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Summer NAMM 2018

The Music City Meltdown ...


by Dendy Jarrett


Why Summer NAMM? Because you can never hear too many Strats going through overdrives and playing different songs at the same time! Yes, there's nothing quite like the thrill of random combinations of guitar, drums, effects boxes, ukuleles, basses, and various unidentifiable instruments making a joyful noise unto the loud. 


When people tell you it was a hot show, well, it was. No one is certain how or why it happens, but the week of Summer NAMM in Nashville also coincides historically with the hottest week of the year up to that point. This past week was no exception. Heat indexes were in the 102 degree range, with actual temperatures in the mid 90s - and humidity that made it impossible for anyone to say "hey, no sweat!" Occasional drenching thundershowers added a wet accent on top of the wetness of the air itself. Coming one weekend after Sweetwater's superb GearFest (with, by the way, a record-setting attendance of over 15,000 people), you had a one-two punch of geargasm gone wild, enhanced with a touch of euphoric exhaustion.


But once you were inside the elegant Music City Center (which still has that "new convention center" smell), you were calmed by air conditioning, improved food options, spacious aisles, and a bunch of fun products - which made Summer NAMM seem well worth the effort. It's regaining its footing due to the tentatively strengthening economy, and you could certainly tell it was about the music industry - people were selling, and people were buying.


NAMM also presented a steady diet of tech topics in their TEC Tracks workshops, as well as lively panel discussions and interviews in the Idea Center. Our very own ex-HCer, Craig Anderton, kicked off the TEC Tracks sessions with a keynote address about the future of music technology - and that sound you heard was heads exploding as he covered blockchains' effect on intellectual property, how to re-invent music stores, machine learning,  3D printing as the new DIY, MIDI's next 30 years, virtual and augmented reality, and the music delivery systems of the future. 


The TEC Tracks complemented a marked increase in pro audio-oriented booths, although as expected, Summer NAMM remains primarily a show for people who like picks & sticks. For obvious reasons, we were happy to see Gibson's strong presence and new lineup. Between that, Fender's Player series guitars, the PRS acoustics and Custom 24, and a slew of other guitars - from the revival of classic brands (like Supro, Harmony, and Heritage), to boutique guitars, to new Kala U-Basses, and of course, much (much) more - it's clear that those people who only a few months ago predicted the death of the electric guitar probably need to write some follow-up articles. They also might want to add that a lot of the new guitar sales (50% for some companies) are due to more women getting into guitar.


Analog stomp boxes continue to dominate the world of effects, and NAMM is the place for all kinds of accessories - straps, sticks, picks, pedalboards, and more. Of course, you'll still find the "corner case" instruments and controllers that surface for a year or two, then fade back into obscurity. But you'll even find some keyboards, like the latest from Casio (very impressive) and Yamaha.


Public day saw a huge upswing in attendance, and while in the immortal words of Herman Cain "I don't have facts to back this up," no one really needed facts to know what was going on - all you had to do was try to get from one end of the hall to the other to realize people were jammed in not quite like sardines, but...well, actually very much like sardines.


Overall, there wasn't any huge new trend or product category, but better versions of what's tried and true. And that's not a bad thing, because it means that the music industry continues to make its modest comeback - although after running through the halls of NAMM this past weekend, you might think "modest" is understating the case.


You can find out about the new gear from your favorite manufacturers, but meanwhile, to give you that "you are there" vibe we've put together a photo documentary thread at Harmony Central so you can see what it's like to walk down row after row (after row) of booths. So in case you weren't able to enjoy the heat of Nashville (AKA Music City USA, AKA Nashvegas), we're here to bring you the Music City meltdown.

 All the Summer NAMM New Product News

The Official Summer NAMM 2018 Photo Show Report










Dendy Jarrett is the Publisher and Executive 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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