as reported by Dendy Jarrett, Director of Harmony Central
Summer NAMM 2014
Wednesday, July 16th, 2014
Tonight officially kicks off the 2014 Summer NAMM show in Nashville, and while it is typically HOT, HOT, HOT — we are experiencing below normal temps for Nashville this week. The low last night even tied a record at 57 degrees with a high today (during show set up) at only 80 degrees with low humidity. No one's complaining!
Wednesday is set up day for Vendors and this year marks the second year (hence the 'nashville 2.0' in their promotion) in the new Music City Center.
Everyone loves the new Music City Center. The abundance of natural light, along with the acoustics that seemed to have been planned strategically for music-centered events, makes for a perfect venue (much better than the old venue). It is also so much more open due to the high ceilings and glass. It never leaves you feeling cramped.
Curiosity abounds over what this year's numbers will look like. 2013's Summer NAMM saw a 25% increase over 2012 due in large part to 157 first-time exhibitors and many who returned after a few years off from the Summer show.
The highlight of this day was Vince Gill and The Players at NAMM's " Insight: Inconic Artists and the Gear that inspires them." Vince served as host along with Two Old Hippies founder Tom Bedell. It was a great time of playing, swapping stories, joke telling, and discussions about instruments that influenced them and that were used on some of Vince's greatest hits.
Vince Gill and Michael Rhodes:
Vince and Tom Bedell:
Just an evening to remember:
(image credits: Getty Images)
Thursday, July 17th, 2014
Thursday saw opening day. For Harmony Central it was a chance to get the "lay of the land" (as they say). This was the second year for the show in the Music City Center, so it is still a little "unfamiliar" and can take a day just to find your way around. I am unsure of the attendence but I did note that finding parking was no problem at all.
NAMM is ever growing their education efforts and we spent a good bit of Thursday attending conferences and meetings. While these same efforts happen at the Winter show, it is a little more "sane" at the Nashville show. You also have elbow room!
Here are some overhead shots to enjoy:
(image credits: Getty Images)
Here is an image showing one of the sessions at the NAMM idea center. This was a great session on finding educational talent:
The evening finished off with a great NAMM Party at the famous SoundCheck rehearsal facility on Cowen Street. There was plenty of food with rooms set up for open jams:
(sorry for the image quality- it was pretty dark in the place)
SoundCheck Open Jam:
Friday, July 18th, 2014 — NEW AND NOTICED
Friday is the day we buckled down. Historically, you don't find many product launches at Summer NAMM as those are saved for the Anaheim for maximum impact. This year was different. I was able to find quite a few new releases.
Pearl Drums pulled a surprise and reintroduced Crystal Beat. First introduced in 1973, these acrylic drums have a stunning visual appeal. They also have a surprisingly controlled, but loud sound. Once set featured LED lighting on the interior top and bottom and was just a beauty!
To learn more about these drums: http://pearldrum.com/products/kits/drumsets/crystal-beat/
Eastman Guitars released a Ray Benson Signature Model at the show. Ray is a nine-time Grammy winner and respected founder and frontman for the Western Swing band, Asleep At The Wheel. The guitar is the T486-RB and is a double cutaway featuring a deluxe laminate top, back and sides with an "ivoroid" binding through the body, neck and headstock. It features a maple neck with ebony fingerboard that has standard mother of pearl block inlays. It is a 24-3/4" scale length between the 1-3/4" bone nut and nickel Gotoh tunomatic bridge. The guitar also features a custom designed "RB" logo "branded" between the trapeze style tailpiece. It comes with a hardshell case.
For more information on Eastman Guitars visit: http://www.eastmanguitars.com
Sleishman Drums based in Austrailia displayed one of the most unusual (or creative) kits at the show and it was getting a lot of buzz. Drummers seem to really enjoy unique set ups and this certainly qualifies! Mothertone is the US distributor for Sleishman and are based in Nashville. This unique kit was custom built for five-time grammy winner Roy "Futureman" Wooten, who was on hand to mesmerize the crowds. These are Sleishman Pro Series drums but were being shown to emphasize that they can now build custom drums out of their Nashville location.
