REVIEW: Eventide H9 MAX

“The H9 is that rare sonic tool that is capable of inspiring your entire musical direction.”

Eventide has been a part of the musical landscape since the 70s: David Bowie and Brian Eno famously used the hell out of an Eventide harmonizer starting from the Low album and that’s good enough for me! In the guitar world, Steve Vai practically created an entire genre of psychedelic progressive shred wackiness through his use of the H3000 Ultra-Harmonizer. But you’ll find Eventide’s family of harmonizers all over the place: recording studios, sound design, radio production… the company’s footprint is all over the last four decades plus of sonic history. Eventide doesn’t cut corners, so it can be a pretty costly proposition to add one of their rack units to your arsenal. Thankfully there’s a range of great stompboxes available in the form of the TimeFactor (delay), ModFactor (modulation), PitchFactor (pitch shifting), and Space (reverb). Each is a dedicated unit with plenty of controls and functions and they’re all serious stuff, but Eventide has found a way to cram every one of those pedals into a small, pedalboard-friendly unit called the H9 MAX.

The H9 gets away with this Tardis-like approach to effects management by placing the controls not on the pedal itself but on your computer or smartphone screen via the H9 Control App which gives you instant access to over 500 presets and practically endless editing capability. There is a degree of control available on the surface of the pedal itself in the form of a Hotknob and three assignable parameters, but this is a pedal designed for those who are comfortable dialling in their tone on their screen. 

Get Connected

Connections include stereo inputs and outputs, an expression pedal jack, Mini USB and MIDI Out/Thru (plus the 12v DC jack for the included power supply). It’s important to note that the H9 is not a multi-effect pedal – that is, you can’t combine multiple effects in a chain – but many effects include delay or reverb capability alongside their main function. And you’re not forced to commit to using it just in your amp’s effects loop or just through its front end. The stereo inputs and outputs can be treated as two totally different signal paths to select between, allowing you to send, say, a chewy-sounding vintage phaser preset to your amp’s front end, then switching to a delay or reverb preset that goes through your amp’s effects loop. It’s a really ingenious system that allows you to get the most out of the H9’s stunning range of capabilities as the song demands. 

Variations On A Theme

There are actually three variations on the H9 available, which differ only in the pre-loaded effects: the base H9 Core which comes loaded with the PitchFactor’s H910/H949 settings; the H9 Harmonizer which has two algorithms each from Space, PitchFactor, ModFactor and TimeFactor plus the H9-exclusive UltraTap Delay; and the full H9 MAX which is loaded with 50 effect algorithms and 99 presets, with over 500 presets available via the H9 Control app. You can upgrade the H9 Core or H9 Harmonizer to H9 MAX specs online for an additional cost using the MAXOut Program, so even if you don’t have the spare bucks to get the MAX up-front, you can get in on the ground floor with the H9 Harmonizer or Core and upgrade as you’re able. And it’s worth doing because here’s what MAX comes loaded with:

H9 Exclusive:

UltraTap Delay

Resonator

EQ Compressor

CrushStation

SpaceTime

Sculpt

PitchFuzz

HotSawz

From Space:

Shimmer

Hall

Blackhole

Spring

Plate

Room

MangledVerb

Tremoloverb

ModEchoVerb

DualVerb

DynaVerb

Reverse Reverb

From PitchFactor:

Crystals

H910/H949

Diatonic

MicroPitch

Quadravox

PitchFlex

Octaver

Harpeggiator

Synthonizer

Harmodulator

From ModFactor:

Chorus

Phaser

Q-Wah

Flanger

ModFilter

Rotary

TremoloPan

Vibrato

Undulator

RingMod

From TimeFactor:

Tape Echo

Vintage Delay

Digital Delay

Mod Delay

Ducked Delay

Band Delay

Filter Pong

MultiTap

Reverse

Looper

Some of these are pretty self-explanatory. Others are really unique. For instance, Sculpt lets you split the audio signal into high and low frequency bands and then apply different levels of gain and filtering to each, then add compression either before or after the distortion. In stereo if you want to. PitchFuzz combines fuzz, three pitch shifters and two delays for some truly filthy sounds. CrushStation is a stereo distortion that can do anything from blues tones to ultra pissed-off. And HotSaws is a pitch-tracking monophonic synth with modulation sources including LFO, Envelope Follower and ADS Gate, with four assignable destinations (Filter Cutoff, Volume, Pitch and Oscillator Depth), with each modulation source able to be assigned to any destination at any time. 

