2012 NAMM: Companies to Watch

The annual NAMM (National Association of Music Merchants) show is the place to check out what new products will help to shape the music industry in the coming year. Now that this year’s NAMM show has come to a close, the Best in Show awards have been posted, along with what I think is a particularly interesting prize — “Companies to Watch.” To win such a distinction at an event as big as NAMM, these companies must have really caught the eyes (and probably more importantly, ears) of the judges and attendees. So let’s check them out:


Known for quality gear on a budget, Behringer is introducing a wide array of products for 2012. Big and beefy standouts include the XENYX QX2442USB, a feature-laden 24-channel mixer, Euroline monitor speakers and woofers, and the iNuke NU4-6000, a monstrous 4-channel power amp that cranks out 6000 watts (6000!) at only 12 pounds!

For more, check out: http://www.behringer.com/EN/Home.aspx#NEWProducts


Casio makes a huge variety of electronic devices, ranging from cameras, to watches, to cash registers, to projectors. Heck, I even have a Casio calculator sitting on my desk! In the music world they’re known for their keyboards and synthesizers, and this year they’ve introduced two new synths: the XW-P1 performance synthesizer, and the XW-G1 groove synthesizer. The P1 is geared towards replicating a wide array of instruments and sounds, while the G1 is designed for DJs and dance club music performers.

Read more about these new synths here: http://www.casio.com/news/content/F046DD76-C75A-4556-BAFE-A7E0CCD2ABFF/


Starting as a guitar repair shop in the 1970s, Charvel became a favorite of shred guitarists in the ’80s due to their knack for modifying Fender Stratocasters into “Superstrats” — lean, mean, shred machines. Charvel guitars play fast and loud, sporting high-gain pickups (often from DiMarzio or Seymour Duncan), Floyd Rose locking tremolos (for crazy whammy bar maneuvers), and smooth playing necks. In 2002, Fender purchased Charvel, and they have since started to produce high quality production level versions of their guitars. In 2011, Charvel expanded their production line to include the new Desolation series guitars, and they’re continuing to branch out with even more models with greater variety. If you’re looking for a guitar suited for heavy rock and metal, definitely give Charvel a look — they’re more accessible than ever.

Here’s Charvel’s updated catalogue: http://www.charvel.com/guitars/


Fishman is a (and to many, the) premier company in acoustic guitar amplification, and continues to innovate in the fields of acoustic pickups, transducers, preamps, and transducers. If you’ve played an acoustic guitar with an onboard preamp or pickup, chances are it was designed by Fishman. But probably the coolest toy that’s new for Fishman, and one that signals a new direction for the company, is the Fission Bass Powerchord FX Pedal. The bass effect unit combines an overdrive pedal with a digital harmonizer, adding a note a fourth below, a fifth above, or an octave above to each note you play — or you can do all three in any combination. This pedal is especially cool for those looking to take the bass into the guitar range, and might be handy to those who want to flesh out the sound of their power trio.

Check out this video to get a taste of the Fission Bass Powerchord FX, or explore the site as a whole for more from Fishman: http://www.fishman.com/products/view/fission-bass-powerchord-fx-pedal

Line 6

Amp modeling has become a popular trend among guitar amplification companies, and Line 6 is one of the leaders in the realm. On-board digital modeling software is a great way for guitarists and bassists to get a wide variety of sounds out of a single amp, all at a very attractive cost. Purists might raise their noses, questioning the authenticity of the tones, but if you like experimenting and playing around with a huge range of sonic textures and effects, then check out some of Line 6’s amplifiers and POD multi-effects units. They’ve even branched out into the realm of MIDI guitars and live sound and mixing, so Line 6 has plenty to offer.

Here’s the Line 6 official site: http://line6.com/

Mapex Drums

Mapex received a special distinction for its upcoming drum kit line, the MyDentity series. The MyDentity line features vast custom options, including 56 different wrap types, ten different hardware colors, maple or birch shells, varying drum head sizes, and more — allowing drummers to make their kit look and sound exactly how they want it to. Pricing on MyDentity drums are expected to street around $1000-$1200, and kits will have a 30-day lead time. Mapex will be launching a new site with the MyDentity line, so you can go online and assemble your kit all in one place.

Here’s a video of Mapex from the NAMM show: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qpEGP1kdp0k&feature=related

Well, it certainly looks like it’s going to be a fun (and loud) year. To see other award winning companies and products from NAMM, head over to the official website: http://www.namm.org/news/press-releases/day-four-2012-namm-show-features-%E2%80%98best-show%E2%80%99-produ