National Association of Music Merchants (NAMM) 2012 Show Report

Every year, NAMM bestows upon us shiny new toys for musicmakers of all genres to make new (and old) sounds with. NAMM 2012 was no less a musical heaven for the products, gadgets, and innovations that help make metal happen. We took a spin through the showroom floor at Anaheim Convention Center to check out some new equipment that our metal cohorts use and abuse. Full report after the jump.

Drums:

All the heavy hitters came out with massive and spectacular kits, such as Tama’s maple wood kit, or more notably, Pearl’s behemoth kit on display – an orgasmic setup from DREAM THEATER’s Mike Mangini.  His mind boggling kit is truly awe inspiring, and rivals last year’s signature Neil Peart kit. Also featured was MOTLEY CRUE drummer Tommy Lee’s cool kit, which if you’ve ever seen him live, revolves and suspends in midair while he plays.

Premier drums were showing off the sexy new drum kit approved by IRON MAIDEN’s legendary skinsman, Nicko McBrain. All facets of the kit are adorned with IRON MAIDEN’s signature Eddie design, and the Paiste cymbals are quite remarkable with the Powerslave design! Definitely a must for MAIDEN fans!

Roland has nice electronic kits, and this year they have rolled out the TD-30KV drum series. The V-Drums V-Pro series has improved V-Pads and V-Cymbals, allowing new advanced sensing technology and “SuperNATURAL sounds.” Also, a more compactHD-3 V-Drums Lite series is a nice compact V-Drums set for beginners, gamers and home entertainment enthusiasts.

Electronic drums are the wave of the future, so one of the most impressive and brilliant products featured by Pearl this year is theTruTrac Heads, which allows you to fit these skins over actual drums and hook everything up as an electronic drum kit! Not only is this great for practicing in the house, but it still feels like you’re playing on real drums. Your neighbors and parents will love you for this!

Zildjian has released the brand new Gen16 cymbals, which not only look aesthetically pleasing and sleek, but they sound amazing as well! With holes throughout the entire cymbal, it looks futuristic, but the classic Zildjian splash remains intact. These Gen16 cymbals combine an innovative new dual-head mini microphone system, and a controller/mixer with preset tone that allows the user to experience an array of Zildjian tones or effects! Hi-hats, rides, and chinas all sounded great at the booth. Make sure to check these out ASAP!

Guitars:

Guitars are essential, and most often, the most prominent instrument in the world of metal, and there is no shortage of amazing guitars here at NAMM.

Peavey guitars had an innovative new marketing tool, with their Captain America designed amps and guitars. For the music/comic book nerd, Peavey also had X-Men, Avengers, and Spiderman guitars available as well. Very cool.

Schecter starts 2012 with a bang, with the signature Jeff Loomis JLV-6 FR guitar! The ex-NEVERMORE shredder loves this design, and the EMGs, three-piece neck, and metal cross inlays allow him to lay down leads no one else can.

Not too long ago, 7 string guitars were the thing of the future, but alas, the new hot product for NAMM 2012 is the eight string guitar! A few companies have launched some 8 string models, but none looked more impressive than Ibanez’s new MESHUGGAH M8M model. This beast features a neck-through design with the Fixed Edge III-8 bridge, which combines fixed bridge sustain and double locking stability, which results in a sweet, sweet tone. The 29.4 inch extra long scale neck allows tight lows without losing playability. The indestructible Schaller Security Locks will provide safety under any crazy conditions on stage, while sounding amazing, even with the super low distorted tunings.

Built for speed and comfort, the RG2228ABK eight string features a pair of DiMarzio D Activator 8 pickups that deliver clear and punchy tone, without muddiness. Also with the fixed Edge III-8 bridge, this is a more affordable option than the M8M.

Ibanez also rolled out the Steve Vai JEM EVO guitar, which is an exact replica of his JEM, at a cool $10,000. Only 100 guitars are being produced, so this is definitely one sweet axe! If that’s too rich for your blood, there are more affordable Vai signature models. All the JEM Vai series are proudly made in Japan, with the contoured body of 24-frets, and Vai’s choice of DiMarzio pickups with the Lion’s Claw tremolo. For you seven string enthusiasts, the U777 Universe allows easy transition from six to seven string techniques.

