JANUARY 21-25th 2016
THE NAMM SHOW
Review and Photos By: Char Tupper
The time has come once again, it is time for the bi-annual “NAMM Show” in warm and sunny Anaheim, CA. This event, though it is a lot of walking around, every step is worth it every time. The chance to see new and upcoming guitars, drums, basses, amplifiers, you name it, it is interesting to see them all, and as a bonus, meeting musicians from your favourite bands.
The event as always, is 5 days long, filled with unique seminars about increasing your business, in-store events, sales, everything, since after all, this is a convention for the companies to help expand their services. That however, isn’t the only aspect to NAMM, don’t forget all the “guitar” or “drum” jams by musicians from around the world like Steve Vai, Devin Townsend, GWAR, and don’t forget signing sessions as well with artists like John 5, Nikki Sixx, Nicko McBrain, Michael Angelo Batio, Dave Mustaine, and countless others. It was very hard to attend them all, and some artists I knew not to even bother, since I personally don’t feel like waiting in two hour lines, when I can go see other booth events and seminars, or even take a “break” and have lunch.
Speaking of booths, I quite enjoyed Spector this year, it was their 40th anniversary and they have recently joined forces with KORG, so they had a bigger display of instruments while being tied into one of the biggest booths at NAMM 2016. Congratulations to Stuart on 40 strong years of Spector basses, they are a loyal fans, but a strong, yet humble clientele. However, one disappointing segment from NAMM booths this year, I will say, the Rickenbacker booth, the bass that Lemmy Kilmister was endorsed by, had nothing to say “R.I.P. Lemmy”, or anything about condolences. It actually almost disgusted me, since Lemmy is a household name in the world of rock and metal, and for nothing anywhere on the booth to show support to his fans and loved ones, well…I was speechless, and still am. Other then that, I will say, the Sennheiser booth setup a small glass case in the main lobby dedicating their support to David Bowie, which was a nice touch to see walking into the convention centre.
On that note, I will say some other disappointments were the ESP and Schecter booths. I wasn’t overly thrilled with the exhibits, very “plain jane” compared to previous years. Schecter Guitar Research had the same wall of guitars and artist series displays, but no real changes to the booth in setup, style, colours, almost wished they had changed some of the layout. ESP as well, I will be honest, the past 2 years, ESP blew me away and was always my favourite booth for guitars to see, especially when friends of mine from around the world are sponsored by ESP. The layout in my opinion, was too similar to that of Schecter, but sadly not in the best way, the booth was very dark and not lit up very well to see the guitars with detail. Plus, speaking of guitars, the custom shop of ESP has scaled down quite a bit, last year there were a selection of the extreme customs like the angels, demons, axes, and more. This year there were maybe 3 extreme customs, which is what ESP’s booth is always known for, so that was a shame. We will see what 2017 has to bring for these booths.
On a positive note, Dean Guitars is always a treat, well laid out, new guitar displays added from Megadeth, Dimebag Darrell, Arch Enemy, and more. The artist signings were always a hit including Michael Batio, Dave Mustaine, Michael Amott, and countless others throughout the days, plus a friendly booth to boot! KORG like I mentioned before, also a popular booth to hit up while at NAMM. They had Sixx A.M. for a signing session, but also Doyle, Piggy D, John 5, Nita Strauss, and so many others. The signings were always well spaced out and gave fans plenty of time to say hi, get a photo, stuff signed, and be on their way. KORG’s staff is friendly as well, big open booth, plus the display unit, you could see for what felt like miles, it was great, definitely gave a sense of presence.
That so far only speaks for the “business” side of things during the day here at NAMM 2016, what about the evenings? Well, let me tell you, every evening was filled with no less than 2 concerts a night, so trying to choose was tricky at times, but that being said, I always, ALWAYS go to the Hottest ticket at NAMM, the annual NAMMJAM at the Grove in Anaheim. It was my chance to see John 5 and the Creatures and Beasto Blanco, I’m not passing up that opportunity, no way! It was a great show full of energy, great music, and friends. That being said, the next evening I got to go see the Schecter NAMM Party with Arch Enemy and Zakk Sabbath at the Grove as well, love the venue for sound and stage visual. Tonight however, unlike at NAMMJAM, this show had no will call person or anything, so the mass amounts of people with tickets are rushing into the venue with 2-3 security trying to keep control, that was a huge mistake. There was no organization at the door for the Schecter party, so guest list people were wandering around wondering where to go, and the regular line was growing by the second. Finally getting in, acquiring my free alcohol and heading upfront to see Arch Enemy, since after all, was my first time seeing with Mr. Jeff Loomis. Let me tell you, both Michael and Jeff are a great combination together, both play off one another very well and it was great to see Arch Enemy again, always a treat.
Overall, NAMM is such an amazing experience getting to see my touring friends from around the world outside of a “concert setting”, but also getting a chance to meet musicians I wouldn’t normally meet on tour due to extreme popularity. I don’t even play an instrument (unless you count my Canon cameras, then yes I do, haha), but that being said, I enjoy NAMM just as much as the music addicts around me who do. If you ever get the chance to see or go to NAMM, please, do so, it is worth it.