As I mentioned in my last blog, I had quite a busy 2014 Winter NAMM.  I started by headlining the kick off concert the night before the show, Whlie I was already tired after that show, I had to be ready to perform daily for my sponsors. This year I was performing for my sponsors FXC Wireless, Floyd Rose, and Essential Sound. I was also doing a signing event at the M.I.A. Products booth.

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Over the years, I have learned a few thing playing NAMM that I’d like so share. First off, travel light and make sure you wear comfortable shoes since you will be on your feet all day. I’ve also learned to bring in the least amount of gear possible. This is what I take in: one guitar in a gig bag (the gig bag is packed with a few things like picks, a guitar tool, cables and my strap), and my Bullet Proof pedalboard that has a few pedals on it to get my basic sounds. The Bullet Proof board is a great self-contained board with an on board power supply. I can change up the pedals to suit whatever I’m doing.  For example, this year I used an AMT D3 Distortion, Whirlwind phaser, Digitech delay and Morley Tremonti Wah.  Since I don’t take an amp in the show, this set up allows me to get my tones from whatever amp is provided at my sponsors booth. All I have to do is set the amp for a clean tone and get all my gain from my board. A great thing at this year’s show is that my actual live rack (equipped with a FXC switching system) was at the FXC booth.  Fortunately, I played their booth for probably 80 percent of my performances.

 

One issue at NAMM is that the sound police can be a little strict about your volume.  Since I use 100 watt tube heads when I play live, getting the tubes cooking at a low volume is a bit of a challenge. Fortunately my good friends at Two Notes came to the rescue this year. They let me borrow their Re-Load Attenuator for my rig. With the Re-Load Attenuator, you can crank the amp and then turn down the attenuator to the level you need. The beauty is that the amp thinks it’s blaring and sounds that way, but at a low volume. This set up worked perfect for the show and kept us out of trouble.

Ronnie North and Lisa Loeb and NAMM 2014

Ronny and Lisa Loeb at the Fishman Booth

 

At tradeshows, I usually play to tracks off my CD’s that have the lead and melody guitars removed.  I then play the main melodies and solos live. This works out great since it’s very flexible and you can really control the volume. It’s also convenient because I can play my tracks right off my iPhone or any other mp3 player.  I have all my music from my various CD’s on my phone and create playlists for events. On a random note, one of the days of the show George Lynch’s peeps asked to borrow my cable to play his tracks at the Floyd Rose booth since his went bad. I was glad to do it since it’s not every day you get to help a guitar hero.

 

It’s great if the booth you’re playing has a small PA setup we run the music through, but many times a little combo amp set on clean has to make do.I  have even played several big shows to huge crowds this way when last minute gigs have popped up and I can’t get my band there in time. The thing is, when you’re playing to tracks, it’s very important that you can monitor the music clearly so you can play to the music.  Getting the right balance between your guitar and the music is crucial.  

 

Another key factor to consider is since you’re not playing with an actual band you need to be more of an entertainer and work it a bit more for the crowd (If you’ve ever seen me play you know that’s not much of a problem for me…lol). During my demos I start off playing a song, take a minute and talk about the product I’m representing and ask if anyone has any questions. I then play a few more songs and chat with the audience and answer questions. I definitely try to keep my demos loose and fun. Sometimes I mix it up by jaming with other endorsers of the product, or I’ll even jam with people at the show that are checking out the product.  You never know what’s going to happen and that’s what makes it fun. I’ve seen some fellow players get all bent out of shape when things at their demos go off course, but it’s all about having fun and showing the product and your sponsor in the best light.

 

I had a blast playing daily at the Floyd Rose booth and jamming at the Essential Sound Products booth.  I got to meet several cool people at my demos like George Clinton and bass legend Jeff Berlin.  Jeff was also playing at the Floyd Rose booth. It was a great thrill to meet him.  He was very cool and even head banged to a couple songs, a definite show highlight for me.

 

It was also fun doing my signing event on Saturday and meeting my fans.  I tried to see as much of the show as I could between my demos, and then there’s the after show events which are always fun. I even got to jam with my good friend Gary Hoey at his NAMM event for Fishman. It’s always fun jamming with him and I definitely have to be on my game when I play with him.

 

Ronnie North and Gary Hoey at NAMM

Ronny North and Gary Hoey onstage at NAMM 2014

 

It’s also great seeing friends in the industry and your sponsors since many of them are from out of state.  With everything going on, it’s definitely a challenge to keep your energy up for the week.

 

In the end, I managed to get through the show unscathed. It was exhausting, but as you can see, I had a great 2014 Winter NAMM.