The Nashville show is always a cool hang, and the hip new gear makes it all the more so. Here are the Bass Gear Magazine 2016 Summer NAMM Best of Show Award winners:
Sonic Farm / Michael Arnopol Soundworks – Tantra Bass Head
No doubt, this was THE product which I was most looking forward to checking out at the Summer NAMM Show, and despite some seriously high expectations, it did not disappoint. In fact, the Tantra solidly surpassed my hyped-up expectations. Take the glorious Sonic Farm 2di4 DI, add a world-class compressor, a very usable (and blendable) distortion circuit, the ability to dial-in 2nd-order and 4th-order harmonics, fantastic high-pass filtering options, and – oh yeah – a 5-band EQ with three parametric midrange controls, and you have one helluva preamp on your hands! But wait, there’s more! Although you can use the Tantra as a preamp only, if you wish, it also packs a 1,000-watt ICEpower output section! What is not to love?
Crackercaster Guitars and Basses – Crackercaster 5
I have known Mick Donner for a number of years, now, and if I know one thing about him, it’s that he has a great sense of humor. So, when I walked by the Elektra/Crackercaster booth at the Show, and I saw this bass made of what at first appeared to be all the left-over wood in the shop which didn’t make the cut, so to speak, I thought it was a joke or a gimmick bass. Well, the joke’s on me! Turns out, the wood with all the knots showing is local cypress, and that funky, white/brown fingerboard is a native Florida rosewood. Throw in a neck made from hard ash, and you’ve got one sweet southern home brew! With unique pickups (made by Carey Nordstrand), shotgun cap “knobs” and a price south of $1k, this bass is a real winner! It plays and sounds like a dream. In fact, we had to pry this one out of Bobby Vega’s hands, just to take the picture!
Rybski Custom Bass Gtuiars and FretTraX – MIDI Bass-to-Synthesizer Technology
If you play in a band with a keyboard player, it just goes without saying that all of the “non-standard” sounds are going to be coming from the keys. Trumpets, strings, weird synthy warbles… That kinda stuff. But what happens if you don’t have a keyboard player? For whatever reason, it seems like this duty tends to fall on the bass player, more often than not. At least it has in my case. With the FretTraX system, you can trigger MIDI notes by fretting a specific note on your bass. Slawomir Rybski has worked with FretTraX both in terms of retro-fitting your existing bass with the system, and in the context of his own excellent custom bass builds. The FretTraX system is mind-blowing on its own. Rybski’s basses are world-class in their own right. The combination is really something special!