If you were lucky enough to be able to make the trip to the Los Angeles area last week, you got to see quite a few new products at the winter NAMM show. Primarily an event for dealers, by vendors, it shows off the latest gear and what they hope will be trending in the coming months. I’ve got a few observations and it’s all here in this winter NAMM 2020 gear highlights wrap-up.
Fender displayed its new for 2020 “Acoustasonic Stratocaster”. It’s a hollowed out strat-type body with a single-coil pickup in the bridge position and a Fishman acoustic pickup with the ability to blend the two for multiple tonal possibilities. Interesting… Here’s a YouTube clip featuring it and the latest offerings from Fender for 2020:
“Baked maple, get your baked maple”– sounds like I’m at a farmer’s market sampling pies, doesn’t it? Only a few years ago, Gibson was substituting baked maple fingerboards for ebony and rosewood when the Obama administration seized their supply, which they eventually returned. People lost their minds at the thought of new Gibsons being made with “cooked” wood. Now it’s back but used more for aesthetics. Guitar makers EVH, Ernie Ball and others are now building guitar models that feature baked maple fingerboards (and in some cases necks) which look darker and “aged.” What was once considered “shabby” guitar making is now consider “chic.” How times have changed.
Gibson presented their new models including the Slash Collection as I mentioned here. Guitar Center did a video detailing the new Slash guitars. It’s a pretty nice collection and not high priced like the Custom Shop guitars are.
If you come here often you know how highly I think of Epiphone in the lower-priced guitar market. They listened to customers’ demands and with their new “Inspired by Gibson” line of guitars they have redesigned the headstock to look more like a Gibson and the guitars look almost indistinguishable from their USA brothers, except for the peghead logo. Speaking of which, they will be manufacturing two acoustic and two Casino electrics at the Gibson US facilities in 2020. A USA made Epi – wow. They won’t be priced like the imports, however.
Here’s Gibson’s CEO illustrating the new Epiphone line:
I couldn’t help but include this Epi as part of this article; it’s really got me excited. Epi is releasing their new “Epiphone Inspired by Gibson 1961 SG Standard Range” of electrics featuring an SG standard in cherry-finished mahogany with vibrola as well as an SG Junior model with P-90 pickups. They also feature CTS brand electronics, as per Gibson. To me, this line is aimed at the younger player audience (specifically fans of Greta Van Fleet’s Jake Kiszka of whom I think a signature model is way overdue.) Gibson’s marketing can be confusing at times and it seems like they’re marketing Epiphones to younger players and Gibsons to older players. In my opinion this may not be the wisest choice. We shall see but you can’t go wrong buying an Epi these days. They are well-made, excellent sounding guitars at a fraction of the price. In an all-mahogany guitar with similar pickups, can there really be any difference in the sound? Who better to demo it than Anderton’s “The Captain?” Chappers was nowhere to be found, at least on camera. Ok, which one of you guys is out of tune?
PRS showed off its limited-edition “Dragon” guitar, made with exotic woods and inlays. It is visually a stunner. This would be a must-have if you are a PRS person, and you could afford it:
Dean featured its new Kerry King signature model in addition to its current lineup of guitars. Check it out. You either love it or you hate it:
ESP guitars displayed some really nice models featuring custom finishes and pickups with push-pull pots and signal boosters. They had some of the most modern looking guitars even though a lot of them were based on traditional body shapes.
G&L is celebrating their 40th anniversary this year. Still showing the influence of Leo Fender’s original designs, they feature custom colors and hardware in just about any configuration you could want:
EVH – The new made-in-Mexico Frankenstein “Relic” guitar with the classic red-black-white striping and appointments mimicking the original will be released in 2020. No word on whether a 1971 quarter dollar and reflectors will be included with the guitar (wink, wink.) Street pricing is in the $1600 range. Also new for 2020 is the all-black EVH 5150IIIS 50 watt amp featuring 6L6 output tubes. It has all the features of its 100 watt big brother used on the last Van Halen tour by Eddie but in a 50 watt configuration. If you heard Van Halen on their last tour you know the Stealth amp had the closest tone to his original brown sound going back even before the Peavey days. These should be killer:
Marshall, after a blockbuster year last year with the release of its Vintage series of 20-watt amps, was a bit quiet at NAMM this year. They did come out with some new finish offerings for the Vintage series. The all black JCM800 Stealth model looked absolutely killer to me. Check out the clip below:
Speaking of Marshall – Nita Strauss made an appearance at the Marshall booth (as well as the Ibanez booth) playing a couple of tunes for the audience using a Marshall Code amp and playing to a prerecorded track. Great to see her there shredding. She is also great with the audience and to her fans. Here she is playing “Pandemonium”:
Here’s Nita discussing the two new models in her Jiva™ line for 2020: The Jiva Junior and the Jiva X:
Of course there was tons more gear on display, more than we could ever show here. This was just a sample of what’s coming out this year. It’s pretty exciting stuff, more than I can remember going back quite a while.
I can’t wait for next year!
Ok, what are your thoughts on the new gear from the NAMM show for 2020? Tell us what do you like or dislike. Would you go out and buy any of the gear you saw here?