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
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.
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.
There are premium features elsewhere; ebony fingerboard, graphite reinforced neck, rolled fingerboard edges. But there's no tone control in sight.
Ibanez Yvette Young YY10
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 (opens in new tab). And Covet (opens in new tab)'s multi-instumentalist virtuoso Young didn't waste the well-earned opportunity.
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 (opens in new tab)…
"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."
Fender Jim Root Jazzmaster V4
Slipknot's #4 gets his V4… it wasn't a very well kept secret (opens in new tab) but there's a synergy going on here, especially as this model debuts Root (opens in new tab)'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 (opens in new tab) open-coil EMGs?
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.
Framus D Series Devin Townsend Stormbender and William DuVall Talisman
We really liked the original slant DuVall's Talisman (opens in new tab) 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).
Fender Tom Morello Soul Power Strat
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.
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.
Manson MBM-1 Meta Series Matthew Bellamy
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.
In terms of matching looks with value, these guitars were untouchable at the show for £569 (preorders are available direct from Manson Guitar Works (opens in new tab) 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.
Ibanez Nita Strauss JIVAJR and JIVA-X
You wait for a new Nita Strauss (opens in new tab) 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.
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!
Gibson Slash Collection Les Paul
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.
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!
PIA continues the decorative swagger of Vai iconic JEM signature; gold hardware, multi-coloured blossom inlay and… no monkey grip?
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.
"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.”
Finish options include Stallion White, Envy Green, Panther Pink and Sun Dew Gold. Yes, we're loving those names too.
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.
Gibson Custom Shop Tony Iommi 'Monkey' SG Special
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. .