Attempting to describe my experience of the 2023 NAMM Show is almost like describing the series finale of Star Trek: Picard: Bombastic, full of awe and wonder, combined with a feeling of coming home. And just like the third season of Picardthis year’s NAMM was so full of eye candy and old friends that I wished it was a little longer.
But let’s talk about some of this eye candy and some of my favorite new gear for 2023.
Martin D-28 Klaus Voormann
For Beatles fans, this was probably one of the highlights of the entire show. Given the history of Klaus Voormann and his work on the iconic album, it should come as no surprise that this D-28 commemorates him revolver– Beatles era. To me, this guitar is one of the coolest collaborations between an artist and a manufacturer…and it comes at a price that definitely reflects that.
The tension of cream guitars
Arguably one of the most innovative guitars at this year’s NAMM comes from relative newcomers to Cream Guitars… the Cream Voltage. The Voltage more than lived up to its namesake! In short, the roasted maple neck with its rosewood fingerboard was electrifying in the hand. This is one of the few guitars I’ve played that can go from cowboy chords to full-blown polyphia shredder on the fly. Also, being a fan of jumbo frets definitely helped me feel a sense of lightness when pacing up and down the fretboard. The coolest aspect of this guitar is its forward-thinking design…this guitar is way thinner than it looks! Combining modern and vintage tones thanks to a pair of Seymour Duncan pickups, the guitar turned out to be one of my favorite surprises this year.
Ibanez TCB1006 Bass
As I’m a huge Thundercat fan (if not, check out his song “Dragonball Durag!”), I was beyond thrilled to get my hands on his signature bass. With its archtop-like design and 34-inch scale length, it’s definitely a chunky boy and definitely not your typical bass. This is probably the most advanced bass I’ve had the pleasure of playing to date. At its price I wouldn’t take it home, but as a big Thundercat fan this was one of the basses I was most looking forward to.
The Walrus Audio Fundamental series
With more and more pedal manufacturers rolling out budget-friendly options, it came as no surprise that Walrus Audio stepped up the ante with their newly released Fundamental series. As I stood at the Walrus booth sucking around, I was all smiles. Everything from drive to delay to reverb offered a massive sound that rivaled pedals two or three times the price. Playing around with the sliders turned out to be a unique implementation that makes choosing your tone a bit more intuitive. For me this whole series was a win, especially for the wallet.
Hiwatt Custom 20 combo
With a roster of artists ranging from Led Zeppelin, Pink Floyd, Oasis, The Who, IDLES and more, Hiwatt is a company that’s as innovative today as it was in the 1970’s. Stopping by the Hiwatt booth and trying out some of their historic hardwired amps—particularly the Custom 20 combo (one of the loudest clean amps at NAMM)—was a highlight for me. From angelic cleans to devilish dirt, the Custom 20 is the amp I nearly missed my flight home from playing for so long.
With next year set to be the return to a more traditional winter and summer NAMM schedule, this year’s NAMM was a much-needed event for our Gear community. Seeing so many friends, vendors and gear in one area showed me that the “NAMM is dying” chorus was very wrong in their claims. NAMM is back and will continue to be The annual outing showcasing the latest equipment in the industry.
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