The best new signature model guitars of NAMM 2020

(Image credit: Olly Curtis / Future)

NAMM 2020: With such a diverse world of guitar, it's only fitting we saw such a varied selection of signature models making a debut at NAMM. And there's plenty to talk about here…

Joe Duplantier Pro-Mod San Dimas Style 2 HH E Mahogany

(Image credit: Charvel)

The quality of the Charvel line is still being taken for granted to some degree – the specs on its guitars could go to toe to toe with any rival in the sub $1000 market and win. This guitar is indicative of that, and also the transcending the cliche of what a 'metal' artist signature model can be.

Perhaps that's less surprising coming from a band that is one of the most fascinating to emerge from the genre in years. Even so, the vintage vibes of Duplantier latest signature were not expected. And as it arrives with the release of his signature pickup with DiMarzio, it's all the more significant.

(Image credit: Future)

You'll get plenty of guitar for $899 here; the pickup combo is vintage PAF flavoured, helping to reflect the character of that mahogany body. His signature bridge pickup also captures the percussive nature of his style. It's based on the 36th Anniversary PAF, and it's fitting that pickup is used in the neck. 

(Image credit: Charvel)

There are premium features elsewhere; ebony fingerboard, graphite reinforced neck, rolled fingerboard edges. But there's no tone control in sight. 

Read more: NAMM 2020 EVH, Charvel and Jackson stands - in pictures

Ibanez Yvette Young YY10

(Image credit: Future)

Signature models for female artists really shouldn't be such a rarity now, and yet here we are. Though Fender's promised artist models failed to materialise in time for the show, Ibanez forged ahead with its second female artist sig after last year's Nita Strauss JIVA. And Covet's multi-instumentalist virtuoso Young didn't waste the well-earned opportunity. 

(Image credit: Olly Curtis / Future)

She's been championing the underrated Talman for a whole now (even after Ibanez themselves retired the offset standard models again) and this is based on her favoured 'Flubber' custom sparkle finish model that uses the Strat five-way blueprint, as opposed to the other two-pickup Tele-style Talman's. She told us about her spec preferences back in August

"I really like the breadth of sounds you can get out of the [Seymour Duncan] Five-Two set I'm using, especially with the five-way [pickup selector]. It’s really useful."

Read more: Yvette Young on her idiosyncratic take on the Ibanez Talman

Fender Jim Root Jazzmaster V4

(Image credit: Future)

Slipknot's #4 gets his V4… it wasn't a very well kept secret but there's a synergy going on here, especially as this model debuts Root's signature EMG set. It's now even more of a utilitarian powerhouse.

Mahogany body, maple neck, no tone control, no vibrato; a volume control, locking tuners and a three-way selector switch is all Root needs. With some added neck contouring akin to the American Ultra Series. But what about these new signature Daemonum open-coil EMGs?

(Image credit: Future)

The set has been three years in the making, and has a "Retro Active" design. That means that unlike traditional open coil pickups, both the bridge and neck pickups in this Jim Root set utilise stud poles in both coils – ultra-clean high-end sounds are one of the advantages. 

Read more: Fender unveils the Jim Root Signature Jazzmaster V4

Framus D Series Devin Townsend Stormbender and William DuVall Talisman 

(Image credit: Framus)

Two years on from the Masterbuilt versions, there are now more affordable D Series Artist Line models for Devin Townsend and Alice In Chains man William DuVall. 

The high polished black €1,449 Stormbender features a mahogany body with Townsend's signature Fishman Fluence pickups and will be available this summer.

(Image credit: Framus)

We really liked the original slant DuVall's Talisman shape put on vintage class so it's great to see it becoming more accessible. 

The new D Series model features a mahogany body with the high polish finish again, tigerstripe ebony fingerboard. The option with Framus SH-1n Chromecover Neck / Framus SH-4b Chromecover Bridge pickups is €699. 

A second option with Seymour Duncan SH-1n (neck) and SH-4b (bridge) pickups. Both model options offer a Gibson-esque four knob control layout (two volume and two tone). 

Read more: 'Budget' Devin Townsend signature confirmed

Fender Tom Morello Soul Power Strat 

(Image credit: Fender)

To be honest we never thought we'd see a signature Tom Morello guitar, but it makes sense that it should be this one, and yes, it looks great up close. 

Based on a limited Designer Series run Strat Morello customised for use with Audioslave, the Soul Power decal is optional. Whatever you choose, this is a stunning Strat and helps a great cause too…

We love a bound Fender body and this one is alder, the neck is a maple bolt-on with rosewood fingerboard and 'Deep C' profile. The Soul Power has a Seymour Duncan Hot Rails humbucker in the bridge, with two Fender Noiseless single coils in the neck and middle positions.

(Image credit: Future)

The potential Marmite feature for wider appeal, but one essential to the guitar's authenticity, is the double-locking Floyd Rose tremolo. You'll need it for Morello lead histrionics anyway.  Of course there's a kill-switch for that too.

A matching black headstock and a chrome pickguard seals a very stylish deal. It's available from March for £1,309 / $1,399 / €1,449.

Read more: Fender unleashes the Soul Power Tom Morello Stratocaster

Manson MBM-1 Meta Series Matthew Bellamy 

(Image credit: Future)

We wondered why Bellamy's original Manson Guitar Works / Cort MBC-1 was becoming so scarce to find with retailers… now we know. The follow up, and the first since Bellamy took ownership of Manson Guitar Works, offers two humbuckers instead of the SC/H arrangement of its predecessor. There's also a new Starlight Silver finish option, in addition to Satin Black.

