NAMM 2019 Rumours & Predictions
Who’s exhibiting at NAMM 2019? What’s being released? How many guitar pedals is too many? All common questions being asked at this crucial time of year for the music industry. That’s right, it’s almost Winter NAMM time, which means heaps of new gear from your favourite brands. So what can we expect? Read on for our predictions, and maybe a few rumours from the inside…
NAMM 2019: Rumours & Predictions
NAMM is fast approaching, and we’re starting to get impatient. It’s the time of year when instrument manufacturers from all over the world descend on the Anaheim Convention Centre, California, to tease their upcoming kit for the year ahead. With increasingly rapid advancements in technology and an ever-changing economic climate, it’s hard to know what to expect from NAMM – but we don’t mind doing a bit of detective work!
There’s gonna be all manner of equipment on display. Electric, acoustic & bass guitars, amps, pedals, keyboards & pianos, synths, electronic & acoustic drums – we’re just getting started. Luckily, we’ll have our A-team on the ground as usual, headed up by the Captain himself, bringing you the news as it breaks live from California. In the meantime, here’s what we know so far…
PRS got a step ahead of the competition by unveiling a number of new lines in November 2018. It was a whopper of an announcement too; it more-or-less covered every range in their product catalogue, with something new for everyone. Here’s a roundup:
- Paul’s Guitar – a revamped version of the boss’ own signature model. This time round, it’s a combination of Mahogany, Maple and Honduran Rosewood, with PRS TCI treble/bass narrow pickups. Two mini toggle switches allow seamless hopping between humbucker and single-coil sounds. Paul's SE comes in three finishes.
- New signature models - check out Santana's first singlecut and the eye-popping King Crimson Schizoid signature model.
- SE Custom 24 Ziricote – PRS often release exotic wood versions of their SE Custom 24 range. This year, it’s getting the Zebrawood and Ziricote treatment. Gorgeous!
- CE 24 Semi-hollow – PRS are never afraid to give the semi-hollow game a try. The CE 24 is getting a semi-hollow version this year, adding extra warmth and breathy tone to this ever-popular instrument.
- SE Acoustic – both the Angelus and Tonare Grand acoustic models have been given a makeover in time for 2019. Quilted Maple and Ziricote backs, abalone purfling and striking finishes offer a truly fresh set of aesthetics!
In October 2018, Fender CEO maybe-accidentally revealed the company’s plans to produce an American-made line of acoustic guitars. In an interview with Rolling Stone, he unveiled that it had been a personal project that he’d been overseeing. A number of artists are already reportedly impressed, but that’s as much as we know at this stage – to be continued…
As well as this, Fender unveiled their new Performer Series guitars in November 2018. This fresh line offered a colourful variety of specs and finishes, all hovering around the £1000 mark – making them the most affordable US Fenders on the market!
Finally, one of their most hotly-anticipated releases is the Jimmy Page 1959 Telecaster set. In celebration of Led Zeppelin’s 50-year anniversary, Fender teamed up with the legendary Page to recreate his iconic Mirror and Dragon Telecasters. These will come in the form of exclusive hand-signed custom shop models, as well as a rumoured US-built run at a slightly more sensible price point. We’ll just have to wait and see!
Schecter also beat the competition by unveiling a killer new line of guitars: the Reaper series. This aptly-named range of guitars takes Schecter’s expertise in the hard rock and metal field and applies it to modern styles. Think cutting-edge tech metal, progressive, djent – music that requires precision, dynamics and slick looks to boot.
The Reaper series features striking Burl tops, bevelled edges, a handful of burst finishes, fixed bridge / locking trem options, and even a few 7-string and fanned fret models. State of the art indeed!
While nothing NAMM-related has been set in stone by Jackson, a number of posts on social media seem to point at a new artist on their roster. Jeff Loomis of Nevermore and Arch Enemy is known for his blistering rhythmic style and technical prowess in the metal genre. Formerly a Schecter artist, it looks like he’s hopped over to Jackson and is reportedly working on a signature guitar to be unveiled in 2019.
ESP guitars have quietly dropped a preview of their 2019 range online in advance of NAMM. The Japanese company have a reputation for producing some of the most proficient and exciting rock and metal instruments in the world. The 2019 line up is typically colourful, with a handful of signature models, revamped designs and a couple of shiny surprises. Here are some highlights:
- New signature models for Reba Meyers of Grammy-nominated Code Orange, Gary Holt of thrashers Exodus and Ken Susi of Unearth, among others
- A series of insane new finishes across the whole range; Wild Berry Fade, Lime Burst, Purple Sunburst, Black Cherry fade and loads more
- The return of the Stream bass, compete with two finishes (Black Satin and Black Natural Burst) and 4 & 5 string configurations
- A new LTD Xtone model, the PS-1000, complete with chambered Mahogany body, Seymour Duncan Phat Cat overwound single coils and two dazzling finishes.
