NAMM 2020: New Fender artist models including Tom Morello Soul Power guitar!

I can’t be the only one who has utterly craved a production version of Tom Morello’s ‘Soul Power’ Strat as used in Audioslave, right? Or a replica of Eric Johnson’s legendary ’54 Stratocaster named Virginia. And Slipknot’s Jim Root is a man of great taste when it comes to designing new guitars with Fender. So read on!

FENDER® EXPANDS ARTIST SIGNATURE SERIES LINEUP WITH ROCK AND HEAVY METAL LEGENDS, ERIC JOHNSON, JIM ROOT, TOM MORELLO

Eric Johnson “Virginia” Stratocaster® – The First Model Added to Fender’s Stories Collection – Jim Root Jazzmaster® V4 and Tom Morello “Soul Power” Stratocaster® Debut at Winter NAMM 2020

HOLLYWOOD, Calif. (January 16, 2020)—Fender Musical Instruments Corporation (FMIC) today announced three new additions to its Artist Signature Series electrics offering – the Eric Johnson “Virginia” Stratocaster, Jim Root Jazzmaster V4 and Tom Morello “Soul Power” Stratocaster – all debuting at Winter NAMM 2020 in Anaheim, Calif. Developed with rock, blues and heavy metal players in mind, these all-new Artist Signature Series models add performance-ready features and stylistic touches hand-selected by some of the industry’s most iconic players – from Grammy®-winner Eric Johnson and Slipknot guitarist Jim Root to Audioslave and Rage Against The Machine legend Tom Morello. 

For the first time, Fender has replicated and released Eric Johnson’s beloved ’54 “Virginia” Stratocaster, the instrument he used to record hit song “Cliffs of Dover,” the Tones record (1987 Grammy® nomination for Best Rock Instrumental Performance) and the Platinum Ah Via Musicom (1991 Grammy® for Best Rock Instrumental Performance) albums that made him a hero to music fans and guitarists alike. Built in Corona, California, this extremely limited-edition model combines extraordinary history and exceptional tone. Its rare sassafras body, custom switching and special set-up will thrill players and collectors by showcasing its unique silky tone and distinct fine grain appearance. The Eric Johnson “Virginia” Stratocaster will be the first model in Fender’s all-new Stories Collection, a celebration of the guitars that shaped history’s most iconic music and the details that made them unique. 

Both beautiful and beastly, the Jim Root Jazzmaster V4 is the fifth Fender artist signature model for Slipknot guitarist Jim Root; it features active humbucking pickups, a 12″ radius, jumbo frets ideal for heavy playing styles, an ebony fingerboard, block inlays and striking white finish that makes the guitar stand out on stage. Fender worked hand-in-hand with Root to deliver crushing detuned tone with an all-new bold look, culminating in a brutal-sounding signature Jazzmaster model that complements his heavy playing style.

The Tom Morello “Soul Power” Stratocaster is based on the modified Designer Series Strat, which Morello used during his time in Audioslave. Featuring an alder slab body with binding, a recessed Floyd Rose® locking tremolo system, Seymour Duncan Hot Rails bridge humbucker and two Fender Noiseless™ pickups, this Strat delivers powerful and unique effects from gentle rhythms to screaming feedback, chaotic stutters and more.

“We are excited to continue to work with such legendary players to help share their story through music,” said Justin Norvell, EVP Fender Products. “Whether it is their first Artist Signature model, or fifth, we continue Fender’s legacy by helping artists showcase the versatility of our instruments. Each Artist Signature model that we reveal at Winter NAMM this year will showcase a variety of exceptional, legendary tones that made music history.” 

Product Details: 

Eric Johnson “Virginia” Stratocaster – $4,999 (Launching February 2020) joins the Fender Stories Collection. Eric Johnson already had his 1954 “Virginia” Stratocaster when he recorded Tones and the Platinum Ah Via Musicom, groundbreaking albums that made him a hero to music fans and guitarists alike. To this day, Eric continues to release brilliant music, tour constantly and is, to the electric guitar community, a savant and widely followed tastemaker. In 2020, for the first time, Johnson’s 1954 “Virginia” Stratocaster will be replicated by both Fender Custom Shop and the Fender Corona Production line in limited numbers. With its rare sassafras body, lacquer finish, custom wiring and more, the Eric Johnson 1954 “Virginia” Stratocaster will thrill players and collectors alike with its distinctive look and exceptional tone. 

