NAMM!
By Jimmy Leslie
Wed, 29 Mar 2006
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Anaheim, California, home of Disneyland, is an appropriate setting for the International Music Products Association’s annual winter trade show: For gear freaks it feels like a magic kingdom. But it’s no small world after all: NAMM’s main attraction is a huge convention center filled with nearly every bass, amp, effect, and accessory imaginable, made by all the biggest and smallest names in the industry. The Roland booth alone is the size of a Guitar Center. Only manufacturers, dealers, demonstrating musicians, and the press are officially allowed on the premises, so we brought news of the coolest new stuff back for this report. There was a lot of to see, so look for part two next month.

B.C. Rich Zombie All you zombies show your faces! The B.C. Rich Zombie ($1,249 list, $875 street) features an aggressive shape, cool colors, crown-style inlays, quilted-maple tops and headstocks, and active electronics. B.C. Rich, 800-999-5558, www.bcrich.com.

Danelectro Longhorn It’s a big year for Longhorn fans. First, Texas wrangles the national college football championship away from USC, and now Danelectro reissues the ’58 Longhorn Bass ($599 list, $400 street). The famously squawky-sounding, cocky-looking instrument, which graced countless ’60s country classics, rides again Boss Hogg-style with lipstick pickups and signature Longhorn probosces. It’s bad, it’s nationwide. Danelectro, 888-643-8950, www.danelectro.com.

Fender 60th Anniversary Commemorative Basses In 1946, World War II had just ended, and Leo Fender was just getting started. Over time, Fender dropped many a mind-blowing bomb on bassists, and this year, Fender celebrates by releasing some stunning Diamond Anniversary editions. The Fender 60th Anniversary American Precision Bass (pictured, $1,643 list, $1,150 street) features a “jeweled” headstock inlay, an American Vintage ’62 Precision split single-coil pickup, Fender’s versatile S-1 switching system, and a commemorative custom case. The Standard Precision Bass ($714 list, $500 street) includes a stamped 60th Anniversary neck plate and a commemorative gig bag. The American Jazz Bass ($1,643 list, $1,150 street) is loaded with a pair of American Vintage ’62 Jazz Bass single-coil pickups, the S-1 switching system, and the jeweled headstock inlay and commemorative case. Fender, 800-488-1818, www.fender.com.

Ibanez BTB200 and BTB205 Beginning rock and metal players who are looking for a big-bodied bass on a budget may find a match in the Ibanez BTB200IPF 4-string (pictured, $439 list, $340 street) or BTB205TYF 5-string ($506 list, $390 street). The 35" scale length is designed to allow even heavy detuned strings to feel and sound tight. Two passive humbucking pickups provide balanced tone, while the active Phat II EQ induces a bottom-end boost. Ibanez, (215) 638-8670, www.ibanez.com.

Lakland Duck Dunn Signature Donald “Duck” Dunn earned his fame with Booker T. & the MG’s, and he played on hundreds of Stax recording sessions. Now, players of all quacks can get their hands on a Lakland Duck Dunn Signature bass ($4,400 list, $3,080 street for U.S. model; $1,499 list, $1,050 street for Skyline series). Like Dunn’s current favorite Frankenstein, this instrument combines an early-’60s P-style body and a late-’60s J-style neck. Lakland, (773) 871-9637, www.lakland.com.

LightWave Saber Bass LightWave appears to have a new answer for the same old tired pickup lines. The Saber Bass Special Edition ($3,400 list, $2,500 street; 5-string $3,600 list, $2,700 street) features optical pickups designed to “see” string vibration without interference, in order to transmit a full frequency spectrum with long sustain and low noise. Jedi! The SE is a top-shelf instrument with a bookmatched flame-maple top, while the Saber C ($2,185 list, $1,600 street; 5-string $2,375 list, $1,780 street) is more affordable because it’s made of a one-piece body and has an oil finish, Padawan. LightWave Systems, (310) 827-7479, www.lightwave-systems.com.

Peavey Zodiac Dave Ellefson Scorpio The Zodiac Dave Ellefson Scorpio ($899 list, $680 street) is a solid-alder Temple of Brutality with a sculpted body, a mirrored pickguard, a scorpion on the headstock, and a glossy black finish. Designed in collaboration with the legendary Megadeth co-founder, it is the first signature model in the Zodiac series. Two master volume and one master tone knob control two passive Basslines pickups—one P-style, and one J-style. Peavey, 800-821-2279, www.peavey.com.

Squier Badtz-Maru Bronco Bass Badtz-Maru is the most mischievous member of Japan’s infamous Hello Kitty crew of characters, and Squier wisely choose his mug to grace its Bronco Bass ($332 list, $230 street) in the new Hello Kitty line. It’s a 19-fret, 30"-scale instrument sure to interest kids who admire the way the young penguin carries himself as he walks his pet alligator, Pochi, around the playground at Gorgeous Academy. Fender Squire, 800-488-1818, www.squierguitars.com.

Ampeg SVT-VR Vintage Reissue The original “blue line” SVT is one of the most hallowed bass amps in history, and Ampeg faithfully replicated it as the SVT-VR ($2,799 list). The company recruited Dennis Kager, a member of the original Ampeg team and a restorer of vintage heads, to help meticulously recreate the original’s signal path, tone, and vibe, right down the six 6550 power tubes, ’70s-style dials and rocker switches, and, of course, classic blue graphics. Ampeg, 800-727-4512, www.ampeg.com.

