Every year there is great anticipation by exhibitors, retailers, and music enthusiasts for the National Association of Music Merchants (NAMM) trade show, and this year was no exception. NAMM holds its Winter musical instrument trade show every January in Anaheim, CA. It’s where the biggest and brightest global companies to the boutique innovative up-starts proudly showcase their hot new products. From the simplest of guitar picks, straps and strings, to innovative music and recording software, wind and percussion instruments, cables, mics, pianos and keyboards, to a guitar lover’s dream – top-of-the-line amplifiers and stunningly beautiful guitars.

With the weather forecast across the country foretelling of serious weather conditions, it made my journey from Atlanta to the west coast all the more daring. Starting with a flawless flight with no delays, I arrived at the Anaheim Convention Center with no problems at all. My long wait was over and I hit the ground running.

First on my list was to pick up my badge, making sure I had photo ID in hand which is a must! There’s no smooth talking your way past the friendly and professional NAMM staff. With so many events and performances scheduled throughout the convention, it’s best to plan ahead to try to catch a bit of everything – panel discussions, gear, performances, and parties!

Fender Guitars at Winter NAMM 2016Fender Guitars

So off I went for a very special notable “by-invitation-only” event — the Fender Custom Shop VIP Showcase Reception. It’s the event where Fender truly unlocks its vaults of its vast array of products. From Custom Shop to Custom Built, American Custom, Time Machine and all of Fender’s best, were displayed in all their glory. In addition, Fender’s finest amplifiers and offerings of its additional companies under its ownership were on full display. Of particular note are the supreme creations from Fender’s Custom Shop. These guitars are the absolute gold standard when it comes to Stratocasters, Telecasters and Fender’s other iconic designs. Many are true pieces of art, which are also golden tone generators. There is the distinct impression that you are amongst greatness when surrounded by these guitars. It’s no wonder that it’s common for them to be snapped up immediately at the show. Andy Mooney, CEO of Fender, spoke of the vision and quality direction of things to come from Fender. It was an awe-inspiring event to attend and set the bar for NAMM at its highest.

The first official day began with the NAMM U “Breakfast of Champions,” which by the way is the best breakfast deal in town as NAMM attendees are offered a full breakfast with insights from NAMM President, Joe Lamond, along with a variety of music industry veterans and some of the best musical entertainment. Graham Nash was on hand to receive NAMM’s “Music for Life” award for his more than 50-years of legendary music!  Congrats Graham! It’s really the best way to gear up for a day filled with the best of what the industry has to offer.

Breakfast of Champions NAMM U Breakfast 2016

After breakfast, I headed along with the masses ready to enter the halls of NAMM excited to see what was in store.  When the doors promptly open at 10:00 AM and you enter the massive convention center, there’s the burning temptation to see everything you possibly can as fast as you can. You soon realize that NAMM is bigger and mightier than we mere mortals. With its vast multiple halls, there is simply too much to see and experience than our human brains can handle. Again, planning ahead is the key to a successful experience, knowing ahead of time an idea of what companies, products and performers you truly want to see.

For me covering NAMM for Guitar Girl Magazine, it’s about talking with women and girls making things happen in the guitar world.  I meet with and spoke with the charming ladies of Fender Guitars – Tammy Vandonk, Jennifer Golubewski and Heather Tammelleo. I met young guitarist Sidney Bowen, a delightful breath of fresh air, the lovely Pauline France of Mad Sun Marketing, the ubiquitous Alexx Calise, the playful Sami Mulhern of Breedlove, country singer/songwriter Jessica Lynn, and the delightful Sheyna Gee. It made for a most wonderful first official day of NAMM.

Sidney Bowen at Winter NAMM 2015 Alexx Calise at Winter NAMM 2016 Jessica Lynn at Winter NAMM 2016
Sidney Bowen Alexx Calise Jessica Lynn

 

This year’s first day at NAMM was a long, full one charged with excitement with all the happenings around the convention center coupled with the informative and first hand insights from industry makers and players.  Alas, it went by in the blink of an eye with the anticipation of what’s to come.

 

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