The 10 best guitar tech products of NAMM 2011
21st Jan 2011 | 17:10
Misa Digital Kitara
We've already covered the best music tech and drum products of NAMM 2011, but it’s also been an innovative and interesting year for guitar gear, particularly for the more technologically advanced players out there. So, from digital guitars and profiling amps to endless loopers and cosmic delay pedals, we’ve rounded up the 10 best guitar tech products released at the show. First up: Misa Digital’s Kitara guitar…
You’ve got to respect a company that’s attempting to re-invent the guitar, and that’s Misa Digital’s goal with the Kitara. It’s got frets, so guitarists should be able to get a handle on playing it pretty quickly, but there are no strings so your right hand is left free to play the built-in touchscreen.
This opens up a multitude of performance options, as you’ll discover if you watch MusicRadar’s video.
Roland has been releasing guitar synth products for almost 35 years, and the GR-55 looks like it could be its most sophisticated yet. Combining two synth sound engines, a third dedicated to instrument and amp modelling and a multi-effects processor, it’s a comprehensive solution.
If you’ve been looking for a reason to equip your guitar with a MIDI pickup, this could be it.
Vox Dynamic Looper
This performance orientated looper pedal enables guitarists to stack up an infinite number of layers on two independent loops (these can have a combined length of up to 90 seconds). There’s a Loop Quantize option, myriad effects, resampling and an additional mic input so you can add vocals into the mix.
We don’t yet know how much the Dynamic Looper will cost, but it’s scheduled to ship in May.
This update to the RC-20XL is a dual-track affair that adds stereo recording and up to three hours of loop storage. There’s also the dual phrase loop feature that enables you to play two stereo loops in sync with each other, real-time FX processing and 99 loop memories.
If that all seems like overkill, try the RC-3 - a single-pedal version of the RC-30 that has many of its big brother’s features.
Kemper Profiling Amplifier
Time will tell just how good the Kemper Profiling Amplifier actually is, but in terms of innovation, it certainly raises the stakes. It promises to ‘learn’ the sonic behaviour of any amp and reproduce it, while also shipping with profiles of many classic tube amps.
Does it work? We still can’t say for sure, but we’re certainly looking forward to finding out.
IK Multimedia AmpliTube Fender for iPhone
As IK Multimedia did on the Mac and PC, the company has followed up the standard iOS version of AmpliTube with a product dedicated to Fender amps ('65 Deluxe Reverb, Super-Sonic, '65 Twin Reverb, '59 Bassman LTD and Pro Junior) and stompboxes (Fender Tape Echo, Compressor, Fender Blender, Fender Phaser, Overdrive and Noise Filter).
As if that wasn’t enough, IK has also revealed that it’s partnering with Ampeg, Orange, Soldano, Seymour Duncan, Gallien-Krueger, Jet City Amplification, THD and T-Rex on AmpliTube apps for Mac/PC and iOS.
The term ‘game changer’ has been tossed around a lot, and NAMM 2011 has had its fair share of game-changing claims (Music Man even named its new pickup switching system the Game Changer!). But every now and again a product comes along which deserves the status, and like Line 6’s DL4 did in 2000, Strymon’s TimeLine pedal may well have achieved it in 2011.
Strymon set out to create ‘the most spacious, lush, creative, and tweakable delay effects pedal ever heard’, and from what we witnessed at the show, it's not far from reaching its goal. TimeLine features 12 different delay machines, all editable, with over 200 presets. And is, as the press release so eloquently puts it, “ridiculously powerful.”
Akai Tri-Mode Overdrive
NAMM 2011 saw Akai’s ‘Analog Custom Shop’ launch 10 brand-new pedals: Phase Shifter, Analog Delay, Blues Overdrive, Chorus, Compressor, Deluxe Distortion, Flanger, Tri-Mode Fuzz, Tri-Mode Distortion and Tri-Mode Overdrive. The latter of which we were blown away by…
Akai claims that the Tri-Mode Overdrive is “three overdrive pedals in one”, hence the ‘Tri’ bit. The neat, stainless steel-housed pedal combines Level, Tone and Drive knobs with a Scream, Boost and Warm switch to enable "soaring leads, lush chords and relaxed warmth". It also features a replaceable gain chip for custom tailoring. Add it to your ‘really want’ list.
Eventide Space stompbox
Yep, another effects pedal. But look closely at the spec and you’ll see that this ain’t just, well… another effects pedal. Eventide has packed 12 of its ‘signature reverb combination effects’ (previously only available in its powerful rack processors the H8000FW and the Eclipse V4) into one compact stompbox.
Space also boasts MIDI control via USB and is compatible with any solo instrument or vocal processor. Oh, and with onboard sounds including the likes of MangledVerb and Blackhole, ‘Space’ is very much an appropriate name. Cosmic!
Orange’s all-in-one computer/amplifier/speaker, the OPC, was announced last year, but those who attended NAMM 2011 were the first to see the final production spec model.
At the heart of the OPC is a powerful 500GB hard drive and 4GB of RAM (upgradable to 8GB). It’s the first PC to feature an integrated audio interface and the first to have built-in high powered speakers. It comes loaded with over $1000-worth of software including AmpliTube 3, PreSonus Studio One (custom Orange addition), Acoustica Mixcraft 5, and EZdrummer Lite. There’s even an HDMI output.
In a nutshell, the OPC is trying to be a creative hub for everything the modern musician might want to do: practice; record; share tracks online; or plug in to a 42” plasma TV. It remains to be seen whether this is what the future holds, but for now at least, we salute Orange for trying to predict it.
WATCH: Orange OPC demo
Liked this? Now read: The best guitar gear of 2010
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