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Winter NAMM 2011 Report from Bobby D

Bobby DeVito Shares some NAMM  Fun!

Bobby D between Jukka & Harri at Mad Professor booth

Stratoblogster contributor Bobby DeVito was kind enough share his Anaheim NAMM '11 adventure with us! Bobby is a Florida based working musician, author, recording artist and popular Youtube gear demo personality. Below, Bobby provides an interesting cross section of his NAMM experience. How he managed to narrow it all down is beyond me! His links are at the bottom of this post. Visit our Facebook Page for Bobby's NAMM pics (go to Photo Albums).

"Hey JP!

It was a crazy couple of days at NAMM - I probably walked about 15 miles in two days, between walking the show floor and walking around Anaheim.

I have been going to NAMM since the mid 90s, and really only about 2% of what I see at the show catches my eye anymore. Here are the products I saw that I really felt strongly about:

LINE 6 - I spent a great deal of time with the Line 6 guys, getting to know many of them. Since I have been a beta-tester for them since the M9, and now with the Variax/DT-50 amp/HD-500 pedalboard system, it was really great to meet these people in person. One thing that really stood out for me was the fact that EVERY person I met who works for Line 6 is a MUSICIAN - many of them were in touring bands or major label bands, and all of them still play and record music. I kind of thought there would be a bunch of digital tech-type geeks working there, but all the guys were good players and are totally into music. The new Tyler Variax is a big deal, and I love the guitar, the JTV-69 is a Tyler designed superstrat much like his Studio Elite model, but with the new Variax 2 electronics.

LOWDEN Guitars -- George Lowden is from Ireland, and builds some of the best acoustic guitars I have ever played. In the 90s and 00s, I had a Lowden F32 model, and played that guitar a LOT, as well as recording my solo acoustic album with it. Those guitars have the most beautiful, complex midrange of any acoustic I have ever heard, they LOVE open tunings, and have a great rounded fat neck that just fits my hand like a glove. I spent a couple of hours talking to George and interviewing him, and he is just a fantastic guy. He only makes a few guitars per week, so they are hard to find, especially in the USA. But the Lowden guitars capture the spirit of Ireland and of Celtic music better than any other, and have a signature tone that is unique.

STONEWORKS - Picks are boring. Unless you happen to find someone like Mike Stone (that's his real last name), who makes picks out of exotic semiprecious gemstones like Agate, Turquoise, and others. His picks are amazing, and I saw a LOT of people stopping buy his booth to pick a few up to bring home from the show. He makes a variety of sizes and shapes, and each one is a work of art. I love the way they play, and are fantastic for solos, with a glass-like attack and super smooth action.

JACK DEVILLE ELECTRONICS - Effects-wise, there was not a lot of new stuff that caught my eye, even though I am such an effects-hound and pedal flogging demo maniac. But i was quite impressed with Jack Deville's new pedals. He has three hand-wired delicacies that have a great simple design - black housings with silver laser-etched graphics. The "MOD ZERO" is one of the best modulation pedals I have ever heard, with a shimmery Chorus, and a switchable mode that makes it a Flanger that has true TZF function (thru-zero flanging, as heard on Hendrix "House Burning Down" and on Eric Johnson's albums as well). The Mod Zero really blew me away, and I have tried a LOT of modulation pedals. Next up is the Dark Echo, which is a digitally based pedal that really sounds analog, and has the modulation control that adds some shimmer to the repeats ala the EHX Memory Man. It's nothing fancy, but it sounds great and really does capture the analog vibe delay-wise. And finally - the BUZZSAW is a three-transistor germanium fuzz unit that has an ultra quiet noise floor and great fuzz tones. Out of all the new pedals I saw at NAMM, the Jack DeVille pedals really rocked my world, and I did indeed film a video demo of them at his booth, which will be uploaded soon.

MAD PROFESSOR has a new pedal called the STONE GREY Distortion -- this is a Mad Professor version of the BJFe "Cliffhanger II" distortion pedal, and is quite possibly one of the best high gain distortion pedals I have ever heard. The BJFe version is quite rare, and sells for $700 or so IF one comes up for sale. The Mad Professor version is much easier to find and more affordable at around $225 street price! I will be demoing one soon....

JAMES TYLER GUITARS -- anyone that knows me understands the love I have for Tyler. I have owned three of his superstrats, and for my money, they are the best superstrats ever made. The fact that Tyler designed the Variax was the deciding factor in my endorsement of the Line 6 Tyler Variax....Jim has a new "schmear" finish called the "Rasta" that is beautiful, and also showed his new Tele style model as well as the classics like the Burning Water and a new signature model superstrat in black.

TOM ANDERSON GUITARS -- got to talk to Tom Anderson, and his new  guitars were amazing, including a new Pro-Am model that recreates the early 90s Pro-Am model, as well as a new Strat style guitar called "Shorty" that has a 24 3/4" scale like a Gibson, but is shaped like a standard superstrat, to give you a bit more slinky feel and playability, but still have that awesome strat feel.

NATIONAL GUITARS has finally reissued the classic Triolian model, which is dear to my heart because of the Chris Whitley connection, a 1930 Triolian in "Polychrome" finish (which Chris called "Mustard") was CW's main #1 guitar for most of his career. I spent some quality time with Don Young, the president of National Guitars, and we discussed the possibility of a limited edition Chris Whitley Triolian, and this guitar will be "reliced" to closely resemble "Mustard", the Triolian heard round the world on Whitley's recordings and live shows. A few quick calls to Dan Whitley, some more discussion with Don Young, and I think this is a real possiblity. Don was very interested in this project, and a portion of the sale of each of these guitars will be going to Whitley's estate and his daughter Trixie. And you are the FIRST to hear it here at the Stratoblog, lol....the guitar is just in the planning stage, but I am really committed to seeing this project through to completion. I helped Chris when he was alive, and I continue to help him now, because he was a good friend and a huge influence on me as an artist. And National Guitars totally understand how much Chris brought the National resonator guitars to a whole new audience of players who aren't into "the blooze" and want to do something different. This will be a very limited edition, probably 25 guitars or so, and each guitar will be a pretty exact recreation of "Mustard", down to all the finish wear, the pickup mounted in the neck position, and there will be a certificate of authenticity signed by Dan Whitely and Trixie Whitley. It's going to be an instant collectible, and I imagine will be sold out long before they even ship.....

So much stuff to see and do at NAMM. There was plenty of gear I missed, but these few things really stood out to me. Hope you enjoy!

bobby d"
twitter: @bobbydevito - bobby devito

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