NAMM 2020: It's the biggest event of the year for gear and we have all the news that matters on MusicRadar.
Winter NAMM 2020's doors have now closed but there's plenty of gear news dust left to settle. We have all the big stories from the big players right here, and keep your eyes peeled for yet more video from the show floor.
Held every year in Anaheim, California, NAMM sees the world's biggest (and smallest) developers and manufacturers gathering together to show off their latest products for guitarists, hi-tech musicians, drummers, DJs and many others.
So, if you want to know what happened at NAMM 2020, keep it right here…
NAMM Guitar news
- The biggest question marks hung over the big F because we were expecting the highest number of significant launches from its stable. Happily, we were right. The Ultra Series has already hit the market and several signature models have already been confirmed…
A Jim Root Jazzmaster was already confirmed by CEO Andy Mooney and it features his new EMG pickups.
Eric Johnson's Virginia Strat also joins the Artist Signature lineup.
And in a widely leaked move, Fender unleashes the Soul Power Tom Morello Stratocaster (below).
The covers have also been whipped off of Fender Custom Shop's typically astonishing booth, and it doesn't disappoint. The Prestige Collection, in particular, is amazing, with the $500k+ Strat below leading then eye-popping goodies on display.
Following last year's Acoustasonic Telecaster splash, NAMM 2020 sees the company's most iconic shape get the hybrid treatment with the 'striking' Acoustasonic Stratocaster (below).
Wait, there's more. Lots more.
• Fender revives HM Strat for Limited Edition run: The big F's vibrant metal Strat gets plucked from the archive
• Fender Player Series adds Duo-Sonic and Mustang models: Four new instruments on the 2020 line-up
• Fender debuts hand-wired '64 Custom Princeton Reverb and new Mustang GTX series digital modelling amps - Three digital trailblazers and one historic recreation on the way
• Fender has brought its late-70s Lead electric back to life
• Fender's new American Originals – the 60s Telecaster Thinline and 70s Telecaster Custom
• Arguably best of all, Fender expands Parallel Universe with Maverick Dorado, Tele Mágico and more (below)
Definitely on display is this loving recreation of George Harrison's '60s "Rocky" Strat.
- The wraps are coming off of a resurgent Gibson's 2020 offering. First up, we have a recreation of Tony Iommi's legendary "Monkey" SG (below), in a limited run of 50.
More signature models seem certain – the first being a whole collection for Slash, with Les Pauls and J-45s. A signature for Tool's Adam Jones (Gibson Silverburst Les Paul Custom) has now been confirmed but won't be at NAMM, and now the possibility Bon Jovi's Phil-X has moved to Gibson from Framus.
We also have good news for angular guitar fans: Gibson goes back to the 70s with Original Series Classic V and Explorer.
And now we can reveal Gibson's extensive acoustic plans as it launches its Acoustic Custom Shop with Historic and Modern collections.
Finally, for now, we have an online TV channel from Gibson that's full of great shows.
- Ibanez: The Japanese company always go big at winter NAMM and it has already unveiled new AZ and RG models.
On the effects side, the company has announced three new pedals – Flanger and Tremolo Mini models and the return of the ES3 Echo Shifter Delay.
But the biggest Ibanez story has to be the Steve Vai Paradise In Art signature model (below)
- Charvel has announced a trio of signature models, plus stunning updates to DK, San Dimas and So-Cal ranges
- Epiphone has launched a US-built Texan and revamped its range into Originals and Inspired By Gibson lines
- EMG has revealed signature pickup sets for Slipknot's Joe Root and Metallica's Robert Trujillo.
- ESP: The company has enough new guitars at NAMM that it's previewed some in phase 1 and phase 2 LTD model announcements already that sees the Phoenix model rise again as well as affordable Eclipses. Now it's completed the trilogy of new model announcements with phase 3 – featuring signature model revisions and the new '87 anniversary models… plus a Viper with EverTune!
- Revv Amps: The Canadians have lifted the lid on their lunchbox… amp head that is. The Revv G20 is packing Two Notes' Torpedo cab modelling alongside immense high gain tones.
- Martin: it's already released an affordable Johnny Cash signature and also the small matter of 29 new models for 2020. But the biggest splash from Martin, and one of the stories of the show so far, is its new SC-13E acoustic. Could it be Martin's most progressive guitar ever?
