Roland and Boss debuted new gear, displayed a deluxe synthesizer rig, and presented two Lifetime Achievement Awards.

Traditionally, the NAMM Show lasts four days, from Thursday through Sunday. In recent years, media events are scheduled for Wednesday, too, making pre-NAMM an essential part of the show for us. In addition to Wednesday’s NAMM Media Preview Day, when a variety of vendors show off their wares to trade journalists, a few companies host special events to unveil new products to invited guests.

Roland's module polysynth pieced together from many individual modules at the Roland pre-NAMM 2018 press conference.

Roland's module polysynth pieced together from many individual modules at the Roland pre-NAMM 2018 press conference.

Steve Vai accepting a Lifetime Achievement Award at the Roland pre-NAMM 2018 press conference.

Steve Vai accepting a Lifetime Achievement Award at the Roland pre-NAMM 2018 press conference.

Roland always gets the ball rolling with a Wednesday press conference that we never miss. First off, the crowd was wowed by Roland personnel scattered around a very large room playing together on various Roland instruments while a leather-skirted singer belted popular tunes and strutted around the floor. The synthesizer station was most impressive, with a dozen SE-02 analog monosynth modules functioning as a single polysynth that also featured JU-06, JP-08, SH-01A, TR-08, TR-09, and other modules.

After that, Roland presented two well-known artists with Lifetime Achievement Awards. First up was Steve Vai, whose acceptance speech recounted his history with Roland processors and Boss stompboxes. Next came Thomas Dolby, who explained the evolution of his hit “She Blinded Me with Science,” performing that and his song “Europa” on two vintage Roland synths he played back in the '80s.

Thomas Dolby performing his hits after accepting a Lifetime Achievement Award at the Roland pre-NAMM 2018 press conference.

Thomas Dolby performing his hits after accepting a Lifetime Achievement Award at the Roland pre-NAMM 2018 press conference.

One new product we got to check out was the top-of-the-line Boss GT-1000 multi-effects processor, a versatile 32-bit, 96kHz unit featuring a Bluetooth-connected editing app and an expression/volume pedal. Roland also announced they’ve now sold more than a million Loop Stations.

The Boss GT-1000 Guitar Effects Processor.

The Boss GT-1000 Guitar Effects Processor.