One of the talking points of Winter NAMM last year was the absence of Gibson. As one of the undisputed titans of the industry, it didn’t do them any favours amidst rumours of financial woes and production issues. Still, they unveiled their 2019 range to much excitement in the summer of 2018, in what felt like something of a fresh start for the brand.
They’ve confirmed that they’ll be in attendance at NAMM 2019 – but what will they be showing off? They’ll likely have the 2019 range on show, despite its teasing at the Summer NAMM show. It’s also their first NAMM with new CEO James Curleigh in charge, so there are already rumours circulating about exciting new gear - this popped up on on West Coast Pedalboards' Instagram:
West Coast are a custom shop pedalboard company, specialising in tailor-made boards and parts. Are Gibson about to release their own range of pedalboards? There are at least 6 boards in this picture - is it a one off order? Some kind of custom build? All we know is they're bright orange and we kinda like it. Keep your eyes peeled...
Keeley Electronics gave 2018 a heck of a send-off with a last-minute announcement of some shiny new pedals. The X range was inspired by a stripped back Keeley prototype. In Mr. Keeley’s own words:
"After not landing on a visual design for a new pedal I’m working on for 2019 I thought, I should just produce it with a stripped down prototype look. That would be fun! Then I started to think, heck what would it look like to have a few pedals with old analog printed labels? What if I did x-number of pedals that way? What About X Pedals?!"
The new range includes a number of Keeley staples, including the legendary Compressor Plus, as well as a few new names, like the Tri Mod Chorus – the world’s only flawless chorus pedal according to Keeley! We can’t wait to get our hands on these.
Strymon are a class-leader in the world of guitar effects, and on January 10th they will be presenting a new product (or maybe a few) in a live stream on their Facebook page. We have no idea what they'll have in store for us, however some online forum discussions suggest that it could be something to compete with Line 6's flagship Helix floorboard.
It's no secret that many Strymon employees are ex-Line 6, and with Strymon's technological know-how and their already diverse pedal range, it's possible that they could squeeze the best of their effects pedals into one single unit. Whatever they end up announcing, it will be interesting for sure...
UPDATE: Strymon have now unveiled the Volante, a mind-bending ambience pedal with vintage flavours. Spring reverb, tape echo, analog delays and much more - delicious.
Last year, Taylor unveiled their revolutionary V-bracing, a carefully engineered tonal refresh destined for their entire acoustic range. What can we expect from the manufacturer at this year's show? So far, all we have to go by is this jolly but rather cryptic video - eyes peeled!
Other NAMM 2019 Guitar Rumours
- Jim Dunlop – the US giant unveiled a handful of neat pedal bits earlier in 2018, including the MXR Mini ISO Brick and the Way Huge Purple Platypus. Can we expect more colourful releases from one of the longest-running pedal companies in the world?
- Boss Waza Craft – the Waza Craft Metal Zone and Dimension C Chorus pedals sent the guitar world into a frenzy in the latter half of 2018. The latter was met with huge acclaim with its simple, timeless sound, while the former split the guitar community clean in two. Will Boss be working any more Waza Craft magic in the coming year?
- Pedaltrain – those clever folks at Pedaltrain have unveiled two tiny yet revolutionary products that'll really shake up the world of pedalboards. Their new SST (Space Saving Tuner) is by far the smallest pedalboard-mountable tuner we think we've ever seen. Tiny enough to slide beneath the 1/4" jacks on your pedals, we can't think of any way that this little device couldn't fit on any board - it's that dinky! The Volto V3 is the latest version of Pedaltrain's innovative rechargeable pedal power supply. With 25% extra juice and a revised battery that has a longer lifespan, you can get far more recharges out of the V3 compared to its predecessors.
Waldorf, a key player (excuse the pun) in the synth world, are no strangers to big announcements. The Quantum, teased over the course of both the Winter and Summer NAMM shows, was met with enormous acclaim upon its eventual release. In a similar fashion, they’ve stirred up the community by teasing their next project, the Kyra.
The Kyra is being hailed as the world’s first FPGA-powered synthesizer – that’s Field-Programmable Gate Array to you and me. A collaborative effort between Waldorf and UK developer Manuel Caballero (who made his name with the unveiling of his Exodus Digital Valkyrie at Musikmesse), the Kyra combines cutting-edge circuitry with Waldorf’s time-tested expertise. 8-part multitimbral, a dual PCM wavetable with 4096 waves, three stereo LFOs, 128 notes of polyphony and a whopping 1280 oscillators in total. Mind-bending stuff!
