NAMM 2020: the big stories from the greatest music gear show on Earth

(Image credit: Daniel Knighton / Getty)

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


IN PICTURES: Fender's NAMM 2020 stand

(Image credit: Future)

Fender artist signature models NAMM 2020

(Image credit: Fender)

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.

(Image credit: Future)

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).

(Image credit: Fender)

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)

(Image credit: Fender)

Definitely on display is this loving recreation of George Harrison's '60s "Rocky" Strat.

Fender George Harrison Rocky

(Image credit: Future)


IN PICTURES: Gibson and Epiphone's NAMM 2020 stand

(Image credit: Future)

Gibson Tony Iommi "Monkey" SG Special

Gibson Tony Iommi "Monkey" SG Special (Image credit: Gibson)

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. 

(Image credit: Gibson)

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. 

Alice in Chains man Jerry Cantrell has joined Gibson's artist roster.

Finally, for now, we have an online TV channel from Gibson that's full of great shows.

(Image credit: Ibanez)

(Image credit: Olly Curtis / Future)
  • 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'

(Image credit: Neural DSP)
  • 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).

(Image credit: PRS)
  • 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.

(Image credit: Manson Guitar Works)

Tech news

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.

(Image credit: Akai Pro)

(Image credit: Sequential)
  • 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 YC61

(Image credit: Yamaha)
  • 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 Aura

(Image credit: Nektar)
  • 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.

Dave Rossum E-mu SP-1200

(Image credit: Rossum Electro-Music)
  • 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.

Drums news

Roland Acoustic V-Drums

(Image credit: Roland)

John Bonham sticks

(Image credit: Barnes & Mullins)

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