Nashville is a guitar town and the perfect place for a gathering of amp, guitar and pedal builders. That’s exactly what happened this past weekend at the 2013 Nashville Amp & Gear Expo.
All but five of the eleven hotel floors were full of amps, pedals, guitars, speakers, microphones, and just about anything else related to guitar. Attending a show like this is like living in the world’s best guitar store for a weekend.
Some personal highlights from the show
Immix Eleven VS-30s - link
I first met the guys from Immix Eleven at the NY Amp Show a few months ago when I plugged into the VS-30s. It is very hard to create a standout product at these shows - the quality level is through the roof with that many successful boutique builders together in the same building. Yet, the sound of that amp stayed with me all these months, and I could not shake the feeling that there was something special about it.
This weekend I had my own guitar (my SRV Strat with Zexcoil pickups), so I was ready to listen closely. It’s not a traditional sound for a SRV fanatic like me because it’s based on EL84 power tubes, not the 6V6 or 6L6 tubes that Fender is known for using. It’s spankier, with a high-end bite that I’m not used to, but I like it - a lot.
The Wampler Pedals crew are some of my favorite people to hang out with at these shows. They call me Stevie to get on my nerves, and I talk about how great other company’s pedals are. It’s a great relationship.
At one point on Saturday, the entire Wampler crew left the room to go take some pictures, leaving me in the room alone with the entire Wampler pedal lineup - plus a few that don’t officially exist yet. After calculating the consequences of packing all those pedals into my suitcase, I decided to try them instead of stealing them. Not everything is my cup of tea, but a few of them surprised me.
Velvet Fuzz - This is a great fuzz pedal for people who have never liked traditional fuzz tones. It’s more subtle, and more controlled than a fuzz-face style pedal. It is still very thick sounding, but way more usable in my opinion.
Plexi-Drive - This one surprised me - what a great, great sounding overdrive. It’s much lower-gain than most of Brian’s other dirt pedals, but with an unmistakable Marshall sound that works really well with other pedals pushing it. It’s really touch sensitive too, I was able to go from clean to gritty with just a slight change in attack.
SLOStortion - This was a surprise as well. Not really a typical “blues” pedal, but the SLOStortion has tremendously thick distortion, very midrangey and ‘solid’ sounding. Can’t imagine what I’d use it on, but I really like it.
DC Pedalboard Yoke 5 - link
The Yoke (currently a prototype) is a cool device that allows you to switch between several programmable pedal loops. Each loop can pass through one or more pedals.
Unlike a midi switching system, the Yoke sits right on your pedalboard and connects directly to your pedals. You program the different preset switches to activate one or more pedal loops - allowing you to instantly activate the exact combination of pedals you want.
Whitfill Custom Guitars - link
Back in August at Summer NAMM, the Wampler Pedals booth was full of these handsome guitars made by a guy named Charles Whitfill. They played great, but my time with them was limited.
At this show I played them a bit, then some more, and when I locked myself in the Wampler booth I played a Whitfill guitar for quite some time.
He specializes in Tele and Strat inspired guitars with a tasteful amount of relic touches. They are extremely playable, solidly built, and very, very attractive. Charles is a very cool dude and we talked about for a bit about what I’d like in a guitar…. hmmm.
Fuchs Blackjack 21 - link
div class=”right padded”> <img alt=”Fuchs Blackjack 21 src=”https://cdn.texasbluesalley.com/news/nae2013/blackjack21_t.jpg” title=”Fuchs Audio Technology Blackjack 21” />