BY BLAIR JACKSON

Here are some more new or recent products on display at the recent NAMM musical instrument show in Anaheim, California at the end of January:

First of all, in our previous 2019 NAMM roundup, we included a photo of California luthier Kenny Hill (of Hill Guitars) with Swedish guitarist Johannes Möller, and mentioned a “true temperament” guitar both are keen on. Well, here’s a video CG shot at NAMM of Kenny talking about and showing that intriguing instrument.


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The guitar to the right is the first nylon-string classical model—the CG-TA—offered in Yamaha‘s increasingly popular TransAcoustic line of sonically enhanced acoustic guitars. For Yamaha, which has been the most popular classical-guitar maker in the U.S. for a number of years, this was a natural fit: Their TransAcoustic instruments feature an actuator discreetly placed inside the instrument which, the company’s literature states, “senses the vibrations, enhances them, and conveys them back to the guitar body and the air in and around the the guitar to create authentic reverb and chorus effects from inside the body, with no need for external amplification or effects. This unique technology gives a player’s music a spacious, concert-hall feel in any practice or performance space. with no need for external amplification or effects.” Although I’d heard the TransAcoustic technology demonstrated last year on steel-string acoustic models, I was frankly skeptical about it’s implementation in a classical instrument. But I have to say, I came away impressed with it, even in the noisy NAMM environment. Despite the interior electronics package and reasonably unobtrusive side control knobs, it is not that much heavier than a conventional classical instrument, and the icing on the cake is it sounds quite good without employing the TA magic. It’s easy to picture this being a versatile and valuable asset in a number of different settings guitarists might find themselves in.  You can find lots more about Yamaha’s groundbreaking TransAcoustic technology here.


Meanwhile, over at the Tascam booth, the company was showing off two new handheld digital stereo recorders, the DR-05X and the DR-07X, which are perfect for unobtrusively recording your practices, rehearsals, or performances, and with the addition an external microphone (or two) could be all you need to create an album-worthy project. For a bit over $100 (U.S.), the DR-05X unit offers many cool features including an internal editing/”overwrite mode” that allows punch-in recording from any point; an overdub function that allows you to play against a previously recorded part(s); built-in condenser mics; a high-capacity micro sound card that stores up to 192 hours of CD-quality sound, or a whopping 896 hours of MP3 sound. At this point, it’s insane NOT to own a portable recorder of some kind, even if you choose another brand. There are so many ways to use one; I’m all for documenting anything and everything! (You can always go back and record over anything you don’t want/need. But why miss that magic moment at a rehearsal or gig?)

The good folks at the world-renowned Viennese string-maker Thomastik-Infeld are celebrating their 100th anniversary in 2019, and they came to the NAMM show (partnering with their their U.S. distributor for the past four decades, Connolly Music Company) with their first new classical-guitar strings in a number of years. Their CRK 124 MT and HT strings are made from a proprietary new hybrid material claimed to offer “brilliance and power, like carbon strings, but also a full, warm sound you usually get from nylon strings. They wow with immediate attack and translate every impulse from your fingers.” We haven’t had a chance to hear them yet, but the company’s reputation for high-quality strings is impeccable!


This stylish guitar is part of Córdoba’s budget-priced new MIni II line, which is now nearly three inches longer than the guitars in the company’s successful Mini line, and comes in three styles/materials. That’s the layered mahogany model, the Mini II MH (with a nice abalone rosette); also at NAMM was the flamed mahogany Mini II FMH and the EB-CE siingle cutaway, with a solid spruce top and striped ebony back and sides, as well as a pickup and onboard tuner. A great, casual travel instrument!