Summer NAMM 2022 had a lot of surprises, even if it seems like it was “quality over quantity” this year. Today we check out our favorite picks for the show, and talk about all the newest guitar gear!
Summer NAMM 2022: Less Sometimes Means More
The NAMM show usually is the most anticipated event when it comes to new guitar gear. Unfortunately, the pandemic set us back the last two years. This is the first year that Summer NAMM has been a big event again, and that also comes with a few issues. But the main issue is pretty apparent…
Guitar companies have been releasing products throughout the year, instead of waiting for the Winter and Summer NAMM 2022 shows, and this had a big effect on the Summer NAMM 2022 show content. Supply chain issues are at fault for this mainly, but it seems like some aspects of that are finally leveling out. But that doesn’t mean there aren’t some really cool surprises this year. Some we had heard rumors of, while others came completely out of left field.
The world is slowly returning to normal, and NAMM 2002 is the first real sign of normalcy we have seen in the industry for a while. With all of that said, we have some favorite picks from NAMM 2022 today. Some of these were mentioned or released just prior to the show, while other were a total surprise. Today we are going to check out the ones that had the biggest impact on us, and talk about their features.
Something that irked me about the Summer NAMM 2022 show, that usually wouldn’t bother me, but I wanted to note it: Almost everything at the show was an “Artist Model” or Signature Model. I don’t have a problem with this really, but it is overwhelmingly obvious this year. Maybe guitar companies are chasing the success that PRS had with the Silver Sky?
Now I LOVE artist models, especially when it comes to something like the Ibanez JEM, or my personal Nick Johnston guitar that I use every day. But it just seemed a little weird this year that so many companies went with this at NAMM 2022. Even Gibson released a slew of Signature guitars this year. But hey, some of these are REALLY great guitars.
Let’s dive in, and take a look at the best gear from Summer NAMM 2022!
Schecter Nick Johnston Signature PT
This was one that we all saw coming from a mile away, but it is hard not to be excited about any new Schecter guitar. There has been a much more expensive USA version of the Schecter NJ PT for a while now, so it was only logical that we eventually get a Diamond Series release. If you love the other Schecter Nick Johnston Signature as much as I do, you’re going to be blown away by this axe.
The original Schecter Nick Johnston lineup was a total “Fender Killer” for anyone who has played one, myself included! It took all the best parts of a Strat, and added the “Schecter Touch” to it. I still play mine on an almost daily basis, and they are called “the poor man’s SUHR” for a damn good reason. It plays like a guitar that is worth triple the cost, and the build quality is top notch.
The new Schecter Nick Johnston PT is no different, and it even features the same design features as the “Strat” version. This model has been teased for a few months before NAMM 2022, so we knew it was coming. I got to play one, and I will have a review up ASAP. But until then, the features really speak for themselves:
- Roasted Maple Necks
- Roasted Maple/Ebony Fretboards
- Locking Tuners
- Brass Circle Inlays
- 22 Jumbo Frets
- TUSQ XL Nut
- Alder Body
- NJ ’78 Humbucker Neck Pickup
- NJ Signature Single Coil Bridge Pickup
- Fixed Bridge, 6 Saddle Design
- 3 Way Switch
- Tone Knob Coil Split
I will save most of my opinions for my full review, but let’s just say that this is an excellent companion to the original Schecter NJ. The neck is exactly the same as the original, so it feels familiar instantly. The difference is the body style, and the pickup configuration. If you have always wanted one of the USA ones, but didn’t have $3000 laying around…now you have an option! Like its predecessor, it plays well above the $850 price tag!
Positive Grid Spark MINI
We have had a LOT of fun over the last year with the Positive Grid Spark Amp, and it looks like this year we get to have all of the same features in a much smaller package. Positive Grid must have kept a tight lid on the Spark MINI because no one knew it was coming until NAMM 2022! But it is a welcome surprise, especially if you’re new to Positive Grid!
Over the Winter NAMM 2022, we saw Positive Grid upgrade everything for the release of the new RIFF device. The good news, is that the Spark MINI also has some overhauls that make a huge difference in the way you may look at a “practice amp“. This is far from being your typical mini-style amp on so many levels! The best part, is the Spark MINI can fit in the palm of your hand!
The Smart Jam Feature is one of the coolest things I have experienced in a while. Now… while it had a few bugs when it first came out, Smart Jam has been updated and it is way more responsive! You play 8 bars of chords, and it automatically creates a backing track (with drums and bass) for you to jam along to. The updated Smart Jam gets the “feel” a little bit better than before. Overall, it just works a whole lot better than before, so if you were let down, try out the update!
