This report from Winter NAMM comes from Dan Miller, publisher of Flatpicking Guitar magazine.
The 110th National Association of Music Merchants (NAMM) show was held in Anaheim, California, from January 19th to the 22nd. There were 1441 exhibitors and 95,709 registered attendees at this year’s event.
With those kinds of numbers you might think, “That place must have been like a zoo.” And you’d be right! This event is like a circus, zoo, costume party, and insane asylum all rolled into one.
This event is a trade show where music product retailers can meet face-to-face with manufacturers to make purchases and gain product knowledge. Everything that you can think of that you might find in any music store is on display here. Although every musical instrument and every musical genre is represented, pop and rock are most prominent. At first glance, there doesn’t seem ilke there is much happening for the bluegrass player, however, most any company that you might find at the International Bluegrass Music Association’s convention is represented here, they are just a bit harder to find.
While roaming the enormous convention hall I was able to find exhibits by Martin Guitars, Deering Banjos, Colling Guitars and Mandolins, Bourgeois Guitars, Breedlove Guitars and Mandolins, Saga Musical Instruments, Eastman Guitars and Mandolins, Mel Bay Publications, DR Strings, D’Addario and Planet Waves, Shubb Capos, John Pearse, L. R. Baggs, Fishman, and many others companies that make the products that bluegrass players know and love.
Some of the highlights for me were finding Del McCoury at the Martin Guitar booth, checking out Saga’s new limited edition Bill Monroe Kentucky mandolin, finding some new accessories, like DR’s new Dragon Skin Strings, Shubb’s new ultra light capo, and discovering a new bluegrass instructional series from Mel Bay called “School of” (i.e. School of Bluegrass Guitar, School of Bluegrass Mandolin, etc.).
Of course, it was also great fun checking out all of the instruments that were on display and listening to various artist’s perform at some of the booths, including the Kruger Brothers at the Deering Banjo booth, Tim May at the Breedlove booth, Brad Davis at the Takamine booth, the Saga Bluegrass Band at the Saga booth, and many more.
The NAMM show is a great place to find out what is new in the musical world in terms of instruments, accessories, learning tools, software programs, phone apps, sound reinforcement, recording studio gear, and anything else that pertains to your musical life. It is a bit overwhelming and somewhat tiring because of the vast numbers of vendors and attendees – with its resultant chaos and noise.
However, if you are interested in discovering and testing out the latest and greatest instruments and gear, it is the place to be.