Guitars, basses, and other instruments may seem like the biggest stars of the NAMM conference and show, but as most players know, it takes more than the right instrument to perfect your sound and performance. Our favorite pedals and accessories from the 2018 NAMM show follow below, and don’t forget to to check out our 2018 amp and instrument picks, too. See you next year, NAMM!
image courtesy of A Little Thunder
A Little Thunder Pickups
Here’s something I’ve never seen before: a humbucker pickup that adds bass tones to your guitar. A Little Thunder Pickups take the bottom two strings and downpitches them 1 or 2 octaves. It’s a great solution for playing with just guitar and drums. It may even work better than playing with an octave pedal because you still have the clarity of the high strings and the Little Thunder Pickups have never zero latency. The octave effect easily switches on or off and you can still use the effect when you’re switched to other pickups on your guitar!
NS Micro Soundhole Tuner by D’Addario
If you’re an acoustic player and shred on anything with a soundhole, the NS Micro Soundhole Tuner by D’Addario is a great alternative to a satellite dish you clip on to your headstock or pedal tuner. This tiny clip on tuner fits snugly inside the bottom curve of your soundhole. It’s ridiculously easy to install—you literally just slip it into place. There’s no need to plug anything in since the battery-powered tuner picks up the string vibration from inside your guitar. It’s hardly noticeable from anyone’s perspective except the player, who can look straight down and easily see the tuner’s light-up screen. It’s easy to read and is entirely accurate, even in a live setting.
~Best in Accessories~
Temple Audio Design Pedalboards (Templeboards)
There’s nothing that triggers my ocd more than my pedalboard being a chaotic, sticky, spaghetti mess of cables and velcro, and that hard to get around because the options for organizing them are limited. The Temple Audio Design booth at NAMM immediately grabbed my attention. Basically it’s a pedalboard with large, medium, or small sized plates that stick to the back of your pedals and fit onto the pedalboard like Lego bricks with a single easy screw to keep them in place. The pedalboard has a helpful design that makes it easy to route your cables in an organized way and keep things looking nice and clean. You can also install an IEC Power Module on the side of the board for convenient access to power.
image courtesy of JHS
Bonsai by JHS Pedals
The Bonsai by JHS pedal combines NINE classic and rare overdrive effects into one piece of gear. Guitarists search high and low for the perfect tube screamer, and there are many different versions of this pedal. Josh Scott from JHS decided to take the Tube Screamers from off his shelf and put them into one pedal. Each vintage TS was disassembled, measured, and perfectly replicated, including how the capacitors and resistors have aged over time and drifted from their original values. No modeling, nothing digital, only analog switches.
OD-1 – 1977
TS-808 – 1979
TS-9 – 1982
MSL – 1985
TS-10 – 1986
Exar OD-1 – 1989
TS-7 – 1999
Keeley Mod Plus – 2002
JHS Strong Mod – 2008
Fathom by Walrus Audio
Fathom is the newest multi-function reverb by Walrus Audio. I personally own this pedal and I’m obsessed with it. It has 4 different reverbs; Hall, Plate, Lo-fi, and Sonar. Every reverb is customizable with decay, dampen, mix, and an x knob that adjust different things for each reverb setting. A couple things stand out to me in this pedal. One of my favorite features is the decay knob. Crank it and it will sustain for eternity until you’re completely hypnotized. Ooo man. Fathom also has a sustain switch you can press to sustain the reverb for a lengthy, swirly, slow decay.
~Best in Pedals~
Colour Theory by Alexander Pedals
Matthew Alexander doesn’t target your traditional guitar player and I love that. I don’t know if I have a wide enough gamut of language to describe the Colour Theory, except that it’s one of the most unique pedals I’ve ever played. It has the ability to be a sequenced pitch shifter, delay, filter, oscillator, tremolo, and a PWM mode which is a sort of insane octave synth sound that you’d have to hear to understand. Every mode is customizable and you can get a pretty standard sound out of it, or you can make it sound like there’s something seriously wrong with your guitar. Matthew puts it, “We like our pedals to be capable of something normal, but we thrive on the edge of order and chaos.”