All systems go
MUSIKMESSE 2014: Europe's biggest musical equipment trade fair has begun. Musikmesse 2014 runs from 12 to 15 March and plays host to some of the world's biggest (and smallest) manufacturers of guitar, tech, drum and DJ gear as they display and promote their latest wares.
As usual, MusicRadar is on the show floor, seeking out not only the major product launches but also all of the curiosities that Musikmesse has to offer. Join us, then, as we tread the halls and discover what's new...
Wolf yet to bear its teeth
The good news is that Akai's much-talked about $199 Analog Wolf drum machine/bass synth is on display; the bad news is that it's not plugged in so no one can hear what it sounds like.
We're promised audio demos pretty soon, though, ahead of an anticipated launch in July.
Roland in sync
Making the whole lot work together is a new device known as the Sync Box - more details when we have them.
Fender Custom Shop
If there's one thing we look forward to at Frankfurt, it's the Fender Custom Shop stand.
Check out the selection of one-off wonders the Custom Shop wizards have come up with this year in our gallery - we guarantee you'll be impressed.
What's this then? That'll be a Grestch Custom Shop '62 Duo Jet Relic in Candy Tangerine. It looks good enough to eat, though you might be tempted to peel it first.
We're guessing all the Frankfurt hotels got booked up early this year, because Kemper Amps has been forced to turn up with its own Airstream motorhome.
Gracefully aged Gibson
Over on the Gibson Custom stand you'll find this 1961 SG Standard reissue that's been 'lightly aged'.
Akai lights up the show
The Analog Wolf might be silent, but the APC40 mkII Ableton Live controller is very much turned on and doing its thing.
Good looking Brute
With an aluminium finish and a built-in step sequencer, Arturia's MiniBrute SE is turning heads.
No visit to Frankfurt would be complete without tasting the sausage. Exquisite.
The System-1 is the Aira we know least about, but potentially the most exciting.
Its name might lead you to believe that it's a pint-sized elderly relative, but the microGranny 2.0 is actually a cute-looking granular sampler.
Good news for those who've been fancying a longer version of the CME Xkey - a 37-note version is on display in Frankfurt.
Fit to burst
Here's the Gibson Collector's Choice #18 'Dutchburst' 1960 Les Paul, a guitar that looks and feels pretty special up close.
We dig the Diva Drive from T-Rex Effects. In case you were wondering, the switch on the side gives you three tiers of gain, from a transparent clean-boost-style setting to a more traditional warm, organic drive.
Brit sounds meet US heritage in this 2x12 Magnatone Super 30 combo. It's built around EL84s, and, according to the spec sheet, features both tremolo and vibrato modulation effects. Cool, eh?
Pretty in pink
Waldorf seems happy to cultivate the Streichfett's burgeoning reputation as the 'vintage porn synth'. We're sure it'll deliver real aural penetration in a busy mix.
Most computer musicians have a keyboard on their desk, but a keyboard built into the desk? We're sure we could get used to it.
Musikmesse is famous for its modular synth displays. Here's a particularly fine example.
Arturia's KeyLab 88 press release assured us that it came with stands that can accomodate both a laptop and an iPad, and we can confirm that this is true.
Audio Technica can
We know that Audio Technica is famous for its cans, so maybe this is a natural progression.
Nord's new Lead A1R synth is designed to be housed in a rack or positioned on a desk, and we can exclusively reveal that it can also be held in a pair of hands.
Three of a kind
Focal's new Alpha range is set to redefine the company's entry-level proposition: it features three models, all of which will be available in May.
Classy stuff from Fret-King - the new John Etheridge Elise, or Elise JE to give it its proper moniker. It's light, looks great with tortoiseshell binding and ebony tailpiece and, after a quick strum, feels like a comfortable and capable jazz, blues and fusion guitar.
Reddy to rock
A brand-new-for-Frankfurt Dirt pedal from Providence, the Red Rock OD. It looks intriguing, though it's so new (literally just arrived) that there's not much spec info available just yet. Watch this space...
Ghost with the most
Fans of quirky boutique effects should like this new Death By Audio Ghost Delay. With three stages of delay that cascade into one another, it should offer plenty of scope for far-out psychedelic voyages into sound...
A matter of De Facto
It's retro cool to the hilt with this thinline Fano Alt De Facto RB6...
Strong stuff from JHS pedals - the Moonshine Overdrive. It builds on the sonic tradition of a certain famous green OD and, we're told, is designed for players who want something more coloured and dirt-laden than the plethora of more transparent overdrive effects around at the moment...
More back-to-the-future mojo from Frankfurt with this Fender Custom Shop 66 Stratocaster Relic. Note the Tele bridge pickup!
Twang for your buck
Red alert! Nik Huber's Twangmeister with Joe Barden bridge pickup looks a treat in Frankfurt...
We like the look of Marshall's cool new 18-watt 1973X combo from its hand-wired series. It comes with 2x12 Celestion G12M drivers - look out for a version with 10-inch speakers...