What is a company to do when musicians present it with exuberant, youthful
input that runs counter to that
company’s current course? Should
it dive headlong into uncharted
waters or dig in its heels and stay
with the prescribed plan?
I’ve been on both sides of
that equation myself. In the
early 1970s, I ran a vintage
guitar shop with my business
partner. He and I made a pilgrimage to a well-known guitar
factory to work out the details
of becoming a certified warranty
center. Excited to have the ear of
important executives, I gushed
about how the time was nigh
to reissue some classic designs
of the 1950s to fill the need
I saw emerging on the guitar
scene. Wouldn’t it be prudent
to meet this growing demand?
My words fell upon deaf ears.
Disappointed, we returned to
our storefront to resume repairs,
but it wasn’t long before we
built our own answer to the
questions I’d been asking. When
we brought our wares to our
first NAMM show, those big
companies didn’t even notice.
Soon, we weren’t alone. Dean
Zelinsky, Bernie Rico, Randy
Smith, Seymour Duncan, Rob
Turner, Larry DiMarzio, and
other independent thinkers
were having the same epiphany.
At those early trade shows, we
hung like a tribe of young,
hungry wolves among the giant
carving out our territories and
trying to make a difference.
At those early trade shows, we hung like a
tribe of young, hungry wolves among the giant
industry stalwarts—eagerly carving out our
territories and trying to make a difference.
“location” their customers (who
are primarily retail buyers) can
easily find year after year. It’s
handy for everyone—except
those attempting to get onto
the main floor for the first time.
Which brings us back to Hall E.
When I attend NAMM, I
always look forward to going
downstairs to see what new
things have washed up on the
shore. Although you don’t need
a metal detector to find treasure
there, a sense of humor comes
in handy. Hall E is a feast
for the senses, with amazing
Asian brands with improbable
names like Chosen Fat and
gothic-themed articles of every
description. Do you need a
wall of 4x12 cabinets shaped
like Maltese crosses? Check.
Hall E Heroes in the Making? As I write this, companies are gearing up for the
2011 Winter NAMM show. Looking over the roster of those registered to display in Hall E, I see some interesting new arrivals—some of which may go on to great success and rise from the fertile valley, and others
which may find difficulty taking root.
10-32 GUITARS will display instruments that feature magnetic cover
plates and built-in tool-storage compartments.
ACESONIC will show its wireless,
1200-watt, 2-channel, LCD-monitor-equipped mobile karaoke.
ADVANCED PLATING will display its
triple-chromed car parts for pimping
your band van. I’m certain they can
handle your guitar hardware, too.
AIM GIFTS will sell keyboard
scarves, guitar earrings, and Dave
Grohl bobbleheads—after all, no trip
to Anaheim is complete without gift
shopping for those back home.
GUITAR HANDS will display its
hand balm, which was formulated by
“a board-certified clinical derma-
tologist who plays guitar and truly
understands the skincare needs of
MERLIN 5 PRODUCTS, a CNC
shop that specializes in metal, plastic,
and wooden parts, will offer its services to companies looking to build
a tremolo bridge or a windscreen for
by my visits to Hall E. For
contrast, sandwiched between
the exotic displays you’ll find
industry heroes like Collings
and Breedlove. And established
brands like TonePros and
65Amps are Hall E alumni,
proof that this concrete cellar
can be a fertile valley.
One never knows which
companies from Hall E will
rise from the valley to produce
a bumper crop that becomes a
staple for a sizable number of
players, but it’s still an inspiring place. Novelty items notwithstanding, there are always
some truly innovative and
thoughtful products. The big
guys are upstairs, but tomorrow’s products often debut
below. If you take your time,
you’ll find somebody with a
great idea or product among
the rows and rows of wackadoo
stuff. I know what it’s like to be
a young gun with an idea and
nothing but the future ahead,
and Hall E is where people
like that get their start. That’s
why you also see astute upstairs
personnel poking around—
possibly to avoid being blindsided
by a new trend.
THE PARATUSS COMPANY will show its String Medic—a cylindrical metal kit containing replacement guitar-string ball
ends. The company says, “when a string brakes [sic] in a sudden near the guitar bridge, by attaching the String Medic
without any tools, the useless broken guitar string becomes usable.”
JOL DANTZIG is a
noted designer, builder,
and player who co-founded Hamer Guitars,
one of the first boutique
guitar brands, in 1973.
Today, as the director of
Dantzig Guitar Design, he continues to
help define the art of custom guitar. To
learn more, visit guitardesigner.com.