2007 NAMM Report
2007 NAMM Show Report: Pedals, Effects, and Software
By: Scott Kahn
To hear Fender and BOSS describe it, you’d think the new Fender Bassman and Fender Deluxe Reverb pedals are the be-all, end-all pedals that give you the sound of a ’59 Bassman and a ’65 Deluxe Reverb in compact pedal form. Perhaps they are!
The pedals feature the same controls as the vintage Fender amps, cool brushed paint jobs in tweed and gray to match the original amps, and the performance demos were very convincing – these are great sounding pedals. But we’re really not sure about the test environment. We heard these placed in front of Roland Jazz Chorus amps set with neutral EQ settings. But getting the classic Fender tones by placing these pedals in front of random other guitar amplifiers? Clearly only an in-depth review at MusicPlayers.com will reveal whether or not these pedals sound just as great in your guitar rigs.
Wow! Move over, Roland and Line 6. Eventide has put some of their best delay and modulation effects into stomp boxes! As you can see from the pics, these pedals have multiple presets, big LED displays, and expression pedal control. They also feature USB computer connectivity, MIDI control (and MIDI clock sync), true analog bypass, and run off standard 9V power. We can’t wait to take these for a spin on our pedal boards!
Hardware and software, oh my! First, we were happy to see the StompIO again. Sure, we saw it at last year’s Winter NAMM, but we weren’t allowed to actually touch it. Apparently, it’s been through a lot of revisions and is finally scheduled to ship in the second quarter of this year.
The foot controller looks pretty decent. More than just a simple computer interface, it’s really designed to make AmpliTube 2 usable as a live performance guitar rig. Unlike the foot controllers for some other software-based guitar amp emulators, the StompIO provides plenty of visual feedback so that you don’t have to ever look at your laptop while performing. Step on the Tuner and a tuner shows up on the display. Amp settings show up by name on the multi-line display, too. Individual effect blocks can be turned On and Off, and the continuous controller finally gives you a way to really play the wah pedal effects… or automate any feature of AmpliTube that you want! Now if only you didn’t need to also step on an On/Off switch when using the pedal for wah sounds…
Speaking of AmpliTube, IK Multimedia also introduced the AmpliTube 2 Jimi Hendrix Edition, a collection of amps and effects from Jimi’s collection that have been modeled to create the most authentic replication of his classic sound.
The collection is special because of the relationship between Experience Hendrix (his foundation) and IK Multimedia. The foundation loaned all of Jimi’s vintage amps, pedals, speaker cabinets, etc. for them to meticulously sample and build models of. I was talking with people from IK Multimedia who were awestruck as the legendary and priceless gear sat in their Florida offices. The demos sounded good, and the band leader even looked like Jimi (it was a tribute band). The Jimi Hendrix Edition is both a stand-alone product, or if you already own AmpliTube 2, after another software update, the new gear will load into your existing setup to provide you with access to all of the new sounds and equipment.
We loved the L.R. Baggs Core 1 acoustic guitar amplifier. Designed with a very unique, physically flat, full-range speaker utilizing sound radiation technology, the amp provides incredibly wide sound dispersion – 140 degrees of coverage, which is light years beyond most traditional guitar cabinets, and ideally suited to small acoustic gigs.
The amp looks like a rugged, heavy, tube amp – especially with V.U. meters on the top, but it’s actually a very lightweight, solid-state amp with an ergonomic carrying handle built into the top of the case. For playing a piezo-equipped acoustic-electric or similar guitar, this amp really sounded beautiful. It should be shipping in a few months, so start lining up your acoustic coffee house gigs.
The makers of the awesome Pedaltrain pedal boards have evolved into more than just a pedal board company, and the rebranded Pro Stage Gear had plenty of new offerings on hand at NAMM.
One of the coolest and very clever products – a road case on the outside, and when you open it, inside you find your guitar in a gig bag! The idea is that you’ve got the hard case for checking your guitar on the airplane, then once you get to your hotel in a new city, just carry around the gig bag. Clever!
RJM Music Technology make some nice switching systems for amps and pedals. They actually designed and built the MIDI switching system for Diamond Amplification’s Spec Op amplifier.
On display at NAMM was a prototype for their upcoming RG-16, an audio loop switcher and function switcher combined in a single unit. Basically, half of the 1U rack device is dedicated to eight switched loops for your pedals or other effects, and the other half of the unit provides eight function switches for amplifier control – channel switching, turning effects/loops On/Off, solo boost, and other amp-specific features.
RJM even builds custom adapter cables for numerous popular amps, so for example, using this switcher to control your four-channel Mesa/Boogie Road King, you can use their custom cable that has a DIN-8 connector at one end and a fan-out to eight ¼” jacks at the other. Then, connect the MIDI foot controller of your choice, and you’re all set for both loop and amplifier control! Expect a review of the shipping product this spring. Estimated MSRP is $799.
What sexy models! No, not the booth babes at Diamond Amplification. We’re talking about the new Roland VG-99 V-Guitar System. It’s been a long time since the VG-88 was refreshed (though even today that system still sounds great). The new unit no longer resides on the floor, but rather atop a cymbal stand. It features new guitar models, support for USB audio, dual GT-Pro-class effects processors, a real-time D BEAM ribbon controller (wave your hand over the unit while sustaining a chord for cool effects), and outstanding visual editing software.
At least as exciting to the geeks around here would be the works-great-with-the-VG-99 Roland FC-300 MIDI Foot Controller. It looks to be quite a bit different from the FC-200 that we happen to love (see our review), and sports two real-time controller pedals, plus it can be phantom powered by the VG-99 or other new devices conforming to the new RRC2 protocol.
“What’s that, R2?” No – it’s a new communications spec; not a droid. The RRC2 spec enables both MIDI data and power to be sent along standard RJ-45 Ethernet cables. Assuming more manufactures implement this spec in their signal processors, it could be pretty cool, and the cables are easier to find than 7-pin DIN MIDI cables.
The experts from Denmark showed off more pedals in their classic stompbox lineup – Distortion, Sustainer, and Phaser were added to the lineup. We had a chance to play the new Vintage Delay and really loved its tone, but then the show floor was quite a bit noisy. We’ll have to bring one of those into our studios for a real workout. Now if only the folks at TC Electronic would remove the power cord from that incredible classic SCF stereo chorus/flanger of theirs.
Two big pedals, ready to tame the mess that is your pedal board. The smaller one is the Pedal Switcher, containing four independent loops, or you can use some jacks for signal muting or amp A/B selection. The larger pedal, Commander, stores combinations of settings on the Pedal Switcher, and recalls them with a single button press. For example, selecting button 2 on the Commander activates loops 1 and 3 on the Pedal Switcher, while button 3 on the Commander activates all four loops on the Pedal Switcher. You get the idea, and if not, our in-depth review will fully explore the possibilities that these pedals provide.
We were thrilled to check out and listen to the nearly-production-ready Wahzoo. Not only did the Vintage wah sound great, but finally here is a wah pedal that also features an auto-wah, too! When used in the Auto setting, adjusting the wah pedal changes the envelope of the wah sound – a very useful capability. We didn’t get to check out the pedal’s Stepwah feature, but you can bet we will when this pedal ships.
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