NAMM 2018: It might be flu season, but if you’re a guitarist, drummer or hi-tech musician, you’ve probably been diagnosed with NAMM fever by now. Fortunately, Dr MusicRadar is here to prescribe a diet of news, videos, hands-on tests, interviews and bulging photo galleries over the next four days, to be taken not just in tablet form, but also on your laptop, phone or other internet-enabled device.
Yes, our team is hitting the show hard, seeking out the finest new guitar, tech and drum products, talking to the folks that have been making them and, wherever possible, trying this new gear for ourselves.
We’ll be bringing you the best of the action from the floor in this very gallery; if you want a complete rundown of all our stories, you can browse our exhaustive NAMM hub page.
So, let’s make our way through the bag-check area, smile courteously at the security guards and head on into the show...
Eric Johnson was on hand to demo his new Thinline Stratocaster to an eager audience.
If you're prone to sweating a lot on stage, this towel-covered Tele from the Fender Custom Shop (opens in new tab) could be just the guitar for you.
Elektron is embracing FM synthesis with the Digitone (opens in new tab).
You probably couldn't play this 9-neck Fender guitar, but that's not really the point. Actually, what is the point?
The star-spotting has begun: here's Thomas Dolby on the Roland stand.
Purple guitars don't begin and end with Prince; here's the ESP Kirk Hammett KH-2 in Purple Sparkle, yours for $4,999.
4-player Korg Gadget on the Nintendo Switch (opens in new tab) looks like a serious amount of fun.
Marshall's Origin amps range (opens in new tab) is generating plenty of buzz, and it's not hard to see why.
The Korg Volca Mix (opens in new tab) doing what it does best: mixing Volcas.
Ibanez has announced 50 new guitars for NAMM, but this Joe Satriani JS1CR30 30th anniversary Chromeboy limited edition still stands out. It'll set you back $6,666.
We'd love to see a full production run of this Custom Shop Blender Guitar from Fender. Master-built by Paul Waller, it features a custom offset body shape with hand-wound single coils.
Jordan Rudess turns up in so many places at NAMM that we're sure he's cloning himself.
An SPD::ONE climbing wall. Just don’t try actually climbing on it, although we were tempted...
The Starship Enterprise called, it wants its control centre back. It also looks like the SE-02 now comes in a new white colourway.
Pucker up and get jazzy with the Aerophones.
Danelectro 59XT - Wilkinson tremolo, coil-splittable Lipstick humbucker and a high-output single coil in the neck.
Novation goes extra large with a one-off display of 64 Launchpad Pros.
The Vox MVX150 Nutube head in all its glory - and complete with a Vox cup and saucer. Do you take sugar?
Seymour Duncan brings its expressive, dynamic pedal format to reverb with the Silver Lake. God bless all who sail on her.
Kids and grownups love it so... BlipBlox from Playtime Engineering (opens in new tab) is quite literally child’s-play.
Based on a "rare and elusive circuit" (Klon, anyone?), MXR's mini-proportioned Sugar Drive promises transparent boosting and drive alike. Sweet.
Way Huge's Smalls range comprises downsized versions of the Aqua-Puss, Blue Hippo and Russian Pickle.
A fully-loaded 3U RackBrute from Arturia (opens in new tab) works well even when it’s not plugged into a MiniBrute 2.
The 6U RackBrute from Arturia (opens in new tab) has multiple attach points for your bus card, making this a flexible proposition.
Harmony guitars are back! We're very taken by the Silhouette, a Gold Foil-loaded offset with custom cupcake knobs.
Supro pays tribute to David Bowie with this limited-edition Dual-Tone model.
Empress's modular synth come multi-effects pedal, the Zoia, is even more mind-bending and colourful up close.
Along with Harmony, Teisco has made a comeback with three all-analogue pedals: a Boost, modulation-equipped Delay and octave-ready Fuzz. There's plenty more to come from the brand, too, apparently...
The Numa Compact 2X is a truly portable stage piano.
Richie Hawtin’s PLAYdifferently mixer invites you to do just that.
Polyend is ditching the three-trigger setup for the Perc Pro. Instead, it will be releasing them individually, based around the prototype we see here.
Ibanez got their announcements out of the way well before the show opened (opens in new tab), but that didn't stop their stand housing one of the most exciting ranges at NAMM.