For more info visit: http://www.mothertone.com
ESP Guitars released two new guitars in conjunction with the estate of Jeff Hanneman. The Limited Edition LTD JH Tribute, based on Hanneman's iconic 'Urban Camo' ESP is a white, black and grey camo finish and while I am not a guitar guy, this guitar really did catch my eye. It features Kahler Hybrid Vibrato and EMG 85/81 pickups. This guitar comes with a certificate of authenticity and some of the proceeds from the sales will go to the Wounded Warrior Project.
The other new release was the Limited Edition LTD 'Ride The Lightning' model which was created to commemorate the 30-year anniversary of Metallica's second album, and features an appropriately lightning-heavy finish to honor that specific album. The guitar features an alder body with a bolt-on maple neck, ebony fingerboard as well as EMG 60/81 humbuckers and a tune-o-matic bridge. This guitar also sports an eye-catching Metallica logo at the 12th fret and includes a certificate of authenticity and an ESP case that also supports a Metallica logo.
If either of these guitars appeals to you, get your order in now as ESP is only releasing 300 of these models worldwide.
The ESP Booth:
For more information on ESP Guitars visit: http://www.espguitars.com
TC-Helicon released their new Play Electric which is an 'intuitive' vocal/guitar multi FX combo. This 'one-stop' box features electronic guitar effects taken from their TonePrint pedals, and 'studio grade', natural sounding vocal treatments for the singing guitarist that can be guided by your guitar. The vocal path features tone, harmony, hardtune, reverb, double delay, uMod (chorus/flange, etc.) and transducer (megaphone/distortion fx). It supports separate mono XLR outputs for vocals and guitar making it painless for the sound engineer to mix the levels for the audience or users can set the output to stereo and create their own custom panoramic stereo mix.
If you play guitar and sing, you'll want to check this box out. It really is impressive what it is able to deliver in such an easy to use interface.
Check out more about TC-Helicon here: http://www.tc-helicon.com
Gretsch Guitars had a focus on the Gretsch G5034FT Rancher. While they were not new for this show, they were a featured item due to the Nashville locale and seemed a real hit at the show based on the crowd at the booth (always packed). These guitars are Bigsby- equipped and feature a striking triangular sound opening which plays to the 1950 styling. This guitar's focus market is the Country Western or Country Swing guitarist.
For more info on this and other Gretsch products please visit: http://www.gretschguitars.com
Roland unveiled the new Blues Cube guitar amp series in a classic 1 X 12 combo amp combining genuine tube sound and response with a more modern reliability. The size makes for easy transport and portablilty. The amp features a classic look with a beige wrap and a darker brown tweed grill clothe. These amps have Roland's Tube Logic which reproduces the inner workings of the revered tweed-era amp.
I'm including a stock image because the lighting at the show skewed the true classic color of the amp:
Roland also introduced the new Boss Waza Craft pedals. These are "re-inventions" of the original Boss Blues Driver, SD-1 and DM-2 analogue delay classic stompboxes that are quite common on the pedalboards of pro and amateur guitarists everywhere.
Waza is a Japanese term for art and technique, and the Japanese symbol is featured on these pedals. Boss states that these pedals are re-invented around discrete analogue components, refined circuitry, and meticulous attention to detail.
For more information on Roland visit: http://www.rolandus.com/products
Martin Guitar Co. introduced 7 new acoustic guitars at this show:
000RS25 Navajoa 25th Anniversary Model commemorates the 25th anniversary of the C. F. Martin & Co.'s Navajoa facility. It features a solid Sitka spruce top with a newly designed bracing system. The neck is made of solid sipo with an East Indian rosewood fingerboard. The headstock sports a 25th Anniversary logo. There will only be 50 of these produced.