That being said, it still has the same Auto Chord function that we have went over in depth with before. It also has tons of other backing tracks that you can use, and thousands of tones to download. It does everything that the original Spark Amp does, just in a smaller package! The Spark MINI is also battery powered, and the battery life is INSANE. You get a full day out of a charge, with moderate use.
The Spark MINI is literally the most useful practice amp for beginner guitarists, as well as the more seasoned guitarist that wants to jam at home. It is LOUD for being so tiny, and only 10 watts, but it can also be quiet enough for the most annoying neighbors. Positive Grid also took out some of the flub in the bass frequencies, which bothered me with the original. If you want to play, learn, and create efficiently…the Spark MINI is the coolest amp surprise from NAMM 2022!
Everything that made the original Spark Amp a hit is back, just in a smaller 10 watt package! This rechargeable beast has all of the power of its big brother, in the palm of your hand!
Music Man KAIZEN: A Tosin Abasi Collaboration!
Before anyone freaks out, Tosin is still making his own guitars with his ABASI company. But he is also known to play some Ernie Ball Music Man guitars from time to time in the studio. The KAIZEN is something completely new for Music Man, and it is like nothing the company has ever made before. The features are all new for Music Man, every single feature is something “never done before” for the company.
The new HT Pickups are made with “Heat Treated” technology. There is a Mini Humbucker in the neck, and a full size Humbucker in the bridge. Apparently, this makes the pickup have a more clear sound. The bridge pickup is similar to the Mariposa models, and is a narrow field almost P90 pickup. While the bridge is voiced for clear clean tones, it is also optimized for heavy distortion. The HT pickups are apparently the best of ALL worlds.
The trem system had to be designed from the ground up as well. This is sometimes hard to do with a fan fret guitar, but Music Man designed this with Tosin from the ground up, and it took a lot of cues from the St. Vincent models, as well as the JP. Even the knobs are designed from the ground up! Music Man also used Steinberger Tuners, to keep the headstock small.
The “Infinity Radius” is something completely new, and it is kind of hard to wrap your head around unless you feel it. The radius is almost “wedge shaped”, where the higher points of the radius is near the ends of the fretboard, instead of the middle. I know, it doesn’t make any sense the way I am describing it, but it is a totally new feel for ANY guitarist. basically, you have full visibility of all frets from “playing position”.
The final thing is the multi-scale on this guitar, which is also completely different from what we usually see. it goes from a Gibson 24.75 scale, to a standard 25.5 scale for the bottom strings. the “zero fret” is sitting on the 9th fret, which is also a little unusual. This guitar is almost like something designed by interdimensional beings.
The Ernie Ball KAIZEN is something totally new, and absolutely unique. I have honestly NEVER seen a guitar like this before by any company. Everything on this guitar is something other-worldly and almost alien in design. People talk about guitar companies never innovating…well here is something totally NEW.
Two Notes REVOLT Guitar Preamp
Two Notes is a company that is no stranger to doing amp sims and cabinet effects for your studio. But this time, we have something that is not only a piece of physical hardware, but it is completely analog. Two Notes dropped the REVOLT on us at Summer NAMM 2022 and we had no idea that it was coming. This is an amazing new pedal that can do a lot, and maybe replace your amp setup if you have an FRFR speaker.
The REVOLT is fueled by an actual 200 volts of tube power (12AX7). It has 3 different settings, and each one has a clean and high gain option. It has a dedicated FX loop in the back so you can add all of your reverb and modulation pedals to the REVOLT, as well as an XLR out for recording and live use. It would be harder to point out what the REVOLT doesn’t do! It even works with MIDI if you want to add it to your digital setup.
It has three different models to choose from, based on some legendry amps:
- American Clean (Fender Clean Tweed Bassman)
- British Crunch (Marshall Plexi)
- Modern Lead (Soldano)
Two Notes has said that the designers wanted this to be a whole “all in one” pedal. This is like having all three amps right at your feet, with dynamic gain that you can only get from a tube powered sound. Each channel has a boost function, that essentially acts as “distortion” button that just adds gain to the existing signal. This gives the feel of having 6 different channels when you combine them all together.