Exhibit 1: this idiosyncratic Steve Vai signature model, yours for $2,266. Stay tuned for a full stand gallery in the next couple of days.
This is one synth that definitely dreams of electric sheep. Dekkard’s Dream also sports a CV expansion unit.
Microvolt 3900 is Pittsburgh modular’s answer Make Noise's 0-Coast. This semi modular synth is begging you to get experimental with it.
Audient‘s new flagship desktop interface, the iD44, offers 20 ins and 24 outs, with four class-A console mic preamplifiers.
We'll come clean: we don't really know what's going on here.
If you're surrounded by a lot of red keyboards, you're probably on the Nord stand.
Waldorf's Quantum lives!
Tom Quayle and Martin Miller were on hand to launch their signature models as part of Ibanez's much talked-about AZ range.
Mooer is teasing the updatable, four-footswitch'd Preamp Live, with loadable models based on the company's popular Micro Preamp line. It even has a tone capture mode, boosts, additional EQ and MIDI capability. Expect more info soon.
The Sensel Morph comes with even more overlay options than when we first saw it here a couple of years ago.
A fully chromed-up prototype Korg Prologue. We’re starting to think the black finish isn’t as nice.
Want something more than a Minilogue, but can’t quite afford the full 16-voice version? The 8-voice Prologue maybe for you.
Victory pedals?! You better believe it: The Kraken, Sheriff and Countess are all hitting the floor come summer.
There was a strong showing from Cort this year – we were particularly taken by the Sunset TC, a bolt-on ash-bodied single-cut, featuring a Duncan Designed P-90/single-coil pairing for $399.
JAM Pedals is out to nail David Gilmour's tone with the Pink Flow, promising seven effects that span the Floyd legend's career.
Chase Bliss Audio was on hand to show off its new analogue pitch-shifting/harmonising delay, the Thermae.
A Sequence mode delivers cascading harmonies, while a Glide knob makes transitions quicker or slower.
Alice In Chains' William DuVall has landed himself a signature model with Framus, boasting a AAA flamed maple top with quilted maple insert, plus Seymour Duncan APH-1N and SH-1TB humbuckers. $5,830 street price.
Ernie Ball's Expression Tremolo offers five waveforms and built-in spring reverb with, naturally, expression control over the lot. $249 street.
Jackson's eye-catching new X Series SL4X comes in a host of neon finishes and packs a trio of Duncan Designed Hot Rails pickups. $816.
We struggled to put this one back on the wall: Gretsch's G5220 Electromatic Jet BT Single-Cut features a rosewood-like black walnut fingerboard, Black Top Filter'Tron pickups and comes in three super-tasty finishes, including this Casino Gold. MSRP $604.
From huge unplayable synths to DIY controller kits. This flat packed Kami-oto keyboard is now on Kickstarter.
The Yudo Neuman is a PCM synth that features “open-minded engineering for both hardware and software.” Unfortunately it is just a prototype, so more Yudon’t than Yudo.
The Sonicware ELZ_1 isn’t quite all we hoped it would be. No LFO, no sequencer, no latching are some early misgivings. Maybe we’ll see those in an update.
Eowave’s drone-tastic Quantrid Swarm is very close to release, so we could be seeing it in just a matter of months.
Doepfer has breathed new life into the Dark Energy, with version three incorporating an additional triangle waveform, wider frequency range and no warm-up period.
Other new modules from the house of Doepfer include the Quad VCO. Dishing out 4-voice polyphony, paraphonic, or super fat monophonic patches.
Koma Elektronik’s Field Kit FX reached its Kickstarter goal and it will be hitting the shops in spring.
Affordable Framus electrics are on the way - this is the Diablo Pro, complete with Seymour Duncan pickups, and costs $899.
Meow! Steel Panther sex machine Satchel has nailed his latest signature model, in Yellow Bengal and complete with Fishman Fluence humbuckers, for $1,944.
Hidden away on the Koma Elektronik stand was this prototype power converter. The Strom Mobile converts your common 5v mobile power brick into a fully serviceable 9v or 12v mobile power unit.
Dustie Waring, Mark Tremonti and Paul Reed Smith talk and play through their new gear for this year at the PRS stand.
King's X man Dug Pinnick has co-developed Tech 21's all-analogue DP-3X signature bass overdrive, promising colossal high-end distortion and fat low-end.
