NAMM announcements are as guarded as ever, but here's a brief run-through of some of the expected news from the show.
When you take it all into consideration, the figures associated with the annual NAMM show are nothing short of staggering. The continued attendance of 90,000 visitors and more than 1,400 exhibitors to an event dedicated to musical instruments – often described as ‘luxury items’ – during a period of global financial turmoil that continues to worsen is a significant achievement for everyone involved, not just the organisers.
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NAMM 2011 saw a three per cent increase in visitors over the previous year and even though the front pages of the newspapers on both sides of the Atlantic are frequently dominated by how much trouble we’re all in financially, you wouldn’t bet against that figure rising once again.At this early stage, some companies have kept their mouths firmly shut about what they’ll be unveiling this year, but here’s an overview of what we have been told thus far.TANGLEWOOD
Tanglewood, the only British guitar brand on the main show floor will have an even bigger booth this year in hall C (stand 4242) and will take its place among the big established US brands to consolidate its growing presence in the North American market.New products for the show include the Sundance Natural, a range of ‘open pore’ natural models based on the award winning Sundance Pro range, using the popular Tanglewood Dreadnought, Super Folk, Super Jumbo and Orchestra body shapes. These instruments all offer hand selected A grade solid open pore spruce or open pore cedar tops, with contrasting mahogany or American Walnut back and sides, all in the same satin finish. Both acoustic models, and a selection of Electro versions will be available in the UK from February and pricing starts at £399.Tanglewood’s new deluxe range of ukuleles, the Java series, will also be unveiled at NAMM. The ukes are created using an exotic blend of solid Java Koa timbers, with solid spruce or solid cedar tops and either Java koa, Indian sapele or exotic spalted maple back and sides. All 2012 models will ship with the class leading Aquila strings factory fitted as standard.Taking part in its second international show since release, the already critically acclaimed T6 is a professional 60-Watt acoustic amp with true digital reference effects, has all the requisite inputs and outputs for every professional application.Overwater by Tanglewood will be officially released into the North American market at NAMM 2012. The new Aspiration Standard and Standard Plus models will be on the booth to complement the established Contemporary J, Classic J and Aspiration, as well as the Deluxe and Elite models. New for 2012 will be various left hand versions and an expansion of the popular five-string format across the model range in response to European consumer demand.CARLSBRO
Carlsbro is launching the new VAC series of three-valve guitar combos and a separate head and cab. VAC is the first series in a complete range of backline amplification, designed in response to requests from the company’s international distributors for a high performance, affordable backline amp range. The VAC series comprises the VAC 15 (15-Watt), VAC 30 (30-Watt) and VAC 60 (60-Watt) combos (all into four ohms) and the VAC 100H (100-Watt into eight ohms) head and matched VAC 412 4x12 cab complete the series. All amps feature spring reverb. Distributors and dealers reacted favourably to the styling, quality and performance of these amplifiers when they were shown ‘privately’ at Music China. Pricing will be announced at the NAMM Show and stock will already be shipping immediately ahead of the event.STUDIOMASTER
New Studiomaster products include the powerful and portable Horizon 2012 powered mixer, which will be shown for the first time in the US. The functional design incorporates a shoulder carry strap, removable control cover and a retractable panel to angle the mixer for the best working position; the mixer can be used free standing or rackmounted. All mic/line input channels feature the famed VMS optical compressor, Studiomaster three-band EQ with sweepable mid and a total of four AUX sends. 60mm smooth faders, Mute, PFL buttons, along with Signal and Peak LEDs complete the channel strip.Twin onboard FX processors feature real studio quality reverbs and delays and a two-channel USB audio interface includes assignable signal source; playback from a computer can be routed to the main MIX output, or to a stereo channel giving access to EQ and auxiliaries. The output to the computer can be from the main MIX – to record a performance – or from the DSP effect sends to make use of plug-in FX. Comprehensive three stage amp routing is selectable between normal stereo operation, split function (MIX to the left and Auxiliary to the right), or Monitor only.Being launched internationally at NAMM is the Studiomaster XPX series ultra-portable moulded PA cabinet. Active and passive models are also available from the firm with 12-inch and 15-inch drivers and feature high sound quality, with neodymium drivers, three-inch voice coils and class D bi-amplification providing 750 Watts RMS in the active models. “We have been developing the XPX series as a high quality cabinet featuring great performance and a feature set, which in the passive models will perfectly complement the new Horizon powered mixer and in the active models, supplement the hugely popular current VPX active range,” said Soundking head of marketing, Patrick Almond.EMD
