The 2015 summer NAMM show in Nashville, Tennessee, kicked off on July 9 in the very open, sunlit, and modern Music City Center. Thankfully, the Center is also exquisitely air cooled, as it’s so hot in Nashville in July that even the wind feels like someone is pointing a flame thrower at your face. Needless to say, it was a marvelous thing for this San Francisco boy to stay out of the blast furnace by perusing new gear in the building’s aisles.
In addition to this print report, you can check out more new products online at guitarplayer.com. Simply click the Frets tab in the top navigation bar, or search “Summer NAMM 2015.” We’ll also be reviewing some of these products in future issues, so please stand by for more comprehensive information on anything you’re considering adding to your rig.
TAYLOR 300 SERIES WITH SHADED MAHOGANY TOPS
Quite eye-catching, huh? These beauties also feature sapele backs and sides, Taylor’s Expression System 2 pickups, and hardshell cases. The series includes the 360e- SEB 12-String Dreadnought ($1,799 street), 326e-SEB Grand Symphony Baritone ($1,799 street), 322e-SEB Grand Concert ($1,799 street), 324e-SEB Grand Auditorium ($1,699 street), and 320e-SEB Dreadnought ($1,699 street). Taylor says this will be a limited run, so if you dig ’em, don’t wait. taylorguitars.com
BEDELL’S SUMMER OF LOVE TRIBUTE
One of summer NAMM’s bright spots was the ruby-hued Wildfire series ($3,990 retail), but we already covered those gems in the October 2015 New Gear column. So let’s riff on the summer theme further with an utterly transcendent Summer of Love #2 ($17,450) that has a soundboard crafted from 200-year-old Adirondack spruce and the rest from Brazilian rosewood. Call it the sound of the ’60s reborn. bedellguitars.com
The Oregon Concert Limited Edition ($2,132 retail) looks comfy, a bit strange, and absolutely spectacular at all once. Only 100 of these instruments—made with wood harvested from the Oregon coast—will be produced. breedlovemusic.com
CORDOBA’S SUNBURST FINISHES
It’s a popular electric finish, of course, but sunburst almost never shows up on more organic—perhaps let’s just say “conservative”—classical guitars. But if you’re a nylon-string player looking for something cool and different, the Cordoba C5 SB ($329 retail) and C5-CESB (shown; $429 retail) boast some stunning ’bursts. Both guitars have solid European spruce tops and mahogany backs and sides. The C5-E adds a Fishman Isys+ pickup system. cordobaguitars.com
SANTA CRUZ’S SUPERSTAR GUITAR
Country star and guitar wizard Brad Paisley wanted a classy and sophisticated handmade instrument, so he worked closely with Santa Cruz’s Richard Hoover to design a personalized guitar ($5,450 retail) based on the company’s Pre-War Dreadnought. Paisley wanted sustainable tone woods, so he used a Bear Claw Sitka top, as well as Indian rosewood for the body and an ebony fretboard. Even the “paisley” embossing on the hardshell case is stunning. This jem is truly a work of art. santacruzguitar.com
FISHMAN GOES PLATINUM!
Here’s tons of tone-shaping power for all your acoustic instruments, whether you play resonator, violin, cello, or steel-string. The Platinum Pro EQ/DI ($249 street) employs a Class-A analog preamp with features such as 5-band EQ, an onboard tuner, an adjustable volume boost, an effects loop, and more. fishman.com
RADIAL ENGINEERING GETS A LITTLE BUGGY
If your ears are getting tired of your acoustic-guitar’s piezo pickup squawking, snapping, and low-end woofing, then the Stage- Bug SB-4 Piezo Direct Box ($79 street) can tame most all of your tonal woes. The SB-4 is phantom powered, has a Phase Reverse switch to help combat feedback, a Ground Lift to kill hum, and a high-pass filter to diminish bass mud and boom. radialeng.com
BARBERA TRANSDUCER SYSTEMS SOLOIST SERIES
These saddle pickups—not under saddle—for steel- and nylon-stringed instruments offer amplified tone without being microphonic, boomy, or otherwise unmusical. Soloist Guitar pickups ($300 direct) focus on the vibration of your strings to deliver a transparent, balanced, and clear tone. A non-invasive installation is easy, and it does not damage your guitar. Some notable artists and companies have already embraced the design, including Collings Guitars, Benedetto Guitars, Guild, Cordoba, Doyle Dykes, Bernie Leadon, and Muriel Anderson. barberatransducers.com
We’re typically used to seeing anniversary models hit the way-higher end of the price strata, but Alvarez’s 50th Anniversary ADA1965 dreadnought clocks in at just $499 street. This guitar has a Sitka spruce top and a sunburst finish. alvarezguitars.com