GOLDEN GEAR TICKET
Go with us as we take you inside
Winter NAMM 2011—the year’s biggest
musical products show in the US.
BY THE PREMIER GUITAR STAFF
top: Legendary funk bassist Larry Graham (Sly & the
Family Stone) signing autographs at the Warwick booth.
Middle: Sound Control “blue shirts” are both saviors
and thorns in the sides of exhibitors and attendees
trying to hear new gear.
Bottom: One of NAMM’s many delightful show-floor
oddities—an elaborate computer-controlled music machine from Ragtime Automated Music ( ragtimewest.com).
For serious players who obsess about everything in their signal chain, attending the January NAMM show in Anaheim,
California—the year’s biggest US gear
show—is the stuff of dreams. It’s the guitarist’s equivalent of stepping inside Willy
Wonka’s Chocolate Factory. Everywhere
you look there are wonders to make you
gasp in awe or blanch in terror. Instead of
Oompa-Loompas, you’ve got hordes of mullet wearers, goths, shred heads, aging hippies,
rockabilly dudes, and hair-metal survivors
and revivalists in their respective garb, all
intermingling with more “normal”-looking
people, all striding purposefully toward the
next piece of gear promising to revolutionize
their tone and/or how they play. Instead of
people inflating into giant human blueberries
or getting swept away by chocolate rivers,
you’ve got product guys doing their best to
hawk their wares—and sometimes employing
rather gratuitous hyperbole to inflate their
value—while sweep-picking maniacs wail
across the way in an attempt to lure you to
their booth. Instead of spoiled Veruca Salts
marching off to steal squirrels busily sorting
nuts, you’ve got buxom, scantily clad booth
candy leading vulnerable attendees around by
their . . . well, you get the idea. It’s madness.
Glorious, glorious madness.