BC Rich: BCR1, BCR2, BCR4, BCR6.
CleartoneStrings: Grand Light Series (designed expressly for jumbos).
Cole Clark: Angel 3 Series in America redwood grown in Australia.
Collings: Waterloo Series WL-14.
Cort: New Vintage Collection includes the 300V, L300VF, and CJ3V.
D’Addario: Clip-On Headstock Tuner, and NS Artist DADGAD, Classical, and Drop-Tune Capos.
Dana B. Goods Grace Harbor Line: A new series of acoustics with laminated or solid spruce tops.
La Bella: Vapor Shield Acoustic Phosphor Bronze, No. 200 Uke-Pro Series ukulele strings.
Lâg Guitars: Occitania Line, 44 Series entry-level models, 66 and 80 Series classical guitars. Also, TSE701 with snakewood back and sides and a Sitka spruce top. Lowden: F50 African Blackwood/Redwood with 38 style appointments, F50c Fan Fret, new Original and 35 Series models, and Wee Lowden designed for Ed Sheeran. Recording King: Dirty 30’s Harmonella models with solid spruce tops, bound soundholes, and tailpieces.
Riversong Guitars: Graduated Series with fanned frets, new Flexitone material, and a new SLAP pickup that will be incorporated into the Don Alder (a Guitar Player’s Guitar Superstar champion) Baritone model.
Tanglewood: Sundance Delta Historic Series (mahogany models), Evolution Deluxe Series (new wood combinations), Evolution Viscount Series (sexy jumbos), Discovery Series (entry-level guitars).
Takamine: This year’s limited-edition LTD-2015 inlays showcase the Renge-so flower that grows at the foot of the Takamine mountain. It has a solid-spruce top, rosewood back and sides, a mahogany neck, an ebony fretboard, and a CTP-3 preamp.
The Loar LH-204 Brownstone: A vintage-style blues box with a brown satin finish over a solid Sitka spruce top, mahogany back and sides, a mahogany neck, and a rosewood fretboard.