The 10 best product announcements from the NAMM 2024 weekend
There you have it – NAMM is officially done and dusted. It’s not all sad news, though, as the show’s first January edition since 2020 brought with it some of the most tantalising gear announcements the industry has seen in years.
READ MORE: NAMM 2024: Our top moments from the biggest gear show in the world
Frankly, it’s impossible to dive deep into everything launched at the show – which took place between 25 and 28 January at the Anaheim Convention Center in California – so we’ve rounded up what we believe are the 10 best new products announcements from the whole weekend.
New high-end, luxuriously appointed Yamaha Pacifica models
Yamaha quickly stole the show when it updated its Pacifica lineup – a model widely regarded as an entry-level guitar – with a range of lavishly-spec’d, high-end versions. Crafted in Japan by master luthiers, the Pacifica Professional and Pacifica Standard Plus are designed to “serve the needs of contemporary guitarists performing all styles of music”, including touring musicians and recording professionals.
Features on both include slim C-shape necks, alder bodies, 22 medium stainless steel frets, premium Gotoh locking tuners and two-point tremolo bridges. The Professional has a higher price point than the Standard Plus, and stands apart in the fact that it has a compound-radius fingerboard and custom tinted neck finish.
Wolfgang Van Halen and EVH finally unveil the SA-126 – right in time for Eddie Van Halen’s birthday
After months of anticipation, the SA-126 – a guitar that’s reportedly the result of three years of collaboration between Wolfgang Van Halen, Eddie Van Halen’s longtime guitar tech Matt Bruck, and EVH master builder Chip Ellis – has officially been unveiled. The guitar – which has been “crash-tested” on the road by Wolfgang with his band Mammoth WVH for the last two years, is touted as the “very definition of innovation incarnate”, with a host of top-notch features, and two configuration options: one with a quilted maple top.
“It’s an honor to finally and officially introduce (on the perfect day, no less [Eddie Van Halen’s birthday]) the EVH SA-126,” Wolfgang wrote on Twitter. “I am so proud of this instrument and the incredible team that has been working on it for years.”
Guild launches new Polara platform after the success of the Kim Thayil S-100 Polara
Credit: Guild Guitars
Following the success of Guild’s collaboration with Soundgarden guitarist Kim Thayil last year – the S-100 Polara – the brand has opted to turn the Polara into a whole new platform, unveiling a host of new options and colourways. Three new models are available, the Polara, Polara Deluxe and Polara Night, and crucially, they all come in well below the $6,999 street price tag of the Kim Thayil S-100 Polara.
Donner teams up Jack White’s Third Man Hardware for Triple Threat analogue multi-effects pedal
Credit: Donner/Third Man HardwareIn a partnership no one saw coming, Jack White – through his effects pedal company Third Man Hardware – teamed up with budget gear brand Donner for the Triple Threat, an analogue multi-effects pedal with Echo, Phaser and Distortion sections. It’ll be available later this year in two variants: a limited-edition yellow (exclusively available at Third Man’s Reverb store) and black.
“It has been my hope for a while to make an affordable pedal for beginning musicians,” says White. “When I approached Donner they knew what I was aiming for and we were able to make something very cool that was also not going to break the bank for a beginning musician.
“All three effects: the distortion, phaser and echo are all heavy duty. I was very impressed with them the first time I plugged into the prototype version that Donner had sent. This set of effects is for all kinds of music, all genres. Maybe not opera though. The Triple Threat will fit very comfortably on my pedal board.”
Alex Lifeson’s Lerxst launches its first-ever guitar, the Limelight, in partnership with Godin
Alex Lifeson launched Lerxst Amps late last year, but the brand has quickly branched out beyond the realm of amplifiers, first with the By-Tor drive pedal, and now, with its first electric guitar, the Limelight. Created in partnership with Godin, the guitar is inspired by the Hentor Sportscaster guitars the Rush guitarist used in the mid-’80s, and features a “modern part selection and craftsmanship to create a high-quality, forward-thinking instrument designed for today’s players”.
“This collaboration represents a union of two relentless forces, aiming not just to build guitars, but to sculpt vessels of inspiration, setting new standards in musical expression,” says Simon Godin, President and CEO of Godin Guitars.
ESP launches eight-strong Signature Series lineup for 2024
It’s safe to expect big things from ESP around the NAMM period, and this year, the guitar giant didn’t miss the mark. Among its slew of new products for 2024, are eight new additions to its Signature Series lineup, with new models for Exodus’s Gary Holt, George Lynch, Kreator’s Mille Petrozza, Mastodon’s Bill Kelliher, Death Angel’s Ted Aguilar and Rancid’s Lars Frederiksen, and two new basses for Kreator’s Fred Leclercq and Soulfly’s Mike Leon.
KMA Machines launches the Endgame, its “most ambitious device yet”
Credit: KMA Machines
Berlin, Germany’s KMA Machines has lifted the lid on the Endgame, a multi-functional pedal its touting as its “most ambitious device yet”. While it sports a plethora of features, KMA has ensure they’re simple and intuitive to operate. There are two main footswitches – which control a Doubler and FX Loop – while a TDT Width knob allows users to widen the doubling effect, and a second knob serves as a dual cabinet impulse response loader, allowing the pedal to simulate a tube power amp. There’s also an Ambience Control to adjust the virtual room size, and three models: 6L6, EL34 and KT88.
Taylor launches its first-ever amplifier, the Circa 74
Not only did Taylor celebrating its 50th Anniversary with a limited-edition series featuring its best-selling acoustics over its half-century tenure in the game, the guitar giant also unveiled its first-ever amp offering, the Circa 74. Named after the company’s founding year, the amp is as stylish and tasteful as any other product in the Taylor lineup, with an undeniably classy aesthetic, not unlike a piece of furniture.
A solid-state 150W 2-channel combo amp, the Circa 74 features a 10″ speaker designed for both acoustic guitarists and vocalists, while each channel features an additional three-band EQ and reverb control. And the best part? It only weighs 24lbs without the stand.
Vox launches recreations of first-ever wah pedals, and they’re “built as they were”
“1967 is back”, Vox proclaimed, as it announced the VRM-1 Real McCoy and the V846 Vintage, two new faithful recreations of its first-ever wah pedals. The devices feature, as Vox explains, “hand-selected and custom-designed parts”, which “make for a perfect reproduction of the sound of these two iconic pedals”.
Electro-Harmonix launches limited-edition Big Muff Pi – but it sells out in just over an hour
To mark the 50th anniversary of the legendary Ram’s Head circuit – the 55th of the Big Muff – Electro-Harmonix chose to celebrate in a big way, launching a limited-edition glistening gold Big Muff Pi pedal. It was so limited, in fact, that only 555 units were made available worldwide, and they sold out in just over an hour after the pedal launched. Will EHX create just a few more to satisfy the demand that’s clearly there. We’ll have to wait and see…
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