We’ve been at NAMM 2014, the leading music gear show, that takes place in Anaheim in California. We’ll be bringing you choice cuts of some of the 5,000 brands that were exhibiting, and a taste of the exciting instruments and technologies that lie in wait for the coming year. Here are some early highlights and short videos from the preview day. Follow us on twitter, and check out Facebook for more updates.
The Dube’s creator Dion Dublin jammed with jazz musician Jon Barnes who was playing a DeCarbo trumpet, to kick off the preview day. Dion is a retired English footballer, and invented The Dube - passionate about music, he wanted to create a versatile percussion drum.
It is an easy-to-transport cube drum with four playable sides each producing their own unique sound. You can get it in four different sizes, acoustic/ electro-acoustic flavours, and with customisable artwork. It’s a cross between a Djembe and a Cajon, and the design allows you to create a wide variety of percussion sounds, depending on where you hit the instrument. Striking the centre gives you a deeper tone, whilst a ‘rim-shot’ towards the edge generates a higher snappier hit. It is endorsed by players across the world and is being supported by drum legend Mike Dolbear.
The Prophet 12 Module is a clever portable version of the Prophet 12 synthesizer from Dave Smith Instruments, and features the same voiceboard and I/O. It’s designed for studio and touring and is rack mountable. It has 12 voice polyphony and the cutting edge hybrid voice architecture of the larger Prophet - which won a Tec Award at NAMM. That means the Module starts out with digital oscillators and then goes to analog. It has a high and low pass filter, analog VCA and distortion.
Dave Smith has been creating iconic synthesizers since the mid-70s, and is known as the driving force behind the implementation of the MIDI standard in the early 80s.
P-Funk Allstar and Space Queen Kim Manning from Funkadelic played the new AirBoard from Hohner. It’s a reinvention of Hohner’s longtime classic the Melodica, is air powered, and comes with a flexible mouthpiece and new styling. There’s also an AirBoard app too, which you play by blowing into the microphone and pressing the keys, or you can use it just with the keys alone.
Sela Cajons were showing three from their range including an innovative cajon with a switchable snare. The cajons come as kits or pre-assembled. Founded by Mark Westenberger, Sela have been developing cajons for both amateur and professional musicians for over ten years. Cajon expert Paul Jennings is playing a switchable CaSela Professional.
It features a single humbucker with a hard-tail bridge, and GJ2 say that makes it ideal for high-octane, tuned-down riffing. GJ2’s Grover Jackson has been creating guitars for the last 35 years and paired up with ex-Fender senior VP Jon Gold, to design a range of guitars with innovations such as a new neck-through heel for improved access, invisible binding, and a compound radius neck production method that creates smoother bends and limits strings choking off.
IK Multimedia’s iRings were a real eye-opener and at $25 dollars a pair, will be snapped up we’re sure. We had great fun trying them out and adding tracks and beats on the fly to a tune.
IK say that controlling your music apps and effects can now be as easy as waving your arms in front of your iPad. The patterned rings are detected by the front-facing camera, and using advanced image-recognition and geometric positioning technology, you can have control of assignable parameters within your apps. The ring itself is a simple double sided ring that fits between your fingers. Because the included app does the heavy lifting, this is a very inexpensive way of experimenting with your music. It can even be assigned to MIDI signals which can control hardware instruments.
Weber Mandolins make high end hand-carved instruments, some of which are based on old Florentine designs. They feature soundboards that are graduated and tuned by hand. Eva Holbrook from Shel band gave us a quick demo on the Scarlet Fire model, before joining one of her bandmates, also her sister, for a spellbinding set.
Jesse Grant/Getty Images for NAMM