Want Helix effects without the modelling? The HX Effects is a streamlined version of Line 6's top-notch modeller, packing 100+ effects and adding a host of returning classics from the company's classic Stompbox Modeler line.
Check out our first look video, why don't you? (opens in new tab)
Guild's returning Jetstar was on show, boasting a solid mahogany body and dual LB-1 pickups, and available in Black, Vintage White and Seafoam Green finishes. $599 MAP.
Strandberg debuted a prototype T-type called the Salen Deluxe, with a flame maple-topped swamp ash body, roasted maple fingerboard and Suhr Tele pickups.
Yes, Suhr has announced a single-cut, the Aura. Just 100 will be made to celebrate the company's 20th anniversary.
Gamechanger Audio's mind-bending Plasma Pedal "transforms your instrument’s live signal into a series of continuous high-voltage discharges within a xenon-filled tube". As you do. It promises high-gain distortion quite unlike any other.
Not ones to leave the 5U crowd behind, Noise Engineering will be bringing forth the Basimilus Iteritas Magnus very soon. It’s essentially the same as the Eurorack version, but now in the larger format.
Buchla is back and while it will be very much involved in the support of the coveted 200e Modular Synthesizer System, more modules and new technologies are already planned.
Teenage Engineering took to a nearby parking lot with its touring SUV. We rocked up for a demo of the new Speak and K.O! Pocket Operators, check out the first look video now. (opens in new tab)
Catalinbread's Epoch Pre is finally here, promising the exact same circuit as the original EP-3, with different EQ settings dependent on its position in your signal chain.
QU-Bit Electronix took to NAMM this year with a special VIP room and three new modules; Scanned, Nebulae and Synapse.
D'Angelico's new solidbodies are causing quite a stir at the show. We're particularly taken by the Bedford, which features a stacked Seymour Duncan single coil in the neck. It's available with a six-point trem, too.
Steady State Fate jumping on the semi-modular train with the mono/paraphonic Bantum synth.
Too. Many. Beautiful. Z.Vex enclosures.
Want maximum tone from minimum weight? Positive Grid's BIAS Mini weighs next to nothing yet packs a 300W output, eight onboard presets and hooks up to the company's BIAS Amp Pro software. It all makes the $799 price tag mighty tempting indeed.
2HP doing its best to test the eyesight of us jaded journalists.
A slew of releases are set for this year including; the self explanatory Kick, Snare and Hat modules, a Karplus Strong string synth called Pluck; sample playback module Play, and that’s just the next few months. We’re promised more will drop throughout the next year.
The British Standard Series is a first for Chapman Guitars: British-made models available in limited runs.
Last time we saw the Alex from Dasz, it was in prototype form. Well, here we are and it looks we’ll be seeing the standalone hardware ‘DAW’ in a few months.
A Tetris-style tuner-based arcade game? Only at D'Addario.
Another product we last saw as a prototype is this desktop monosynth, which now has a name: Manther. Strange choice, but there you go.
It's the cable everyone's talking about - the Rat Cable offers three modes of operation: bypass, unity gain and boost. All switched from the cable itself.
Better late than never, Abasi Guitars appeared towards the end of Saturday after a few logistical wrangles. The highly spec'd models are expected to be around $3,000.
No, it’s not a comedy-sized QuNexus, this is the EM1 Mallet Station, in conjunction with Pearl.
Further adding to the percussive range from Keith McMillen is the BopPad, with its very fancy Smart Fabric.
Lawnmower Man is real - deal with it! VR, this time, is supplied by Electronauts.
Winding up for a Kickstarter campaign is the Enhancia expressive MIDI control ring. While currently in prototype stage, the finished article will be wireless.
Yamaha has updated Montage to OS 2.0 and adds support for Sample Robot Pro.
Now that sampling is on Montage’s menu, what better time to sample some classic synths? Yamaha took the opportunity to show off some of its proud heritage, with CS-80 taking centre stage.
More classics include the SY2 from 1975. We’re told that it took a star turn in Close Encounters Of The Third Kind. Not sure if it was actually this one though, but we doubt it.
The generation game. The Reface CS hanging out with the CS 15.
Yamaha DX7 Centennial
Perhaps the best of the bunch from Yamaha is the rather rare DX7 Centennial edition.
Launched in 1987, it commemorated 100 years of the Yamaha corporation and featured glow-in-the-dark keys, gold controls and a platinum coloured chassis.