In Use

And that’s just the new stuff available only in H9 MAX: there are also plenty of classic Eventide effects that you’ll recognise from either the ‘Factor’ series of pedals, or earlier devices such as the H3000, H949 and H910. For instance, y’know Steve Vai’s classic ‘Ballerina 12/24’ pitch-shifted delay setting? That’s in here. The pitch shift preset from ‘The Animal’ is in here too, as are various EVH ‘1984’-inspired sounds (and I’ve been able to dial in a perfect replica of Eddie’s For Unlawful Carnal Knowledge-era chorus-like subtle doubling sound). In fact, the huge number of sounds in here from previous Eventide products like the H3000 really hits home just how innovative that classic rack unit was. The DigiTech Whammy Pedal? It’s basically just a particular H3000 mode with a built-in expression pedal, and you can do it with the H9 and an expression pedal too. Dynamic reverb, chorus and delay effects that respond to your picking? That’s all here just like it has been since the H3000. Extensive looping capability? Ditto. But there’s other stuff in here that has been criminally overlooked. Frank Zappa was a fan of using dynamic flanging effects, and Eventide gives you this capability (which works especially well as an ‘into-the-front-of-the-amp’ effect); trigger a flanger-sweep every time you pick a note, or deeper sweeps the harder you pick. Or assign the flanger resonance to an expression pedal. The signal-processing possibilities are endless, and that means your creative and expressive options as a musician are endless too. The H9 is that rare sonic tool that is capable of inspiring your entire musical direction.

The sound quality is so great that you can get away with using the H9 as front-and-centre feature effects in a recording environment – as you’d expect from a company whose gear is in every serious studio in the world – but what really impresses me is how utterly clean and noise-free the sound is when used with my roaring Marshall. I’m used to battling against hiss and hum in outboard gear and I’ve figured out various ways to get rid of it over the years but the H9 is so damn quiet. The dynamic range isn’t unnaturally squished, there’s no buzz, no hum, no white noise. And this becomes really apparent when using delay and reverb effects. 

The MIDI capability is also extremely handy. Although the H9 has become my go-to reverb and delay unit, I’ve been connecting the H9 MAX to my trusty old BOSS GT-8 Multi-Fx floorboard so I can use the GT-8’s delay and reverb effects when the H9 MAX is otherwise occupied with another algorithm through my amp’s front end (eg: Octave, Flanger, Wah or PitchFlex effects). This also lets me add H9 presets with my GT-8 presets, and also to use the GT-8’s expression pedal to control H9 effects. In a perfect world I’d have an Eclipse V4 sitting in a rack to take care of delay and harmonizer effects in my amp’s effects loop and an H9 on a pedalboard to look after front-end effects like fuzz, distortion, wah, flanger, phaser, pitch and whammy. 

The Bottom Line

If you’re not afraid to roll up your sleeves and dig into some serious editing on a smartphone, tablet or computer screen, the H9 will do absolutely everything you can ever think to ask of it. (If you’re a little put off by the control method but you still want some great Eventide delay and modulation effects – from the natural to the freaky – check out the new Eventide Rose Modulated Delay). The H9 is a serious piece of kit, which is why Living Colour’s Doug Wimbish had four of the dang things on his pedalboard when I saw the band live recently! 

GUEST POST: Top 10 Best Electric Guitar Players off All Time by John Anthony

By John Anthony of Guitar.Listy

When it comes to rank the musicians it is always tough. Different people have different choice and there will always be a controversy about who should be number one and who should be at ten. Still in this article a list of the top ten best electric guitarist is done keeping in mind their fame and the enigma they have created with their music. There are so many electric guitar players who have won hearts of millions over the years. Here are few of them who have left a lasting impression. 

