It's 2010 and we have just returned from the winter NAMM show in Anaheim where we always meet with our friends from JJ Electronic, see some of our customers and check out all that is new! NAMM 2010 was slightly scaled down compared to past years and most everyone we spoke with was worried about our economy and the direction we are going. However worrisome things may seem, the gear market and its creators were undaunted and optimistic! There were new offerings from most manufacturers like VOX, Burriss Amps, Egnator, 65 Amps, Peavey, Mesa and Budda to name a few. Here we are with Jan Jurcho (second from the right), Tomas Jurcho (far right), and Augie (standing next to me) the wonderful people who keep us in some really great sounding tubes! The second shot is outside the main entrance. Some amps simply catch your eye and you just have to take a look and a listen. Probably the most eye catching was the 3rd Power stack. Based on a triangular cab design with a hand wired point to point 100 watt head. It sounded very nice and I guess if you really want to make a visual statement its pretty unique! A couple more amps with a great visual were the Matchless Plexiglass 15 and 30 and a beautiful wood cab amp. Nothing new, but great sounding amps and great eye candy! The population of "little guys" was up this year. The true "Lunchbox" sized amps last year were the VOX Night Train, the Orange Tiny Terror and the best in my opinion from last year was the Burriss Royal Bluesman. Bob Burriss has a new addition this year called the Dirty Red. It's the same output section from the Bluesman with a hot rodded front end that will get you into Classic Metal territory. Again probably the nicest true Lunchbox amp! Another surprise was the Mesa Transatlantic, more of a Blues to Classic Rock amp and the clean tones were very nice. Overdriven tones were classic Mesa and it really rocks for a small package. The Orange Dual Terror is a two channel version of the Tiny Terror and sounds, well, like a two channel Tiny Terror. Ibanez came out with a small 15 watter which is about the size of the Rebel 20 called the TSA15H. It's a switchable between clean and a built in Tube Screamer, not stellar but not bad either, I personally favor the Rebel 20. The new Jet City line has a Univalve knockoff that even says right on the front panel, "Licensed by THD" it's very cheap...   Following up on the Jet City line, these are Soldano Designed amps but as you can tell by the price point they are extremely cheap chinese made amps. So far feedback from our customers has been mixed with comments ranging from "it's great" to "I've had nothing but problems. The old phrase "you get what you pay for" comes to mind. As for the tone, it's ok but don't expect them to sound like a Soldano, they don't.   Peavey has been busy! The first thing we ran into at the Peavey display was the new 6534+. Yep, it's a 5150 II with JJ EL34's for power. I spoke at length with John Fields who is the Engineering Manager (great guy) and the final rev on this should be out sometime around June and the bias has a larger sweep so swapping back to 6L6's will be an option. The biggest different is the noise reduction. It's about half as noisy as the 5150 II and 6505+ amps. They don't know which cosmetic version will be available, one was lit up blue with an open face and the other was traditional. Another new amp was the new Butcher. For you Peavey old timers it's nothing like the old Butcher. It's a pure Classic Rock amp. It's still in R&D and currently sports JJ EL34's but may end up with 6L6's. The pic below is Eddie playing some of the Peavey Custom shop amps and check out the second pic, a made in the USA Classic 50! While we're talking Peavey I guess it's a good segue into Budda since Peavey owns them. The new amp from Budda is not that "Barney" purple that everyone is used to. It's leather. Yes, leather, check out the pic below. My first thought was ok, that's different, then I though hmmm, would I like to be seen playing one? I guess it's cool? I don't know... Anyway, it's three channels and basically a Dual Rectifier with a 3500.00 price tag.   We always like stopping in at the 65 Amps booth. The new amp for this year is the "Tupelo". It's the front end of the great sounding "Lil Elvis" with a pair of 6V6's for power in a 1/12 combo. A nice addition to a great lineup of amps! The third pic is of Craig and Michael standing out side the 65 Amps sound room in front of the actual tape deck, mixer and talkback mic from SUN studios. This setup recorded Elvis, B.B. King, Johnny Cash and the list goes on! Very cool!   When I think of Blackstar amps the words "Hand wired" and "Big" didn't come to mind until now. Check out the chassis shot of the hand wired series and then if it's big you want the new 200 will make some noise! It's appears to be modeled after the Hiwatt sporting KT88's and some hefty trannys. They sounded decent.   Egnater was also busy this year! The new Tweeker uses a pair of 6V6's for power and is a bit like the Rebel 20 minus the EL84's. The two new big gun Egnater's are the Vengeance 50 watt two channel and the Armageddon 100 watter with three channels and built in Decimator which really does work! These do not have the warm vintage clean that the Renegade has, they are all out rock and do it pretty good!   We always stop in to see the Mad Professor and Harri did not disappoint! This years Mad Professor was the MP101 and it was a back to basic rippin two channel amp that just simply rocked at any volume! great tone, great amps!   New this year was the Tomas Zewicz amps. These are traditional and classic looking amps and you might even say traditional sounding, but traditional in a very good way. Great cleans, great drive tones and a way above average dynamic response! Very nice stuff indeed!   Oh yes, the Guitars! There is never a shortage of great guitars at NAMM. The first pic is Michael in front of a wall of custom shop Fenders. Another shows Eddie with a Heritage Les Paul. We whole Eurotubes crew assaulted the Taylor room where we found some incredible acoustic guitars. I had never played an acoustic with a Redwood top and a Zircote body and I have to say, this combination was the sweetest I've heard! I always spend time in the Breedlove booth, these are beautifully crafted instruments and I was again surprised and delighted to find a CE cutaway Breedlove with a Redwood top and a Zircote body! It sounded amazing! The booth was so busy there was no room to take decent pictures. I guess I'll have to save my pennies... The last pic is Craig who plays an upright eyeballing a nice one.   Jay had a chance to meet up and play with Paul Gilbert. Unfortunately the only camera available was his cell phone!   I guess that's about it. We had a great meeting with JJ Electronic and there are a number of new tubes on the horizon! JJ is dedicated to always adding new tubes to their line and improving on old designs. Life is good! Every time we see the good folks from JJ we share a dinner and every year we walk back to Convention Way we pass a huge Magnolia tree. This year I decided to stop and take a picture of the massive trunk.
NAMM 2010
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