- New Laney MiniStacks, powered LFR cab and Black Country Customs Spiral Array multi-chorus on the way
- LR Baggs: Might be about to finally deliver the tonal Holy Grail for live acoustic players with its new Soundscape.
- Godin: As well as November's Radiator reissue model and the versatile Session HT, there could be more to come from the Canadians at the show.
- JHS Effects: The big news for NAMM is the PG-14 Paul Gilbert signature distortion has landed and sounds very promising indeed.
- Yamaha: Nylon string models are the first order of business with six new NX series guitars – four featuring Atmosfeel electronics.
- Line 6 has announced a portable guitar processor, the Pod Go.
- IK multimedia is touting Satch on tap, with Satriani's greatest tones crammed into Amplitube. It's also announced a compact version of its acclaimed compact AXE I/O SOLO guitar interface.
- Danelectro: Company president Steve Ridinger revealed to JHS Effects' Josh Scott in a recent video that there's three new pedals being released. The 3699 Fuzz (see a demo below), Roebuck distortion (based on the Ibanez MP10 Mosfet circuit) and Danelectro Back Talk Reverse Delay.
- Orange has a trio of spotlighted releases. A new Terror Stamp pedal amp, plus two key bass releases, the Bass Butler pedal and Little Bass Thing amp.
- Blackstar has revealed its Sonnet acoustic amp line, developed in collaboration with Jon Gomm.
- Reverend: The US guitar company has a new signature model for Nine Inch Nails man Robin Finck as well other new designs in the shape of the Roundhouse and Contender, plus a revamped Warhawk.
- Electro-Harmonix: The company has announced its first tuner pedal; it's mini and affordable. But will that be it? Of course not! Stay tuned…
- Fryette: The Deliverance II Series amps are likely to be their main NAMM showing. But as you can see from the spec here, it's a significant one.
- Schecter: Two additions to the guitar line have already been revealed in the shape of the new striking Silver Mountain and updated PT Pro lines. There will be much more coming too.
- Positive Grid have produced our Amp of NAMM 2020, the Spark (below).
- Seagull: The Canadians have flown in an addition to the popular S6 acoustic line with the Classic Black.
- Cort: After Schecter and PRS started the party, Cort are now getting into the Sand-blasted finish. While the finishes may divide opinion, we like the look of the new GX300.
- Washburn: The US company has kicked off its new product announcements with a signature acoustic for Stryper's Michael Sweet. Check out the bearclaw on this!
- Neural DSP has leapt from its plugin heartland into the world of hardware, producing this monster (below). Neural DSP's AI-powered Quad Cortex floor modeller is a 'Vulgar Display of Power'
- Washburn: The US company has kicked off its new product announcements with a signature acoustic for Stryper's Michael Sweet. Check out the bearclaw on this!
- Mooer: The firm are going all-in on multi effects modelling units. And the new GE250 is priced competitively with a seriously impressive spec. In other Mooer news, the firm has debuted new Micro Series pedals, the A7 Ambiance and D7 Delay. But perhaps the biggest reveal was a little brother to the GE300, the GE300 Lite. We grabbed a demo (below).
- SolidGoldFX: Zeppelin and Tonebender fans rejoice – there's a treat coming your way with the new Communication Breakdown fuzz.
- Faith: The British acoustic designers is stretching out this year with its first nylon and baritone models.
- Darkglass Electronics: Finnish purveyor of bass amps, pedals, and other low-end gear is launching a new range of lightweight cabinets. But fear not, we're promised that the DN Cabinet range's relative lugability doesn't come at a cost of flimsy tone.
- Boss: do the effects legends have anything left in the tank to release? After all it's already revealed the SY-100 guitar and bass synth and highly desirable Waza-Air amp and effects headphones. Um, yes! How about this, for starters: Meet Boss' new flagship amp, the Katana-Artist MKII, or its new Acoustic Singer Live LT amp.
- Vox: We recently paid a visit to the UK Vox HQ and are sworn to secrecy but they have new products that are more than just backline related. Its entry into the small modelling amp market is now officially announced, however, and features its electro-luminescent NuTube tech. Check out the Cambridge 50-watt modelling combo amp here. It's also added a Bluetooth-enabled Mini Superbeetle.
