Best of NAMM 2020: The MusicRadar awards

(Image credit: Future)

NAMM 2020: Hands up, we haven't spent enough time looking at the new woodwind instruments and music stands - maybe next year - but from a guitar, hi-tech and drums perspective, we'd like to think we've seen as much as anyone out in Anaheim.

There was certainly plenty to see, too, but which new products won the show? We asked our team of experts to ponder that question and come up with some answers: here are the winners of MusicRadar's hotly contested NAMM 2020 awards.

Best in Guitars

Best electric guitar: PRS McCarty S2 594

(Image credit: PRS)

PRS's 2020 is so comprehensive it can be easy to overlook the significance of the S2 McCartys. The 594 is our pick because it brings top line design to more players. It exemplifies PRS strengths in building, with its commitment to delivering those qualities at accessible prices for more players than ever.

Read more: PRS adds new McCarty 594 guitars to the S2 Series

Best acoustic guitar: Martin SC-13E

(Image credit: Future)

The SC-13E laughs at the idea that Martin are traditionalists with genuine innovation aimed at inspiring players who aren't hung up on heritage. We've never experienced upper fret  access like this on an acoustic, and then there's that offset shape. A genuinely fresh approach to acoustic design.

Read more: Is Martin's new SC-13E acoustic its most progressive guitar ever?

Best bass guitar: Warwick Sadowsky Metro

(Image credit: Warwick)

When the announcement came in December that Warwick and Sadowsky were partnering up for a new European-made instrument line called the Metro, we couldn't wait to get our hands on the new basses. The wait is over and we're delighted to report that the Metro is playable, packed with features and definitely worth investigation.

More info:

Best bass amp: Orange Little Bass Thing

(Image credit: Orange)

Orange's new amp, the Little Bass Thing, wowed us with its features, power and portability. Another winner for the venerable brand.

Read more: Orange goes low with its Bass Butler pedal and Little Bass Thing amp

Best guitar amp: Positive Grid Spark 40

(Image credit: Positive Grid)

The 16,000 preorders this amp currently has speaks volumes about the reputation of Positive Grid's BIAS modelling. And we can attest this amp sounds as good as we'd hoped when we filmed a demo at the show. 

But it offers more; the ability to transpose chords of streamed audio songs from YouTube, Spotify and more. You can generate your own backing tracks. Then there's the recording potential. We can't wait to get one! 

Read more:  Positive Grid launches the Spark guitar amp for jamming, learning songs and recording

Best guitar effects: Neural Quad Cortex

(Image credit: Neural DSP)

A genuine surprise from the plugin experts – entering the fierce multi-effects modelling unit market with confidence. Tell Helix and Headrush there's a new player in town, and what we saw and heard on the show floor was compelling…

Read more: Neural DSP's AI-powered floor modeller is 'Vulgar Display of Power'

Guitar innovation award: Gamechanger Light

(Image credit: Gamechanger Audio)

The effects pedal market has never been more crowded with quality; brands are clamouring for your heard-earned cash and precious 'board real estate. So when we say we were genuinely blown away by the Light, we don't say it…um… lightly. 

The Latvians bring innovation, pizzaz and superlative sonics to an optical spring reverb. See what that means for yourselves…

Read more: NAMM 2020 VIDEO: Gamechanger Audio unveils its Light Pedal, the first ever ‘optical spring reverb’

Best in Music Tech

Best hardware synth: Korg Wavestate

(Image credit: Korg)

OK, we're cheating slightly here, having already run the review rule over Korg's superbly rebooted Wavestation, but we don't hesitate to salute a faithful tribute to a ’90s classic that still offers cutting-edge sound design tools for the 21st century. 

Read more: Korg Wavestate review

Best music software: Universal Audio LUNA

(Image credit: UA)

Universal Audio arguably provided the story of NAMM 2020,  audaciously announced the LUNA Recording System, which is essentially a free DAW for users of the company’s Apollo and Arrow audio interfaces.

Read more: Universal Audio’s LUNA is a free DAW for Apollo audio interface owners

Best music tech innovation: Vochlea Dubler Studio Kit

(Image credit: Vochlea)

Voice-to-MIDI is in danger of becoming the in thing, so hats off to Vochlea for providing the most convincing application yet for mouth-controlled percussive sound control, melodic parts and effect manipulation.

Read more: Can the Dubler Studio Kit turn your voice into the ultimate MIDI controller?

Best DJ gear: Pioneer DJ DJM-V10

(Image credit: Pioneer DJ)

With its new 6-channel club mixer, Pioneer DJ is taking aim at Allen & Heath's Xone series, offering up a hugely flexible-looking hub that combines an eye-watering amount of connectivity with plenty of hands-on creative tools.

Watch: Pioneer DJ DJM-V10

Best studio gear: SSL audio interfaces

(Image credit: SSL)

Pro audio specialist Solid State Logic is stepping into the home recording market with two affordable USB audio interfaces: SSL 2 and SSL 2+. SSL quality at these prices is more than enough to get our nod for NAMM 2020.

Read more: SSL’s new budget audio interfaces promise studio quality at affordable prices

Best Eurorack gear: 4MS Ensemble Oscillator

(Image credit: 4MS)

Full bonks from 4MS with the Ensemble Oscillator. 16 interval-bound oscillators crammed into one module? Don't mind if we do.

More info:

Best MIDI controller: Arturia KeyStep Pro

(Image credit: Arturia)

Arturia's latest addition to its controller range, the KeyStep Pro - a 37-key MIDI keyboard equipped with a multitrack sequencer and plenty of I/O options, leads this highly competitive field at NAMM 2020.

Read more: Could Arturia’s KeyStep Pro MIDI keyboard be your new studio hub?

Best in Drums

Best drum kit: Yamaha Stage Custom Hip

(Image credit: Yamaha)

Yamaha’s Stage Custom has been one of the most successful drum kits in history, and now Yamaha has introduced a desirable new twist on the Stage Custom’s renowned blend of sound quality and affordability with the Stage Custom Hip.

Read more: Yamaha introduces Stage Custom Hip 

Best percussion: Vic Firth RE-MIX Brushes 

(Image credit: Vic Firth)

Co-designed by top percussionist Pete Lockett, and available in a wide range of natural material from broomcorn to African grass, these RE-MIX brushes aim to provide versatility across a number of genres with everything from trad kits to cajons and more. Job done, we reckon.

More info:

Drum innovation award: Roland Acoustic Design Series

(Image credit: Roland)

Roland continue to innovate in the world of electronic drums. While they continue to build out their 'straight' V-Drums line, they've also revealed this e-wolf in acoustic sheep's clothing. It looks like an acoustic kit - and a rather handsome one at that - but actually it's a fully fledged V-Drums set. Sneaky.

Read more: Roland reveals V-Drums Acoustic Design Series


MusicRadar is the number one website for music-makers of all kinds, be they guitarists, drummers, keyboard players, DJs or producers...

GEAR: We help musicians find the best gear with top-ranking gear round-ups and high-quality, authoritative reviews by a wide team of highly experienced experts. TIPS: We also provide tuition, from bite-sized tips to advanced work-outs and guidance from recognised musicians and stars. STARS: We talk to musicians and stars about their creative processes, and the nuts and bolts of their gear and technique. We give fans an insight into the craft of music-making that no other music website can.