In January I attended the Winter NAMM 2016 (North American Music Merchants) trade show in Anaheim (southern Los Angeles, California). It’s the biggest event of its kind, and draws attendees from every corner of the globe. There are literally hundreds of booths exhibiting just about everything imaginable in the world of music.
That’s the word that keeps coming to mind as I remember roaming the aisles like a dog in a delicatessen. Gear geek heaven! But you know what - I’m a rabid effects pedal nut, and that’s what I travelled to NAMM to see and all I have space here to tell you about.
I had a schedule to keep to which began with a visit to the Chase Bliss Audio booth. Like a thirsty bushman in the outback with a sniff of the nearest pub, I put the blinkers on and headed straight there (to the Chase Bliss booth that is, not the pub)...
On arriving I was warmly greeted by the mastermind behind, and owner of Chase Bliss, Joel Korte. A genuinely great guy, he also happens to design and build some of the most innovative pedal designs in the industry to date. His soon to be released Tonal Recall analog delay was officially announced at the show, and instantly set a new benchmark for analog delay pedals.
Joel Korte, you little beauty!
This is what dreams are made of, and Chase Bliss Audio continue to realise the effects pedal dreams of many of us with this, and the other gems in their range. Watch Joel and his team create more pedal history in the years to come.
Josh Scott really is THAT tall!
One thing I came to do at NAMM was to meet Josh Scott, founder and owner of JHS Pedals. And here’s the truth - I really wanted to see if he is taller than me.
As it turns out he really is TALL!
I’m 6’2” so you can see he’s a big guy, and with his grand stature came a great big welcome. I had a good chat with him and some of the other JHS Pedals guys, and it’s definitely a great year ahead as they release exciting new products and fantastic new versions of established favourites. While there I bumped into Daniel Tyack from Salvage Custom, the man featured in a promotional video for the release of the JHS Pedals Unicorn - one of the funniest (and weirdest) pedal videos I’ve ever seen. Salvage Custom make some amazing custom pedalboards and cases, so go check them out if you want something beautifully unique.
Next to JHS Pedals was the Walrus Audio booth. Colt and the guys had one of the coolest looking booths in the show, and had an awesome demonstration pedalboard which featured their soon to be released Luminary Octave pedal, the Julia analog chorus/vibrato, and the Contraband fuzz. Also filling volume pedal duty on their board, was the Tapestry Audio Bloomery. Such an awesome piece of kit, and expect to see a lot more of this relatively new company in the near future!
Some other standouts for me at the show were three of the biggest names in the boutique effects scene - Keeley Electronics, Strymon (interestingly named after a river god in Greek Mythology) Engineering, and ZVex Effects.
Keeley Electronics. What can I say, except that they are doing some really cool things, and churning out cool pedals like nobody’s business! I'm especially excited about the soon to be released Workstation series. Keep an eye out for these on boards everywhere very soon.
Seriously, can Strymon do any wrong?! No doubt all of you have heard about the soon to be released power supplies the Zuma and the Ojai, and seeing them in person it seems quite apparent that they are going to take over the world of power supplies. But the true highlight of visiting their booth? Meeting the very friendly Peter Celi, co-founder and DSP Algorithm Designer, who gave me the lowdown on the crazy genius behind the Generalissimo Four Head dTape Echo.
Finally, a booth that was both wonderful, and weird, was ZVex. One of the original companies on the boutique pedal scene, and wow, what an overwhelmingly cool display! I got to talk to Zachary Vex himself, and he really is a cool guy. He told me about his ‘Candela Vibrophase’ - a rotary phaser type effects powered by, wait for it… a candle.
It’s an exciting year ahead
Although I’ve written about a fraction of the awesome effects pedal companies that I saw at NAMM, in the 3 days I spent at the show, one thing was evidently clear - it is a very exciting year ahead for the world of effects pedals! Be sure that you follow our Instagram profile and Facebook page to hear the news of exciting announcements and releases as we hear them.
Written by Rodger van Raalte
Owner and director of Signal Chain
"The pedal cabinet is the best part of any music store"