Last Saturday evening, on day three of NAMM, I found myself in a crowded elevator at the Hilton with Ted Nugent standing next to me. I asked him if he was having a good time at the show, and he said, “Man, if was having any more fun I’d just explode right now and spray everyone in here with my guts.” Clearly the Nuge’ was on a supernatural high in his assessment of NAMM, but his sentiments basically echoed those of nearly everyone I spoke with during four days of trekking though the cavernous halls of the Anaheim convention Center. This is especially surprising given how tough time the last couple of years has been for manufacturers of, well, just about everything that consumers buy when they feel good about their spending power. The vast majority of working musicians, as well as those who just play for fun, are not big spenders even in the best of times, and it doesn’t take much to make them decide to hold off on purchasing new gear until the money starts flowing again. This would seemingly be a huge bummer for the music industry, and the question of how well attended the 2010 NAMM show would be was definitely on the minds of many during the run-up to the event.
But people did show up at NAMM, and even on Thursday, the first day of the show, the size of the crowds jamming the isles seemed to take everyone by surprise. The manufacturers I spoke with were happy with the sales they were making, and some, such as the Fender Custom Shop, had sold everything they brought on the first day! From my perspective, a big reason for all this was that there was so much cool stuff to buy. Manufacturers have obviously turned the recession into an opportunity to focus more on research and development, and as a result, they’ve come up with lots of exciting new products to release this year. From guitars, amplifiers, and pedals to some of the most amazing high-tech offerings we’ve ever seen, the music industry has scored huge points in the kickoff to the New Year. You might think you’ve seen it all when it comes to gear, but going to NAMM and witnessing all the innovation taking place makes you realize that there really is no limit to the ingenuity of people when they are inspired to create. I came away from NAMM this year feeling inspired about the things I saw and the folks I spent time with, and I feel jazzed about presenting a lot of this stuff in the pages of GP in the coming months. —Art Thompson