Gallien-Krueger Fusion 550 Head Gallien-Krueger is so closely associated with solid-state excellence that it’s a big deal when they put tubes in one of their heads for the first time. The Fusion 550 ($1,199 list, $900 street) is a hybrid with three 12AX7s in the preamp, a 500-watt Class G solid-state power amp, tube-driven 4-band active EQ, and a 50-watt horn bi-amp system that allows you to set a woofer and tweeter ratio that’s preserved as the master volume is adjusted. Motorized knobs provide the ability to store two separate sets of gain, master, and horn levels, which you can select via footswitch. Gallien-Krueger, (209) 234-7300, www.gallien.com.

Genz-Benz Neo-Pak 3.5 The Genz-Benz Neo-Pak 3.5 ($899 list, $720 street) is designed with a Lite beer “tastes great, less filling” mentality. It’s a hybrid head with an analog 12AX7 tube preamp, and a lightweight digital power amp that provides 350 watts at 4ž. The Neo-Pak weighs less than nine pounds, and it can be packed in the optional carry bag ($49 list) for maximum portability. Genz-Benz, (480) 941-0705, www.genzbenz.com.

ISP Technologies BETA Bass Processor and Bass Vector ISP Technologies’ solution to the low-end riddle is the BETA Bass Processor ($557 list, $500 street) coupled with a Bass Vector ($1,858 list, $1,675 street) or Bass Vector Pro ($2,324 list, $2,100 street) active cabinet. The BETA is a single-rackspace preamp with built-in Time Vector Processing compression, Decimator Noise Reduction Technology, and an EQ with two parametric bands. The active Bass Vector delivers 650 watts rms to its single 18" driver, and 250 watts to its dual 8" drivers. The Bass Vector Pro is similarly configured but delivers a massive 1,150 watts rms to its 18" driver. ISP technologies, (248) 6773-7790, www.isptechnologies.com.

Markbass Micromark Shrinkage is a big issue at Markbass. Last year the company received more than a little love for the powerful yet compact Minimark, and this year, Markbass is getting macro attention for the Micromark (price unavailable at press time). It’s an approximately 9" cube that weighs under ten pounds, yet still sounds like a Markbass. It sports one 6" speaker and an optional “satellite” tweeter that can be stuck to the side or top of the combo with the tweeter’s Velcro base. Pretty fly for a little guy. Markbass, (416) 763-1493, www.markbass.it.

SWR WorkingPro Combos Let’s drink to the salt of the earth! SWR adds three new WorkingPro combos designed to provide the classic SWR sound in trunk-sized packages at affordable prices. The WorkingPro 2x10C ($1,285 list, $900 street), WorkingPro 15 ($914 list, $640 street), WorkingPro 12 ($714 list, $500 street), and WorkingPro 10 ($571 list, $400 street) have similar features such as a bass intensifier for added low-end punch, and a wedge eq that compensates for the amp being in tilt-back position—so which one works for you is largely a matter of power, speaker configuration, and budget. SWR, (480) 596-9690, www.swrsound.com.

Trace Elliot Amplifiers & Enclosures Renowned British amp manufacturer Trace Elliot is back in business and rolling out an entire line of bass amps and cabinets. The 12-band series includes the 500-watt 1215 and 1210 combos ($1,799 and $1,899 list), and the 1,000-watt AH1000-12 head ($2,299). The 7-band series includes the 250-watt 715 combo ($1,349), the 500-watt 715X combo ($1,499), and the 500-watt AH500-7 head ($1,499 list). A new enclosure range includes the 1028H 2x10 cab ($849), the 1048H cab ($1,299), the 1518 cab ($799), and the 1518c 1x15 cab ($699 list). All feature Celestion speakers. Trace Elliot, dist. by Peavey, 800-821-2279, www.traceelliot.com.

Boss RC-50 Loop Station Boss packed a bevy of space-age stuff into its new RC-50 Loop Station ($689 list, $500 street). It features the capability to manipulate three stereo phrase tracks simultaneously, and each supports multiple overdubs, so the sky’s the limit for loops. An internal MIDI clock can sync loops with outside equipment, and there’s a handy USB port for the import and export of .wav files. With up to 49 minutes of mono audio recording time, you could loop a whole set! Roland, (323) 890-3700, www.bossus.com.

Carl Martin Bass Chorus Like its sibling guitar pedal, the popular Chorus XII, the Carl Martin Bass Chorus ($375 list, $265 street) is a two-for-one proposition. The user can select between two sets of depth and speed controls without having to crouch down onstage. The Bass Chorus is designed specifically for bottom feeders, delivering the full effect all the way down to a low B. Carl Martin, www.carlmartin.com.

IK Multimedia Ampeg SVX Virtual bass with analog Ampeg balls? That’s the concept behind IK Multimedia’s Ampeg SVX ($399 list, $320 street) software. It offers Mac or PC users 24 Ampeg bass amp combinations, including the SVT Classic, B15W Portaflex “Flip Top,” and six bass cabinets with six microphone models. There’s also a complete effects selection with a configurable bass stomp pedalboard. Cyber bass has never sounded so appealing. IK Multimedia, (954) 846-9101, www.ikmultimedia.com.

MXR M-181 Bass Blowtorch The Bass Blowtorch ($229 list) boasts some hot features including an active 3-band EQ with 3-position mid shift, distortion and direct signal blending, 18-volt performance for increased dynamic headroom, and true bypass that doesn’t suck tone when you’re not blowing hot. Housed in indestructible die-cast metal. Dunlop, (707) 745-2722, www.jimdunlop.com.

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