NAMM Oddities 2005 The Other Room
Guitars Goodies Percussion Instruments Techno Geek Toys You Figure It Out

Togaman GuitarViol

I was quite impressed with this instrument. By the time you get to the bridge there is a enough of an arc to allow you to bow all of the strings effectively but it's flat enough to easily fret as well. While it does have frets you can still do smooth violin glissandos. It can be played as shown or in a traditional guitar position. They have also developed their own pickup system to accurately capture sound of the strings when plucked, strummed, or bowed.

Jonathan Wilson Designs
1107 Lucas Street
San Fernando, CA 91340
(818) 268-5602


The Music Pole

And now for something completely different. Take a piano keyboard and wind it around a pole in the right way and you end up with the notes in a pentatonic scale all in a row, sort of a tube of fifths. This is a MIDI controller with contact switches that require that you use their "Thumbletx" in order to make the connections.

Music Pole
(530) 513-0266


The Roland V-Accordion

It's a rare occurance for a big company like Roland to make it into the NAMM Oddities. The big guys just tend to play it a little too safe to make it in. But this year was different with Roland introducing the V-Guitar for the klezmer set. Like the V-Guitar, the V-Accordion uses physical modelling to give you 30 different accordion sounds as well as 29 other orchestral sounds. With the quality of the trumpet sound I heard I imagine that there's going to be some downsizing of some mariachi bands in the near future.

Roland Corporation U.S.
5100 S. Eastern Avenue
Los Angeles, CA 90040


The Banjo-Tam

As the name abundantly makes clear, you're looking at the bastard offspring of a banjo and a tambourine. This is a full size 5-string banjo that can be played in a traditional fashion but can also act as a percussion instrument. There is some sympathetic jingling that happens with normal playing too.

Banjo-Tam, LLC
12 Forest Ridge Court
Arden, NC 28704
(828) 651-8966


The Jones "Standard"

Here is a new instrument for the tapping world. Being a Chapman Stick player myself I took it for a spin. The first thing I noticed is that it's extremely light weight being hollow and made of carbon fiber. There is a wire brace that folds out from the top that you rest on your shoulder. The sound is much stringier (is that a word?) than a Stick but it still has a lot of bottom end output. The lack of a damper system made for a somewhat cluttered sound because of the ringing notes. This instrument is still in a prototype stage and the guys were very open to ideas for improvement. When the design matures this will be another fine addition to the available palette of tapping instruments.

Jones MFG, LLC
(734) 717-8652


Mellotron Mk VI

The latest incarnation of the venerable Mellotron is here. They've updated all the components and build but left the basic design the same. All of the orginal Mellotron and Chamberlin tapes are availble too. If you want to go whole hog you can even get a two-manual version, but it's going to cost you.

Big City Music
11106 Ventura Blvd., #100
Studio City, CA
(818) 985-0855


Conklin PacMan Bass

You gotta love themed instruments. Aside from the little characters used as knobs, I particularly appreciated the use of the neck inlay dots.

Conklin Guitars and Basses
P.O. Box 1394
Springfield, MO 65801
(417) 886-3525


FlipOut Bass

The FlipOut guitars were a centerpiece item in last years Oddities. Now bass players can join in the fun. I can't wait for their take on drums and keyboards.

Dewey Decibel, Inc.
1094 Revere Ave, Ste A5
San Francisco, CA 94124
(415) 671-2110


Electric Viola Da Gamba

In Charlie Ogle's viola da gamba booth I came across the first electric viola da gamba that I've ever seen. Following in the tradition of gambas, the "Ruby Gamba", built in Holland built by Jan Goorissen, has tied-on frets. [thanks to Carlos Augusto for the clarification]

Ruby Instruments
Schoolstraat 35
6828 GT
Arnhem, The Netherlands
+31 6 19198957


Jerzy Drozd Basses

I was attracted to these basses by the intricate sound hole cutouts. Both of these basses have MIDI pickups as well.

Jerzy Drozd Basses
c/Bruselas 20,tda. 08041
Barcelona, Spain
+ 34 93 450 49 00


RCDesign Mandolin

This was a new mandolin that Heflen had at their booth. This instrument was not only beautiful, it was quite the little cannon.

Heflen Conceptions
3404 Blake Street
Denver, CO 80205
(303) 507-6883


DeGennaro Mandolin

DeGannaro has a way with wood. Here is a nicely carved electric mandolin that would serve as an understated companion to the DeGennaro hand guitar I saw this year.

DeGennaro Guitars


Colorful Band Instruments

You won't trip over this clarinet in a dark room. Deura has quite a selection of colors available for the band instruments they offer. Everyone should own a red pocket trumpet sometime in their lifetime.

Deura, Inc.
P.O. Box 6303
Springfield, VA 22150
(703) 455-9600


Violins of a Differnt Color

From the same people who brought you "Santa and Friends", here we have some unusual shades of violins. I checked out thier website and they can be had for less than $40, perfect for all the Townsend-influenced violinists you know.

Bridgecraft USA
8435 Eastern Ave.
Bell Gardens, CA 90201
(562) 334-1888


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©2005 Barry Wood