NAMM 2022: Yamaha Guitars Recap

It’s a wrap!

As an artist, I’m always fascinated by the design layouts and floor plans developed for trade show events. Display areas have to be visually appealing as well as functional, plus they have to be easy to navigate by a large group of people.

The new Yamaha location at the 2022 NAMM show, on the third floor of the Anaheim Convention Center, allowed the company to condense several product areas into one large square presentation space. This allowed for full line of sight to all of the display areas within the booth — a great idea that I think was appreciated by Yamaha staffers and attendees alike.

The focal point, in the middle of the space, was the revolving stage, overhead Yamaha logo and the company’s spectacular new CFX grand piano. Theatrical lighting set the mood, along with huge wall monitors projecting performance videos and NEXO speakers suspended from the ceiling emanating immersive surround sound. No matter where you were standing in the booth, the effect was dramatic!

Beautiful grand piano under a theatrical lighting scheme at a tradeshow with drop lights hung from an oversized representation of the Yamaha logo from above. Tradeshow visitors can be seen in background.

But my personal focus, of course (and the reason I was representing Yamaha at NAMM), was on Yamaha guitars, and there were plenty of them at the show, including …

Second-Generation Revstars

I’m happy to report that there were quite a few second-generation Revstar® guitars on display in the guitar section, including a left-handed RSE20L and numerous Professional (RSP) Series instruments.

I’d been dying to try out the Professional line for a while, and got the chance to demonstrate an RSP20 in Swift Blue and an RSP02T in Sunset Burst (shown below) at the show. Both guitars had been set up perfectly, and played just the way I (and, I think, most people) like them. To my eyes, the combination of cream pickups and scratch plate really do compliment the Sunset Burst finish very well.

Closeup of the bodies of two electric guitars hanging on a wall.
RSP20 in Swift Blue and RSP02T in Sunset Burst.

All RSP models are identical in construction, with chambered mahogany bodies, maple tops, rosewood fingerboards, carbon fiber rods in the body and neck, and 12-inch radius fretboards with stainless-steel jumbo frets. They also feature an extremely versatile five-way selector switch and a unique Focus Switch for an instantaneous boost in the low and mid frequencies. The RSP20 has two humbucking pickups, while the RSP02T sports two P90s instead, for those tasty single-coil sounds we all love. The tones they provide for rock ’n’ roll are excellent, and blues slide, legato melodies and double-stops all shine on both instruments. They were my favorite electric guitars at the show, without a doubt.

New TransAcoustic Guitars

Robbie Calvo playing guitar and singing.
Here I am, demoing the FSC-TA at NAMM.

Yamaha acoustic guitars were also represented extremely well at 2022 NAMM, with a full complement of amazing TransAcoustic instruments. The FGC-TA and FSC-TA are the latest cutaway models in the line and really do take center stage for the solo performer who needs an acoustic guitar that provides easy access to the upper register.

I used an FSC-TA in tobacco sunburst finish throughout the show for my demo performances, and I really loved the plugged-in tone as much as the acoustic sound and ambient effects. (Check out the video below for my full performance on this guitar.) It came as no surprise to me, then, that the FSC-TA followed in the footsteps of previous TA models by winning the NAMM “Best in Show” award again this year! What will they think of next for this range?

New Amplifiers

The big news on the amplifier front is that Yamaha THR-II wireless desktop amps have received a refresh in the aesthetic department and are now available in black or white, in addition to the original tan finish. This makes total sense when you consider that most players will have these amps on their desk at work or coffee table at home. Your choice of desktop amplifier can now complement your interior design palette as well as your musical taste!

Robbie Calvo holding a guitar and smiling for camera.
Posing with a THR30II in white and a Pacifica 612VIIFM.

Also on display at NAMM were Line 6 Catalyst combo amplifiers, along with the company’s flagship Helix processor and HX Stomp effects pedal, all of which were put to good use in the stage backline. The new DL4 MkII, which takes delays to the next level of digital expression, was also a mainstay of the main stage at the Yamaha booth.

The Videos

I always feel that products are best demonstrated in the capacity in which they’ll ideally be used, paired with other products and in a real-world live music situation.

The FSC-TA, vocals and percussion loops in the video below, shot at NAMM, are all running through a Helix effects processor and a Yamaha Stagepas 1K portable line array PA system — the exact same setup that I use for all my live performances. You’ll notice that the parts all retain their clarity even when I’m overdubbing in the looped outro section. I think it sounds pretty good, considering this video was captured using my smartphone. Trust me: the sound is infinitely better in person.

I shot this second video the day before the show opened because I couldn’t resist capturing my two favorite guitars before they were covered in fingerprints by adoring fans — the Revstar RSP20 in Swift Blue with humbucking pickups, and the RSP02T in Sunset Burst, with those lovely cream P90s. I hope you enjoy admiring these beauties as much as I did, as well as listening to the musical underpinning I composed to celebrate their release.

The Wrap-Up

While attendance at the 2022 NAMM show may have been lighter than in past years, it was clear from the enthusiasm of the attendees that the passion for the music manufacturing industry is alive and well.

We all love what we do, and that always shows at the Yamaha booth. The live performances there were all world-class, interactions with dealers, competitors and artists were always cordial and fun, and the entire Yamaha team worked together in every way to support the vision of the company, its products and the end user.

We are back, stronger and better than ever!

Photos courtesy of the author and Steve Leiken.

 

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