1. Stevie Ray Vaughan

When Stevie Ray Vaughan comes with guitars in his hands even God will take some time to listen to him. He may be deeply rooted to the blues idiom but he had taken music especially electric guitar to another level that is purely original. He is inspired by other guitarists like Jimi Hendrix, B.B King and Albert Collins but he himself have influenced many others during his time. Among different styles his lighting fast double stop and triple string bends are something that are unforgettable. He has sprinkled his art in many songs that includes ‘pride and joy,’ ‘rude ‘mood’ and others but ‘Texas flood’ is something that took him to new heights. 

2. Jimi Hendrix

Considered as the great instrumentalist in the history of music Jimi Hendrix became active during the late 60s. He was something that was not seen before whether that be his volume use or wah pedals. He was the one who had blurred and radicalized the lines that had been demarcating rock and roll from the psychedelic experiments. His music piece ‘bold as love’ makes his audience awestricken and his guitar seems to be a part of him, such was his integrity was guitar! After Eric Clapton saw him he considered that it was the end of his career! Technically, it may be possible to find many other guitarists who are impressive than Jimi but when it comes to spirit very few comes near him. 

3. Chuck Berry

Chuck Berry is considered as the God of Rock and Roll and why shouldn’t he be? It was his amalgamation of blues with the hillbilly guitar that has pioneered the music famously known as ‘rock and roll’ now. He stands apart from other guitarist for the skills he had shown in synthesizing blues, rhythm, rock, country and jazz. His technique was sharp and perfect and the tone was very melodic. The back and forth bends by Berry on carols has been inspiration for many and is imitated by numerous electric guitar players round the world.  If you want to learn how to play an electric guitar then follow this article about how to play electric guitar for beginners on GuitarListy.com

4. Duane Allman

Duane Allman was always brilliant. He had shown his performance while playing as musician at Muscle Shoals studio or while as one of the lead guitarists of the Allman Brothers band. Whether it was his standard playing or the slide playing, the music was something that was smoothest and of course the most adventurous that the world has listened to. There are many pieces that has been mesmerizing music lovers but “the Allman brother live” will surely make one fall in love with him again, especially the one at the Fillmore East. 

5. Eric Clapton

Eric was mainly a Blues guitarist and it was his impressive blues playing that has made his fans making spray paints on the walls of London. Once John Mayall’s ‘Beano” album was released with his blues rock playing he was considered as the God of electric guitar. It was his solo, ‘while my guitar gently weeps’ in the Beatles that made him popular and inscribed his name in history of music permanently. He is also known as ‘Slowhand’ and he has been in the hall of fame of music three times. He had played with Derek. Cream and the Dominos and with all these music along with his solos has earned him the supreme position in the world of music. 

6. Chet Atkins

For those who had not heard Chet Atkins before are missing something in their life. He was a rockabilly player and loved playing his songs himself. He was a skilled instrumental guitar player and loved to play his music himself, without any support from other musicians. “Mr. Sandman” is a great example of his talent. He have created many other pieces that have made him popular and have given him this position. Still he is more famous for his syncopated melodies and alternating thumb rhythm that shows his precision while handling the instruments. 

7. Slash

Slash has rendered innumerable solos and among them ‘Estranged,’ ‘Sweet Child O’ Mine,’ or ‘November Rain’ are worth mentioning. Saul Hudson, or famously known as Slash was lead guitarist of the band, Guns N’ Roses. He was an iconic guitarist who had played solos as well as group performance that had kept music lovers mesmerized. He has even performed with Michael Jackson on the stage and that was an experience indeed. “Black and white’ had fulfilled the wishes of the masses when they had seen two maestros performing together on the stage. His mountain top grandeur solos and blues have taken the music lovers to climax many times. He gradually turned up the intensity of the music making things more intense. 

8. Charlie Christian

Many music lovers considered him as the first master of the electric guitar. He was an excellent jazz player and the stellar improvisational skills shown by Charlie Cristian was exemplary. He has created some of the most innovative and inventive jazz of all time with his fluent run down through the fret board. “Swing to Bop” will give an example how he has impressed his followers for ages. 

