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January 06, 2017


Chicago Music Exchange Year End Round-up: A Look back at the gear of 2016

2016 was a tumultuous year for the music world to say the least. While we could go on lamenting the laundry list of artists we lost, we’d like to highlight the innovation and invention this year has brought to light. While we gear up for the highly anticipated NAMM 2017 trade show to see what the new year has in store, lets take a look at some of the coolest products we discovered in 2016!


Korg Volca Series

Bedroom rockers rejoiced this past year with the expansion of the Korg Volca Series!  Battery power, smartphone sync-ability, headphone jack and instant sonic gratification make these boxes the perfect entry for the budding electronic artist.

We know firsthand that many stockings were “stuffed” with these mean little boxes.  Don't be quick to judge, these “toys” have a lot more under the hood.

A quick search on google will reveal a burgeoning DIY community hotroding the shit out of the Volcas.  The additional dead space on the control panel, open circuit options on the PCB; the Korg Volca series is a dormant circuit-bent volcano just waiting to be unleashed.  

It was the reintroduction of CV Sync capability that first got my attention. The Volca’s are that rare gear that play nice with your Ableton rig, as well as your Dad’s drum machine from 1984. While most companies have focused on software synthesis, Korg continues to make functioning hardware that challenges and inspires. 


Fender American Professional Series

After 30 years on the Fender throne as its flagship series, the Fender American Standard has stepped down. Enter the Fender American Professional Series!

With vintage-inspired pickups, a revamped neck profile, and a rainbow of muted, never before seen colors; the American Professional Series is ready to take over.

Built to retain the best of the old world with a dash of modern sensibility, the Fender American Professional Series is one you'll want to try first hand.  Stop by our show room to see the full line of Fender American Professional Guitars and Basses! 


Yamaha Reface Series

Korg isn’t the only synth maker dedicated to modern hardware. The new Reface Series captures Yamaha's greatest hits of FM synthesizers in spades!  While small on the outside, these sleek little boards are capable of more 80s pads and string bass than you can shake a DX-7 at. If you’re looking for some FM synth flavor, without lugging your fragile CS-35 to the gig, the Yamaha Reface Series is here to the rescue.

Cali76 Compact


When Origin Effects undertook the monumental task of placing an 1176-style compressor into a stomp box, the bass world did a double-take. The results were out of this world, but the huge size (and understandably huge price tag) dissuaded many players.

2016 introduced us to the Cali76 CD: same FET style compression in a package one-third the size!

Cali76 has perfectly captured not only the dynamic control and stability of a classic 1176, but the tonal color and nuances of playing through a well built FET compressor.

Thats what caught our attention in 2016. What are some of your favorites from last year?

Brad Althouse
Brad Althouse