SS-OM42-14 Martin Show Special is a model that was born out of the popular D-42 Sinker Mahogony model that was introduced at the Nashville 2012 show. These guitars have a solid Adirondack spruce top and Sinker mahogony back and sides. They are polished to a gloss finish with an oak burst toner. They feature a Paua pearl top inlay with select Abalone pearl border. Mother of pearl is also used on the boarder for the headbplate, fingerboard and bridge. These were only available at the show and are limited to a run of 25. The labels are signed by CF Martin IV and numbered in sequence.
OMXAE BLACK is a new X series OM-14 fret non-cutaway acoustic electric model. It features a Jett Black HPL top, back and sides and is equipped with Fishman Sonitone USB electronics. Also has a black Stratabond neck with a PA profile with a single ring, pad-printed rosette on the headstock. It also sports a modified 1930s style bridge. There was no indication of this being a limited run.
D-28 Louvin Brothers Custom Signature Edition is the first guitar ever made by Martin that features a special photo imprint on the solid Sitka spruce top. The Graphic is inspired by the Louvin Brothers' iconic album cover, "Satan is Real." This is a dreadnought 14-fret body that is constructed with solid East Indian rosewood and has a modified low oval neck in mahogany. This guitar will also be signed by CF Martin IV and numbered in sequence with a limited run of 50.
CS-GP-14 is a new Grand Performance 14 fret non-cutaway model built with complete hide glue construction. This stiking guitar was one of my favorite looking guitars at the show and is simply beautiful.
The fingerboard and rosette are inlaid with a concave diamond design made up of orange/red spiney recon stone. The European spruce top is married with Guatemalan rosewood backs and sides with the back featuring a cocobolo wedge. The side sound port for the Fishman Aura VT electronics features a rosette ring. The neck is mahogany and has a performing artist profile with a carbon fiber neck rod. This guitar will be limited to 50.
D-18 Sycamore is a new unique dreadnought 14-fret guitar with solid sycamore back and sides that are combined with a Sitka spruce top. They call this a torrified Sitka spruce top because torrefaction accelerates the natural aging process, which gives the guitar the appearance of being aged. This guitar also has a modified low oval profile neck with a performing artist taper and is made of solid sycamore. There will only be 50 of these guitars produced.
DXAE Black is a new X series dreadnought 14 fret non-cutaway in Jett black (HPL) top, back and sides. It is an acoustic-electric model with Fishman Soniton USB electronics and much like the OMXAE above, features a single ring printed rosette and sports a 1930s style bridge. It also has a black stratabond neck with a PA profile. There is no indication of this being a limited run guitar.
Another cool sighting at the Martin booth was the TV show Nashville's star Chip Esten:
For more information on these and other Martin Guitars visit: http://www.martinguitar.com
YAMAHA released a 40th anniversary motif XF version in white to celebrate the 40 years that have passed since it released its first portable analogue synthesizer, the 1974 SY-1. This white version supports the latest 1.5 operating system which includes reverb algorithms, amplifier simulation and multi FX. These will have a USB sound stick of soundsets each box also contains a Flash Memory Expansion Board and discount coupons for various third-party developers.
Yamaha promises this is the first in a year's worth of celebrating and more products will follow.
and the massive Yamaha Booth:
For more information on this and other Yamaha products visit: Yamaha Musical Instruments
Additionally, they have set up a page for their 40th Anniversary Celebration: Yamaha Synth 40th Anniversary
PreSonus introduced a revamped USB 2.0 audio interface with the release of the bus-powered AudioBox iOne and iTwo.
iOne is an entry-level model which offers one instrument input and one mic input. The iTwo increases the potential with two combo mic and switchable line/instrument inputs and both feature Class A mic preamps with phantom power. 24-bit, up to 96kHz converters with 105 dB of dynamic range.
Both units ship with the PreSonus Studio One Artist DAW for PC and Mac and are designed to complement their Capture iPad recording App.
PreSonus also released their PreSonus Capture iPad multitrack recording app. This allows sample rates of 24-bit/96kHz and 'basic mixing and editing features' are available in this app. What's really cool is the ability to wirelessly transfer your Capture projects to your Mac or PC where they can be worked on in PreSonus's Studio One desktop DAW.