9. Prince

Prince is included in this list for his extraordinary solo on “let’s go crazy.” He is a guitarists who has shown his supremacy in blues, rhythm, funk and Minneapolis genres. He may be more famous for his frenetic style but there are ones like “while my guitar gently weeps or “just my imagination” that shows that he had ability to play under control. “While my Guitar gently weeps” has been a heart rendering piece that had made every guitar lover fall to knees. 

10. Frank Zappa

Frank Zappa was not only an electric guitar player but had many other qualities in him. He was a writer who wrote hilariously satirical lyrics. Apart from that eh has composed many brilliant music pieces and of course he is included in this list because of his inventive and innovative guitar playing. He has made many guitar improvisation with his lighting hands fretting. 

Def Leppard – Let’s Throw A Rock At A Dick

So I was just in the car with my son and a Def Leppard song came on Spotify. And he goes “Def Leppard? Isn’t that the band you have a setlist for where all the songs are like ‘Rock Rock Til You Drop’ and ‘Let’s Get Rocked’ and ‘Rock Of Ages’ and ‘Let’s Throw A Rock At A Dick’?”

So now I really want to know what a Def Leppard song called ‘Let’s Throw A Rock At A Dick’ sounds like. I mean you could probably get it to work to the tune of ‘Pour Some Sugar On Me.’ But I’m issuing a challenge to Def Leppard. Let’s hear it! Actually write ‘Let’s Throw A Rock At A Dick’! It’ll be an instant classic! Let’s go-o-o-oo-o!

Order Your Prestige Guitars Devin Townsend ‘Empath’ Acoustic

One of the nicest damn guitars I saw at NAMM last month was the prototype for Devin Townsend’s new Prestige Guitars ‘EMPATH’ signature acoustic. The neck and the body bevelling are ridiculously comfortable and the sound is gorgeous: clear, full and sweet. Prestige is now taking advance orders for this beauty, which is limited to 100 guitars worldwide.

The Empath Acoustic is a hand built Dreadnought cutaway guitar, featuring a Torrefied Adirondack Spruce Top, Indian Rosewood Back and Sides, and 3A Flame Maple Bevels on the Arm Rest, Back Rest and Cutaway. Following an all-organic build, each Empath guitar is built with a hand carved Mahogany Neck; Ebony Fingerboard, Ebony Bridge, Bone Nut and Saddle, and a natural Satin Finish. This combination results in a rich soulful sound, with crisp overtones and Loud sonic definition.

And how’s this for cool: each guitar will include a numbered, handwritten autographed letter from Devin, hidden inside the soundhole. Each letter is a fragment of a bigger story arc which is revealed when each letter is placed in numerical order. Empath owners are encouraged to register their guitar online to connect the story.

If you’d like to order one and be part of something really cool, visit this page on the Prestige website.

Cool Gear Alert: Marshall Studio Series

About 10 years ago Marshall released some adorable itty bitty baby 1-watt amps. They were cool and all, but it was the height of ‘lunchbox amps rule’ and I don’t think they ever really caught on. Part of the reason was probably that the power sections just weren’t the same as the amps they were based on, so they just didn’t feel quite right. Aah but now Marshall has taken that idea, blown it up, crammed appropriate power sections into ’em and created some truly desirable, useful and just plain frickin’ awesome amps in the form of the Studio Series.
The line currently consists of three models: 20-watt variants of the Plexi (SV20), JCM800 (SC20) and Jubilee. Each is available in either head or combo form, are made in the UK and are packed with the tone of their big brothers. They each contain two EL34 power-amp valves and can be switched down from 20 to 5 watts. And another thing I really like about these amps is that the combo versions each have their own cabinet designs rather than just building the different designs into the same chassis.

I love the idea of these amps. I’d be so tempted to run two Plexis side by side to rattle some windows and piss off some neighbours. Or imagine having a Jubilee for crunchy rhythm tones and a JCM800 for leads. Oh the fun you could have!

