Each week Tom Whitwell of Music Thing highlights the best of the new music gear that's coming out, as well as noteworthy vintage equipment. This week he's working NAMM for us, so stay tuned for special Music Thing coverage:

NAMM starts today in Anaheim. It’s the music gear equivalent of CES or Macworld, where new products are launched and weeks of speculation and misinformation come to an end. Some early highlights:

A keyboard for composing ringtones
From Chinese manufacturer CME comes the U-Key Mobiletone. The press release is far from clear, but says: "It will fill the gap of the particular hardware for composing cell phone ring, which has the market of billions of dollar... U-Key has build in high 64-polyphony high quality mobile phone sound module, and internal high fidelity speaker..." If you’ve ever worried that your music gear doesn’t sound cheap, cruddy or irritating enough, this could be for you.


Finger-mounted guitar effects
NAMM is where every weirdo with a half-baked idea comes to show it off and risk ridicule (last year’s high/low light was the Williams Keytar). An early entrant for this years least-likely-to-succeed is the Hot Hand finger-mounted wah wah guitar effect. Ever since Jimi Hendrix, the wah pedal has been a standard bit of guitar gear. Now a startup called Source Audio has replaced the simple, cheap, effective foot pedal with a finger-mounted accelerometer. Wiggle your finger and the sound changes. Why? I don’t know.


Retro Synthesizers
If you’re not a vintage-synth obsessed geek like me, you might be surprised to learn that people still buy monophonic synthesizers. Where you can only play one note at a time. The sexiest new product at NAMM could be the DSI Mono Evolver Keyboard, a $1199 box with wooden end panels, covered in blue LEDs. Inside, it’s a digital/analog hybrid designed by Dave Smith, who designed the classic Sequential Circuits line in the ‘70s. At the other end of the coolness scale, Roland have announced the Juno G, a non-descript general-purpose keyboard designed to look like their classic ‘80s synth the Juno 6. It seems tailor made to annoy the sort of synth geeks likely to be stalking the halls of NAMM over the next few days.

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