NAMM 2019: What's Hot

Posted 5th February, 2019

To banish those post-Christmas blues, the guitar industry like to hold a massive trade show, in LA, every year at the end of January. And every year there's stacks of hot new products being released by all the big names. We've picked out a few of the highlights that should start to appear in our Denmark Street shops and on this website in the coming months!


Lowden Sheeran Series

In massive news for anyone who’s looked at Lowden and thought ‘I’ll never afford this’, the family company have monumental news. Literally breaking in the last 24 hours, Lowden have announced a collaboration with Ed Sheeran to launch a brand new line of instruments called….Sheeran. Yes, after years of supplying first-rate instruments to the great and good, Lowden have decided that they’re ready to do a more affordable line, and while they’ll hardly be festival leave-behinds, they’re rumoured to be operating around the £600 mark, which is positively paltry for a Lowden. This puts them straight into the Takamine/Guild bracket, and Lowden are offering two models, the S shape and the Wee Lowden. Both of these have been firm favourites at Wunjos for some time, with a couple even making it into the hands of the staff. The models will have a choice of solid wood tops and cutaway/non-cutaway versions, not to mention the choice of a soundbox bevel. We rarely have Lowdens on the bench in the shop, and it seems almost impossible that the exceptionally careful family company would make anything other than a world-class instrument at any price point, so these will no doubt change the acoustic game significantly. More information as we get it, but this is an exciting development for sure!


Fender Jimmy Page Telecaster

Hardly just wood and wire, the Fender Jimmy Page Telecasters that got unveiled at NAMM have been bringing everyone everywhere to the internet to rant and rave about how excited they are. This guitar isn’t a signature model per se - no mere fancy-paint-job effort, this is a deliberate attempt by Fender to recreate the DNA of Page’s original Tele, the guitar he used pre-Zeppelin, before painting it again and ushering in a new era.The custom shop versions are bonkers money and they’re only making 50, but there’s a production run in the works, and though prices are yet to be fully confirmed, the following details have come to light. Built around a two-piece ‘50s-shaped body, the production versions will have a custom Oval-C shaped Maple neck (presumably with a Rosewood board), a top-loading bridge that’ll allow you to string through the body as well, and a set of custom-wound pickups. The extras are pretty cool - lacquer finish on the body, vintage tweed case, eight round mirrors, and a black coiled cable for one, and a lacquer finish, deluxe black case, repro artwork of the dragon and a red coily cable for the other. Naturally, these will most likely go out faster than they can get made, but as a living document of a pivotal guitar in music, they’re likely to be pretty banging as well!


EHX Mono Synth

It wouldn’t be NAMM without Mike Matthews, and indeed, the new EHX Mono Synth is here to make your life that little bit better. Effecting synthesis on bass has gone through an abundance of changes over the years, from the Boss SYB and rack units to the present day - the Mono Synth is aimed at making the synth sounds you might actually use easily accessible and controllable, with a couple of very non-keys-player orientated features. The interface is incredibly straightforward - independent volumes for the dry signal and synthesis act as blend controls, and EHX go one step further by offering separate outs for these signals. There’s a Sens control so you can get each setting to respond to your unique playing style, and a Ctrl knob which allows you to control one or more parameters of the sound. There’s an expression in on the side, which is tied to one parameter per sound - this can have painfully funky consequences, so don’t say that you haven’t been warned! 11 different synths await you in this extremely handsome unit, with ‘Oblivion’ and ‘Acid’ being early shop favourites. This has been designed specifically as a monophonic synth, meaning that it’s able to handle one note at a time (like the Octave Multiplexer), and the tracking is very sharp, so you can get right into those hard lines as quick as you like. Now, the best bit - there’s presets for each one of these sounds, so you can set each one to whatever you want with ease, then control the desired parameters with the expression pedal. The ‘Sub’ and ‘Unison’ settings are hilariously good, with loads of character and squelchy dynamics, so if you like to get down, this is the pedal for you!


Korg Volca Modular

In a world of robotic, ultra-neat keyboards, the Korg Volca Modular is a welcome injection of exciting spaghetti. The popularity of genres like vaporwave and the fabulous old-school charm of dungeon synth has led many players to rediscover all those old sounds from the ‘80s, and to enjoy them without irony - it was only a matter of time before modular synths started to get the attention they deserved. Though such a phrase might conjure images of Wakeman or ELP enshrouded in cable miasma, the new Volca is much more approachable, though it still carries the ‘I’ll plug this in here’ excitement of the giant Moogs of old. Featuring a 16-step sequencer, the Modular operates on the “West-Coast style” of synthesis, with 50 patch points for your manipulation. There’s points for Sync I/O, CV-in and a headphone out, not to mention the option to run off batteries for on-the-go activity. Korg have also included the Woggle, a random pink noise signal generator with two random noise outputs, one for stepped and one for smooth. The split allows you to distribute one input to two outputs, with the option to use this in reverse, combining two signals into one. The Dual LPG is two low-pass gate circuits, which package a filter with an amp to allow you to control the brightness and volume of a sound at the same time. The Sequencer has the option to scale up its activity, with chaining allowing you to clamber up to 256 steps for seriously long-form development. You can randomize this as well, so all sorts of fabulously happy accidents can take place, pushing your writing and composition to new lengths. Micro tuning, more advanced and involved scales and two new options for sequence playback (including the stochastic sequence that slowly moves forward while moving backwards randomly) mean that this tremendously exciting unit will excite and surprise you every time you use it, so make sure you give it a try!


Ibanez AFR4FMP Affirma Premium Bass

Clearly preparing for interaction with an as-yet unknown alien species, the NAMM-new Ibanez AFR4FMP is here, scoffing at the tepid bath of craziness that was the former Ergodyne series. As more and more players take aesthetic risks that would have been unthinkable 10 years ago, Ibanez wades deep into the water with this thing, built around a Flamed Maple body with and Aerosilk bridge. The Affirma has a 3-piece , Graphite-reinforced Maple neck topped with an Ebony fingerboard, culminating in a lethal headstock that makes even Dean look wimpy. 24 frets of impossibly fast Ibanez comfort await your fleet-fingered phrasing, this strangely elegant instrument translating your every nuance to the jack socket via a Bartolini X55JX pickup mounted in the centre. The electronics go deep - aside from the Bartolini, which has its own active Treble and Bass boost/cut preamp, there’s a Piezo transducer to blend in for even more cut and control, and this pickup gets its own tone control. New to the Affirma is a half-neck-through construction, which allows for greater sustain, better stability, and better balance. Ibanez are quite keen on player fatigue, and the graphite rods, small headstock and body ergonomics are all designed to make this as light and comfortable as possible, while delivering permanently useable, broad tones. An unusual, well-thought-out and exciting bass for sure, the Ibanez AFR4FMP Affirma Premium is quite the ticket.


Please email, or call 0207 379 0737 (press option 5) for further information on all the above items and anything else you might have seen in the NAMM show that we can get for you.


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