Basses, Amps, Pedals, Cables, Strings, Cases, accessories, artists, icons, luthiers, builders, engineers, industry insiders, instrument experts, a sea of onlookers and gawkers, and a wave of noise—all under one roof. Another Winter NAMM has come and gone, and the meeting of the music masses was an epic one. Gear companies unveiled their latest new products, top players once again displayed why they’re appropriately revered, and the bass world saw what it has to look forward to in 2018.
The basses are more customized and jaw-dropping, the amps keep getting smaller and more powerful, the pedals keep expanding their range to cover every corner of the sonic spectrum, and the innovations just keep smashing the ceiling on what we can do as bass players. We demoed, played, and tested everything we could get our hands on—here are some of the things that impressed us the most.
American Original Series Basses
Fender is traveling back through the decades with its new line of Precision and Jazz Basses that mirror classic 4-strings from the ’50s, ’60s, and ’70s in both sound and feel. No vintage detail was overlooked.
UB804 Electric Upright
Breaking into the electric upright field for the first time ever, Ibanez’s UB804 has a fast fingerboard and tremendous comfort that’ll help you avoid getting those dreaded sore hands and wrist cramps from upright basses.
2018 Stingray 4 Bass
Ernie Ball’s latest improvements to its Music Man Stingray line include enhanced contours for easier playability, a sculpted neck joint, lightweight aluminum hardware, and a new stream-lined bridge and saddles.
STONEFIELD MUSICAL INSTRUMENTS
Extremely small and portable for those on the go, Stonefield’s new Stinger bass has a 20" scale, three-piece bolt-on neck, and six strings that combine bass and guitar gauges to achieve extended range.
B-208 8-string Bass
ESP/LTD has jumped into the increasingly popular 8-string bass game with its B-208, which plays extremely smoothly for its excellent price. The thin maple neck with rosewood fingerboard is so fast; you won’t even realize it has extra strings.
With a beautiful flame-maple top and a matching headstock, Yamaha’s new TRBX605FM bass looks as sexy as it sounds. Featuring custom H Series pick-ups with wide frequency response, this bass covers it all.
Liquifier Analog Chorus & Opto Comp Optical Compressor
Ampeg’s new Liquifier has a dual chorus circuit that gives it rich customizable tones, while the Opto Comp gives players a little more headroom and sustain, making it the perfect box to accompany any rig.
Street $140 each
Trilobite Dual EQ
Carrying on the innovative legacy of the late Richard Ruse, Trickfish has unveiled its Dual EQ, which has A/B signal paths, true-bypass mute, an FX switch, and loads of switches to dial in your tone precisely.
SL 212 Bass Cabinet
Weighing in at a mere 45 pounds, this well-balanced and powerful cab handles 500 watts and has a deep frequency response to handle all of the rumbling tones you send through its two 12" speakers.
Little Marcus Miller Signature Head
Boasting clear definition, vivid tones, and enough punch to have Marcus Miller’s name on it, the new Markbass Little Marcus amp is compact, powerful, and works for all players—not only slaphappy low-enders.
A counterpart to the Framus Idolmaker guitar, this beautiful bass comes as a 4-string or 5-string with a carved mahogany body and bolt-on wenge neck and fingerboard. It includes MEC vintage pickups and active Warwick electronics.
Fusion Series Class D Heads
GK’s new Class D series heads come in 500-, 800-, and 1,200-watt models and feature tube compression, tube overdrive, tube preamp, and a classic 4-band EQ to help you customize your tone.
Blue Ice Basses
While Lakland had an impressive batch of basses on hand, what stole our attention most was its brand new Blue Ice finish, which the company featured on several models. We’re always suckers for matching headstocks.
Street Varies by model
BA12-3 SLT Cabinet
This portable, compact amp is full of innovation. From its six-degree slant baffle that tilts the cab upward, to the high-efficiency 12" woofer, to the neodymium cone driver, this is one sweet cabinet.
NXTa Radius Bass
NS’ latest Radius-series bass features improved innovations including the ergonomic headless neck, self-clamping tuning system, custom EMG pickups, and NS electronics. Available in 4-or 5-string models and fretted or fretless.
MICHAEL TOBIAS DESIGN
MTD has unveiled new looks for its Kingston Saratoga basses (as featured on our March ’18 cover modeled by Evan Brewer), including sleek matte finishes and multiple wood options. The J-style pickups give it a classic tone, but with all of the modern MTD touches.
With extreme attention to detail in its construction and design, the Forte was a massive hit with players stopping by the Bergantino booth. As the successor to the BIAmp, this lightweight head is a fantastic value.
Huntington III Bass
This short-scale beauty features not one, not two, but three gold foil pickups, which give it its bold tone. Its vintage-looking body is inspired by early-’60s Ozark-model basses, which only adds to its cool factor.
dUg Pinnick DP-3X Signature Pedal
Tech 21 has put all of the customized features of dUg Pinnick’s Ultra Bass 1000 Signature head inside this tiny pedal that will fit on any pedalboard. Cop dUg’s famous tone, or sculpt your own.
Want the legendary tone and feel of a Sadowsky bass, but don’t have the money to buy one of the top models? Sadowsky’s new MetroExpress basses are phenomenal and a lot easier on your pocketbook.
Geezer Butler Head of Doom
The only thing cooler than playing Geezer Butler’s Head of Doom was seeing him at Ashdown’s booth signing it. This amp was designed to his exact specifications, and it hits its mark.
Euro Bantam Series Basses
Spector put its big, dynamic tone into this 30"-scale bass, with all of the great features of the company’s previous models. It’s a great introduction to Spector basses, or a nice addition to anyone’s collection.
Perfect for someone looking for a big sound in a small package, this new HyDrive-series 12" cabinet has Hartke’s patented paper/aluminum HyDrive Speaker Technology, the cornerstone of the Hartke sound.
With its mahogany body and white binding, the new Passenger might be Kala’s best-looking UBass yet. At only $300, this bass is a must-see for anyone who has been curious about Kala’s uke basses.
35th Anniversary Monarch Deluxe Bass
With a solid mahogany body, quilted-maple top, and all of the world-class playability that Fodera is known for, this anniversary series is truly something special. Unfortunately, Fodera made only 35 of these beauties.
Ratio Machine Heads
Never have issues tuning your bass again—these advanced machine heads’ gear ratios vary by string, so that each string responds the same to any adjustment. Precision tuning has never been easier.
New to the game and making big waves, Serek Basses were a big hit at the NAMM show, as many bass players visited the Reverb.com booth specifically to try these unique and killer-sounding instruments.
HX Effects Pedal
After playing with this tech powerhouse, we quickly realized that the possibilities are endless for crafting tones with the HX pedal. Create your favorite sounds and store them in this advanced and compact box.
Want a distinctive tone? Try steel. Trussart’s hollowbody Steelcaster Bass is made of “Holey” steel, and it looks like nothing else on the market. We were pleasantly surprised by its monster sound.
XJPRO-1 ProVintage Bass
Inspired by its previous XJ Series, Xotic has improved upon its already-stunning design with stylish wooden pickup covers, hand-wound Raw Vintage pickups, and a custom Xotic active/passive preamp on its latest masterpiece.