Since I started this blog (years ago), I think I’ve been asked if I was attending NAMM… every.. single.. year. I’ve always said I wasn’t.Â I just could never justify the budget, but I was always interested. This time of year I would watch many YouTube videos on the coverage. Watch countless booth interviews and demos. It’s an exciting time year for builders.
This year I was finally able to say “Yes. Yes, I’m going to be going to NAMM this year”. I was excited to finally experience the event. Everyone I’ve ever spoke to, would talk about how crazy and overwhelming it is. So going in, I felt that I knew what I was about to see. Gear. Lots of gear. People. Lots of people.
Walking in on Thursday, the first thing that surprised me.. was the noise. The chaotic noise of every instrument being played simultaneously while everyone is talking just below a yell. It never ceased. There never was a break. If anything, there were burst of it getting louder. If I ever go again. Ear plugs. For sure. I won’t bring up the moment when I wandered around the drum section. You can figure it out.
NAMM is about connecting builders with retailers (dealers). This concept was fascinating for me. Plenty of exhibitor badges, plenty of buyer badges. But I wonder how effective this is? Has the goals and priorities changed? Back in the 70s, 80, 90 and early 2000s, the only way to see boutique builders and see innovative and interesting products was to gather them all and put them in a central place. Today with the internet, it’s very simple to contact a builder, to see a demo, to know about the next ‘hot’ thing based on the reaction of the gear community. So what’s the point now? I think on the extreme end of things this is easy, but NAMM has a lot of middle ground where people are under exposed on the internet and they could have a break through moment. I was impressed with the number of builders that I was not aware of. Beetronic really caught my eye, and the phaser by Rabbit Hole FX was super hot, and I’ve never heard of either of these businesses prior.
It was also great meeting some many friends and builders and artists that I’ve communicated over the years and never met face to face. I felt that was a major part of NAMM, making those connections. Reinforcing relationships. I hate saying ‘networking’.. but yeah, networking. One thing I was bummed about though, were the demos. The demos and the artists playing them was something I wanted to really see, but the environment makes it impossible to actually hear anything. You try to focus on the great ambient piece someone is trying hard to put together demoing reverbs/delays, but in your left ear you have a guy rippin’ blues licks and behind you there is hip hop pumping from a PA booth. Some booths had headphones – but those were usually plugged in direct to the pedal or some type of amp sim, but at least you could hear what was going on.
Overall, the experience was great. I think if I go back again, I would strategize a little a differently. Seeing some photos post-NAMM, I totally missed some builders that I would have loved to check out. I just didn’t see the booth and/or I didn’t put it on my hit list to check out. I think in the future, I would assemble a ‘see list’ months in advance – instead of days before.
I’ll post more about specifics coming up, but wanted to get my initial thoughts out. You can check out my feed on Instagram for some of the photos I took. Let me know what you think by commenting below!
6 years ago
I totally agree with your assessment of the NAMM show. I just went myself after years of wishing. I found it loud and crowded like they had pushed together 50 Guitar Centers. I got more enjoyment from people watching than investigating gear. I think of it sort of like the Rose Parade which I attended last year for the first time: Really cool to see in person but not in a big hurry to go again.Reply