Among the many new products to be officially launched by EMD in Anaheim will be the SUW30 and 35 Series UHF wireless systems.Starting at £101, the range is available in handheld, headset and belt pack systems, in either fixed or multi channel formats.There will also be a new addition to the popular SMS range of powered speakers in the shape of a 360-Watt, two-way digital powered series, available for £358 in 12-inch size with built in LCD display. The £372 Angel Lopez Model C1448TCFI electro classical is the first in a new range of high-end classical guitars to feature the Fishman Presys 401 pre-amp. It’s also equipped with a solid spruce top and mahogany neck.Built to replace the SW206 series, the SA40MJCF1 electro mini jumbo folk cutaway includes the Fishman Isys pre-amp and ia available in a plethora of finishes, as well as left handed models. RRP is from £176.Also to be launched are the new Heavy Rock crash range from Stagg's Myra cymbal series, a new range of stage lighting and a hydraulic piano bench. These will be revealed at the show.IAG
IAG will be showing new products from both Wharfedale Pro and Albion, a guitar amp brand that will officially launch in the UK in January.Albion can be found on stand 2992, where designer Steve Grindrod will be explaining the thoughts and ideas behind the range. Wharfedale Pro will be revealing the new Delta Active series and also a new powered mixer, “codenamed Force 8.”JHS
JHS will return to NAMM with expanded and improved ranges for 2012. The show will see the worldwide unveiling of the new Fret-King Black Label electric guitar and bass range – designed in cooperation with Trev Wilkinson – including select signature models for a number of big name players. Also on display will be the Fret-King Atelier, Studio, Blue and Green Label lines. Vintage guitars will also premiere a pair of signature electrics from one of Britain’s best-known heavy metal guitarists. The complete ranges of electric and acoustic guitars and basses from Vintage and Encore will also be there, along with the classical and electro-classical Santos Martinez line.AUDIO-TECHNICA
Although it’s not yet clear what the company’s main launches will be at the show, MI Pro was able to find out about a selection of 50th Anniversary Limited Edition models that are due to be unveiled at the event. These will include the AT4050/LE multi-pattern condenser microphone – only 1,000 of which will be produced – and the lavishly decorated AT4050 Urushi, another multi-pattern condenser, but with a ‘Finest Lacquer’ finish. Just 400 of these will be made.Then there’s the ATH-W3000ANV sealed dynamic headphones. Delivering a 5-42,000 Hz frequency response, these cans feature a Hokkaido Asada Cherry Heartwood lacquer finish.SUTHERLAND
A number of brands looked after by Sutherland Trading in the UK will be on show in Anaheim and visitors will get the first glimpse of some exciting new products right across the board. Korean acoustic guitar manufacturer Crafter celebrates its 40th anniversary in 2012 and will be showing two new Grand Auditorium models to commemorate the event.The Pegasus, with an Engelmann spruce top and either a solid rosewood back (PG-Rose Plus) or solid mahogany back (PG-Maho Plus), features an attractive Pegasus pearl and abalone inlay, abalone binding and deluxe gold tuners. The Crafter booth can be located in Hall E, Booth 1312.Kala are launching a new series of instruments at NAMM, with the addition of the Golden Acacia Series into an already popular range of Acacia models. All Golden Acacia Series ukuleles feature a solid acacia top, laminate acacia back and sides and a classy looking rosewood binding. Complete with satin finish, the Golden Acacia Series ukuleles are available in Soprano, Concert (with optional EQ), Tenor and Tenor Cutaway with EQ.German manufacturers Hohner and Sonor are also exhibiting and both companies look set to launch some very interesting new products. This is all rather secretive and, as MI Pro goes to press, even Sutherland’s product managers are unaware of exactly what to expect.FENDER
As you would imagine, Fender always has a gargantuan presence at NAMM every year and that is set to continue once again this time around. Information is limited at the moment, but the manufacturer has confirmed it will be showcasing its Johnny Marr Signature Jaguar guitar.YAMAHA
It is a similar story for Yamaha, which always ensures it’s one of the main attractions at any event it attends. Last year, the Japanese giant massively expanded its brass and woodwind range, the next generation of BB basses were launched and the Club Custom was also announced.Expect to see a similar avalanche of new products across virtually every sector that the company covers (which is more or less everything). ROLAND
As usual, Roland will be launching an array of new products this year, but you’ll have to wait until January to find out exactly what they are.The manufacturer never disappoints at the world’s two biggest MI trade shows and last year the firm brought out 33 new products between NAMM and Musikmesse. A selection of the products introduced at Roland Connect are due to make appearances, but other than that, they’re keeping fairly quiet for now.It’s not just about wandering through the maze of booths. NAMM’s seminar programme is back once again, giving visitors the chance to take a break from prowling the halls and pick up a few handy tips.The NAMM University sessions start on Thursday at 10:30 a.m. and will be held every 30 minutes at the Idea Center on the NAMM Show floor, Booth #5501 in Hall B. The professional development sessions are designed to offer valuable insight about current business trends and practices to attendees throughout the duration of the event.A total of 43 sessions are being held this year on a wide range of topics in industry segments such as technology, music lesson programs, sales, retail ideas, marketing, retail operations and finance. Idea Center presenters include NAMM Top 100 Dealers and industry experts.The Hands On Training (H.O.T.) Zone, which focuses on the pro audio, entertainment technologies and music business operations sectors, will also be making a reappearance.