Best New Guitar Gear At NAMM 2017
Tasty new gear for guitarists…
Guitarists looking to this year’s NAMM event in Anaheim won’t be disappointed with the amount of the new models they can expect to see hitting the stores soon. From entry level models designed to encourage the next generation, through to some of the most extravagantly obscure prototypes you’ll ever see, NAMM brings out the best in the big brands. Let’s take a look at some of the guitars that caught our eye.
Ibanez have really gone to town this year, demonstrating more than 50 new models. Covering the entire gamut, the Japanese brand had something for every player and every price point. Of course, being Ibanez, the individual product names remain on the esoteric and often downright confusing side of things, but some of the finishes on display were truly mind blowing.
With its long history of making guitars designed for metal and rock, it was no surprise that Ibanez displayed a number of electrics which fans of those genres will lap up. The Iron Label series, launched a few years ago, are built specifically to cater for heavy, often downtuned riffs. NAMM 2017 saw the introduction of a couple of new models to this line-up. The Ibanez RGDIX6PB (see what we mean about the names?) comes in a unique – we think very cool – surreal black burst finish which tapers out from black to completed unfinished. The DiMazrio Fusion Edge pickups will slay through those chunky riffs, while the ebony fingerboard will ensure your travels up and down the neck are comfortable and precise.
Staying within the Iron Label range, the frankly incredible looking Ibanez RGAIX6U takes the principles of stripped down, heavy guitars and introduces some neat new twists in the form of high quality BareKnuckle pickups, which have become de rigeur among modern metal musicians on account of their exceptional control at higher gain levels.
Non-metallers will welcome a couple of updated semi-acoustic models in the new range. The re-booted Ibanez Artcore AM53 is a great example of a well made, high quality hollowbody at a price which makes it accessible for anyone. There’s also something for jazz fans in the form of the stunning new Ibanez AF75G, which uses the classic black and gold combination of body and hardware.
And at the top end of the range are some of the most incredible looking guitars we’ve ever seen from Ibanez. Go check out the Ibanez RG1070 in ‘cerulean blue burst’ and tell us that isn’t one of the most beautifully finished guitars you’ve ever seen.
Big news from Fender at NAMM 2017 as it announces the replacement of its flagship American Standard line with a new range called Fender Professional. This new line-up encompasses most of the same models as previously, but with a few twists like updated pickup combinations and new finishes.
The American-built Fender Professional Stratocaster sits at the top of the pile, and boasts Tim Shaw designed pickups. It comes in a range of new finishes, including the very attractive antique olive. There’s also a new Fender Professional Telecaster, Fender Professional Jazzmaster (check out the mystic seafoam finish version…wow) and Fender Professional Jaguar to ensure all the old bases are covered.
Squier also announced a couple of new Jazzmasters, including a unique hardtail version. Both the Stoptail and more purist-friendly Tremolo versions of the Squier Deluxe Jazzmaster come in a dashing red and gold colourway. The JM love-in doesn’t stop their either, as Squier also introduced a superb looking Jazzmaster Baritone in dashing all-black, and an Affinity Jazzmaster to encourage new learners into the world of these unique instruments.
In the world of acoustics, Taylor is making a bee-line for the middle ground with the introduction of its new Academy range of guitars. The Taylor A10e and Taylor A12e are both reasonably priced instruments which will open up the possibility of players of all ability levels being able to own a guitar from one of the industry’s most respected brands. The Taylor A10e is a dreadnought acoustic with a sitka spruce top, ES-B electronics and a gig-bag, while its counterpart – the Taylor A12e – features the same spec but comes in the slightly larger grand concert body shape.
The Japanese manufacturer has pitched itself squarely at the intermediate-to-pro player with its 2017 line-up. Of most interest is the launch of a brand new, made-in-Japan flagship model, the Yamaha A5. Based on a prototype from last year’s show, the A5 comes with either a mahogany or rosewood body, with sitka spruce top, and features some clever on-board electronics which allow the player to simulate different microphone placements.
British amp manufacturer Orange has gone back to one of its most famous combos for 2017. The Rocker series of amps has always held cult status among Orange fans, and went on to spawn the iconic Rockerverb series of high-end heads and combos. Orange has gone back to that heritage to launch two new amps, the Orange Rocker 15 and Orange Rocker 32. The Rocker 15 is a two-channel, 15 watt all valve amp which Orange say is perfect for pedalboard enthusiasts on account of the single channel, which offers straight up one-knob pure valve-y goodness. The Rocker 32, on the other hand, boost the power up to 30 watts and incorporates two 10″ speakers to offer the player a full stereo experience. Both amps come in traditional orange or black.
Vox introduced a range of small (in some cases tiny) amps for practice and recording. The British brand’s amPlug series has been going strong for years now, and at NAMM 2017 it welcomed Series 2 into the fold. These new mini amps come in a range of different tones, and with new features like an aux input for plugging an external sound source. They also use a movable plug to accommodate different instrument body shapes.
Vox also welcomed a new range of micro amplifier heads, the Vox NuTube MV50 series. These tiny heads actually deliver 50 watts of power using Vox’s unique NuTube pre-amp technology, and again come in a number of different tonal flavours to satisfy different player’s requirements. The NuTube MV50 heads also offer direct-to-desk recording and can power differing sizes of external speaker cabinet thanks to their switchable impedance settings.