Rusty Cooley Joins Ormsby Guitars

So, my day job these days is Artist Relations and Social Media guy for the wonderful Ormsby Guitars, and I’ve just got back from NAMM where we had the huge honour of working with Rusty Cooley and Dino Cazares to unveil their new signature models.

Below is the press release I wrote to get the word out ahead of the show (and a whole bunch of pics by the wonderful Beto Branger), but now that I’ve had time to play Rusty’s guitar and get to know it, I thought I’d share my first-hand experience with this incredible instrument. So far this is Custom Shop guitar is the only instrument we’ve made for Rusty, but it’ll be available later this year from both the Custom Shop and the production GTR Series.

It was very important to Rusty that his guitar have unrestricted upper-fret access so not only does the RC-ONE have completely free access up to the 24th fret, but it goes three better: you can get your pinkie finger all the way up to the 27th fret with your thumb still parallel behind your fretting fingers. The neck joint is super-sculpted for easy access, and the upper frets are partially scalloped to give you extra grip on the high notes. And the neck is super thin. Like, ridiculously thin, but very stable.

This particular multiscale design uses the bridge as the neutral point of the fret fan, meaning you can use a Floyd Rose or any other standard tremolo or hardtail bridge while still getting the benefits of multiscale on the low strings. You can shred like crazy on the high strings while the low strings are tight and punchy. It’s really fun playing riffs on this thing.

A few people have asked about the pickup placement and whether the neck pickup really sounds like a neck pickup, being so far back from the traditional neck position. I can confirm that it does indeed sound ‘necky’ but the location gives it a little more definition and more harmonic overtones than a typical neck pickup. I really dig it.

I love the Ormsby guitars I’m currently playing but man, once these come out I’ve gotta get one. Those who are familiar with my playing know that I’m a big Floyd-Rose-and-seven-string guy, and this really is the ultimate guitar for players like me.

ORMSBY GUITARS WELCOMES GUITAR VIRTUOSO RUSTY COOLEY

PERTH, WESTERN AUSTRALIA (January 23, 2019)Ormsby Guitars, a pioneer in multiscale electric guitars, welcomes guitar virtuoso Rusty Cooley to its family of artists.

Cooley is always pushing the boundaries of what the guitar can do, and he needs an instrument that can keep up with his creativity and technique. “A good friend of mine turned me on to Ormsby guitars and I was immediately intrigued,” Cooley says. “The guitar played great and had a very cutting-edge and innovative look. After speaking with Perry I knew this was the right move for me. Finally a guitar builder with the vision to go where no-one else has ever been, and the balls to do it!”

“Rusty and I are on the same wavelength when it comes to pushing the boundaries of guitar design,” luthier Perry Ormsby says. “When we began designing Rusty’s new guitar, we spent hours on Skype discussing everything from upper fret access to headstock shape to the perfect control location, to shared inspirations like Randy Rhoads. This is an instrument that really captures the excitement and passion of both playing and making guitars.”

“I’ve always likened my guitars to high-performance cars like a Lamborghini, but what we’re working with now is clearly alien technology,” Cooley says. 

A Rusty Cooley signature model electric guitar is in the works which not only meets Rusty’s demand for the ultimate in upper fret access; it exceeds it by providing completely unrestricted access all the way up to the 27th fret. This 7-string instrument features 26.5” to 27.5” multiscale, Floyd Rose Pro 7 vibrato, partially-scalloped frets, glow-in-the-dark fretboard inlays and a unique Ormsby-designed, angled locking nut. You can play Rusty’s prototype at the Ormsby NAMM booth, #2841.

First-Timer’s Guide To NAMM

It’s that time of year again where tens of thousands of music industry professionals, rock stars and hopeful dreamers converge upon Anaheim, California for NAMM – the National Association of Music Merchants trade show. It’s where musical instrument companies – a lot of musical instrument companies – showcase their newest gear to the world’s retailers, distributors and media; where hopeful designers and luthiers present their ideas to prospective investors; where musicians pitch themselves to potential endorsement partners; where historic jams take place; and where you can’t turn a corner without bumping into a legendary rock star, producer, or builder. Or, if you’re unlucky, Andy Dick. And it’s also pretty damned intimidating for NAMM first-timers. This upcoming NAMM will be my tenth and I’ve learned a few tricks to navigating this overwhelming schmoozefest so if you’re going to NAMM for the first time this year, I hope you find this guide helpful.