Over the past few years, Behringer have made a huge name for themselves in the synth field. Their Deepmind, Model D and Neutron synthesizers have brought classic tones to the masses with their insanely affordable price tags.
And they’re showing no signs of slowing down. They’ve recently confirmed that they’ll be putting their Pro-1 prototype into production for a 2019 release. As the name suggests, it’s been modelled on the classic Sequential Circuits Pro One, one of Dave Smith’s most prized creations. Early test-drives at other industry shows have generated an awful lot of buzz. And the best bit? It’s tipped to be priced around the £300 mark just like the Model D / Neutron – what’s not to love?
In addition, they’ve spent the past few months teasing some extra exciting synth releases. The MS-101, based on the legendary Roland SH-101, looks set to be in full production by late January. But wait, there’s more; the RD-808 has been on the cards for quite some time (any guesses what that’s based on?).
Behringer has also teased an update on the UB-Xa (pictured above), it's Oberheim OB-Xa project. Unlikely to appear at the NAMM Show as a finished product, Behringer may still have a functioning prototype on display to get some early feedback from specialists and consumers. Here’s to hoping it makes an appearance at this year’s NAMM.
Speaking of Prophets, Dave Smith Instruments changed their name in 2018 – back to Sequential. Not only that, but they announced that they’d be discontinuing the Prophet 12 while dropping a final run of limited White models. Can we expect some exciting new things from the ‘father of MIDI’ at NAMM 2019?
Arturia have teased a new piece of software in the months running up to NAMM 2019. In December ’18, they finally revealed all – a new software synth called Pigments.
Reportedly in the works for up to 20 years, Pigments delves deep into the world of wavetable synthesis and virtual analog circuitry to give you unprecedented control over your sound. They’ve basically laid out the basic fundamentals of a synthesizer in the form of a single plug in, so that each individual component can be tweaked, toggled and customised in full. The result is a set of sounds that are truly your own. Not only that, but you can combine wavetable and virtual analog synthesis to create sounds that are literally unheard of – talk about pushing the boundaries, eh?
There have also been whisperings of some new hardware on the horizon. When we say whisperings, we mean it – no official announcements or teasers have been revealed, we’re going purely on community speculation. The product in question is the KeyStep Pro. The original KeyStep was a real gamechanger for musicians across the spectrum, and with the BeatStep / BeatStep Pro combo, it seems like a logical assumption. Who knows?
The Stealth is the latest stunning display of microphone innovation from UK manufacturers Aston. Relative newcomers to the microphone field, Aston made waves with their Spirit, Origin and Starlight microphones. With the Stealth, they combined their expertise with extensive testing involving over 90 of the world’s top producers, artists and engineers. The result is a 4-voice microphone with a built-in mic pre that's truly breath-taking.
It seems Korg have been busy. First of all, there’s been talk of some new Volca units in town. These handy little synths are affordable and easily connected to each other, as well as other devices for great computer-free jams. The two new Volca synths that have been teased are the Modular (designed in the style of, you guessed it, a modular synth) and the Volca Drum (a digital percussion synthesizer). Both seem to offer something a little different, from expanded connectivity to a neat little screen displaying waveforms and other info. We hope they sound as cool as they look!
UPDATE: not only have Korg confirmed 2 new Volca models (Drum and Modular), but they've dropped additions to several of their ranges. Kronos workstations with updated libraries and new finishes, a revamp for the Krome range with brand new sounds a features for performances, and some super awesome new finishes for the Kross 2!
Dreadbox make some of the coolest synths on the market. 2018 saw them unveil a V3 of their flagship Erebus desktop synth, as well as the terrifying hybrid beast that was the Medusa. Just when you thought you’d had enough fun, they’ve teased a new effects unit that features analog chorus and flanger, a 3-spring reverb tank and a mind-bending stereo delay with freeze function. Whopper.
Roland are always embracing technology. Unveiled at this year's CES but sure to make an appearance at NAMM are their latest GO:Piano prototypes. The GO:Piano range is known for being lightweight, affordable and great for beginners. This year, they unveiled an 88-key version - but the fun doesn't end there. At CES they announced that future versions of the GO:Piano range would feature Amazon's Alexa. This will allow users to effortlessly control their keyboards by voice, meaning hands-free tweaking of settings on the go. Change your key, change your backing track, change your sound - all with a simple vocal request. The future is now!