Not lost in the midst of amazing Ibanez guitars were the new signature models from shredders like Herman Li (DRAGONFORCE) and Muhammed Suiçmez (NECROPHAGIST). Mick Thomson (SLIPKNOT) also has a pretty slick signature guitar, as theMTM100 is a 5pc neck-through design, with the FX Edge bridge which offers double locking stability and sustain, and factory equipped with heavy strings tuned to C# tuning with a dropped B, for those songs which need low, brutal, metal riffage.

B.C. Rich had plenty of representation by metal artists, as Kerry KingMarc Rizzo signature models looked very snazzy. Guy Marchais (SUFFOCATION) and Pat O’Brien (CANNIBAL CORPSE) all use and abuse B.C. Rich models as well.

In the metal world, Jackson guitars are noted with their edgy look and perfect feel and sound for metal guitarists. Jackson had the David Ellefson Signature Model Concert Bass on display, which Ellefson recorded MEGADETH’s landmark opus Rust in Peace. The bass is an amazing replica of the bass he played during the Rust in Peace 20th Anniversary Tour. His signature model has a maple neck and ebony fingerboards, with the trademark shark fin inlays, complete with EMG pickups. Some other new products from Jackson are some slight variations to the Randy Rhodes signature V’s.

ESP has been another guitar brand favored by prominent metal guitarists. New for 2012 is Kirk Hammett’s signature KH-25, the limited edition instrument for players and collectors alike. This sweet axe has all of Kirk’s signatures: cross bone fret inlays, rosewood fingerboard, maple neck, even Kirk’s signature in the middle of the fretboard, along with “Caution” and “Kirk’s guitar” designs. Following last year’s Reign in Blood guitar, the other badass new ESP guitar for 2012 is the SLAYER South of Heaven guitar! This unique limited edition guitar commemorates my favorite SLAYER album, featuring the South of Heaven skull and pentagram artwork, including SLAYER logo and pentagram inlays. Amazing!

Dean guitars has recently stepped up by acquiring guys like Dave Mustaine andMichael Amott, with their signature models, but for NAMM 2012, the masterpiece was the late Dimebag Darrell’s Concrete Sledge ML guitar! Limited to only 333 in production, these Concrete Sledge guitars are an exact replica to Dime’s original model (minus the original KISS sticker). It not only feels great, but plays amazing as well. The lightning bolt, camo models were on display, but the other new model featured was the purple Crown Royal model, a nice tribute to Dime’s favorite drink.

Effects and Other Snazzy Gear:

SAMSON/Zoom always has excellent products, and for 2012 they have released the Q3HD and H4N portable recorders. The H4N is a nice product that lets the musician record with four channels for about 11 hours. The unique X/Y mic arrangement records at either 90 or 120 degrees, which allows versatility in any recording situation. The Q3HD is a great product for recording live video, as there are two studio-quality condenser mics in the 120 degree X/Y pattern. The Q3HD can capture live concerts in HD (1920×1080 full high-definition video) with clear audio to boot. You can quickly edit and trim videos even without a computer, and of course, publish it right away on YouTube, or any other social networking sites. SLAYER’s Kerry King uses this handheld recorder while on the road to capture the riffs from his head!

Ibanez was celebrating their 30th anniversary of the Tube Screamer, and the limited edition pedal looks pretty spiffy! The 30thanniversary TS9 model has a high intensity green LED light, custom green plated finish, transparent green knobs, and the classic overdrive that everyone loves. This beautiful pedal will certainly be a collector’s item!

MEGADETH bassist David Ellefson was all over the map this year, as he has a neat product in conjuncture with Pocketlabworks, Inc., which is a sweet app for the iPad, iPhone, and iPod Touch. The David Ellefson Rock Shop app provides everything guitar and bass players need for turning their iPad, iPhone, and iPod Touch into a portable practice guitar amplifier. The technology integrates an iTunes music player into the app with speed, pitch, and loop controls for playing along with your iTunes music. The music player allows the user to slow down riffs, and also has Ellefson’s signature bass sound included! This app is great for learning songs by ear, even when songs are in different tuning, as the app uses real time processing and adjusts the pitch to standard tuning. For example, MEGADETH’s “Peace Sells…” was originally recorded slightly below standard tuning, and the app will adjust so you can play along and learn the track (or other songs) in standard tuning.

We hope you enjoyed our coverage of NAMM 2012, as we went “apeshit” at these amazing and innovative new products!

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