Winter Namm 2014

Posted: January 29, 2014 by phanson in Tips & Tricks


WonderWomanWinter NAMM (National Association of Music Merchants) is a music gear trade show. This event happens once a year in January at the enormous Anaheim Convention Center in California. It’s fitting that it’s in Anaheim, right next to Disneyland because NAMM is a kind of fantasy land of manufacturers showing gear. Musicians are everywhere, and a good dose of strange people too. Here I am (left) with Wonder Woman and a random guitar Zombie.

This was a different Namm for me; I didn’t work the show like I’ve done so many times before. That’s a hard gig, eight hours a day of demoing a prototype piece of gear that’s usually not completely working yet. But, this year I flew down to LA and spent one day just browsing around. I checked out some lighting that I need for gigs, some cool guitars, pedals, and amps and I just cruised around and met people. I bumped into my old buddy Joey Tafolla, a Shrapnel records shredder and Ashwin Sood, a drummer friend I hadn’t seen for years. (Ash plays for Sarah McLachlan.)

If you’ve never attended a Namm show it’s quite an event. It’s the largest collection of musicians in one general area that you can imagine. Except for Namm’s European counterpart, The Frankfurt Music Mesa, this exists nowhere else. Imagine, in an area about 5 square miles, every restaurant, bar, sidewalk, hotel and parking lot is full of musicians. After the show my phone was dead, so to charge it I went into a bar to find an outlet and have a beer. The guy sitting next to me was a Scotsman wearing a kilt. I told him years ago, while on tour I had met the guys in the Scottish band Nazareth. This guy turned out to be best friends with the Nazareth guys, he’s their gear supplier.

This show is not for the general public, you have to work at a music store or have a connection with an exhibitor to get in. Years back I snuck into the show only to be caught by security and thrown out. You would think that would limit the amout of random musicians but it doesn’t. The first thing I noticed this year was how many people were there! Even with multiple buildings, and large outdoor areas, at lunchtime I had to walk about a mile to find a restaurant without huge lines.Namm Front

60th Aniversary StratThere are American, European and Asian Businessmen in suits; 40-something has-been rockers with mullets and large guts; hot babes in mini skirts and boots; young rockers decked out in leather ala’ Black Veil Brides. You see guys in shorts with long beards looking like Dimebag. There are famous musicians as well, I saw George Lynch and Steve Morse. I saw poser musicians, classical players and there is a huge area with violins, violas, cellos and horns of every kind. One building was full of music software and computer peripherals. But be very afraid of the drum area with hundreds of people hitting things with a stick!

Each of the 4-5 buildings are about a football field size so I covered a lot of area. I must have walked 10 miles!

There was so much gear I was overwhelmed. Boss has a new multi- effects unit, the ME-80, with very cool new rocker pedals that makes the four pedals into eight. Line 6 has a new amp called AMPLIFi, dreamed up by gear guru Marcus Ryle. You control the amp’s effects and amp models via Bluetooth from your iPad or phone. It has a guitar speaker in the center and stereo speakers on each side for playing back stereo jam tracks. Line 6 has even created an online cloud community for sharing presets and jam tracks for AMPLIFi.

FridgeI had seen pictures of the Marshall Fridge (left) in guitar magazines but in real life it rates a ten on my cool factor scale. Yeah it’s gimmicky but I don’t care, I want one! Fender was celebrating it’s 60th anniversary of the strat. I saw a strat that Jimi Hendrix gave to his roadie, I guess that guitar is usually up here at Seattle’s EMP. I saw guitars from so many manufacturers, including Jackson, Charvel, ESP, Martin, BC Rich, Gibson, Gretsch, Ibanez, Rickenbacker, Schecter and on and on. I even saw a guitar in the shape of Mary the mother of Jesus. I think that guitar was respectfully done but I’m not sure exactly who would play it. I hope maybe a worshipSupro band? I saw the new Supro amp (below) that’s a faithful reproduction of the one Jimmy Page used on the early Zeppelin albums. I tried it with a Tele, (Jimmy used a Tele in those early days) it’s scary close!

Bottom line, I was glad I only planned to stay one day. You get fatigued from all that noise, shiny things, lights and glitz. If you want to experience NAMM, maybe just once is enough. I’ll make my next trip to a quiet beach or a ski area!


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