NAMM 2013 Review Part One – Gibson & Marshall

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Gibson Min Etune

Gibson announces the Designer N-225

Gibson Designer N-225From the Gibson Press Release: “The Designer N-225 makes a massive visual statement, while offering a deceptive tonal versatility that cuts it in whatever style of music you play.” In this finish, I’d say the ‘massive visual statement’ is much like the controller from Guitar Hero’s Warriors of Rock. In fact, Gibson seems to be talking about a race car in the press release: “Whatever track you take it down, the N-225 is a stunning new showstopper, with even more power hiding under the hood than first meets the eye.”

With that said, this guitar is somewhat of a hot-rod with a chambered maple body and glued in, slim, ’60’s profile maple neck with rosewood fretboard and block markers. Segmented ‘F-holes’, more reminiscent of back-to-back Rickenbacker triangles, complete the modern body’s styling. A Jim DeCola designed the ‘Dirty Fingers’ humbucker, with coil splitting tone pot, lurks in the bridge position while the tone shattering P-90, a guitarist favorite since the ’40’s, lies in wait at the neck.

The Designer N-225 uses the tone-wood that Gibson uses for the body core of the ES-335 and 339, maple. However, the neck on this guitar is maple as well, not the mahogany of the 335/339. This should result in a sharp and cut-through-the-mix tone, even with those hot and burly pickups. Maple produces a brighter tone with a little more ‘honk’ to it, much like the guitars mentioned above.

The hardware is all black anodized from the Grover tuners to the Tune-o-matic bridge. The Vibrola tailpiece looks almost exactly like the Lyre tailpiece on the SG Original guitar. MSRP is $2332 and street shows the N-225 at $1399 w/a Gibson gig bag. Check out the Cherry and Natural N-225s at

Gibson’s Min-Etune

Gibson Min EtuneGibson also announced the Min-Etune on several Les Paul and SG models.

It is a continuous tuner that rotates your tuners and keeps your guitar in tune… automatically. Just strum your guitar and the Min-Etune adjusts what needs to be adjusted to keep your guitar in perfect pitch.

You can select one of 12 pre-programmed tunings or store 6 of your own and retune between songs on a gig, perform, and retune to any tuning you like for the next song in seconds. That is pretty slick.

It looks like they may offer it as a kit for any guitar with the Gibson tuner pattern but it’s only available on Les Pauls and SGs right now. Go to for info.

Marshall DSL15C Combo

Can this small combo amp really be a JCM 2000 DSL?

Within the past 2 years, Marshall has produced signature amps for Joe Satriani, Yngwie Malmsteen, and Slash. For 2013, they turn their attention toward an amp that many consider the foundation of the modern Marshall: the JCM 2000 Dual Super Lead.

The DSL has been in production since the 1990s, as the spirited replacement to the JCM 800 and 900 series, but an upgrade was long overdue. Now we have it, the DSL15C, listing at $599 street ($499/head only).

There’s a small info card stapled to the rear of the combo and the words ‘Made in Vietnam’ are easy to miss. Marshall purists won’t like this but, in order to keep prices competitive, overseas manufacturing has risen to new levels in the Marshall catalog. This new DSL is powered by 6V6s in a 15 watt configuration for better reliability than the older EL-84s.

Marshall dsl15c ComboThe DSL is a two-channel design, each with its own gain and volume controls, feeding single bass, mid and treble EQ. The DSL15C also offers clean and Lead 2 overdrive voices, a preset “deep” switch and one reverb level control for both channels. A little inconvenience is posed by the lack of a standby switch so no ‘master mute’ is available, somewhat odd for a tube amp.
On the rear panel, three fixed-impedance output jacks offer pentode/triode switching to reduce output power by half. The triode option produces a warmer feel by reducing the high freq response. There’s also a color-coded footswitch jack.

The DSL15C offers a massive overdrive sound that’s easily tweaked to cover both Euro and US metal sounds. The traditional spring reverb has been replaced with a new digital reverb that’s smooth and warm. Jim Marshall’s heritage carries on as the DSL15C will rattle windows when turned up to test the endurance of the 12″ speaker. The digital reverb suggests that a DSL FX model may be in the works.

For more info, check out


Doug Knight

Our “Man on the Street” reporter, with his “What’s New in Music Stores?” series, resides in Coos Bay, OR. You can find him on Friday nights at The Small Events Center at OrCoast Music in Coos Bay.

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