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Jan 16, 2009 - 2009 Winter NAMM Show - Day 2
by Jim Basara

Another long day at NAMM. Today was spent taking a deeper look at some of the products and, as we head to the weekend, media announcements are starting to be made. A lot of artists are starting to show up, but that has never been too exciting for me. In fact, it's kind of a pain in the butt, because crowds gather all over the convention center to get autographs or even a glimpse. I'm one of the guys who thinks that a lot more would get done if they would get rid of all that crap.

Anyway, here are some highlights of the day.

XOX Audio tools, the makers of "The Handle" carbon fiber guitar, had several announcements to make.

XOX partnered with high-grade tremolo manufacturer Stetsbar to produce their upcoming trem version. Stetsbar allows XOX to produce a high-quality trem version without having to compromise the integrity of their guitar frame.

XOX Stetsbar

XOX is also releasing a Baritone model that was developed in partnership with legendary bassist Billy Sheehan. The guitar sounds amazing and plays extremely well.

XOX Baritone guitar

XOX is also releasing an Earl Slick model that was designed with Earl heavily involved.

XOX Earl Slick

The Breedlove booth was stellar, as always. What I like about Breedlove is that they don't spend their money on a fancy booth, but they fill up their space with a few hundred thousand dollars of their most spectacular guitars. Here's a couple of pics of their electrics and acoustics.

Breedlove Electrics

Breedlove Acoustics

While not guitar related, I though you'd be interested to see what the new age of grand pianos looks like. Yes, this baby grand has an integrated computer that is used for hosting sheet music and for training. It is highly sophisticated and can even monitor your playing so that it advances the sheet music at the right time, by matching your playing up to the music. It's scary.

New Age Grand Piano

Back to guitar, Rainsong also released two new models at the show. The Black Ice is pictured below, which has a very intricate and flashy top that is weaved with the carbon fiber. The other new model is their concert series. On that model, they have found a way align the carbon fiber in a single direction that mimics the tight grain of a fine spruce soundboard. Guitar Affair customers who have tried the Rainsong have overwhelmingly praised the instrument and I think the new soundboards will win over even the wood purists. The only issue our customers have ever complained about is the "thinness" of the necks, and Rainsong has now addressed that issue with an optional thicker neck option that mimics wood necks.

Rainsong Black Ice

Godin, best known for its advanced MIDI guitars, has released a Daryl Stuermer strat model. These appear to be very fine guitars with the excellent craftsmanship one would expect from Godin.

Godin Daryl Stuermer model

Taylor guitars released a tremelo model of their electic guitar series and also some new paint jobs. Some of the paint schemes look like they are taking not of the success of Daisy Rock.

Saint Blues Workshop Series Saint Blues Workshop Series

Saint Blues Workshop Series

ESP always has some very cool paint jobs.

ESP Guitars

Saint Blues has released its long awaited USA-made Workshop Series. These guitars play and sound amazing and are crafted by local Memphis luthiers with high quality tonewoods and components such as Lollar pickups. Here are a few of the models that will be produced in '09.

Saint Blues Workshop Series Saint Blues Workshop Series

Saint Blues Workshop Series Saint Blues Workshop Series

Saint Blues Workshop Series

Fender releases its "roadworn" series of distressed guitars. It still makes me wonder why someone would want a new guitar to look old.

Fender Roadworn Guitars

Rock Band taken to a whole new level (audience not included).

Rock Band 2

The evening acts are really starting to pick up also. For those who haven't been here, it is a musician's paradise. In addition to seeing great players in the booths of the companies that they endorse, there are stages all around the venue and in the Marriot and Hilton that are just outside the convention center. At night, these places are just downright crazy with mobs of musicians. The acts tend to be of very high quality (as you would expect) and you often see many of your favorite pros hanging out. There's nothing like going up to the bar for a drink and turning to the person next to you and saying "Hey, you're Joe Perry!".

Anyway, the best act of the night was Caleb Quaye, former guitarist for Elton John, Hall and Oates and many others. Caleb did a set with his jazz band and they were incredible. Definitely look for their upcoming CD. Here's a shot of Caleb playing his signature Brazen.

Saint Blues Workshop Series

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