Jim Root Jazzmaster V4 – $2,699 (Launching March 2020) delivers detuned tone with a bold new look. Fender worked closely with the towering Slipknot guitarist to create a brutal-sounding signature Jazzmaster model that complements his heavy playing style—right down to its signature Daemonum™ open-coil EMG® active pickups, shred-worthy 12” radius fingerboard with jumbo frets, sparse control layout and more. The Jim Root Jazzmaster V4 dispenses with frivolities such as a vibrato, rhythm circuit and tone control. Only crucial essentials remain: a volume control, a 3-way switch and a hardtail bridge. Featuring a mahogany slab body for pronounced lows and mids, brilliant Polar White satin finish, maple neck with bound ebony fingerboard and pearloid block inlays, this powerful machine delivers brutal tone with a striking new look.

Tom Morello Stratocaster – $2,699 (Launching March 2020) is based on the modified Designer Series Strat used during his time in Audioslave and features an alder slab body with binding and a Deep “C”-shape maple neck with 9.5″-14″ compound radius rosewood fingerboard and 22 medium-jumbo frets. Other features include: a recessed Floyd Rose® locking tremolo system; Seymour Duncan Hot Rails bridge humbucker; two Fender Noiseless™ pickups in the neck and middle positions; a chrome pickguard; kill-switch toggle; locking tuners; matching painted headcap and iconic “Soul Power” body decal, and a black Fender case.

In true tradition, the Fender’s Artist Signature Series honors iconic musicians through product progression and storytelling, creating instruments inspired by the unique specifications of the world’s greatest guitarists and bassists. Learn more about the Artist Signature models and access product descriptions here; images can be found here.  

For technical specs, additional information on new Fender products and to find a retail partner near you, visit www.fender.com. Join the conversation on social media by following @Fender.

NAMM 2020: Fender launches, well, pretty much everything!


Fender is absolutely smashing it this NAMM with their new product launches, including the return of the venerable HM Strat, an affordable Lead model in the Player Series, and some really cool stuff in the Parallel Universe series. Let’s dig in, shall we?

FENDER® SPOTLIGHTS RECENTLY-LAUNCHED AMERICAN ULTRA ELECTRIC GUITAR SERIES, REVIVES MODELS FROM THE PAST AND BRINGS BACK PARALLEL UNIVERSE AT WINTER NAMM 

Fender Introduces HM “Heavy Metal” Strat, Lead II and III models, Reveals All-New Parallel Universe and American Original and Player Series Guitars Now Available In New Models and Finishes

HOLLYWOOD, Calif. (January 16, 2020)—Fender Musical Instruments Corporation (FMIC) today debuted its extensive electric and bass offerings for traditional and modern players alike at Winter NAMM 2020. In addition to showcasing American Ultra – the brand’s most modern and advanced electric guitar series, Fender is bringing back models from its past, including the Lead, which will be added to the Player Series. The HM Strat also returns with the same unique look and specs as the original ‘88-‘92 models. Joining Fender’s limited-edition offerings are refreshes of fan-favorites including cult classic Parallel Universe Volume 2 and the highly-acclaimed American Original Series – now offering new models and finishes. 

“We’re excited to present an incredible linup of new instruments at Winter NAMM,” said Max Gutnik, VP of Fender Electric Guitars, Basses & Amplifiers. “Our leading focus for 2020 is our new flagship electric line, American Ultra. Ultra is a great example of the continued evolution of Fender’s classic instruments in a way that remains true to Fender’s original creation yet advances the instrument to serve modern players of all generes. While we look to the future with American Ultra, we are also celebrating our past with the re-release of the all-new HM Strat and Player Lead II and III guitars. The HM Strat and Lead series represent a wonderfully innovative time at Fender and a historic era in music, when musicians and their instruments were changing rapidly, and we’re thrilled to debut them here at NAMM.”

Launched in November 2020, the American Ultra Series is the most advanced guitar from Fender. The series has all-new modern features, state-of-the-art craftsmanship and nuanced design. With 44 SKUs, the American Ultra Series offers many options for players looking for modern advancements, including the Stratocaster®, Telecaster®, Precision Bass®, Jazzmaster®, Jazz Bass® and Jazz Bass® V with an assortment of all-new colors in the $3,899 – $4,499 price range. The Ultra Series is a pivotal moment in Fender history as it offers new body design and contours – marking the first time in decades since the last significant alteration was made to the iconic Fender Stratocaster of Telecaster body shapes. Embracing artist and player feedback is a core driver for Fender’s design process, leading to decades of subtle yet crucial innovations. For more information, click here.

