2016 NAMM Show:
Five That Caught Our Eye

As is the case every year at the NAMM Show, we saw a plethora of new products introduced for 2016. Per our style, we mix a little legacy with more eclectic offerings, things a musician might give a whole lot of thought to. Such is what makes the NAMM Show the ultimate showcase for innovation, refinements and fresh technologies. Indeed, these are the tools of the trade musicians, engineers, producers and other music makers have used and relied on since early man started beating things with sticks and stones. So, here’s a quick five that caught our eye…

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B.C. Rich Guitars

B.C. Rich has a legacy unlike any other guitar company. Started in 1969 by luthier Bernie Rico, the company gained a reputation for customized, handmade craftsmanship and wild exterior graphics and arts inspired by customized cars. The brand became especially prolific in the 1980s when heavy metal and hard rock was at its peak, and members of bands like Aerosmith, Metallica, Guns N’ Roses and Poison were regularly wielding B. C. Rich Warlocks and Mockingbirds on stage. After Rico passed in 1999, the company changed hands several times, nearing extinction at some turns. Fortunately, it’s been rescued in 2016 by Praxis Musical, an organization well versed in marketing premium guitar lines, as evidenced by their partnership with Music Man for Sterling guitars.

During our interview, Brian Martin, Vice President of Sales & Marketing of Praxis Musical, explained initiatives and goals with B.C. Rich. “What we’ve done really is hit a reset button in so many words for the B.C. Rich brand,” he said. At NAMM, Martin reintroduced us to one of the company’s most popular models, the Mockingbird Mk 11, a neck-though, solid mahogany throwback to the heyday of B.C. Rich, armed with a Floyd Rose tremolo and other vintage specs from the 70s. Martin also talked about the new U.S. B.C. Rich Custom Shop that commissions many of the company’s original luthiers to handcraft a limited number of customized guitars. That along with a general restoration of the brand, maintained relationships with such longtime B.C. Rich endorsees as Kerry King and Lita Ford, and more models to come is the plan, according to Martin. “There’s a lot of people who have a wet spot for the brand,” he said. “We’re going to increase that.” Learn more at http://www.bcrich.com. Check out our interview with Brian Martin below.

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Aerodrums

“Air” drums are a classic by-product of the “Air” guitar, and really nothing new unto itself. Why as a young lad myself in the early 70s, I recall “air” drumming to Carl Palmer for audiences of two or three (plus the dog) and working up quite the sweat. If only I’d had Aerodrums, an air-drumming instrument that runs on your computer and mimics your air drumming by capturing your movements via sensors on your feet and sticks on a high-speed camera. Beyond the technology, there’s a viable and practical need for Aerodrums — and one that really hits home — is that is you don’t need an actual drum kit to play. For someone who wants to practice, but doesn’t have the space, the time to set up, and the environment to make a lot of noise, this is the perfect solution. Then there’s the interface that allows you to customize your drumset, change configurations and sounds, and interact with other music software. At NAMM, the company introduced an upgrade using Oculus Rift, a virtual reality headset, which allows drummers to see and feel like they’re behind an actual drumset. Learn more at http://aerodrums.com. You can see how it looks in the video below.

 

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Alert The Globe

Alert The Globe is pitched as the “coolest online community,” designed to unite musicians and their fans together “like never before” with streaming video and audio. It might sound familiar, but Alert The Globe has lots of star power in its ranks to substantiate its business model, including longtime Rolling Stones background vocalist Bernard Fowler, veteran guitarist Waddy Wachtel (Linda Ronstadt, Stevie Nicks, Keith Richards), drummer Gregg Bissonette (Ringo Starr, David Lee Roth), and Bruce Springsteen & The E-Street Band keyboardist Roy Bittan. With that kind of reach and the potential to bring live music and exclusive on-camera interviews featuring both veteran acts and new artists to the masses, Alert The Globe is definitely something we’ll be tuning into. Check them out on the web at hhttp://www.alerttheglobe.com. And check out our interview with Bernard Fowler below.

 

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Yamaha

Regular NAMM attendees know that Yamaha exhibits their wares in a large ballroom at Marriott, adjacent to the Anaheim Convention Center. Consequently, while getting swept up in the hubbub of the main floor, we’ve yet to make it over to Yamaha for glimpse in quite awhile — until now. Lauded as the world’s largest musical instrument manufacturer, the company launched more than 100 new products at the 2016 NAMM Show, and had plenty of artists and product experts on hand for live performances and product demos. We were made aware of new keyboard products like the Disklavier SPIRE™ models, the world’s most technologically advanced piano, and an expanded line of TransAcoustic pianos. We got a glimpse of the Recording Custom drums set redesigned with renowned drummer Steve Gadd.

Then we bumped into Andy Winston, who brought us up to speed on the company’s line of guitars. Yamaha Guitars is celebrating its 50th anniversary with seven new Revstar electric guitars, and Winston showed us a whole bunch of sleek-looking models with different finishes. “These are designed from the ground up,” he said, “taking their cues from the Japanese motorcycle culture of Café Racers.” Accordingly, this is Yamaha's first major update to a guitar body shape in over a decade. The Revstar was engineered and designed for three years with teams in London, Los Angeles, and Tokyo. It rings true with that retro “vintage” look and feel, plus it's “affordable for the working guy.” We can relate. “One heck of a rock and roll guitar,” is how Winston described the Revstar. Learn more about it and other Yamaha products at http://usa.yamaha.com. Our interview with Andy Winston is below.

 

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TRX Cymbals

The cymbal world is a crowded one at NAMM, where companies like Zildjian, Paiste and Sabian take the lead and rule the floor. But amidst a sea of shiny brass, there are companies like TRX™ Cymbals, pitched to us as the first line of genuine, handcrafted Turkish cymbals developed with extreme tonal, performance, and appearance characteristics demanded by today’s progressive drummers and drumming styles. Yeah, that’s a big claim, but then we took a closer look and marveled at the TRX X-Series and their deep, over-hammered dimples that create exotic tinkles of joy. We looked at individual crash and slacker cymbals from the Stack Packs line, and we noticed the TRX Special Edition value sets.

It was so noisy we didn’t get a chance to interview anyone about the cymbals. Fortunately, the company’s president David Levine, along with marketing rep Chris DeLisa, let us have a go at a couple of cymbals, and we got a chance to take a couple thwacks. Very nice, indeed. If tone and feel are everything when it comes to cymbals, then TRX knows how to do it right. They certainly get high marks from their users. On one reputable Top 10 cymbals list we saw, where they placed at Number #8, there were comments like “high quality with no flaws and great sound,” to “will easily become the pro standard in the next few years,” to “AMAZING! ,” to “AWESOME!,” and everything in between. Find out more at http://trxcymbals.com. Check out a report on TRX Cymbals from Drum Magazine below.

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Compiled by Shawn Perry
Photos by Maria Younghans & Ron Lyon where noted.

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