NAMM 2018: Once again, NAMM was over in a flash, but thankfully, we have plenty of visual mementos to remember the guitars we had to put back on the wall.
There are some absolute bargains to be had in the coming year, courtesy of the likes of Gretsch, Framus and Cort, but high-end players are even more spoiled for choice, thanks to some game-changing innovation from Ibanez, Taylor and co.
Head on through the gallery for a closer look at the guitars that wowed us this year…
For more of NAMM 2018’s finest, head over to MusicRadar’s best of NAMM awards.
ELECTRIC WINNER: Ibanez AZ
Ibanez unveiled more than 50 guitars at NAMM 2018 - we don't quite know how they do it - but the much-teased AZ line was the highlight.
These instruments have a neck shape that's palm-filling yet speedy, and were designed from the ground up with input from a number of top players to create a contemporary-looking and feeling guitar.
ACOUSTIC WINNER: Taylor V-Class acoustics
Taylor Guitars says that its V-Class bracing system represents a “fundamental innovation” in the design of acoustic guitars, offering greater tuning stability, volume and sustain than its more traditional X-braced models.
Developed by the brand's master luthier Andy Powers, the range launches with an offering of four Grand Auditorium models - three standards (including the PS14ce, K24ce and 914ce) and the Builder’s Edition K14ce.
Believe it: Suhr has announced a single-cut, the Aura, and just 100 will be made to celebrate the company's 20th anniversary.
As you’d expect from the boutique brand, there’s serious attention to detail, with authentic, deep-dish carve top and vintage-accurate scale length, plus more ergonomic body contours.
Harmony guitars are back! Three new models were at the show: the Jupiter, Rebel and offset Silhouette, pictured here.
All three pack Gold Foil pickups, custom cupcake knobs, Macassar ebony fretboards, medium jumbo frets and locking tuners.
The Silhouette has an alder body and Eastern maple neck, while the Jupiter and Rebel have mahogany bodies and necks.
Gretsch G5220 Electromatic Jet BT Single-Cut
After reworking its Electromatic hollowbodies in previous years, Gretsch has now turned its hand to solidbodies, yielding the snappily titled G5220 Electromatic Jet BT Single-Cut.
It features a rosewood-like black walnut fingerboard, Black Top Filter'Tron pickups and comes in three super-tasty finishes, including this Casino Gold. What’s more, the MSRP is a frankly bargainous $604.
Jackson Mick Thomson
Mick showed us round his limited-edition Jackson signature model last year, but 2018 has brought more affordable, shred-ready production-line electrics bearing his name.
Available in USA and Pro Series, Mick’s models pack his signature Seymour Duncan Blackout humbuckers, and come with ebony fretboards and maple neck-through-body designs.
Framus Diablo Pro
The big news from Framus this year was that relatively affordable electrics are on the way with the D Series, also known as the Standard Series.
The Diablo Pro packs a basswood body, Tigerstripe ebony fingerboard and Wilkinson-style vibrato, and comes complete with trio of Seymour Duncan pickups. The price tag? $899.
Guild's returning Jetstar was on show in equally desirable Black, Vintage White and Seafoam Green finishes.
It boasts a solid mahogany body and dual LB-1 pickups, while the scale length has been elongated from the original’s short scale to 25.5”. $599 MAP.
Martin Reimagined Standard Series
For 2018, Martin just went and redesigned its entire range of 21 Standard Series acoustics - as you do.
This reimagining yields a thinner, more comfortable high-performance neck, plus vintage appointments, including ageing toner and open-gear tuners. Pictured is the new-look D-35.
D'Angelico's new solidbodies - the company’s first proper foray into solid territory - were causing quite a stir at the show.
We were 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.
Fender Troublemaker Tele
This Les Paul-aping Tele offshoot was one of the top talking points of Fender’s radical Parallel Universe collection.
The mahogany body is topped with a book-matched top, the neck is a bolt-on but it is mahogany with a rosewood fingerboard (albeit with dot, not trapezoid, inlays), while the Fender spirit is retained with the Jazzmaster control knobs and switch tip.
PRS S2 Studio
The S2 Studio is a new limited-edition riff on the Standard 22, offering a single/single/humbucker pickup configuration and updated switching system, boasting seven combinations in all.
It’s available in five tasty finishes, but judging from reaction at the show, we’d wager it won’t stay limited for long - this one deserves a full-production launch.
Dano’s venerable ’59 is getting a revamp for 2018, while still retaining a reasonable price tag at $499.
The ’59XT adds a Wilkinson tremolo, coil-splittable Lipstick humbucker and high-output single coil in the neck. It comes in four finishes: Silver, Dark Burgundy, Dark Aqua and Black.
YouTube maverick Jared Dines partnered with Ormsby for this obscene 18-string creation.
It’s not exactly one of the ‘best’ guitars in terms of practicality, but it is nicely put together, featuring a Tasmanian blackwood body and a stone top (yes, really), while the African ebony fretboard is inlaid with stones and shells, plus Jared’s arresting portrait.
Yamaha FG-TA & FS-TA
Yamaha’s pioneering TransAcoustic tech - which produces effects direct from an acoustic’s soundhole, without any external amplification - is now available in a more affordable format, courtesy of these new FG/FS models.
Both models feature solid spruce tops, mahogany back and sides and new scalloped bracing, promising a “louder, richer acoustic sound”, as well as, of course, built-in reverb and chorus effects.
Cort Sunset TC
There was a strong showing from Cort this year, and we were particularly taken by the Sunset TC.
With a faint whiff of Fano’s vintage mash-ups, this bolt-on ash-bodied single-cut features a Duncan Designed P-90/single-coil pairing, jatoba fingerboard and Tele bridge setup for $399.
ESP joined the fan-fret throng this year with this almighty eight-string, packing a 27-25.5” scale length, and a flamed maple top over a lightweight mahogany back.
Most notable among the specs are Seymour Duncan Nazgul and Sentient pickups, custom-made for ESP, while coil-splits serve up further versatility.
Lowden GL-10 Electric
The renowned Irish luthier turned his hand to electrics this year with this gorgeous single-cut.
A koa/rosewood/mahogany body is topped off with a five-piece mahogany and rosewood neck and Lollar Imperial humbuckers, and prices start at $4,440.
Chapman British Standards
The British Standard Series is a first for Chapman Guitars: British-made models available in limited runs.
The identity of the luthiers putting them together is a closely guarded secret, but the British Standard ML1 Modern, ML2 Modern, ML3 Traditional and Ghost Fret will all feature premium parts and woods, plus nitro finishes.
Hagstrom Justin York Viking
Hagstrom has collaborated with Paramore touring guitarist Justin York - brother of Taylor - on this ‘Artist Project’ Viking.
It boasts an Ultra-Thin neck profile and Custom ’58 humbuckers, plus a custom tone control that cuts bass rather than treble.
HyVibe Audio Smart Acoustic Guitar
The Smart Acoustic Guitar, from French tech company HyVibe, packs a built-in speaker, multi-effects, recorder and amp into a traditional-looking body.
The acoustic features its own algorithms and actuators to transform the guitar's vibrations from the top plate, located by the bridge. Effects - including chorus, reverb and distortion - are then added and output via the body of the guitar.
San Francisco Guitar Company Richmond
Not only do we really dig the look of this electric from newcomer San Francisco Guitar Company, but there’s some sound thinking behind it, too.
It’s one of the few multi-scale designs at the show that didn’t look tailor-built for metal, while its body is built from lightweight, carbon fibre-reinforced African mahogany. Bare Knuckle Mississippi Queen P-90s round off the impressive spec.