The NAMM Show 2015

Highlights from the annual musical-instrument blowout in Southern California

John Pisano at the Eastman Guitars booth, Winter NAMM 2015
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Yamaha's YL-CSVR Custom clarinets, NAMM Show 2015
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A display at XO Brass featuring John Fedchock and the XO 1632 lead trombone he helped design, NAMM Show 2015
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Jon Faddis at Schilke, NAMM 2015
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D'Angelico's EX-63 archtop guitar (center) an 2015 NAMM Show
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Sabian's Big & Ugly cymbal collection, NAMM Show 2015
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Brian Charette at Hammond USA, NAMM Show 2015
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Gibson Les Paul Supreme 2015, NAMM show 2015
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 Attendees test out Gibson’s new G Force automatic tuning system, which comes standard on many of the company’s 2015 electric guitars, NAMM Show 2015
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Bob Mintzer at the Eastman booth, NAMM Show 2015
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Jody Espina holds down the fort at his JodyJazz mouthpieces booth, NAMM Show 2015
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A jam session at the National Reso-Phonic Guitars booth, NAMM Show 2015
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Sonor “Vintage” series drum kit, NAMM Show 2015
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Phaeton B-flat trumpets in new finishes, NAMM Show 2015
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Victor Wooten greets fans, NAMM Show 2015
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A demo of ROLI’s Seaboard Grand, NAMM Show 2015
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Jeff Berlin’s signature Cort “The Rithimic” basses on display
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This year’s NAMM tradeshow, held Jan. 22-25 at the Anaheim Convention Center, was like any other, and that isn’t a putdown: plenty of people, lots of performances and, most important, oodles of gear. So let’s get on with it:

Mouthpiece guru Theo Wanne showcased a new proprietary material he calls A.R.T., or Advanced Resonance Technology, which is currently being used on his Durga3 alto and Shiva tenor models. It’s blue, bright-sounding and free-blowing, with a feel similar to hard rubber, though Wanne says it’s more responsive and fuller in resonance. (He won’t say, of course, what it’s actually made of.) JodyJazz also had new mouthpieces to check out, including the JET Tenor, a follow-up to the company’s popular, versatile JET Alto, and two George Garzone signature tenor models in the Giant line. In horns, Yamaha generated buzz with its YL-CSVR Custom Clarinets, which use the brand’s well-oiled manufacturing systems to bring a rare level of consistency to pro-level liquorice sticks. XO Professional Brass teamed with veteran trombonist and bandleader John Fedchock to design the 1632RGL-LT lead trombone, striving to create an ultra-lightweight instrument that doesn’t skimp on tone. XO wasn’t the only primo horn company with a heavyweight endorser onboard: Longtime Schilke player Jon Faddis demonstrated his new B-flat trumpet model, the S43LF-HD, based on the company’s “heavy design” (HD) valve cluster.

Over in drums, Mark Guiliana helped Sabian introduce its Big & Ugly cymbal collection, six roughed-up rides that, as the brand puts it, share a “great complexity, versatility and distinctive appearance.” Zildjian of course had fresh metal to try out, including two slightly heavier Kerope models for better articulation. NAMM always quickly reveals the industry trends, and for percussion in 2015 that means cajons, including the airtight, big-bass Dorado by Remo and the innovative Cajon Hats by LP, 9-inch hi-hats that easily attach to the box for more creative textures.

In guitars, D’Angelico expanded its lineup to include gems like the Howard Roberts-evoking EX-63. The real six-string jaw-dropper, however, was Gibson‘s updated and improved Min-ETune system, the G Force: a small, unobtrusive battery-powered gadget that fits behind the guitar’s headstock and robotically twists the pegs into a variety of common and alternate tunings. Guitarists who dig effects pedals-but not the confusing tangle of adapters and cables that come with them-should check out the ES-8 Effects Switching System by BOSS.