2018 NAMM Show: Five That Caught Our Eye

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With a new wing added to the Anaheim Convention Center, there was more gear, gadgets and whatnots than ever to see and play with at the 2018 NAMM Show. So much in fact, we had a hard time narrowing it down to five that caught our eye (to see the full roster of choices, go to our Exhibitor Interviews at the 2018 NAMM Show Video Theater).

After rigorous assessment and decision-making, we came up with what we think is a good cross-section of instruments and accessories. We try to look for things that are a little different, maybe not on everyone’s radar, but deserving of attention — at least from us. So have at it. There’s likely something here for you.

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Rip-Tie

When it comes to keeping your gear organized and ready to use, it’s those small, practical details that often make all the difference. If you own sound equipment, you’re likely well acquainted with the value of cables. If you have enough of them, keeping those cables organized and ready to use can be a real challenge. Throwing a wad of different cables into a box may be the quickest and easiest thing to do when you’re loading out. Just be prepared for when you go to set up at the next gig, because you’ll spend more time and effort than necessary untangling and separating your cable. No thanks! Which is why we took quick notice of Rip-Tie and their cable management products at NAMM. The company’s Rip-Lock CableWrap is the perfect solution for cable wranglers —one end of the Rip-Lock CableWrap semi-permanently attaches to the cable, while the other end has a pull-tab for one-handed quick release. It’s like turning spaghetti into a tie-wrapped, ready-to-go coil without the guesswork and frustration. The other new product the company introduced at NAMM was RipWrap, reusable gaffer’s tape that saves time and money when it comes to securing cable and other stage equipment. Check out Rip-Tie’s entire line of cable management products at riptie.com.

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Alesis

Since 1980, Alesis has developed a wide selection of innovative music products, including keyboards, mixers, signal processors, effect units and more. One area where the company has made massive gains is with their line of electronic drums. At NAMM, we were most taken with the Command Mesh Kit, an eight-piece drum kit featuring all mesh-head pads — one 8″ mesh kick with pedal, one 10″ dual-zone mesh snare drum, and three 8″ dual-zone mesh toms. The set also includes a 10″ ride cymbal with choke, a 10″ crash with choke, and a 10″ hi-hat with foot pedal. The Command Advanced Drum Module boasts 74 drum kits (54 preset, 20 user) with 671 sounds. You can build a custom kit from your own WAV and MP3 files by loading them via a USB thumb drive. Add the 60 play-along tracks and a built-in performance recorder, and you can record yourself in real time. The kit is mounted to a premium four-post chrome rack with non-slip clamps that is easy to move and set up. To learn more about the Command Mesh Kit, as well as other products from Alesis, go to alesis.com.

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Monster

Aerosmith guitarist Joe Perry and Monster Products, best known as a leading manufacturer of audio and video cable, go back 30 years. So it’s no surprise the company, which has expanded into headphones and speakers in recent years, would want to team up with Perry on a couple of cool, edgy devices. Driven by Bluetooth wireless technology and wrapped in a gold, modern form-factor design, the Joe Perry Monster Blaster™ JP1000 Classic Rock Edition and Monster Firecracker™ JP100 Classic Rock Edition Boomboxes both feature deep-pounding bass, bidirectional drivers and an overall powerful sound, whether you’re indoors or out. An integrated handle make them easy to transport. The JP1000 includes a 3.5mm stereo analog input to connect any audio source, a 3.5mm microphone level input to create a portable PA system, and a USB input to charge your mobile device. The smaller JP100 is outfitted with a 500-lumen Monster Photolite to brighten the party wherever you are. To learn more about these and other Monster products, click over to monsterstore.com.

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Morley

Recognized in the music manufacturing industry as the guitar effects pedal company who refined and standardized the wah-wah pedal, Morley has a product line comprising volume pedals, delay pedals, chorus and phaser pedals, and more. It only makes sense they would align with a few well-known guitarists to produce a signature Artist Series for the Morley Custom Shop. We were told that all Morley pedals have reduced their footprint, so to speak, by using a classic, compact trapezoid shape for their pedals. The same holds true to the colorful Artists Series models, which includes the Mini Kiko Loureiro Switchless Wah, Mini George Lynch Dragon 2 Wah and Mini Steve Vai Bad Horsie 2 Contour Wah, with artwork drawn by Vai himself. Each pedal is equipped with unique Wah modes and features, managed by the company’s Electro-Optical circuitry. We saw more than our fair share of pedal makers, but the Morley and reputation is what caught our eye. To learn more about the full range of Morley pedals, go to morleypedals.com.

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Axis

OK, there were other kinds of pedals we sought out. We were especially excited to check out Axis Percussion because the engineering behind their drum pedals is impressive. We were shown the CALIBER X with its multiple ball bearing and direct drive design, outfitted with the company’s MicroTune Spring Tensioners and Deep Rockers. As the company’s Charles Blashaw and Joe Hardy explained it to us, they came up with a pedal that’s “simple, easy to use, and works.” Blashaw went on to tell us about the benefits of Deep Rockers and the extra spring tension it offers. “It doesn’t wear you out,” he said, “and it allows the floorboard to stay on your foot. I’ve been told that being able to feel that pedal is very important.” That and the Axis Electronic Conversion Kit Another product that Axis had at NAMM was their hit-hat hardware. Offered with three foot board options — the X-HI-HAT with a standard length foot board, the LONGBOARDS HI-HAT and the LASER HI-HAT with a wide symmetrical foot board — the Axis line of hi-hats appealed to our sense of road worthiness — tough, solid aluminum with the company’s VORTEX leg design, which enables it to freely rotate into any position. Plus, a six-way “Set and Forget” pedal tension adjustment means you can refine your spring tension. A key feature on the Axis HI-HATS is the PRO CLUTCH, which allows you to tilt the top and bottom of your cymbal to expand your sound. To learn more about Axis pedals and stands, go to axispercussion.com.

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Compiled by Shawn Perry
Photos by Maria Huizinga and Ron Lyon.

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