The European equivalent of the music industry trade show NAMM has flooded the market with trad and tech developments from brand leaders in all areas, from guitars to amps and keyboards to drum machines. To help out confused music enthusiasts we've picked what we consider to be five of the best new trad products to come out of Musik Messe in Frankfurt this year. Look out for our pick of the tech products still to come.
Fender Pawn Shop Series
The biggest news from Fender at the show was a new range of electric guitars inspired by some of Fender's instruments from the '50s, '60s and '70s, plus the more recent Squier Vintage Modified '51 model. As Chris Vinnicombe succinctly put it,"Guitars that never were, but should have been." For example, the Fender '51 has a Stratocaster body, Telecaster neck, single-coil Texas Specialbreak pickup, Fender Enforcer humbucking bridge pickup and early '50s PrecisionBass-style dual-knob chrome control plate. The Fender '72 has a semi-hollow Strat body with an f-hole and a u-shaped Telecaster neck, plus a combination of the same '50s PrecisionBass-style control plate as the '51, with 70s-style hardtail Strat bridge and Fender F-tuners. The Mustang Special has a classic '60s era C-shape body, 24 inch short-scale maple neck, rosewood fretboard with modern 9.5 inch radius and the 3-way coil selector slide switch for each humbucking pickup gives the guitarist 18 tonal options. The Fender Pawn Shop Series is a true amalgamation of Fender's vintage best bits coupled with modern sound and Fender's quality manufacturing and will no doubt be popular with guitar enthusiasts everywhere.
Vox Valvetronix Pro Series
As Vox enthusiasts will know the Valvetronix range centre around a Valve Reactor circuit; a real vacuum tube to produce true tube tone. In the Pro Series the standard 12AX7 tube has been replaced with an EL84 tube to give a more accurate tube sonic signature. The latest addition to the range also has 44 amp models, more than any previous model, plus a diverse selection of pedal, modulation, delay and reverb effects. Essential to the quality of Vox Valvetronix is the speaker, which in the Pro Series is a Celestion VOX NeoDog speaker, and manages to be both lightweight and powerful with a neodymium magnet. Nothing can beat the warm tonal sound of an old valve amplifier and with the new Valvetronix Pro Series Vox have certainly achieved their best yet.
Yamaha Pacifica Guitars
Yamaha are still proving to be ahead of the game with another bundle of affordable yet high quality and high performance guitars. Four new guitars have been added to the Pacifica range at Musik Messe, with a new configuration of hardware and pickups. The 611HFM has Seymour Duncan pickups and coil tap tone pot teamed with a flamed maple and alder body and vintage tinted maple neck. The 510V combines professional hardware with an exclusive single Seymour Duncan pickup, tinted maple neck and rosewood fingerboard. The 311H has custom-wound pickups, high-quality hardware and coil tap all matched with solid tonewood construction for great musical and tonal variation. The 120H has a maple neck, rosewood fingerboard and alder body with high performance neck and bridge humbuckers.
Warwick WA Bass Amp Heads and Cabinets and BC Combos
Warwick's WA300 and WA600 bass amp heads and accompanying cabinets sealed Warwick's name as a producer of quality hardware for bassists. The bass heads come with 10 band graphic equalizers, bass and treble controls, adjustable compressors, and passive and active inputs. The Warwick WCA410 cabinet is driven by four new 10 inch drivers with a fresh look at the traditional bullet horn, whilst the WCA115 has been designed as an accompaniment to the 410 where more power is needed. The BC Combos, BC150 and BC300, are the answer for bassists who don't need top volume but still want to be heard. Both Combos have a 15 inch driver and all the features bassists have come to expect with Warwick's BC Combos. The BC150 has a sweepable mid in its 3-band equalizer to boost the 150 watts of power, while the BC300 adds all the features that can be found on the WA300, plus a deeper cabinet, a more powerful speaker driver and Warwick's new HF bullet for a crisp, punchy sound.