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Maybe it's about to be replaced by something a whole lot better...


by Dendy Jarrett



It's hard to believe that we're less than a week away from Winter NAMM 2017. For musicians, the phrase “kid in a candy shop” rings true when you’re introduced to 1.6million square feet packed full of a music-gear-centric event.


But is NAMM as relevant to new gear as it once was? We already have pretty much all the gear we need, and the indiscriminate addiction to “gear lust” is becoming a thing of the past. However, what’s replacing it is on the horizon, and it’s pretty interesting.

The reality is that musicians have made music for thousands of years with whatever they can find laying around—whether rocks, animal skins, or digital whiz-bangs. And some people are quick to point out that we haven’t had any revolutionary changes for quite a while. In the 80s, we saw sampling, FM synthesis, hard disk recording, MIDI, sampled drum machines, and much more in a massive outpouring of technological innovation. The last gasp of that revolution was the popularization of virtual instruments in the mid-90s. Music got a shot in the arm as a result, and musicians were lusting after gear faster than manufacturers could produce it.

But like a lust-based one-night stand where you wake up the next morning and wonder what you were thinking, it became clear that all these new toys made better-sounding music, less expensively and more efficiently than ever before...but they didn’t make you a better musician.

Can gear make you a better musician? Probably not if it involves gear lust. But gear love...that’s different.

That’s finding gear where you have real chemistry. Gear that inspires you, and where you settle down and have a commitment to exploring your craft. Manufacturers are getting the message: Hardware synthesizers used to be a race to the bottom whose interface was no more appealing than a calculator—but now we have best-selling synths from people like Dave Smith that aren’t inexpensive, but with which you can form a relationship. We have DAWs that make you smile when you boot them up, reverbs that don’t create an algorithm but a virtual world, and research into new materials that affects everything from making guitars more playable to drums that last longer.

As for Harmony Central, we’ll be at this year’s show—as we have been for over two decades. And we know you don’t need the kind of show reports web sites used to do: you can follow specific companies on Facebook, check out their web sites and videos (that cost them tens, if not hundreds, of thousands of dollars to produce), and follow links to the “online magazines” that go into paroxysms of joy when company X makes the tiniest of changes in some product that people didn’t care about that much anyway.

We never forget that we’re here to inspire you to make better music. It’s up to the manufacturers to sell you gear; it’s up to us to peel away the layers, give more of the NAMM experience, present the human side of our crazy industry, and prioritize quality over quantity.

The NAMM show is about a lot more than new products—it’s an assessment of the past, an evaluation of today, a look into the future, and a celebration of the industry of human happiness. Come with us...and enjoy the ride.


 Join the 2017 Winter NAMM Discussion!




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.


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