(Image credit: Future)

In terms of matching looks with value, these guitars were untouchable at the show for £569 (preorders are available direct from Manson Guitar Works now). It's also a great platform for upgrading if you wish. Stock spec offers Manson humbucker, a kill switch, Indian laurel fingerboard and basswood body.

Read more: Manson Guitar Works reveals the META Series Matt Bellamy MBM-1 Signature Guitar

Ibanez Nita Strauss JIVAJR and JIVA-X 

(Image credit: Future)

You wait for a new Nita Strauss signature model and then two come along at once! While the JIVAJR is a more accessibly-priced option with a new Deep Sea Blonde finish and Ibanez pickups, the JIVA X was only just confirmed for release as the show started. 

The JIVAJR model ($1066) features the Wizard III maple neck with ebony 'board and Nita's signature Beaten Path inlay, quilted maple top on a meranti body and the Edge-Zero II tremolo bridge.

The pickups are Ibanez Quantums in an HSH arrangement with a five-way selector offering a wealth of tonal options. 

The brand new JIVA-X was a surprise addition to the Ibanez NAMM lineup 

The brand new JIVA-X was a surprise addition to the Ibanez NAMM lineup  (Image credit: Future)

There was so little info on the newly added JIVA-X we needed Nita's help to tell us more… 

"This is the Japanese made, sort of flagship product," Nita explains. "It's African mahogany with a quilted maple top, my DiMarzio signature Pandemonium pickups, a five-piece maple neck. It's really, really lovely to play. It's kind of cheating because it kind of plays itself… but we won't tell anyone else except you guys!

Read more: VIDEO: Nita Strauss launches all-new Ibanez signature JIVAs

Gibson Slash Collection Les Paul 

(Image credit: Future)

If we had a cup capable of being a receptacle for Les Pauls it would have been running over at NAMM, but let's give a nod to a man who has done more than most to sell them for Gibson. And Slash knows what makes a great one.

The C-shape neck profile, his signature Gibson SlashBucker pickups, hand-wired electronics with orange drop capacitors and we're smitten with the November Burst. There's just the small matter of $2,999 before it's ours. Though Slash is reportedly not ruling out future Epiphone collaborations. 

Read more: Gibson announces new Slash Les Pauls and J-45 acoustic signatures

Ibanez Steve Vai Paradise In Art

What's this? A whole new Steve Vai signature series with Ibanez? My word! The only thing that could top that is if he got Paul Gilbert, Joe Satriani, Nita Strauss and Polyphia with him onstage for a gig at the Anaheim House Of Blues to launch it during the NAMM weekend… oh he did? Typical Vai!

Steve Vai onstage at the Ibanez PIA launch gig at the Anaheim House Of Blues 

Steve Vai onstage at the Ibanez PIA launch gig at the Anaheim House Of Blues  (Image credit: Olly Curtis / Future)

PIA continues the decorative swagger of Vai iconic JEM signature; gold hardware, multi-coloured blossom inlay and… no monkey grip?

(Image credit: Future)

It's been replaced by the Petal Grip. "The petals signify the bond that two people have when they resonate together, and this is represented in the art of the guitar,” explains Vai. “The petals are also reminiscent of the Yin and Yang sign which is thought of as complementary (rather than opposing) forces that interact to form a dynamic system in which the whole is greater than the assembled parts. 

(Image credit: Future)

"The petals are also the most beautiful and attractive part of a flower and intended to signify a message of unity and companionship. It is the ethos that guided the artistic design of the guitar.” 

(Image credit: Future)

Finish options include Stallion White, Envy Green, Panther Pink and Sun Dew Gold. Yes, we're loving those names too. 

(Image credit: Future)

The PIA ($4,666 list price) has a solid alder body, five-piece maple and walnut neck, and rosewood fingerboard with 24 jumbo stainless steel frets and Prestige edge treatment. 

Pickups are an all-new DiMarzio UtoPIA HSH pickup set and a Floyd Rose Edge tremolo. 

Read more: Steve Vai on his new Ibanez Paradise In Art signature model

Gibson Custom Shop Tony Iommi 'Monkey' SG Special 

(Image credit: Future)

No, we can't afford it either (price is still TBC but it's going to be high). And we struggled to even get a pic of it on the Gibson stand with the highly reflective case they put it in. But this is special; a recreation of the guitar that helped define heavy on the original lineup's glorious run of records.  

The original 1964 SG because Iommi's main guitar when the bridge pickup on his white Strat failed after the band recorded the song Wicked World on their seminal 1970 self-titled album. 

It's one of 50 (25 right and 25 left-handed models) recreated by the Custom Shop's wizards – including the zero fret, stop tailpiece bushings and the low-powered pickups, which were hand-made in the UK by the apprentice to late Iommi luthier John Birch. . 

Read more: Tony Iommi 'Monkey' Gibson SG Special revealed

Rob Laing
Guitars Editor, MusicRadar

I'm the Guitars Editor for MusicRadar, handling news, reviews, features, tuition, advice for the strings side of the site and everything in between. Before MusicRadar I worked on guitar magazines for 15 years, including Editor of Total Guitar in the UK. When I'm not rejigging pedalboards I'm usually thinking about rejigging pedalboards.