AHHH, Winter NAMM in sunny orange county, California. Disneyland, a block away, may have had measles, but if your particular itch was for bass gear, the Anaheim Convention Center was the place to be. On the instrument front, old favorites (and new twists on old favorites) were flanked by new companies, fresh designs, and at least one major rebranding. In amplifiers, small is still the word, as even more companies introduced lightweight heads and cabinets along with upgrades across their lines. Strings were available in more wraps, tensions, and colors than we’d ever imagined. And bass pedals seemed to be everywhere: The popularity of both boutique and cost-effective stompboxes is at an all-time high (more on that next issue). So take a deep look at our roundup—which excludes products we’ve already featured in the New Gear sections of our January, February and March issues—and get ready to drool. That is, after all, what NAMM is all about.
One of the most visually striking amps at the show was Ashdown’s cute new “desktop” combo. Blessed with a 75-watt power amp and an optional Bluetooth-based wireless transmitter, the B-Social has two inputs (the “social” bit), a built-in USB audio interface, and an Apptek input to optimize use with a smartphone or tablet running effect-simulation software.
Street Bluetooth transmitter version, $720; No Bluetooth, $650
Version 2 of the do-it-all Bassbone adds an effect loop, combination power-booster/mute footswitch, and an input optimized for an upright’s piezo pickup. For doublers, it’s a one-stop solution, whether it’s upright/electric or synth/electric. Plus, the Bassbone V2 has a fab DI.
Monarch & Emperor Standard Classic Basses
Now you can get the Fodera you’ve always dreamed of, at a low price— well, a relatively low price. The Standard Classic Series, made in Brooklyn to the same exacting standards as Fodera’s top-of-the-line basses, offers the same Pope preamp as the company’s pricier brethren, but with more traditional looks and construction.
Street Monarch 4, $4,850; Emperor 5, $5,850
BEIGEL SOUND LAB
Mu-FX Octave Divider
Mike Beigel may not be a household name, but the sounds of his effects are everywhere. While his most famous invention is undoubtedly the Mu-Tron envelope-controlled filter, his Mu-Tron Octave Divider is just as badass. Beigel is back in the pedal game, and his latest is a faithful reincarnation of the original’s circuit, housed in a much more convenient box.
ERNIE BALL MUSIC MAN
Neck-Through StingRay Basses
Music Man debuted a new neck-through StingRay—yep, the three-piece maple neck, available in both 4- and 5-string versions, runs the entire length of its ash body. Go classic with a 2-band EQ on a 4-string or rock either 4- or 5-string with a 3-band EQ, double humbuckers, or a humbucker/single-coil combo.
Marcus Miller Signature Basses
Marcus Miller unveiled two new signature basses built by Sire Guitars: the V7, available in classic swamp ash/maple fingerboard or alder/rosewood fingerboard combos, and the mahogany-body, double-humbucker M3, with a preamp co-designed by Miller himself. Both feature sweepable mids.
Street V7 4-string (alder body), $400; V7 4-string (ash body), $500; V7 5-string (alder body), $500; V7 5-string (ash body), $600; M3 4-string, $300
KIESEL CUSTOM GUITARS BASS
Carvin, long a top source of durable and attractive U.S.-made instruments and amps, has spun off its instrument-building division into a separate company, led by Mark and Jeff Kiesel, descendents of Carvin’s founder, Lowell Kiesel. The Kiesel bass generated a lot of buzz at the show, popping up in several booths. Look out for a review soon.
Marcus Miller Super Bright Bass Strings
Dunlop made news by announcing its new line of Marcus Miller Super Brights, based on its Super Bright Bass Strings formula and designed in close collaboration with Miller. Like the original Super Brights, the .045–.105 and .045–.125 Miller signature strings boast lighter tension, smooth feel, and improved string-to-string balance.
Street 4-string, $20; 5-string, $23
WTDI DI/Preamp, I90 Chorus & CaliforniWah Bass Filter Pedals
Eden’s new WTDI is a 3-stage EQ with bass boost and mid shift buttons, while the i90 features interactive speed and depth controls and a low cut that helps users focus the effect. The CaliforniWah, designed for bass, boasts the flexibility to adjust filter frequency levels and delicately tailor sensitivity.
Fender Deluxe Active Jazz Bass OkoumeFender Standard Dimension FENDER
Jazz, Precision, P-J, Dimension & Jaguar Basses
Fender showed off the Deluxe Active Jazz Bass Okoume (okoume is an African hardwood) and the Sandblasted Ash Precision and Jazz Basses. For fans of the P-J configuration, there’s also the American Standard PJ Bass, the Deluxe Active Precision Bass Special Okoume, and the Standard Jaguar Bass. Fender also debuted the Standard Dimension in 4- and 5-string and single- and double-humbucker configurations.
K-series Bass Cabs
TC announced a new line of plywood cabs with 1" tweeters: the 44-pound K210 2x10 and the 50-pound K212 2x12, each capable of putting out 400 watts, and the 64-pound K410 4x10, which rocks 600 watts.