How To Get In
For starters, NAMM is pretty hard to get into. It’s industry-only, which typically means you need to be associated with an attending company or be in the media in order to get a badge. Occasionally, stores might have a handful of passes that they give to favoured customers. Once you do have your registration, it’s a good idea to pick up your badge early – that is, before doors open on the morning of the Thursday that NAMM officially begins on. If not, you could be waiting in line for a long time. If you get to Anaheim a few days early you’ll be able to pick up your badge in advance and it’ll make life a lot smoother for you on show day. Also, lot of people refer to the Sunday as ‘Public Day’ which just isn’t true – maybe it was many years ago? – so don’t just rock up on Sunday demanding to be let in.

Where To Stay
If you’re heading to NAMM this January you’ve probably already got accommodation sorted out (right? RIGHT?), but if you haven’t you’d better get on it! NAMM is held at the Anaheim Convention Center, just a stone’s throw from Disneyland, so there are plenty of hotels around for all budgets, and a buttload of AirBNBs. Some advice make sure you check if your hotel is on a NAMM shuttle bus route. It’ll make your life a lot easier. You’ll be doing a lot of walking throughout the day and the last thing you want is to be walking back to your hotel after a long, long day of schmoozing, and some of the hotels are a bit of a schlep.

Oh and Disneyland is relatively quiet at this time of year, at least compared to summer, so if you want to take a break from NAMM by throwing yourself around on a roller coaster or zooming around the galaxy in Star Tours, have at it!

nammpic

What To Eat
Because NAMM is so close to Disneyland you’ll find plenty of wallet-friendly meal options in the neighbourhood, including Denny’s, IHOP, Tony Romo’s, McDonalds and all that stuff. Just the thing to shove some greasy breakfast down your throat while taking advantage of free WiFi before a long day of NAMMing. And Downtown Disney is a retail and dining section of the Disneyland Resort that is open to the public without an entry fee, so you’ll find plenty of dining options there. And the Convention Center itself has various places to eat and drink including various coffee and beer stalls, places to grab a burger or a salad or a slice of pizza, and a whole bunch of food trucks outside. There are also Starbuckses in the Hilton and Sheraton, and at the Hilton you’ll find a food court with Sbarro, Baja Fresh, Submarina and Just Grillin’. If you’d like to get away from the Convention Center there are plenty of great restaurants all throughout the wider area. Gabbi’s Mexican Kitchen in Orange is spectacular if you can handle a bit of a wait at busy times.

What To Do
Your very first NAMM can be quite overwhelming. There’s a lot to take in. There’ll be tens of thousands of people roaming the halls, a few hundred dudes playing Vai covers, buxom promotional models handing out flyers or posing for pics, and the persistent distant thrash of cymbals (It’s kind of like in Lord Of The Rings as they get closer to Mordor and they can see the fire in the distance and everything starts to grow dark… the closer you get to the drum section, the more the survival instincts kick in and you might find yourself trying to fend off Orcs reps with a cymbal stand or something).

If you’re planning to go to all four days of NAMM, Thursday is where a lot of business gets done and is pretty busy. Friday is very busy and with more signings, appearances, performances and launches. And Saturday is absolutely crazycakes, a huge crowded cacophony of noise. Saturday is when you’re likely to find yourself muttering, randomly sobbing, and saying things you would never, ever say at any other time in your life, such as “Oh shit, Steve Vai’s just showed up at Ernie Ball – better take the long way around or it’ll take me an hour to get through the crowd.” And Sunday is pretty quiet, especially in the afternoon. It’s tempting to be all like “Dammit, I’m staying to the very end to wring out every last drop of awesomeness from this experience,” but NAMM after about 2PM Sunday is a bit of a downer as companies start to slowly begin packing up.