Fender created the Lead model in 1979, featuring a new solid-body design, hard-tail bridges and cool new wiring options. Paying homage, Fender is releasing the Player Lead Series for the unconventional, offbeat, and most importantly, undefined players. The series offers the choice of the Player Lead II (an homage to the late `70s models) and the Player Lead III (a tribute to the original 1982-only model), which both incorporate era-correct Lead Series specs with a blend of the modern Player Series specs offering style, power, and versatility in comfortable, easy-to-play models. For more information, click here. For images, click here.

A true Fender fan favorite and cult classic will also be reborn at WNAMM, the limited-edition HM (Heavy Metal) Stratocaster originally designed and launched in the late-`80s with metal heads and technical players in mind. Built in the same factory as the original, the HM Strat will be available in four original era-correct Day-Glo colors: Frozen Yellow, Flash Pink, Ice Blue and Bright White. For product images and more information on this model, click here.

Also debuting at WNAMM are all-new limited-edition models that make up Parallel Universe Volume 2 ($3,999 – $4,999). Offering even more unique models in the second iteration of Parallel Universe, these combinations of Fender design elements, body shapes and parts are for players looking for the most exciting and rare instruments Fender will come out with this year. For product descriptions, click here; and product images, click here. The following models will be released in 2020: 

  • The Troublemaker Custom w/ Bigsby ($4,999) 
  • Troublemaker Tele Custom ($4,899) 
  • Strat Jazz Deluxe ($4,699) 
  • Maverick Dorado ($4,999)
  • Spark-O-Matic Jazzmaster ($3,999)
  • Jazz Strat ($3,999)
  • Tele Mágico ($4,999)
  • Uptown Strat ($3,999)

Also, new this NAMM season are two new models for Fender’s American Original series, including the `60s Telecaster Thinline and `70s Telecaster Custom. For product images and more information, click here. Lastly, Fender is adding to the Player Series to further expand entry level offerings within the Fender brand. The new models include the Duo Sonic, Mustang, Mustang Bass PJ and Mustang 90. 

Fender’s new electric guitar and bass offerings will be available at local dealers and on www.Fender.com. 

For technical specs, additional information on new Fender products and to find a retail partner near you, visit www.fender.com. Join the conversation on social media by following @Fender. 

NAMM 2020: AmpliTube Joe Satriani

IK Multimedia’s AmpliTube has been my desktop modeller of choice for, what, a decade now? It’s a great system, especially when combined with the right audio interface to truly get the most out of it. Y’know who also thinks so? Joe Satriani, which is why he’s hooked up with IK to release AmpliTube Joe Satriani to capture his legendary tones in one easy application, including models based on his signature Marshall head and the legendary Scholz Rockman – the latter of which is enhanced with Stereo mode and Cabinet Modelling.

Here’s the press release from IK Multimedia.

The NAMM Show, January 16, 2020 – IK Multimedia, in partnership with rock icon Joe Satriani, presents IK’s newest artist signature collection, AmpliTube® Joe Satriani. Available for Mac/PC, iPhone and iPad, it offers users a convenient way to play, practise and record – anytime, anywhere – using precise models of the guitarist’s amps and pedals that were created alongside Satriani himself.

AmpliTube Joe Satriani reflects the guitarist’s reputation as a tone and gear connoisseur, featuring models of both classic and artist signature pieces, along with some fan favourites. Each model was created to Satriani‘s exact specifications, for an authentic user experience.

Inside AmpliTube Joe Satriani
Available as a desktop app and plug-in for any DAW, AmpliTube Joe Satriani features five stompboxes and three amps, including:

Pedals:
Satch Wah – modelled after a Vox® BBW Wah; Satch Dist – modelled after an early ’80s, Japanese-made BOSS® DS-1; Satch Overdrive – modelled after an early ’80s, Japanese-made BOSS OD-1; Tube Overdrive – modelled after a mid-80s Chandler® Tube Driver; Satch Octave – modelled after a Fulltone® Ultimate Octave.

Amplifiers:
Satch VM, modelled after Satriani‘s Marshall® JVM410HJS signature head and SJ50, modelled after a ’93 Peavey® 5150, both with matching cabinets; and Boston 100, an expanded version of the ’82 Scholz® Rockman model with stereo mode and cabinet modelling.

Also included are song presets covering Satriani‘s discography that allow users to dial up their favourite Joe Satriani tones for instant inspiration.

The Joe Satriani Collection (iPhone and iPad version) is available via in-app purchase from within AmpliTube CS for iPhone or iPad, and features the same amp, cab and stompbox models and presets.

