We were excited to see the new green stomp box from BOSS, the BC-1X bass compressor. The “Intelligent multiband compression” technology sounded awesome and the simple control layout and gain reduction indicator make it simple to operate. The BC-1X bass compressor sounds great and just might be the best bass compressor they have ever made. — KP
We loved playing through the new Billy Sheehan Signature Drive Deluxe (BSD). This pedal sounds as good as the previous model (BSS)—if not better, which we own and use in our studio. The BSD features a new Boost Drive footswitch, phase inverter switch, and a new eight-pin, bypassable drive circuit. This is a very versatile bass drive pedal! The BSD has the same clean loop and drive loop as the BSS, providing many different tone possibilities. — KP
Eden introduced the Terra Nova bass amplifiers and combos. Great high end sound, ultra-light weight, and the traditional Eden qualities that serious bass players expect. The TN2251 (1x12 225 watt combo) and TN2252 (2x10 225watt combo) will appeal to bassists of any skill level. The TN501 (500watt) and TN226 (225 watt) bass heads each feature a four-band EQ circuit with semi-parametric mid controls, compressor, DI output with level control, ground lift, pre/post selection, headphone jacks and auxillary inputs. — KP
At the Ibanez booth, we are always overwhelmed with how many new basses they release each year. But there were one four-string and one five-string bass that really stood out to us. The distressed Ibanez Artcore Bass AFBV200ATCL and AGBV200ATCL play great and look hot—killer vintage vibe here. Each is a very lightweight hollow-body that is very comfortable to play, and we expect these basses will appeal to both the jazz/blues player as well as the indie rocker. — KP
Bassist Victor Wooten was on hand at the Hartke booth showing off the new Kickback KB12 amp, which features Hartke’s HyDrive Speaker Technology and... drum roll please... 500 watts of Class D power. This combo is very portable as well as powerful. — KP
Dunlop has two new awesome little devices, The Volume X Mini Pedal (DVP4) and Cry Baby Mini Bass Wah (CBM105Q). They’re going to look so small next to your MXR pedals, but you’ll be able to buy more pedals for the space you save on your pedalboard. Besides the small form factor, both pedals have the durability and features of their larger counterparts. If you are in the market for a bass Wah or an expression/pedal then you will need to really consider these new pedals. — KP
The new headless basses from Kiesel Guitars are sick! The Hipshot bridge and Kiesel locking headpiece uses standard bass strings so you don’t have to buy special double-ball bass strings. The Vader series has so many upgrades and custom shop options that any bass player can find their perfect bass.
Vader basses are offered in four-, five-, and six-string versions, and you can even get these models with a 30" short-scale option. Have fun building your dream bass, and don’t worry. If headless isn’t your thing, basses like the Brian Bromberg signature or PB5 are even more lustworthy (see our reviews). — KP
Paul Reed Smith
At the PRS Guitar booth among a brilliant collection of guitars, there were two basses that really grabbed our attention. The SE Kingfisher and the SE Kestrel basses looked right at home surrounded by significantly pricier instruments in the PRS line. The thing is… these basses are reasonably priced and totally hold their own against the more costly alternatives. The SE Kestrel and SE Kingfisher have been out for over a year now, but we didn’t notice them before. That’s a shame, because these provide beauty, playability, tone, and great value. — KP
Peavey introduced two new bass amps—the MiniMEGA 1000 Watt bass amplifier head and the MiniMAX 400 watt bass amp. Both deliver classic Peavey bass tone with a deep punch. We liked how both amp heads sounded, and loved how light in weight they are (class D amps, of course). Nice to know they are super affordable, too.
But even more exciting (perhaps) was the bass we were demoing these amps on. Peavey re-released their ‘90s classic bass guitar, the Cirrus 4. This bass has all of the qualities of the original including twenty-four frets, a 35" scale maple neck-thru design with mahogany stringers, and two active humbucking pickups with an 18 volt preamp. — KP
Phil Jones Bass
Right in between the big and small you’ll find the Session 77 combo. Working bassists are going to love this one, which features two seven-inch drivers and one three-inch tweeter, delivers 100 watts of power, and is priced under $400. — KP
At the Phil Jones Bass booth we beheld the biggest bass cabinet we have ever seen, featuring an enormous 50x5” speaker array. Yes, that’s right… fifty, five-inch speakers! Oh you go, Mr. Jones! You have to see and hear it to believe it.
But more practical (for most of us) was a tiny speaker box attached to the top of a mic stand—the PJB Ear-Box. It’s a micro bass monitor that you drive off of the speaker output of any amp, connecting just like any other external cab. Attach it to a mic stand at ear level and you’ve got a personal bass monitor!
The guitar version of the Fly Rig has been a big hit with players who need the ultimate in super-compact rigs, and we expect the Bass Fly Rig to prove even more popular when it ships this spring. — KP
The Tech 21 compact Bass Fly Rig multi-effects pedal was one of our favorite new products at NAMM 2016. In the space of your instrument’s strap/cable pocket, you get a boost, chorus effect, compressor, a full SansAmp, and a killer “Octafilter” effect... and there's even a built-in tuner! The XLR output connects directly to the PA system or studio recording device.
Willcox Guitars (LightWave)
We are huge fans of Chris Wilcox’s bass guitars, and firm believers in the merits of his LightWave optical pickups. Check out our reviews of the Saber bass line here to learn more.
New for NAMM, besides the officially Willcox-branded instruments (they used to be branded as LightWave), was an upright electric bass featuring the LightWave optical pickup technology. Acoustic players are sure to fall in love with the silence of this pickup system, which allows for the most natural reproduction of a vibrating string possible. — SK