The NAMM show, in case you’re new to the beautiful circus that is the musical instrument industry, is the National Association of Music Merchants trade show. Ostensibly it’s a four-day conference in Anaheim, California, for the people who make gear to show it off to the people who buy gear, i.e., music merchants. In reality, it’s a vortex of every corner of the music biz, no matter how ludicrous. Just as soon as you’re shaking your head at a Gene Simmons impersonator who actually wants women to think he’s Gene Simmons (which raises the question, why?), you’re hearing astonishing virtuosity or bumping into Stevie Wonder. It’s among the most complicated sensory experiences on earth. Yet, beyond the personalities on display, it’s the chance to see and play nearly every piece of gear imaginable that makes the NAMM show a worthy annual pilgrimage. Below is our list of some of the best we saw, bass-wise.
SL 410x Cabinet
Weighing in at only 49 pounds, this 4x10 cabinet is super lightweight, but packs impressively heavy tone. Boasting custom-voiced woofers and a phenolic tweeter, the SL pushes 800 watts of clarity and power.
BC-1X Bass Comp
The latest compression pedal from Boss is perfect for the serious performing and recording bassist. The BC-1X features a 16-segment gain-reduction meter so you’re able to see exactly how much compression is being applied at all times.
VB6 Kiesel Vader 6-String Headless Bass
As flashy as this headless bass decked in racing colors may look, it’s the playability and the balance of its 30” scale that really impressed us. With a speedy ebony fingerboard and a sturdy B string, this bass is a bargain.
NYXL Bass Strings
Combining its innovative NYXL nickel-plated wrap-wire technology with its NY Steel core, D’Addario’s newest bass strings blew us away. Offered in sizes ranging from Light 4-string (.040–.095) to Regular 5-string (.045–.130), these are the strings you have to play to believe.
D’Angelico’s chambered-bodied basses provide loads of clear sustain, thanks to their ergonomic design and Kent Armstrong pickups. With popping finish options and beautiful flame-maple tops, the EX-SD is a proper bass for rocking out.
Microtubes 700 Bass Amp
Of all of the excited rumblings we heard on the floor about new products, Darkglass’ new Microtubes 700 might have been brought up the most. With a burly Microtubes distortion built in with customizable drive, level, tone, and blend, and 700 watts of power, we’re looking forward to getting our hands on one of these.
CBM105Q Cry Baby Mini Bass Wah
At half the size of its bigger brother (the 105Q Bass Wah), this little guy adds funk to your playing while keeping all of your low end intact and saving space on your pedalboard.
Spatial Delivery Envelope Filter
This voltage-controlled envelope has three modes: Up Sweep, Down Sweep, and Sample and Hold. Dial in a little for ambient weirdness, or crank it up for full on funk. Either way, this pedal rocks.
ERNIE BALL/MUSIC MAN
The latest member of Music Man’s Modern Classic family has both J and P pickups. With an alder body, an oversize headstock, and four color options, this bass is pleasing both sonically and aesthetically.
Multi-Scale LTD B-1004SE Bass
With a special fret design to optimize string tension and ergonomics, this rosewood-topped bass, equipped with Nordstrand Big Splits pickups and Hipshot solo bridge, is perfect for playing any style of music.
Classic Player Rascal Bass
This vintage-looking throwback bass turned heads with its Seymour Duncan “lipstick tube” pickups, 30" short scale, and classic ocean turquoise finish. Its classic tone is perfect for soulful thumbing or muted picking.
Fodera has thrown its own stake into the P-Bass fire, and naturally it is masterfully crafted and as beautiful as expected. With an ivorywood top, hard-rock maple neck, and 34" scale, this is as elegant of a P-style bass as you’ll ever find.
Kickback KB12 Combo
As Victor Wooten said at his booth performance, “Most of the time our amps play for our knees, when our ears are up here.” The remedy for that is the new KB12 combo that booms 500 watts of Class D power, and has a 3-band EQ and the Kickback design to propel your tone upward.
G-K had an ace up its sleeve with a new preamp that wowed attendees. It features a 4-band variable Q equalizer and contour circuit, tuner, footswitchable compression, selectable voice filters, and tone boost.
AGBV200A Artcore Bass
We couldn’t help but immediately stop to pick up this beautifully distressed-looking bass. Turns out it’s lightweight, great-sounding, and fun to play with its 22-fret 30" scale.
Bubinga U-Bass BNGA-FS Series
Good things come in small packages, and the BNGA-FS proves exactly that. Paired with Kala’s new line of Roundwound UBass strings, this compact bass creates big tones without any hand soreness.
Olinto Carbonetti Gold P-Bass
La Bella used the original gold-powder finish that adorned Les Paul guitars in the ’60s as part of the relic design of this handmade P-style bass. The spotless and dynamic tone made this one of the best-sounding basses at the show.
List $3,000 and up
Stadium Electric Bass DI
LR Baggs is known for its acoustic pickups and powerful preamps, but the company has finally decided to release its first non-acoustic product for bass players. The Stadium DI was a must-try at the show for players serious about tone.
Producing 1,000 watts of rumbling frequencies while weighing in at only nine pounds, the MiniMEGA takes powerful portability to the next level. The built-in optical compressor, 4-band EQ with punch and bright switches, and gain control crunch button really seal the deal.
20th Anniversary Private Stock 4-string
To celebrate the 20th anniversary of its Private Stock collection, PRS created only six of these unique hollowbody basses. With amazing attention to detail, including a high-gloss nitro finish, an ebony headstock veneer, and mother-of-pearl inlays, this is a unique collector’s item.
Firefly Tube Direct Box
Radial’s new direct box’s slick design is only the tip of the iceberg, as it offers Drag Control load correction, Radial’s award-winning zero negative feedback class-A front end, and a 12AX7 tube direct circuit. If none of that makes sense to you, just know that Nathan East beelined it to the Radial booth solely to rave about the Firefly.
Bass Fly Rig
After the success of the Fly Rig 5 for guitar, Tech 21 decided to make a bass version, which it debuted at NAMM to the joy of us bassists. This truly dynamic pedal features pre and post boost, compressor, chorus, filter, octave, fuzz section, and a chromatic tuner. Pretty much everything you could need on the fly.
Single Cut 24-Fret 5-String Bass
Bassist Chip Shearin was on hand to demo his new Sadowsky bass that he helped design, and we were knocked out by its sound. It features a single-cutaway chambered body, 24-fret bolt-on neck, and booming soapbar pickups.
Talk about power: Trickfish’s new 2x15 cabinet gets about as low as you can go. Designed with a port in the center of the box, this heavy-duty cabinet gets massive tones, but thanks to the handle on the back and crafty wheel system, it’s not a heavy load to carry.
Lee Sklar Signature Bass
To make a custom bass worthy of Lee Sklar, it has to be as fearless and as different as he is. His new signature Warwick is exactly that. With a vintage sunburst transparent finish with a satin-stained side and a two-tone Ziricote fingerboard, this bass boldly stands out like a beautifully flowing white beard.
Talk about a game-changer! Billed as “the ultimate short-scale bass,” the Invert-O is the only bass with the low notes at the top of the neck and the high notes down by the nut. Pictured, a NAMM attendee booms out a rootsy groove in E.