- PRS: Late last year the Maryland builders revealed six new SE guitars, plus new Mark Holcomb and Dustie Waring signature models. There's also a host of 35th anniversary models too.
And look! An expanded John Mayer Silver Sky lineup (below).
- Earthquaker Effects: Good news for those that missed out on the Sunn O))) Life Pedal last year when it sold out almost immediately. There's a second version and it's not only more compact, there's added features too.
- Walrus Audio has launched the first of a whole new series, the Mako: D1 delay.
- Manson Guitar Works: Struggling to find the MBC-1 in stock anywhere? Good news - there's a new Matt Bellamy signature and it's at a great price point again. It's part of a whole new line of more affordable guitars called the Meta Series. An impressive start to the year for MGS's owner Bellamy.
Universal Audio: In an audacious move - and one that could have far-reaching ramifications for the music production industry - Universal Audio has announced the LUNA Recording System (above).
Akai Professional has unveiled the MPC One (below), a new standalone production tool that slots in as the smallest – and most affordable – of the company’s current crop of hardware beatmakers.
- Behringer: Barely a week goes by at the moment without Behringer announcing some new product or another - most recently, an emulation of the Octave CAT synth. So, has the company held anything back for NAMM time? Yes: the Roland-aping System 100 modules for starters, and also the Moog-mimicking System 55.
What's more, to no one’s great surprise - least of all ours - Behringer has unveiled the RD-6, a clone of Roland’s TR-606 drum machine. And after Korg’s reboot of the classic semi-modular synth was announced in the run-up to NAMM, Behringer has now delivered on its promise to create its own ‘new’ 2600.
- SSL: Talking of irresistibly affordable gear, SSL’s new budget audio interfaces promise studio quality at affordable prices.
- Apogee: Apogee has announced Symphony Desktop, a DSP-toting 10-in/14-out audio interface that promises to blend the sound quality of the existing Symphony I/O MkII with the simplicity of its more affordable Duet and Quartet interfaces.
- Arturia: Arturia has announced the 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. It's also added a new 88-note model to its KeyLab Essential range of MIDI controller keyboards and given the characterful MicroFreak digital synth a v2 firmware update that adds a host of new features and improvements.
- Moog: We first got word that Moog might have a new synth on the way thanks to a leak back in December, and now the US synth icon has confirmed the arrival of its latest, the Subsequent 25. As its name suggests, this new instrument shares a lineage with Moog’s Subsequent 37 and its predecessor the Sub 37, although its closest relative is 2013’s Sub Phatty, which it replaces in Moog’s line-up.
- Waves: Waves is getting vocal at the show with the launch of OVox, a voice-controlled synth and effects processor.
- Korg: Korg showed its NAMM hand early, giving us the Wavestate synth - an updated version of the Wavestation. Check out our review.
Following Jean-Michel Jarre's leak, the ARP 2600 FS has been announced, too, and we also have a review of that one.
That's not the end of the Korg story, either: check out the SV-2 stage piano, beginner-friendly i3 music workstation, NC-Q1 smart noise-cancelling DJ headphones and Nu:Tekt OD-S, a DIY kit for building your own overdrive pedal.
And if that's not enough, how about the SoundLink mixers - created in collaboration with Greg Mackie - the full-size MS-20 synth and RK-100S 2, an updated version of the company's keytar. Oh, and several reliable-looking posts across Reddit and Instagram seem to suggest that a six-operator FM keyboard called opsix has quietly appeared on Korg’s NAMM booth ahead of the show’s official opening.
The Japanese giant is delivering once again.
- Sequential: It’s been a little while since Dave Smith’s Sequential brand announced a new synthesizer, so we were quietly expecting something new for this year’s NAMM show. And now we have it - a new flagship synth called the Pro 3 (above) – and it looks great!
- Roland: Roland exhibited in Las Vegas at CES 2020, announcing the A-88MKII MIDI 2.0-ready controller keyboard and Go:Livecast mini livestreaming studio. We also had a concept piano to look at.
At NAMM, the company has confirmed the RD-88, a compact, lightweight stage piano that’s a bit more affordable than some of the competition.
