- Feb 1, 2010
- Reaction score
So I'm back from Summer NAMM. Be prepared for a long post.
I had a blast. I got to hang out with some of my favorite people in the gear building community, some Nashville guitar friends, and try out some cool stuff. I also got to check out a store that was pedal heaven. Oodles of new and used pedals that were oh so amazing. Stuff I'd only heard of before.
So I went to NAMM on Saturday. I was there for about 4 hours. I started off going to the XTS booth. I love Barry, Greg, and Eric from XTS. They are making some of the most thoughtful pedals that not everyone and their brother is trying to do. They have always treated me like a pro and are just genuinely cool cats. I got to try their new Fermata compressor and Shapecharger Boost/EQ. I told them how much their Winford Drive has changed my guitar playing life and how it's been a staple on my pedalboard. It had been 8 years since I last met them in person although I'm quite active on their Instagram (@xacttone). The Shapecharger is very cool. It's a full range boost and a mid boost in one pedal. You get a gain knob for each frequency and a knob to control the sweep of said frequency. You can either run both at once or one individually depending on how you have it set up. It really sounds nice and unlike most EQ pedals - has absolutely no noise/hiss. I then tried the Fermata compressor. Man. Where has this thing been all my life. It's optical based, but they do something that no one else has yet TTBOMK - they let you control how much squish there is on the low strings of the guitar and you can desensitize the compressor to those low strings. You can really tell when play low note riffs or doing stabs on the low E. It leaves them nice and fat and not squashed. You can also choose to squash them if you like. There is also your typical volume, sustain, attack, tone, and ratio controls. It is the best sounding compressor I've ever heard and I've tried them all by now. I'll get to that in a bit. It just makes for a really natural sounding comp.
So I then went over to Guitar Effects Pedals showroom. Ryan is a great guy and was willing to meet me even though they didn't run their typical hours during NAMM weekend. This place as I said above is heaven. All your big name boutique and mass produced pedals for sale new. Then he has like 2 cabinets of used pedals filled to the brim. And not your typical cheapo pedals you see used in a pawn shop or something. High end boutique pedals at a great used price in good condition and of course desirable mass produced pedals. I saw Cornish stuff too! I wish I had more money to spend as he had quite a few used gems I would have liked to take home. I ended up trying a few pedals. The Fermata and Shapecharger were already in my head as a purchase, so he had those as he's an XTS dealer. I then tried a XTS modded GE-7 BOSS EQ used he had. I also wanted to try a used Pettyjohn PettyDrive V2, a new Ramble Drive v3, and a new Cali76 compact non-deluxe. I knew that I'd probably have enough for about 3-4 pedals.
The ones I didn't get were the Ramble Drive and the Cali76. The Ramble Drive sounded nice. Very cool MIAB. One of the best for that plexi tone. I have like 10+ MIABs. I WILL be buying it someday, but it didn't make the cut for this time as to what I thought I need. The Cali76 was cool. Easily the SECOND best sounding compressor I've heard. Really, really transparent and sweet sounding. But once I was hipped to the Fermata's contour control for controlling that low string squash, it was no longer something I was interested in. Certainly a great compressor and like I said, my 2nd favorite. I can see why a lot of guys like those. But yes folks - the Fermata is better, IMO. Try one! The contour control makes the Fermata a game changer in compression.
The XTS modded GE-7 is a very nice pedal. Much improved over the GE-7 stock. Makes it more guitar friendly in the frequencies and I'm hearing less hiss with the level slider. I bought it to replace my GE-7 but I will keep the stock one as a backup. The PettyDrive V2 from Pettyjohn Electronics sounded fan-freaking-tastic. I really love that pedal. I'm able to pull some great drive tone combinations that make it so that I don't need as many drive pedals. I'm able to pull AC Vox tone and Tweed Fender tone out of one pedal. And use my Winford for the Marshall sound. Boom. I get my Blackface tone from my amps, and I'm set. I'm running less drive pedals now than ever before and I can truly say I'm the happiest I've been in a long time with my dirt.
So to recap - I came away with the XTS Fermata, Shapecharger, and GE-7 mod as well as a Pettyjohn Electronics PettyDrive V2. A nice haul for sure.
Some things that I took away from NAMM as gear that impressed me were the new Gretsch Malcolm Young guitar, which is freakin' sick. Also I learned of some new pedal companies. Seafoam Pedals has a couple cool OD pedals out. They sounded fantastic and I'll be on the lookout for them. I was also pretty darn impressed with the Friedman booth in general, but I thought that the BE-50 Deluxe sounded righteous for that big modded Plexi vibe while having a MUCH better clean channel than the old BE-100. There is a BE-100 Deluxe coming soon with that same great clean channel. I thought the old BE-100 had a pretty lame clean channel compared to the two dirt channels. The Deluxes have a really great Fender Bassman-like clean to them that makes them infinitely more versatile. Also I want the new BE-OD Deluxe pedal! It's a low gain BE-OD with a high gain BE-OD in one housing. Cool!
I had a blast and even if I never went pedal shopping at all, I'm still so glad I went and would have wanted to go. I got to re-visit old friends and make some new ones and try out gear all day. What could a gearhead want more? I'm so glad to have made friends in this industry that treat me like a king even though I'm not a professional musician. I have the feeling that with the guys I'm thinking of, it wouldn't make them treat me any different if I was. And for that I'm grateful. I'm not going to name names, but those who read this that know who I am, know who they are. I'm proud to play their gear.
TLDR: I bought 4 pedals, hung out with old friends and made new ones, got to check out some sick gear at NAMM, and had a really fun weekend.
And here is my post-NAMM board:
What is that Gold pedal on top ??