Wood Amp Cabinets

Some day I’d like to build an all-wood enclosure for my amp.  These beautiful cabinets from Matchless, Fuchs, and Mesa/Boogie are really inspiring.  Check out the nicely figured hardwoods and dovetailed joinery.  Those Matchless speaker grills are really cool too.

These amps are not standard production models, but can be built custom at Mesa/Boogie (and possibly at Matchless too?)

The Fuchs Overdrive Supreme is a 10th anniversary limited model, with only 10 being made.

Matchless Custom C-30Matchless Custom C-30 

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Luthier in a Candy Store

In years past, Grizzly had an enormous booth at the NAMM trade show demonstrating all their power tools, table saws, planers, sanders, shapers, etc.   While they were absent this year, there was still plenty to excite and inspire.

For the aspiring luthier or woodworker, there’s nothing more appetizing than stacks of gorgeously figured exotic hardwoods. 

Taylor Build-To-Order Resources Taylor Build-To-Order Resources

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Unique and Unusual Gear at NAMM

Here’s a few products from this year’s NAMM trade show that were surprising, unique, or just downright silly:

LCD Video Guitars from Visionary Instruments Bulletproof Guitars - Kevlar Soundboard

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New Guitars From Vox

New Vox Guitars At this year’s NAMM, Vox announced a series of new guitars.  These things look beautiful.  They’ll be available in April 2010, pricing TBA.

VOX Series 55 Specifications

  • Scale Length: 638mm (25.125")
  • No. Of Frets: 22
  • Nut Width: 43mm (1.7")
  • Bridge Pickup: Coaxe
  • Neck Pickup: Coaxe
  • Body: Mahogany
  • Top: Ash or Maple (depending on finish)

Update May 18, 2011:  Also see my in-depth review of the SSC-33, and for more about the CoAxe pickup system, see my interview with Vox R&D’s Eric Kirkland.

I recorded a short NAMM demo of Freddy DeMarco playing the vintage cream SSC-55 single cutaway through a Vox AC-30 amp.  The pickups sound really versatile, the build quality feels superb, and the styling is understated and excellent.  Take a look:

New CTS Guitar Pots

Older style CTS pot on left. New CTS 450G guitar pot on right.When I met with the friendly CTS guys at the NAMM trade show, they talked up their new 450G series of guitar pots.    Compared with the EP086 pots I’m used to, these 450G pots have slightly lower torque when turning.  The CTS rep said this is due to less contact surface area on the underside of the pot, as you can see in this photo (EP086 on left, 450G on right).

Another of the primary goals of the new 450G pots is to address part numbering confusion.  The rep told me that EP086 is an AllParts number that CTS stamps onto the pot.  It’s really a series 450 pot made specially for AllParts, but there’s no cross reference back from EP086 to a CTS part number.   The rep told me that CTS builds guitar pots a bit differently than they do commercial/industrial pots, so they internally assign a different 450 part number, built special/custom for the ordering customer.  The customer (like AllParts, Mojo, DiMarzio, etc) can have their own part number (like EP086) stamped on the pots.   The new 450G series will hopefully help to standardize this part numbering, making it less confusing to the average guitar-geek like you and me 🙂

The datasheet doesn’t appear to be up on the CTS website yet, so I had the rep send it to me.  Here it is.

Electronic Components at NAMM

Aside from getting to see a bunch of cool instruments and musicians at the NAMM trade show, I also got to geek out at the electronic components booths!

My buddy was laughing at me while I grilled the CTS guys for details on their pot manufacturing, some of their new guitar pots (the 450G series, and the new enclosed precision pots), why they don’t make standard DPDT push/pull pots, and why all the different CTS distributers put their own part numbers on the components (no good answer – it’s like buying mattresses!)

Fun times visiting CTS, Bourns, AllParts , Gotoh, Alpha, and Electroswitch:

CTS Components CTS Components

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Artisan Luthiery

Some of the guitars I saw at this year’s NAMM trade show are true works of art.  Masterpieces of woodworking, incredibly fine detail, yes.  But, I must ask – have these instruments lost sight of their own musicality?  Do they sound any good?

I was afraid to (or not allowed to) play many of these, so I have to wonder.  I imagine that some of these do indeed triumph both as musical instruments and as works of art, but perhaps others will be better as pieces of furniture or wall art, rather than playing instruments…

Minarik Double Neck Minarik Acoustic with Hummingbird Inlays Minarik Acoustic with Hummingbird Inlays

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Vox Night Train with V112NT Cabinet

2010-01-16 NAMM Day 1 051 2010-01-16 NAMM Day 1 053

I’ve seen and heard a number of demos of the beautiful lunchbox-style Vox Night Train amp head.  But none of them played through the new matching V112NT cabinet.   I finally got to hear it through the matching cab at the Vox booth at this year’s NAMM trade show.  I recorded a demo of Freddy DeMarco playing the Night Train with its matched cabinet.  Its an awesome combination.

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What Sells Guitars?

Hot pin-up girls, of course!

Check out this gorgeous, curvy thing!   Kim Falcon is pretty cute, too 🙂


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New Digitech JamMan Loopers

I’ve long been a fan of looping with guitars.   I had the original Oberheim Echoplex Digital Pro, before it was co-opted by Gibson.  Great looper, but mono and always frustrating that after creating a great composition, there was no way to save it other than just recording the combined analog audio composite.  I sold the EDP when I started using Native Instruments Guitar Rig, but was never quite satisfied with the experience of being bound to the computer.

The previous edition of the Digitech Jam Man was nice, but also mono.  The Looperlative LP1 and the Boss RC-50 are both stereo but are pretty expensive.  I saw a new Looperlative LP2 prototype at NAMM which is much cheaper than the LP1, but it’s mono.

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