If you’re at NAMM to work, it’s all about meetings, meetings, meetings. If you’re booking meetings with company reps in advance and you’re not already in California, here’s a tip for travellers which could save your ass: write them down on paper or in a text file: don’t immediately pop them in your smartphone calendar because – as I learned at my first NAMM – my iPhone scheduled all my appointments in Melbourne time and didn’t adjust for the fact that I was in LA! iOS is a lot better at these stuff nowadays but why risk it, right?

If you’re hoping to hit up some of the approximately 8 billion artist signings happening during the show it’s best to check the social media accounts of your favourite players and gear companies for schedules. And there are all sorts of performances going on all the time, some of them listed on the NAMM website and some of them more spontaneous. Make sure you pace yourself and give yourself plenty of time in case meetings run long. Get your hands on a floor plan of the convention center or the official NAMM smartphone app so you can figure out who’s where, and how far your appointments are from each other.

Oh and dude, business cards. Don’t fall into the ‘Oh nobody needs business cards any more’ trap. If you have ’em, bring ’em. I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve looked back at my post-NAMM pile of business cards and remembered a piece of gear or a new contact that would otherwise have faded into the fog of memory.

The other great thing to do at NAMM is to play NAMM Bingo.

Oh and wear comfortable shoes. Seriously. I shit the not, every NAMM I lose about 5kg from all the walking. By the third day your feet are likely to feel like a pair of tenderised steaks flopping about on the end of your legs. So think ahead! Maybe pack some kind of foot-soak to rest your feet in after your last evening. One of my favourite things in the world is the moment of serene solitude on a NAMM Sunday night, making a foot soak in a bathtub, maybe lighting some candles and reading a book and just not being blasted by the combined noise of the entire musical instrument industry being under one roof.

After Hours
Many companies have VIP events at NAMM, especially on the Friday and Saturday nights. A lot of these are secret and you’ll need to be on good terms with someone at the company to score an invite. Maybe don’t just go up to someone you’ve never met before and immediately ask if they’re putting on an event, but don’t be too shy to ask after you’ve had a nice chat either.

Even if you can’t get into a secret gig, party or dinner you’ll find plenty of great events around town. And after dark, the lobbies of the Hilton and Sheraton right outside the convention centre are great places to catch gigs and jams, have a beer with a favourite player, network with some new contacts or, once you’ve been to a few NAMMs, catch up with old pals. Some of the best times I’ve had at NAMM have been at these loose, informal get-togethers in the outdoor area just behind the Sheraton bar. Oh and karaoke at the Clarion? Unbeatable.

Hall E
Make sure you go out of your way to check out Hall E downstairs. This is where you’ll find some of the more offbeat builders, tinkerers and designers as well as incredible boutique luthiers and pedal companies. You’ll see some pretty out-there ideas for new gadgets that their designers think will revolutionize guitar, and maybe they will, maybe they won’t, but it’s always enlightening. Every now and then you’ll see something utterly ridiculous that you just know will never, ever catch on, but try not to be a dick about it.

So There You Have It.
If you’re a first-time NAMMer, hopefully this will help you to wrap your head around it before you go in, so you can make the most of your time. Personally I look back on my first NAMM and just think of how overwhelming it all seemed. My fist NAMM was basically a lot of “OMG! WTF! EEEK! WHOA! HUH!” My second was more like “Okay… starting to get into the groove now…” and every one since has been like “Aaah, I’m home.”

If you have any NAMM tips you’d like to share, feel free to leave a comment.

Cool Video Alert: Ando San Washington – Vitality

Check out the new video by Incipience guitarist Ando San Washington for the track ‘Vitality’ from his EP of the same name. Ando is an incredible guitarist with an enviable mastery of thump techniques, and this song also features a gorgeously fusion-riffic guest solo from Hedras Ramos. And the video is filmed by the legendary Felix Martin. Ando is an Ormsby Guitars endorser and he’s playing a HypeGTR 8-string Dragonburst in this video.

You can pick up Vitality here.