NAMM Show 2024: 4 Products for Songwriters
Disclaimer: none of these brands paid me to do or say anything about them and this is 100% my own opinion.
As you may be aware NAMM just happened from Jan 25th – 28th, bringing new music gear products from some of the biggest companies. There was a lot to go through but I had the opportunity to attend and look for any gear that can help anyone who writes songs/makes music.
For anyone reading that’s not familiar with NAMM, it’s one of the biggest music trade shows in the world. The name stands for National Association of Music Merchants (thus NAMM). Established in 1902, this event takes place in Anaheim, California every year. There is also a NAMM that happens in Nashville but I don’t know if that one is happening in 2024 as there’s no info on the website about it.
The purpose of NAMM is to be a trade-only business show, meaning it’s only open to music businesses, dealers and distributors in the US and Internationally. These companies also bring many famous artists to the show to demo their new products.
All of this means the show is generally not open to the public, although recently I have seen tickets become available on the NAMM website for purchase.
Because of its exclusivity and the opportunity to meet key industry contacts, people currently working in and people looking to work in the music industry, often flock to NAMM.
While it can be overwhelming I believe it’s truly one of the coolest experiences you can have if you’ve never gone.
Anyway, now that we’ve established the context of the show, let’s talk about a few new products that would be beneficial to you for making music.
This year Martin put out a new model called the GPCE Inception™ Maple. According to Martin Guitars, it is made with a European spruce top, maple sides, and a three-piece back of maple and black walnut, providing a clear, projective, and balanced tone.
I had the chance to see Chris Martin (CEO) and Fred Green (VP of Product Management) present this guitar, stating that with it, they wanted to move towards using more sustainable woods. This is because they usually use tropical woods to make guitars but these are becoming more rare with time. Therefore, they wanted to use domestic woods such as maple and walnut.
I asked the Martin rep if they were trying to imitate the sound of their other guitars with this one and they said that this guitar has a different sound. Given this, make sure you try it and see if you like it.
After the presentation there was a short demo by Hunter Hayes performing “Victory” with it, which you can check out on the video below. Keep in mind he is plugged in DI rather than mic’d up and I recorded this on an iphone so the audio quality is not ideal, but it may give you an idea of what it sounds like.
Martin Guitars CEO and VP of Product Management
Inside the GPCE Inception Maple
I think out of any new product I saw at NAMM, this was my favorite.
If you’re not familiar with LR Baggs he designs and manufactures acoustic guitar pickups, microphones, preamps and pedals for acoustic amplification.
At NAMM he showcased the new HiFi Duet which is a High-Fidelity Pickup + Microphone Mixing System. Essentially it’s a mix of a pickup with a condenser mic placed inside of the guitar.
The issue it aims to solve is being able to record a pro studio-quality sound from an acoustic guitar when it’s plugged in and recorded direct input (DI) that rivals professional studio recordings with expensive mics.
If you’re a songwriter and you’re trying to record pro quality audio in your home you know how amazing it would be to get a pro quality acoustic guitar sound using DI without expensive microphones and a treated room.
What LR Baggs did was combine their award-winning HiFi pickups with the Silo Microphone (it’s a small condenser mic) and a studio grade preamp. There’s also a suspension inside the Silo mic that shock mounts the capsule so you don’t get unwanted noise.
It comes with a mix control that helps you blend the sound of the pickups with the sound of the Silo mic. It’s powered by a single 9V battery.
According to their site, the controls for it allow the sound to range between punchy and direct to an open and airy studio mic’d sound and everywhere in between.
This is set to become available for purchase in the Summer 2024 so there is no price info available yet, but I find it difficult to imagine that whatever price they put on it won’t be a way better deal than an expensive mic locker and room treatment.
The only drawback I see with this is obviously if you’re trying to get a wide stereo guitar sound using only the HiFi Duet without stereo micing the guitar.
In that case you would have to mic up the guitar with two mics, and then you could blend those with this DI signal which honestly I think would get you great results. They wouldn’t need to be super expensive mics either. Personally, that is what I would do if I had one.
Here’s a video comparison between the HiFi Duet connected DI with no EQ and no post processing vs. the same guitar mic’d up with a Neumann U67 with no EQ and no post processing, so you can get an idea of how crazy good this sounds.
Yamaha – Pacifica Professional (Price: $3,700) and Pacifica Standard Plus (Price: $2,220)
If you’re a guitar player then you know the Pacifica is known for its versatility for playing and fitting well in many different music genre’s.
Rockers, Metalheads, Funk, and Fusionheads are probably well aware of this guitar and can see how useful it can be to have a versatile guitar when writing different styles of music. Add to that it’s playability and you’ve got a great tool with a wide range of sound possibilities.
This year Yamaha put out a new model called the Pacifica Professional and Pacifica Standard Plus models.
According to Yamaha:
“With a new body construction made possible by Yamaha’s Acoustic Design technology and new ReflectoneTM pickups created in collaboration with Rupert Neve Designs, the guitars deliver well-balanced tone with solid lows and sparkling highs.”
In addition to a new body construction, it’s got a new satin slim C-shape neck.and a neck joint that allows for more access to higher frets with more comfort (great for shredders). The fingerboard comes in either Rosewood or Maple.
Colors available vary depending on whether you get the Professional or the Standard Plus model.
During the presentation of these new models there was a demo by Jay Leonard Jay talking through all the sounds you can get out of it, which you can check out below.
I love Steven Slate plugins so I wanted to check out what new things they would talk about at NAMM this year.
While I heard the word AI from so many brands this year, Slate brought AI in a unique way that is pretty cool for songwriters specifically.
They announced a coming update to SSD5 that will incorporate AI for making customized drum grooves.
Essentially not only can it come up with different drum grooves based on the tempo, meter and genre of your song but, if you record a bass line or a rhythm guitar part or a riff, SSD5 will use AI to analyze the transient information and come up with a customized groove for you.
I think anyone who programs drums, whether for demos or for album recordings will find this really useful for experimenting and getting ideas for drum grooves, especially if they have no clue what to write because they don’t play drums.
There isn’t a release date yet but you can join a waitlist and find more information here https://stevenslateaudio.com/groove-ai#signup
Wrapping it up
There were tons of other gear covered at NAMM but these were the ones I found that could be most useful if you’re a songwriter recording at home and writing everything on your own.
These are also all new products. Of course every company brought all kinds of things to exhibit but I wanted to focus on the new toys.
Hopefully this was helpful to give you some new tools to make music.
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