Top 5 Surprises From NAMM 2016

ModKitsDIY

This is my first article for TheToneKing.com, so first an introduction. I’m a freelance developer, guitarists of over 20 years, and editor-in-chief for Gear Tube, a gear video website and mobile app. At Gear Tube, we’re known for our Top 5 lists, so for my first article for TTK I’ll be counting the Top 5 “surprises” from NAMM 2016.

This year’s winter NAMM was bigger than ever but seemed to the lack as strong a selection of new and innovative products of some previous years. Still there were a few surprises lurking in this years show that left us smiling, or sometimes just scratching our heads.

5) BOSS copied the Korg Miku

Okay, so maybe the BOSS Vocoder VO-1 is a little more usable in a real world application, but it does seem to cover a lot of the same anime-inspired sounds. To be fair though, the cover of Daft Punk/Pharrell’s Lucky does sound pretty cool.

4) YouTube Stars are King

2016 seemed to be the year when YouTube finally took over and ruled NAMM. This was confirmed as several trends seem to emerge over the week:

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  • There seemed to be more real time and in-depth coverage from YouTube personalities than from traditional media outlets.
  • Exhibitors were there to promote as much, if not more, to the end consumer over YouTube rather than to retailers and distributors.
  • YouTube stars association with a brand became ever more important with names like Rob Scallon releasing their own signature.

3) Pedal Makers bring out Euroracks

This was one of those ideas that though initially surprising, once you think about it makes so much sense. There has been an explosion in both the number of pedal makers and range from each brand in recent years. This has lead to a lot of innovation, but also a market that is becoming ever more saturated. Expanding into the Eurorack (500 Series) market, brings this innovation to a brand new set of customers, and maybe it won’t be so surprising when we see more guitar effects manufacturers joining the likes of JHS, Strymon and ZVEX.

2) $2,000 Solid State Amplifier from BOSS

First it was a surprise to hear BOSS launched an amp, then even more of surprise that it would cost over $2000 and then astonishment that at that price it would only be solid state. Where ever you come down on the which sounds better tube or solid state debate, what is generally true is that tube amplifiers are more expensive to build and maintain, and that is part of their justification for higher prices. It is then hard to imagine how BOSS manage to justify the price tag on their latest amplifier launched at NAMM. That price point puts it in direct competition with some of the more expensive tube amplifiers on the market. Perhaps they thought launching under their Waza Craft brand, was enough to enjoy something similar to 3x markup that the Waza Craft pedals have over their standard counterparts. It might sound good, but does it sound that good?

1) $6,000 Candle Powered Pedal from ZVEX Effects

If $2000 seemed a lot for a pedal, how does $6000 for an effects pedal? Now in fairness, the candle powered vibrato-phaser from ZVEX is much more of a show piece than mass market product, so while it might be something you’d never buy, it was nice to see something truly innovative and unique at NAMM 2016.

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About the Author: Independent writer for TheToneKing.com and editor-in-chief at Gear Tube. Follow @geartube on Instagram, Facebook or Twitter or download our mobile app at http://www.geartube.net

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