I returned to conquer NAMM after a four-year hiatus, or reprieve, depending on how you look at it.

 

NAMM, the National Association of Music Merchants, holds a bi-annual convention where the manufacturers show their wares…and music store owners, managers and buyers make purchases and try to swing deals.

 

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Big name artists, often endorsees of the manufactures, roam the hallways and demo the gear – and presidents of companies and famed gear designers greet them personally. It is all very “high profile.”

 

There are also elements of a circus freak show, with some of the more flamboyant and/or over-the-top performers showing up in full regalia.

 

Then there are people and friends who haven’t seen each other since last year’s show, so it also is old home week.

 

Inside and outside the convention center are stages, as there in the adjoining hotel lobbies, so live music is everywhere.  If the show could be described in one word, it very well could be “LOUD.”

 

Everyone has their favorite booths and highlights of the show.  Here is mine:

 

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Hipshot got its name from the guitar string bender they manufacture, but since the company’s founding they have expanded into a wide assortment of guitar and bass replacement parts and accessories:  including some cool bass bridges and ultralight tuners.

 

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Over at Aphex they were showing off a new rackmount version of their exciter pedal (which we recently reviewed, click here to read).   The new unit essentially combines two of the floor pedals which are renowned for increasing the clarity and punch of the signal with virtually no increase to the level output.

 

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One of the lesser known names at NAMM this year is Tom Stenback Ltd.  The Stenback Company, which hails from Finland, specializes in high-quality bass guitars and bass pro audio gear.

 

Initial reaction after a quick inspection of their display models shows a refined approach to the conventional electric bass construction with a high degree of attention down to even the smallest detail…and they sound great, too.

 

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Musicvox instruments are somewhat less than conventional looking, but nevertheless they are fun to play…and garner plenty of attention with their Dali-esque body and headstock silhouette.

 

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Radial is many musicians’ first choice for DI boxes, and with good reason: the company manufactures many specialized models for specific needs and applications.  It is only natural that the next step would be to offer enhanced tone shaping options in a DI.

 

This led to the development of their Tonebone pedal for the guitar and the Bassbone for…yeah, you guessed it: the bass.

 

With two independent channels, two basses can used and dialed in differently, or one bass can be used and switched between preamp settings.  Cool.

 

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It is hard to become excited about a cable, but Solid Cables was still able to generate some buzz with the cables without access to the solder joints.  When a representative of the company was asked why the ends don’t open up, he said, “Because they don’t break!”

 

These are supposed to be the last cables you’ll ever need to buy.

 

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As iPad and other tablets become more common place on the stage for music, charts and lyrics, a bevy of new products have been developed to make them more musician-friendly.

 

One such product is the AirTurn BT-105.  This Bluetooth device wirelessly connects your foot pedal switches to your iPad to turn pages of your charts forward or backward leaving your hands free for more important tasks…such as playing a show.

 

There was plenty of fun to be had at NAMM, one of those places where a good amount of fun was happening was at the Jammit booth.  Jammit specializes in downlaodable audio tracks for guitarist, bassists, drummers or keyboardists to jam with.

 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5ULprEGF1Wo

 

Jammit also hosted a jam with Jack Russell’s Great White playing some 3D printed guitars that were supplied by Cubify.  Despite the instrument’s less-than-conventional looks, they are very functional with a wood center block, TV Jones pickups and a Badass-style bridge.

 

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As always, feel free to post your comments and/or send me an email on what products you would like to see featured on these pages.

 

You might also be interested in:

Best of NAMM 2013

NAMM Show Favorites

Treatise On Playing Bass