Groundbreaking Modeling Technology
IK’s latest Dynamic Interaction Modeling™ was used to deliver the highest level of ultra-realistic sound when modelling Joe Satriani‘s gear. The product of 20 years’ experience modelling analogue gear, DIM™ models the behaviour of every component in the circuit all the way down to its smallest nuance and character. Applied to Satriani‘s rig, it delivers the same sound and feel as his real gear.

About AmpliTube guitar and bass tone studio
AmpliTube is the world’s most powerful guitar and bass tone studio for Mac/PC/iPhone/iPad. Available in both free and paid versions, it recreates the entire guitar/bass signal chain from instrument to recording device in a hyper-realistic and intuitive way. Users can also browse and purchase collections of gear models from top gear manufacturers plus signature artist gear.

Easy connection to AmpliTube
AmpliTube connects seamlessly with AXE I/O, IK’s premium audio interface with powerful guitar shaping tools. AmpliTube is also compatible with IK’s iRig Stomp I/O, iRig Micro Amp, iRig HD 2, iRig Pro I/O and other iRig portable audio interfaces for fast connectivity and on-the-go convenience.

Options, pricing and availability
AmpliTube Joe Satriani (for Mac/PC) runs inside AmpliTube Custom Shop, a free download available to all. The new models will be released in February 2020 as a bundle from within the Custom Shop, the IK Multimedia online store and from IK authorized dealers worldwide for $/€99.99*, and are now available for pre-order.
*Price excluding taxes

No previous purchase of AmpliTube is required. These new models will show up as an optional purchase for existing users of AmpliTube upon updating to the latest version.

The Joe Satriani Collection (iPhone and iPad) will be available via in-app purchase from within AmpliTube CS for iPhone or iPad for $24.99. Individual models may also be purchased à la carte.

For more information about AmpliTube Joe Satriani and the Joe Satriani Collection, please visit:
www.ikmultimedia.com/satriani

To see AmpliTube Joe Satriani in action: www.ikmultimedia.com/satriani/video

For the official Joe Satriani website, visit: satriani.com

NAMM 2020: Jackson released David Ellefson 30th Anniversary ‘Rust In Peace’ bass

Megadeth’s David Ellefson used a very special 5-string Jackson Concert Bass on the tour for 1990’s thrash classic Rust In Peace. David has a lot of great Jackson models that really suit who he is as a player now, but a lot of fans have an emotional connection to that particular 5-string Concert Bass. Well good news! From Jackson:

“The poplar body features ergonomic contours that provide the perfect platform for launching a musical assault—the upper contour provides a comfortably stable anchor for pick or fingerstyle playing alike while the lower contour provides perfect balance when propped on a knee for monitor stands. The through-body quartersawn maple neck features a scarf joint and graphite reinforcement rods that protect against extreme environmental and climate changes. Built for highly technical lightspeed playing, the 12”-16” compound radius laurel fingerboard flattens out as you move up the neck for increased playing comfort and speedy articulation.

Earth-shaking EMG® P and EMG J pickups in the neck and bridge positions provide plenty of girth and cut. Dial in your thunderous bass tone with a three-way toggle switch, single volume control and two-band EQ to boost treble and bass. The Jackson HiMass™ 5-string bridge sharpens your notes’ attack for extra punch and clarity, granting enhanced sustain without significantly altering the bass’ fundamental tone.”

More info here. And you can see that original bass at the very beginning of this here video:

First-Timer’s Guide To NAMM (Updated for 2020)

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. Unfortunately I can’t make it to NAMM this year – the first one I’ve missed after 10 years – but over the years 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, although the process is a lot smoother now than it was when I first started NAMMing. 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 little bit easier for you on show day. Also, a lot of people mistakenly refer to the Sunday as ‘Public Day’ which just isn’t true – maybe it was many years ago? – so if you don’t have a pass, 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 to 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 at the show; 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 skulking around Galaxy’s Edge, 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. I heartily recommend Tortilla Jo’s for great guacamole and margaritas. The Bloody Marys are pretty good too. And the Anaheim 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. The Michelin-listed 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 (that’s no exaggeration. Tens. Of. Thousands), 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 kinda 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 winding down and everyone has lost their voice and their enthusiasm for life.

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 very 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. Then check them again because things inevitably change. 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, okay? It’s someone’s dream.

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.”

