Best Of Virtual NAMM 2021

Despite an entirely digital footprint, new gear releases are rolling out and many builders don’t seem to have missed a beat.

Credit: Fender & Sterling by Music man

While it may not be quite as exciting as the biannual mecca to convention centers in Anaheim and Nashville, the NAMM show is still buzzing as builders roll out new gear in early 2021. Some are partaking in NAMM’s “Believe In Music” week which starts this week, while others are rolling out their own live launch parties. Major companies like Fender, Gibson, PRS, and Ibanez have already unveiled a slate of new features and more announcements from big and small gear builders are just around the corner. We’ll be updating this article as new rolls out, but let’s start highlight the new gear releases you need to know.

Squier’s Updated Contemporary Series Find Your Own Here

Let’s start with this eye popping new Contemporary Stratocaster Special which boats some premium features for under $500. A flame Maple neck, a contoured heal, and unique pickup configurations and wiring make this far different from the Strat we all know and love. The middle and bridge single coil are incredibly close together, giving you some additional chime and high end in your tone. A 5-position blade switch gives you the following crazy pickup options:

Position 1: Bridge + Middle in Series/Hum Cancelling (think Humbucker)

Position 2: Middle Pickup only

Position 3: Middle + Neck in Parallel

Position 4: Bridge + Middle + Neck

Position 5: Neck Pickup only

Oh and the new finish options don’t look so bad either huh? You can choose from Sky Burst Metallic and Black.

PRS SE Custom 24-08Find Your Own Here

I was fortunate enough to be part of the release and announcement of this guitar, with a full review & demo already up HERE. But it is still without a doubt, one of the coolest guitars that has been announced so far and I wanted to highlight it again here. The real big feature of this PRS is the 8 different pickup configurations you can create using the individual coil split toggle switches for each humbucker. But in addition to that versatility, it is a stunning, well made guitar that is under $1000 and is ready to be someone’s main instrument for decades.

Sterling By Music Man Artist Series MariposaFind Your Own Here

Sterling is the officially licensed overseas builder of affordable Ernie Ball Music Man guitars, though it is not actually owned by Ernie Ball itself. As such, they are beloved by guitarists for distilling down the best of EBMM to much more budget friendly prices while still delivering massive quality in each instrument. Their newest addition to the artist series is the recent and highly popular Mariposa, the signature guitar for none other than Omar Rodriguez-Lopez. Sporting a roasted Maple neck, locking tuners, and Ernie Ball Music Man’s trademark original body design, there is so much to love here. It’s engineered to be an ultra high performance guitar from top to bottom and makes the Mariposa far more accessible for many broke musicians like myself.

Published by Matt Dunn

Guitar and music journalist for and as well as a contributor for and Reach out to talk about guitars, commission a partscaster, or ask for a review.

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