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"Good improvisation communicates harmonic progression melodically. Effective melodies manipulate harmonic content through the use of guide tones and preparatory gravity notes, masterfully woven in systematic tension, release, and transparent harmonic definition."

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July 13, 2015 | Summer NAMM 2015 highlights

Gordon Roberts, Ashbury Strings

We already mentioned a few days ago our biggest breaking news at Summer NAMM in Nashville, the introduction of Ashbury mandolin family instruments. Normally we don't see much at either NAMM show as far as new in the mandolin world, but there were a few surprises outside of the usual pictorial eye candy at the Weber, Saga, Breedlove, and Music Link booths. We did post a few on the JazzMando Facebook page, but we want to focus in on some intriguing highlights.

First, at the Kala booth we got to see a Bill Griffin prototype Mandolele, a 4-string (nylon!) guitar bodied instrument. We had the chance to plug in, and were pretty impressed. Not talk of price just yet, as the focus of the marketing staff was to poll interested parties in what could be provided on an affordable entry level product. The highly successful ukulele company has been in expansion mode for some time, introducing a tenor guitar last year, and a handful of new thin-bodied guitars.

We'll keep you posted as we hear more.

Click image for closeup


Martin Guitars actually had a custom tenor guitar in the booth. It was a fairly stock build with spruce top, mahogany back and sides. List price was shy of $5300 US. It's not widely known, but the legendary guitar company will build a custom tenor if you contact your local Martin dealer.

Click image for closeup

Big surprise in the ESP booth was a couple F-body Takamine mandolins. The Takamine line left its cozy 5 decade relationship with the Kaman Music Corporation last winter when Fender sold off a good share of its assets, and to our knowledge, there never was a mandolin made under the name. The instruments displayed there were in the $6K range, which seemed ambitious.


Roland introduced and demoed a new Boss RV6 reverb pedal which we think will compete with some of the high price boutique reverbs. Streeting around $149, this is luscious, rich tone with some delay options that deserve serious consumer attention.


Of course there are always some booth shenanigans we couldn't pass up posting. The Jammin' Johns doesn't need much explanation. We're assuming they don't make a banjo version so as to keep men from intentionally missing inside the bowl.

More pictures in our FaceBook Summer NAMM 2015 album.

Posted by Ted at July 13, 2015 5:19 AM

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