A First-Timer’s Guide To NAMM

nammpicIt’s that time of year again where tens of thousands of music industry professionals, rock stars and hopeful dreamers converge upon Anaheim, California for the NAMM Show – 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, luthier or builder. And it’s also pretty damned intimidating for NAMM first-timers. I’ve been to quite a few now, so hopefully some of what I’ve learned can help out those who are experiencing their first NAMM this year. Read More …

INTERVIEW: Morley’s Bill Wenzloff

Morley Pedals was started by brothers Raymond and Marvin Lubow in LA in the 1960s, when players were first really started to explore how they could use effects to enhance their music. Their first product was an electro-mechanical echo uni under the brand name Tel-Ray Electronics, but a subsequent product – a rotating speaker simulation in a box – provided the inspiration for the Morley name: the new unit was ‘More-Lee’ rather than ‘Less-Lee.’ But what really helped Morley to break into the big league was their line of treadle-operated pedals – wahs, volume pedals and the Rotating Sound pedal, the original ‘More-Lee’ pedal. Today Morley makes a variety of effects, including Steve Vai’s Bad Horsie and Little Alligator pedals, signature gear for Mark Tremonti and George Lynch. The company was bought by Chicago firm Sound Enhancements, Inc in the late 80s but Morley continues to use the innovations of the Lubow brothers as inspiration. I Heart Guitar caught up with Morley’s Bill Wenzloff to talk shop.

Tell us about your background as a player – how and why did you start? What did you play? 

I started playing guitar at about age 12. I was already a Beatles fan but once I discovered Led Zeppelin, AC/DC, Deep Purple, Rush and other rock icons, I knew I wanted to play guitar. One of the first rock songs I learned was Dirty Deeds by AC/DC. It felt so awesome hitting those chords out of a loud amp; it felt slightly naughty and yet so cool. I was hooked. I played in many bands throughout my life; some original, some cover and even a few tribute bands (I was Ace Frehley in Kiss Tribute “Kissed” and Brad Whitford in Aerosmith tribute called “Big Ten Inch”). Music has been the one constant in my life and I am continually grateful that I have the gift of playing music.

Read More …

NAMM 2010: Highlights of Day 1

Today I trudged along for my very first NAMM and I think it’s safe to say my mind was utterly and stupefyingly blown. Below I’ll list some of my gear highlights, but first, here were a few incredibly cool things that happened today:

Geekboy alert: I saw both Michael Molenda and Brad Tolinski, two journalistic heroes of mine. Hopefully tomorrow I’ll work up the guts to say hello to them!

I had my photo taken with Nuno Bettencourt!

I met designer Rick Turner (and Seymour Duncan’s Evan Skopp)

I met probably the most friendly guy on earth, Vernon Reid. Seriously, I’ve heard stories about what a lovely guy he is and they’re all totally true. I just wanna hug him!

I saw Quincy Jones. QUINCY JONES!

I met Blake from the What’s That Dude Play website – awesome dude.

Finally met Pauline France in person. You may remember her from the awesome King of the Blues coverage she provided recently.

I interviewed Joe Knaggs, formerly of Paul Reed Smith and now with his own company, Knaggs. Can’t wait to get the interview transcribed and on the site – he was a very cool guy with lots of interesting stuff to say.

I met Brandon from Jim Dunlop, who has been great in supporting I Heart Guitar with info.

Checking out the new Martin gear. Look for a report soon.

Now for my day at NAMM. Apologies for the fuzzy iPhone shots – I took a camera but it’s having trouble interfacing with the computer, and I was clever enough to use my phone for some backups.

First off, here’s my view as I walked to NAMM. I literally got butterflies in my tummy like a little kid.

OK. Gear highlights.

The Ibanez UV77MC multicolour swirl 7-string reissue, painted by the artist who did the originals, Darren Johannsen.

Marshall‘s Dave Mustaine Megastack

Checking out the entire Blackstar amp range. Love that HT Club 40.

The new Randall Nuno Bettencourt mini combo amp.

The EVH Wolfgang Special! Yes, after a year of the EVH Wolfgang being totally freaking awesome on its own, it’s now going to be joined (in April) by a flat-topped version. You will also now be able to buy the Wolfgang neck and bridge pickups separately to add to your own guitar.

Seymour Duncan Slash signature pickup – designed to make Slash’s non-Derrick Les Pauls sound like his Derrick Les Paul!

G&L Rampage Jerry Cantrell signature models! In addition to the cream-coloured one everyone expected, there are a few other models with cool graphics.

Peavey Devin Townsend baritone V 7-string prototype. This axe is being displayed at NAMM to gauge the response, and if things go well it’ll make it to production. Devin’s latest CD, ‘Addicted,’ is so freaking awesome that I hope there’s huge support for the guitar. I checked it out and it was incredible – great attack and sustain.

More info on these items and others in the morning!