Two Notes is legendary for its IR and interface options for guitar, but we have never seen a piece of hardware like this from the company. The possibilities are really limitless with the REVOLT, and I don’t say that as a sales pitch. I mean, it can pretty much do ANYTHING no matter what your current setup is like. For about $400 USD, this is an amazing pedal that can either be the basis of your tone, or just an add-on!
Ibanez Signatures: Everyone Gets A New Guitar!
As much as I would love to talk about every single one of these models, I honestly can’t go through all of them. These aren’t really “NEW” per se, but they are new takes on existing signature models. These are all really cool designs that have been “refreshed” for Summer NAMM 2022. The most obvious one is the new Steve Vai PIA, which is now available in Baby Blue.
But you also see models from Nita Strauss, Tom Quayle, Jake from Periphery, and of course the big golden elephant in the picture…Joe Satriani. These are all very cool guitars that we are familiar with, and it is neat to see them in new colors. Ibanez is just expanding the Signature lineup a little this year, and I think that’s pretty cool. There is just too much to cover with all of these! If you are already familiar with these models, most are just aesthetic changes.
Like I said at the beginning of this article, there is an over-abundance of signature style gear at NAMM 2022. Almost everything has someone’s name on it this year. Ibanez is known for doing this, of course. So it wasn’t a surprise that the main attraction was new signature models. personally, I love that new blue PIA. But you all know that I have an unhealthy obsession with Vai!
Soldano SLO MINI
I don’t know about you, but I have always wanted a Soldano SLO stack, but I could never bring myself to buy the setup. The Soldano SLO is absolutely Iconic and has been used by all kinds of famous guitarists over the years. Everything from Shred to Doom, these things are very versatile. Soldano might have finally made my dreams come true at NAMM 2022!
The Soldano SLO Mini is a 30 watt powerhouse that has all of the original tones that made the big boy famous, just in a much smaller package. The Lunchbox Amp craze is far from over, and I see plenty of these types of amps at gigs all the time. I had a great time with the JOYO amps I have tried, and the Soldano is a step above those for sure!
Basically, this is a lot like most affordable mini amps. They took an SLO emulator, and made it solid state with a class D power design. JOYO does this, and I think that’s why the Bantamp series sells so well. This might sound like a bad thing to some people, but it actually sounds great hooked up to a 1X12 cab. Phillip McKnight did a test, and he absolutely loved it, both in the room and recording!
So while it might not be the huge stack that I always wanted back in the day, the SLO Mini might fill a gap for me and thousands of of other guitarists! The best thing about this little guy, is the price. Considering this is less money than a BOSS Katana, it may be hard to believe! I’m coming for you, David Gilmour, and I have the tone!
The Soldano SLO Mini guitar amp head is a 30W powerhouse with the same rich overdrive and crunch as the model that inspired it, the classic Super Lead Overdrive 100W head from 1987. Mike Soldano’s original SLO set the standard for modern high-gain amplification, backing up renowned rock guitarists with its drive channel and non-metal stalwarts with its bluesy crunch. The SLO Mini delivers searing harmonics, and the ideal balance of gain, sustain and tight touch response that the SLO has become famous for.
Summer NAMM 2022: Wrapping Up
The Summer NAMM 2022 offerings that really stuck out are all very cool, even though things were limited this year. Summer NAMM 2022 followed a rough two years when it comes to guitars and supply chain issues. So I understand how there may be some limited selections with most companies. But I would take the quality over quantity any day, and there are some cool things to check out this year!
Like I said, the only weird thing is how much Signature gear is out there this year. It seems a little weird, but at the same time I think that is a good sign for guitar! The prevalence of so many artist models means that there is a lot of people buying their guitars and listening to the artist’s music!
At the same time, I also know the music business. Artists make almost no money these days from just making music. So the side hustle is to release products with you name on it. Talk about this with Misha from Periphery. Misha makes almost zero money from making music and touring. he makes music from products with his name on it. So NAMM 2022 can also be a little sad, and a warning about the state of the industry.
What did you think about the Summer NAMM 2022 show? Did you have a favorite product, or something that you are sure to buy?
Christoper HortonChristopher has been playing guitar, bass, and piano for 28 years. He has been active in the professional music industry for over two decades. Chris has toured for years with several bands and music projects across the United States. He worked in Los Angeles as a studio musician and engineer working with many genres, but mainly Pop, Rock, and Metal. In between giving private lessons, he is usually recording under his various projects. Christopher plays Schecter Guitars, BOSS Amplifiers, and uses STL Tones in the studio.
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