Street K210, $400; K212, $450; K410, $600
G-K’s new CX series of 4- or 8-ohm cabs—the CX 210 2x10, CX 115 1x15, and CX 410 4x10—each boast compact design, Speakon and ¼" inputs, and a horn with defeat switch. The 300-watt CX 115 weighs 35 pounds, while the 400-watt CX 210 is only a couple pounds heavier. The lineup’s 4x10, capable of handling 800 watts, weighs in at 67 pounds.
Quantum Nickel Alloy Pure Blues
Looking for more “top-end clank and clarity” with your thick mids and big booty? DR’s new Quantum Nickel Round Core Pure Blues Strings promise fat, warm punch with an edge. The new strings come in six gauges: PB-40 (.040–.100), PB-45/100 (.045–.100), PB-45 (.045–.105), PB-50 (.050–.110), PB5-45 (.045–.125), and PB6-30 (.035–.125).
Street PB-40, PB-45/100, PB-45, and PB-50, $30; PB5-45, $35; PB6-30, $40
Remington Steele Fretless Bass
Le Fay turned heads with an awesomely named fretless that sports an American cherry body, three Le Fay single-coil pickups, active/passive push-pull volume, a 6-way pickup selector, active/boost-only bass and treble, passive treble cut, a Le Fay bridge, Gotoh tuners, and a 28-position stainless steel fingerboard framed in ebony with fret markings.
Direct 4-string, $5,000; 5-string, $5,250; 6-string, $5,700
Hydrive 210 2x10 Cabinet Hartke unveiled a plywood 2x10 that can handle 500 watts at 8 ohms and still weighs only 36 pounds. The Hydrive 210 is equipped with two 10” HyDrive paper/aluminum hybrid-cone drivers, neodymium magnets, 1" tweeter, high-frequency attenuation switch (on, –6db, off), parallel Speakon and ¼" inputs, perforated steel grille, and an inset carry handle.
STOMPBLOX MODULAR PEDALBOARDS
Stompblox’s cool boxes are just what the pedal doctor asked for: a board that can be as tiny or gargantuan as you want. Start with a basic board, easily add or subtract modules, and take only what you need to tonight’s gig, whether it’s a rectangle, an “L” that fits your mic stand, or any shape that floats your boat.
dUg Pinnick Ultra Bass 1000 Head
Tech 21’s signature dUg Pinnick amp is a 2-channel all-analog bass amp head that blasts 1000 watts at 4 ohms. This 12-pound, two-rackspace monster is a bi-amp maniac’s dream: Channel 1 handles the role of a distorted guitar amp, while compressed Channel 2 delivers conventional bass tone. The included footswitch makes it easy to change and engage both channels.
PW-CT-10 Clip-On Headstock Tuner
Back with a few tweaks is Planet Waves’ popular headstock tuner that uses vibrations rather than sound. Perfect for noisy or dimly lit environments, the PW-CT-10 rocks a multi-color display, 360-degree rotation for various viewing angles (and left- and right-handed instruments), and a wide calibration range.
At the gig, Ampeg’s handy new SCRDI, with Scrambler Overdrive, is a potent and versatile unit that delivers classic Ampeg EQ options and tube-like grit to your front-of-house sound. At home, its built-in headphone out and auxiliary-in make it easy to play along with your favorite practice tracks.
SRFF806 6-String Bass
Part of the new Ibanez Bass Workshop line of bold and distinct instruments (including the 33"-scale BTB Volo), the SRFF806 features fanned frets, a 5-piece jatoba/bubinga neck, Bartolini BH1 pickups, a 3-band EQ, and a Mono-rail V bridge for maximum vibration transfer. Style, comfort, and tone in a visually vivid instrument.
Bunny Brunel BB-1005FL QM Signature Bass
Bunny Brunel’s new signature ESP fretless is a smooth ride, boasting neck-through construction, an alder body with quilted maple top, an ebony fingerboard, and Aguilar pickups and electronics.
Private Stock basses
Groove god Gary Grainger demonstrated PRS’s exquisite new Private Stock basses, including his purple mist Grainger 5, with a carved figured maple top, mahogany back, maple neck, nickel hardware, bird inlays, and GG pickups.
Bullhead 1K amp with Big Mouth and Small Mouth cabinets
The sound to astound came from this new Trickfish rig, which combines a super-fast Class D power amp, a Mike Pope-designed preamp, and a 4-band EQ with durable, compatible 4x10, 2x10, 1x12, 1x15, and 2x12 cabinets.
LWA 500 Black amp
Warwick’s much-anticipated LWA 500 lightweight amp, younger brother to the LWA 1000, delivered on all counts, with a big, warm, distortion-free sound at under 2½ lbs. of Class D power. Features include Warwick’s signature Class A/Low Z preamp circuitry, 4-band EQ, an effects loop, and a compressor.