- Clavia has thrown the kitchen sink at this one; its versatile Nord Wave 2 ‘is like four synths in one’.
- PreSonus: Having kicked off the year by announcing the StudioLive ARc series hybrid mixers, PreSonus is has released the Quantum 2626 audio interface, too. And, if you’re not sure whether to buy a new audio interface or DAW controller next, maybe you don’t have to choose, because PreSonus has just announced the ioStation 24c, which combines both.
- Artiphon: The Nashville-based company is showing off the Orba, a portable all-in-one synth, MIDI controller and looper that's currently doing the business on Kickstarter.
- RME: High-quality audio interfaces are what RME is all about, and it looks like it's got another one in the shape of the portable Babyface Pro FS.
- Numark: Looking for a portable DJing controller that you can scratch on? Numark can help you out with the DJ2GO2 Touch.
- Vochlea Music: If your current MIDI controller isn't doing it for you, have a sniff of the Dubler Studio Kit, which lets you control your gear with your voice. It'll be getting its US debut at NAMM.
- Yamaha: The YC61 is a compact stage keyboard that could be great for gigging musicians. The highlight is its organ section, which offers real drawbars, but there are plenty of other sounds in here, too.
- AMS Neve: The AMS RMX16 was a classic ‘80s reverb unit, and now it’s returning as part of AMS Neve’s rack-mounted 500 Series.
- Sonicware: Sonicware is following up its first portable synth, the OP-1-esque ELZ_1, with the Liven 8bit Warps, an 8-bit wave memory synthesizer. Designed with live performance in mind, this specialises in retro chiptune sounds.
- UVI: While Roland has been getting busy emulating many of its classic synths for the Roland Cloud plugin suite, UVI has also been paying close attention to the Japanese giant’s back catalogue. The result is the JP Legacy bundle, a collection of four instruments that pay homage to some ‘out of this world’ Roland synths from the past.
- Audient: Having wowed us with the quality of its iD4 audio interface, Audient is making another play at the budget end of the market with the EVO range.
- Novation: Having released the Launchpad X and updated Launchpad Mini MIDI pad controllers in 2019, Novation has now turned its attention to the flagship Launchpad Pro, announcing a Mk3 edition. As well as larger pads, it comes with a built-in MIDI sequencer.
- Playtime Engineering: Blipblox was the kids’ synth that parents secretly wanted to use, so now its creator, Playtime Engineering, is releasing an adult version - Blipblox After Dark - that’s been redesigned and re-engineered for grown-ups.
- Nektar: Nektar’s Aura is a beat- and performance-focused pad controller and MIDI sequencer that looks like it has some pretty advanced features. In fact, with a TFT colour display and tight plugin and DAW integration - plus the option to sequence your MIDI hardware - it has the potential to sit at the hub of your studio.
- Output: Best known for its plugin instruments and samples, Output is now getting into the studio monitor game, but it’s not playing alone. The company is collaborating with speaker specialist Barefoot Sound to create a new product that will be released this summer.
- 2HP: 2HP has unveiled the Lunchbox, a cute little Eurorack case that you’ll be able to buy on its own or stuffed with tasty modular morsels. This 42HP case comes fully powered and with a latchable lid, and thanks to its carry handle, can easily be played with pretty much anywhere.
- Gamechanger Audio: GA's latest reverb stompbox, the Light Pedal, is described as an ‘optical spring reverb’. The pedal combines a traditional analogue reverb tank with infra-red optical sensors in order to “to harvest the full timbral and harmonic range of a spring reverb tank.”
- Krotos: Krotos has unveiled its first soft synth, and it’s one that’s designed to make the process of patch creation “fast and inspiring”. Known as Concept, the instrument promises a flexible synth engine that enables you to create everything from synth sounds and evolving textures to sound design elements.
- Audio Damage: If ambient and chilled synth sounds are your thing, Audio Damage may be able to satisfy your downtempo desires with its new Continua synth.
- Abstrakt Instruments: Released in 1979, the Oberheim OB-X remains a true synth icon, and it’s also the inspiration for Abstrakt Instruments’ VS-1, a new synth that’s based on its design. However, this being 2020, the company has added modern digital control.
