NAMM (National Association of Music Merchants) Convention overview by David Sampen
“Make it Count,” was definitely the theme of the 2012 NAMM show held at the Anaheim Convention center. Walking among the near 100,000 in attendance this year were several industry greats like Alice Cooper, Lee Sklar, Jackson Browne, Lee Ritenour, Rob Weir, Mikkey Dee, Nikko McBrian, Stevie Wonder, Steve Vai, Earl Slick, Neal Schon, Albert Lee and countless others music greats. A true highlighted moment was in meeting for the first time award winning drummer and producer, Johnny Rabb. Mr Rabb had been so kind earlier in the year to offer his own interpretation of a dear friend’s musical vision entitled “Metro” which will soon be released to the general public. Everywhere you gravitate towards in this building it is electrifying and eye opening to what the future holds for music and technology.
Digitech is “making it count”, by offering a nice solution to excess chords, power adaptors, and even the occasional beer spilled onto your expensive pedal board. The DigiTech iPB-10 is now on the market and basically takes all of your old pedals and puts them in one place on your i-pad. Simply lift the protective hatch, place your i-pad in the designated area, close the hatch door and you are ready to create as many pedal board combinations as your mind will allow. I believe you can only run up to 8 effects simultaneously but this is more than most will ever need at once and the combinations and tones are endless. I really appreciated the idea of sitting in the comfort of home and creating my sound effects on my i-pad and then having the versatility and durability to use the same piece of equipment on stage during a rock show. At first I thought to myself that this might be too complex for the average player, however, we do live in a very advanced day in age and seeing as how some 5 year olds are now capable of operating computers to an extent, I am sure the learning curve will not be a difficult one to overcome. After five minutes of use I was ready to go off on my own and explore a whole new world of effects combinations and possibilities.
It can be difficult to make every moment count when you are so overwhelmed by the sights and sounds echoing throughout 1.6 million square feet of space at the convention center. One minute you are enticed with a potential autograph from Steve Vai and the next moment you are drawn into a conversation with Eddie Van Halen’s main guitar builder. To not have a plan of attack was my plan of attack at this years event, an itinerary at this point would have only ended up in sheer disappointment as it is nearly impossible to see everything there is to see in just four days. After waltzing through Fender, Peavy, Charvel, Gibson, Taylor, Martin, Kramer and several other of my absolute all time favorite guitar makers, I found myself at Eddie Van Halen’s booth playing his new line of 2012 EVH Wolfgang guitars. Somewhere between my version of “Eruption” or “I’m The One”, I was very pleased to sit and talk with product manager Chris Cannella as he offered me some amazing stories about Eddie and some insight to why the new EVH line is better than ever.
As a long time follower of Eddie’s I have played most every model he has come out with as well as building versions of the Frankenstrat and early model Van Halen replica guitars. Understanding what he was trying to achieve 30 years ago on some of his creations and seeing where the line of guitars is now has been an amazing experience. Some of the new configurations this year are a matte black finish, as well as a flamed maple finish. As well, some models will come with a fixed bridge with fine tuners. EVH’s new line of Wolfgang specials and Wolfgang Custom’s feature a new Ebony neck which has never been done before on any of his guitars. In my opinion the neck was very fast and extremely responsive. Ebony tends to rank very well on the wood spectrum when it comes to hardness, weight, and stability thus offering a great contrast to prior EVH models and the maple fretboards. Other noticeable differences were in the tone quality of the set neck guitars versus the bolt on. A set neck will create better vibrations and more sustain throughout the guitar because the energy is transferred more efficiently across the different wood surfaces.
Eddie has also released a new line of amplifiers including the 5150 III 50 watt head. This amp has a 30-watt, 1 x 12 Celestion Heritage speaker and is rated at 16 ohms. At 25 percent of the cubic size of the original 4 x 12 this model comes in either ivory or black and rocks about as hard as any amp I have every played “Hot For Teacher” on. This amp has all of the power required for any sized performance and will stand firm against the competition.
It was a privilege to attend this years 2012 NAMM Convention and overall it was a very memorable experience. It will be interesting to see how these new products are accepted and used by the general public. With so many different options to choose from the world of music continues to open up with no boundaries or limitations in sight. Thank you to those individuals who made it possible for me to be a part of this years NAMM experience and I eagerly look forward to seeing everyone next year.