Top 5 new pedals from NAMM 2018

Music trade shows generally always come with their large amount of new gear; Winter NAMM isn’t falling short of them this year. So here’s the Top 5 pedals from NAMM 2018:

1) Keeley – Aria

This is absolutely no secret, mainly if you did watched The Tone King videos from Guitcon last year, Robert Keeley is one of the nicest and warmest pedal builder out there. We love him — and we love his pedals. The D&M pedal, a Boost & Drive pedal designed by Daniel & Mick from the Pedal Show, is now slowly becoming one of the new industry standards. Based on this recent success, Keeley is now introducing the Aria — a similar form factor pedal but with a Compressor & Drive this time.

Just like for the D&M, each side of the pedal has its dedicated set of controls. The left side is for the Drive (based on the Red Dirt, a Keeley modded version of the Tube Screamer) while the right side is for the Compressor (based on the Keeley Compressor Plus).

For the Drive side, we have the usual Volume, Gain and Drive controls for the Drive side, as well as a small toggle switch to select the type of clipping from Overdrive (Low) to Distortion (High). For the Compressor side, we can find the typical Level, Blend and sustain, as well as a small pot for the Tone. Just like the D&M, we have a centre switch to change the order of the signal chain, depending if we want the Drive or the Compressor to be first in the chain. All those controls give you a large palette of tones you can achieve.

Keeley has made his reputation for his compressor pedals and now the D&M. So I’m pretty confident that this new Aria pedal we will be another hit and definitely one of the top pedal to check from NAMM — and probably to purchase in 2018 to give our pedalboard a new life.


2) Chase Bliss Audio – Condor

The Chase Bliss Audio company motto is: “Digital Brain – Analog Heart”. I personally it’s probably one of the best technical approach when it comes down to musical gear; also probably why I do believe their pedals are just brilliant. The new Condor EQ/Pre/Filter is no exception.

It’s packed with plenty EQ controls to shape your favorite tone, including a parametric boost/cut mid from 150Hz to 5kHz with a 3 position adjustable Q; a bass boost/cut with a 3 position adjustable intensity; a Low Pass Filter with a 3 position adjustable resonance. As usual, it does include ability to save preset and be recalled or controlled by MIDI.


3) JHS – Bonsai

I know what you’re thinking: “Another Tube Screamer… again?… how many do we need?!”. Do wonder no more, the new JHS Bonsai might be the only one you will ever need. It’s a full analog pedal that is packed with 9 different Tube Screamer circuits from 1977 to 2008:

  • OD-1 (1977)
  • TS-808 (1979)
  • TS-9 (1982)
  • MSL Metal Screamer (1985)
  • TS-10 (1986)
  • Exar OD-1 (1989)
  • TS-7 +mode (1999)
  • Keeley Mod Plus (2002)
  • JHS Strong Mode (2008)

Like all Tube Screamers pedals, it does include knobs to control the Tone, Drive and Level, as well as an additional one to select the type of circuit you want to use.


4) Way Huge – Pork & Pickle

This one is not a guitar pedal but it’s still a big deal and serious milestone because it’s the first bass pedal ever introduced by Way Huge. I know you’re thinking: “No way, that’s huge!”. Yep… Way Huge!

Guitarists are well familiar with Way Huge company and their pedals. They have been used by virtually every guitarist on earth and more. Now they’re gonna be used by every bassist on earth. The new Pork & Pickle bass pedal is a combination of the Pork Loin Overdrive with the Russian-Pickle Fuzz and serves up a perfectly balanced diet of gnarly tones.

It does include the usual volume, drive and tone controls, as well as clean blend and clean tone knobs to retain low-end and avoid it to becomes too muddy. It also has a toggle switch to select the overdrive or the fuzz.


5) Amptweaker – Curveball Jr

EQs are the most underrated pedals of all time. Very surprisingly, if you want to shape your tones, they might be the most important pedals you will ever need. That’s why I love EQ pedals — and we can all love them even more when they’re designed by no other than James Brown from Amptweaker.

This year, for the Winter NAMM 2018, Amptweaker is introducing the Curveball Junior — a 3 band EQ with dual Boost functions that can even be used as a clean channel preamp. The Curveball Jr is designed to work with guitars, basses, acoustic guitars and other instruments. It does feature an active parametric 3 band EQ that is flat when straight up.

Addition to the Low, Mid and High controls, the Curveball Junior includes a small volume pot and a 3 position switches to adjust the Mid frequency to emulate the passive EQ of three different type of Amp — from Classic US to UK and Trash. It also includes a 3 position switches to dial the attack and thickness of the distortion from Fat to Normal and Tight.

The secondary boost feature is a great way to either make up for two different guitars or set up two different boost amounts.  By pressing and holding the footswitch, the LED changes from Orange to Green to let you know that the EQ is locked ON, and the secondary boost is primed and ready to go. Press the footswitch again and the LED turns red, and gives you up to 10dB of additional boost.

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Filed Under: FeaturedNewsPedalsNAMM 2018 - Winter


About the Author: French by birth but Texan by heart, I had different careers in multiple areas that don’t really make sense when they’re all laid down on my resume. Amongst them I’m a former military officer (mainly confidential stuff I can’t talk about) — I’m a former network architect (the stuff with switches, routers, optical fibers, satellites and wireless things that allow people to be connected) — I’m a former R&D engineer and product designer (mainly for electronics instruments in the Music Industry) — I’m also a former sound engineer that worked in professional recording studios (but nobody cares about that anymore) — and I even thought once in my life I was someone almost important doing things almost awesome... Now I’m just a professional amateur spreading my 2 cents online about anything and everything to anyone with too much time in their hands — and if you’re reading this bio, you might be one of them that just wasted 2mn of your life you will never get back. Sorry...

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