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Summer NAMM

The lower-key little brother of the sprawling wintertime tradeshow held every January in Anaheim, Calif., Summer NAMM, held this year June 20-22 in Nashville, Tenn., featured a surprising number of honest-to-God product launches and some bona fide innovations. (Country) Music City ain’t so bad either-if you like chicken-picked Telecasters, barbecue and light beer, it’s something of an Avalon. The weekend’s jazz highlight arrived via Larry Carlton, who received a Lifetime Achievement award from Guitar Player magazine onstage at the Ryman Auditorium. He thanked mom and played a solo piece, and it was all very touching. But enough sentimentality already, here’s the gear.

Without a doubt the biggest and best launch of the show was a guitar (pictured at top, left and right) by the synth innovators at Moog, namely inventor Paul Vo. This alien instrument (not a synth guitar) might’ve made news even without the groundbreaking electronics. It’s a stunning guitar with an ’80s-era solidbody vibe, a handcrafted swamp ash body and maple top, and a maple neck with an ebony fingerboard and a sharp Moog logo inlay at the 12th fret. The Moog-designed single-coil pickups look and sound unprecedented, and an added piezo can stand alone or be blended with the Moog pickups. But what makes the ax so special-and it is, even if the pre-NAMM video demos weren’t jaw-dropping-is that its “effects” are being created organically on the string level and not, as with MIDI, stompboxes and rack effects, through post-processing. (Moog actually recommends their custom strings over regular strings, and they might be pushing it.) All that translates to better real-time control: Just picking and noodling around on a demo model, the sense of manipulation is astounding. The sonic tweakings are controlled via switches and knobs on the guitar; a Moog ladder filter can also be operated via an accompanying foot pedal or CV input.

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