- Teenage Engineering: Ortho Remote is a wireless remote control that’s designed for use with TE’s OD-11 loudspeaker. There is a bit more to it than that, though, as Ortho Remote is also a wireless Bluetooth MIDI controller that can be used with any BLE-MIDI-compatible music software.
- Tascam: Labelled an ‘integrated production suite’, the Model 12 essentially a 10-input mixer with integrated 12-track digital recorder and 12-in, 10-out audio interface.
- Lumatone: We’ve seen isomorphic keyboards before, but we doubt that there’s ever been one that looks quite as nice as Lumatone. This marries ancient music theory concepts with some state-of-the-art design.
- Spitfire Audio: British sample library outfit Spitfire Audio has unveiled the latest update to its flagship Albion range, NEO. Spitfire has long prided itself on being at the more contemporary end of the orchestral library market and Albion NEO continues that trend, taking inspiration from “the emergence of a new wave of progressive musicians and composers.”
- ASM: It’s only been available for a short while, but Ashun Sound Machines (ASM) has already announced a significant update to its wave-morphing Hydrasynth.
- IK Multimedia: Scarily, it’s been a decade since IK Multimedia launched its first iRig audio interface - can that really be true - and it’s marking the milestone by launching the iRig Pro Duo I/O, an enhanced two-channel audio and MIDI interface.
- Slate Digital: Steven Slate isn’t usually a man who’s lost for words, but, as things stand, he hasn’t said a great deal about Infinity EQ, the new plugin that his company Slate Digital is launching in Anaheim.
- Rossum Electro-Music: E-mu co-founder Dave Rossum has sprung a surprise by announcing that he’s celebrating the 35th anniversary of the instrument by selling a collection of renovated SP-1200 sampler units (above).
- Erica Synths: At first glance, the Bassline DB-01 might look like another analogue 303-clone – with a single analogue oscillator and resonant, envelope-controlled filter it’s sure to tick all those acid house boxes – but dig into the specs and there are some interesting and unique features here.
- Pioneer DJ: Pioneer DJ’s new six-channel DJM-V10 mixer is something of a left turn of the brand, seeing it step away from the established design of it NXS range in favour of something that appears to be taking aim at Allen & Heath’s popular Xone:96.
- Denon DJ: The latest additions to the Prime DJ range are the new SC6000 Prime/SC6000M Prime players and X1850 Prime mixer, which update the designs of the first gen Prime units with some sleek pro-level features. Both the Prime 2 and Prime Go, meanwhile, are two-channel, standalone DJ setups complete with jogwheels, two-track mixers and integrated 7-inch touchscreens.
- Rane: Rane has launched a new Serato-ready battle mixer named Seventy, which sees the brand building on the success of its excellent Seventy-Two – which we count as one of the best DJ mixers out there.
- Artesia: A nice little surprise from Artesia - a new portable MIDI pad controller known as the Xpad. The latest member of the Xkey family, this offers 16 velocity- and pressure-sensitive pads with multicolour-colour LEDs.
- Roland has revealed its latest V-drum innovation, a fully fledged e-kit that looks like an acoustic drum set, the Acoustic Design series (above). It's also added a whole new series to the acclaimed V-Drums line, the TD-27 range.
Naturally, we grabbed an exclusive first look video of both (below).
- Yamaha has announced a limited edition Steve Gadd signature snare drum in celebration of their 40-year relationship with the session giant.
It's also introduced the super-cute Stage Custom Hip, the latest small-format kit to hit the market. Interestingly, it includes a dual snare/floor tom
- Promuco: Bonzo's "trees" will be sprouting at NAMM, thanks to a faithful reissue of John Bonham's custom '70s sticks (below).
- Tama have already taken the wraps off the Club-JAM Flyer mini-kit, their entry into the so-hot-right-now portable kit market, and it looks like it represents excellent value.
- Gretsch has already made a new addition to its Full Range line with the introduction of the rather retro-looking Catalina CS2 Special Edition Kit.
Its also unveiled all-new Streamliner and Electromatic models, one exquisite Penguin and more.
- PDP has been busy. Most notably, the DW offshoot is celebrating 20 years in business with and anniversary kit and snare.