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By Bob Pletka 01/30/13 This page is a review of the 2013 NAMM show with many of the photo's we took. You can see ALL the photos on our Facebook page here; https://www.facebook.com/Eurotubes on the Photos page. Starting at the end of January and continuing thru February the words we will hear and read most often will be "Hey, how was NAMM?" It's really a hard question to answer without defaulting to one word responses such as "good" or "great" or the incredibly overused "awesome". You could go with a two word responses like "bad ass" or hyphenate it as "bad-ass". All of these being true I would use a few other atypical words like "futuristic", "retro" and "classic". Other apt descriptions of the NAMM experience would be "tired", "feet are sore" or "whoa, did you see that?" and "I need a drink". However my guess is that most of us here including me would be ready for another NAMM even if it were next month. Its pretty "cool". This year the show was VERY crowded! I haven't seen the attendance numbers yet but we all commented on how busy it was. A lot of our friends, customers and venders at the show were in agreement, new accounts were being setup, sales were being made and biz was looking good! So what was bad about the 2013 NAMM show? No listening rooms at Marshall, VOX, Orange or Fender. At past shows VOX always had a nice listening room and last year was the first year Marshall had no listening room as was the case again this year. Those low volume outside demos don't cut it. So you big guys listen up, get back to demo rooms or someone out there may start a rumor that your new amps aren't worthy! "Futuristic", "retro" and "classic" were popular themes everywhere you looked. Fender went retro again with the 57 Bandmaster, adding to the Tweed line which includes the Twinolux and Vibro Champ and you can't get more "retro" than a "Colonial Strat" (see below). A 100 watt Supersonic combo and an anniversary edition of the Vibro King were present along with hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of Fender Custom Shop guitars of all flavors. Marshall as usual had the epic visual display but again no demo room as in past years. They did have some pretty cool looking "Custom Pinup Amps". Wish we could have heard them... In past years Jim Marshall was always at the NAMM shows signing autographs and shaking hands, he is missed. One of my old Marshall 8X10 cabs has his autograph right on the top of the cab, I think I'll keep it. Orange introduced the Twin Channel TH100, a Custom Shop 50, two new drive pedals and a tube tester called the Divo. The amps are cool but we are extremely skeptical about a tube tester that sells for about 500.00 and is powered by a 19 volt wall-wart... Trying to match tubes at very low voltages will give extremely poor results at best. The tester runs for a couple of minutes and then supposedly tells you if the tube is good, worn or failed and gives a grade for the tube. So, in all honesty I call "BS" or "Barbara Streisand" on this one. You can watch the video on this unit here; http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=i4tuYt1VeMU and please, Tom Quayle, stop propagating the myth that touching power tubes with your fingers "will cause problems" as you state in the video, this is more Barbara Streisand...  Orange makes great amps and I'll leave it at that. 65 Amps was directly across from Bogner this year so within thirty feet you could hear two of the finest and best brands of amps at the show. While very different from each other both are some of the best at what they do. Speaking of "retro" check out the new Magnatone amps. Nice vintage vibe, cool looks and made in the USA. Peavey moved to a huge upstairs room to display their line along with the Peavey owned Budda and Trace Elliot lines. There was a new 20 watt ValveKing and a Baby Budda as well as a Budda Verb master and even a Budda Full Stack called the AS Alex Skolnick signature Preceptor running EL34's, a pair of 5U4 rectifiers and seven pre's. Dave Friedman was displaying his amp line and they sounded stellar! His reputation is well deserved. Visit the Friedman facebook page https://www.facebook.com/FriedmanAmplification BadCat was sounding as good as ever and the new Classic Deluxe was a real standout. And then there was Blackstar, good sounding amps but Jeeze, I wish they would support their products... We ran into our friends Marcus and Ben Young who were displaying their "Young Brothers Guitars" at none other than the Dean Markley showroom. On a friends recommendation Markley played one of the "Young" guitars and invited the Young Brothers to display in their room. These are great sounding, playing and looking guitars. You can find their website here; http://youngbrosguitars.com/ The basement floor always turns up some great finds and this year was no exception. Breedlove Guitars is always a must and ever since I played one of their CM series guitars with a Redwood top and Ziricote body I can't say I've heard any acoustic sound as amazing other than a Taylor that used the same wood! We met with Jeremy Jones who makes some very nice sounding amps under the name Immix Eleven and you can find them here; http://immix11.com/wordpress/  Back in the end of the basement we came across some seriously strange and wonderful instruments called Wheel Harps. It was fascinating and challenging to play the radial version of this instrument and you can hear it here; http://www.antiquitymusic.com/ listen to the recordings of this unique and incredible instrument and I think you will understand my fascination with it. Up in the Taylor room we all played a beautiful white top 12 string and I must say it's one of the best I've ever played. Aaron was strangely drawn to the signature "Taylor Swift" guitar. You can see his obvious infatuation below. We finally persuaded him to release Taylor from his rather firm grip and play the 12 string for a while. Fender and Gibson have been in huge rooms upstairs for a couple of years and this year PRS also moved upstairs to a big room and they never disappoint. So many nice guitars! If you're into one off hand made Telecasters then check out Hahn guitars; http://www.hahnguitars.com/ these are some of the finest we've ever played. Ernie Ball came out with some great guitars. The signature Albert Lee, John Petrucci and Steve Morse guitars were all amazing. Earlier I mentioned "futuristic", "retro" and "classic", I think the one new instrument that embodied all of these things best was the Ernie Ball Armada line. I'm sure there will be a few players who won't like them but my guess from the crowds of players waiting to pick these up and play them along with the "oohs" and "wows" that followed, they will be a big winner. They are beautiful and the fit and finish is second to none. Check out the Black on Gold top! Another question that is always asked is "what were the best things you saw?" Well, there we MANY! However, after the show when your brain has had the time to process massive quantities of sight, sound and touch the standouts start coming to mind. We all thought the Bogner Duende and the BadCat Classic Deluxe were killers. The Friedman amps really rocked and there were so many amazing guitars, Gibson's, PRS, Taylor, Breedlove, Young Brothers and those gorgeous Ernie Ball Armada's. Oh, and for those of you who may wonder, the answer is yes! Here is irrefutable proof that "Where's Waldo" does have a demented brother! And he makes great sounding amps! JJ Electronic is always working on new tubes for us and this year there will be a couple of surprises! Stay tuned!   Here are some random shots! For those of you who buy the global warming thing take notice, it's so bad in California that the roof on the Alpine Inn is MELTING!!
NAMM 2013
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