For more information on this and other PreSonus gear visit: PreSonus.com
Casio hit the Nashville show floor with three new keyboards in their Sound eFX line that are sure to excite the electronic musician. It is hard to believe that it has been 24 years since they introduced their first mini-sampling keyboard. They hope to take sampling keyboards to a new level with the launch of these eFX keys.
The CTK-2400 is light in weight (at 7.94 lbs.) but heavy in capabilty. It has 61 standard sized keys. with a maxiumum polyphony of 48 notes and 400 keyboard voices. The sampling time is 1 second (fixed) and the CTK features 150 Rythms, Built-in microphone, 110 songs, with "class compliant" USB connectivity.
The LK-175 has lighted keys! This should be a great learning keyboard because it gives some visual excitement along with the Casio Step-Up Lesson System. This systems provides instruction and assistance which allows a keyboard newbie to gain experience and grow confidence along the way until they eventually play on their own. This keyboard has 61 piano-style lighted keys that feature Touch Response. There is an EFX Sampler with built-in microphone. It also features an Aux input for connecting your MP3 player or other device and also has a headphone connector for quiet practice. And finally it includes a music stand and song book. Great for the learning keyboardist!
And the last keyboard that Casio released is the big brother to the LK-175, the LK-260. This keyboard supports all of the features of the LK-175, but also supports the new Sound EFX Sampler to record any sound and integrate it into the rhythm. This keyboard also features a USB MIDI port and is ready for computers and iOS devices without the need for driver downloads. A great keyboard.
For more information on Casio's new gear visit: casio music gear.com
Saturday, July 19, 2014 — The Photo Gallery
Saturday is public day at the Summer NAMM show and since 95% of the Nashville population are musicians, you can imagine the ensuing controlled chaos. It can make talking to vendors quite a challenge. It does, however, make the day go quicker than you are prepared for.
For the final day, I'm posting up a photo gallery for your enjoyment.
Some Pearl Drums Kits:
Gorgeous AJP kits:
Notice the tamborine jingles in the bass drum hoop. This was a distinctive sounding kit.
Ayotte was awarded the "Company to Watch" award!
Mapex Showed some funky MyDentity colors.
Porter & Davies - Also Natal Drums represented in the booth.
The Return of SilverFox:
Prentice Practice Pads:
Chop Builders Practice (weighted) Sticks. (sorry for the blurry pic, but these guys constantly laughing and moving).
Lots of smaller booth manufacturers:
Gretsch, KAT, Gibraltar, LP, Takamine, Ovation:
Sontronic, Professional Audio Design, MicFX:
JamStik and Casio in the booth next door:
Griffin Technologies: I had to take two pics. I had Westy envy!
Ukeleles: What's your flavor?
You never know what you are gonna see at a NAMM show. This guy playing his own saxophone that sports two mouthpieces, keys and bells. Both at the same time. It was certainly 'different.'
The Gibson Family of Musical Instruments:
C.F Martin & Co.
Warwick and Framus:
CONCLUSION — The Industry's On The Mend.
I noticed at this show that it is an opportunity for lots of smaller manufacturers to be on the main floor of the hall and not stuck in the basement of Hall E (like they are at the larger Anaheim show). There can be a smaller manufacturer directly next to a larger manufacturer. It becomes a real diverse community, and all on one floor.
Additionally, I noticed an up-tick in traffic but most importantly, lots more smiles. There was not that underlying tone of doom and gloom related to the economic conditions that have existed these last 4 or 5 years.
The MI industry is optimistic again (correction: cautiously optimistic) and people are hoping for brighter days ahead.
Nashville is a perfect host for this event. (I am biased — I live here) There is so much to do within walking distance of the Music City Center. So much great food. So much great entertainment. So much Southern Hopsitality.
Until next year ...
Onward and Upward!
Dendy Jarrett is the Publisher and Director of Harmony Central. He has been heavily involved at the executive level in many aspects of the drum and percussion industry for over 25 years and has been a professional player since he was 16. His articles and product reviews have been featured in InTune Monthly, Gig Magazine, DRUM! and Modern Drummer Magazines.