After months and months of depression and doom and disaster, the mood was quite sunny throughout the halls of NAMM 2010. The show certainly was bustling. Even early Thursday as the show started, it was difficult winging across the floor because there were so many humanoids crowding the aisles. Bad for editors running to meetings, but good for the industry. Many manufacturers claimed they were writing tons of orders, and whether they were exaggerating or not, they sure seemed happy in a very sincere (and relieved) way. Perhaps then, this show will be remembered as the beginning of something good. And if that "good" isn't an immediate return to prosperity, it's at least a harbinger of an upswing in business.
The bad-news past only slightly betrayed itself if you looked deep into the flurry of product debuts. There was a lot of cool stuff released to be sure, but much of it could be categorized as enhancements of lines, or expected evolutions of previous products, or affordable versions of higher-ticket models. What was missing—at least from my perspective—was a Great Innovation.
No disrespect to the industry is meant here, as it certainly wouldn't make sense to release a "game changer" until you were sure it would be appreciated and purchased by a public with discretionary income sitting sweetly in their pockets. So, one could propose that NAMM 2010 was a test case for tremendously innovative product development in 2011 and beyond. In that regard, I hope that 2010 helps the industry feel strong and confident and ready to blow minds very very shortly.
Happily, there were still many many many drool-worthy product releases this year. So many, in fact, that it's difficult to remember them all right now -- the day after the show closed on January 17 -- but once I get with GP editors Art Thompson, Matt Blackett, and Barry Cleveland, I'm sure we'll have tons to report. Of course, you don't have to wait for our little "editors' conference" to experience the goodies at NAMM. Just check out all the photos and videos on the GP Community page.
Now, this is NOT a comprehensive list, but here are eight products that stopped me dead in my tracks while (politely) shoving my way through the NAMM hordes:
 Budda's Nason amp: A pretty wild combo of style and power. With leather coverings and iconography crafted by boot designer-to-the-rock-stars Mark Nason, this amp was pretty stunning. I don't know if I'd dare drag this work-of-art to a seedy club gig -- and the fact that Hartley Peavey spared no expense on the design or circuitry could mean a high price tag -- but the wackiness of the idea (let's have a famous shoe designer outfit a guitar amp), the bountiful amp features, and the fashionable elan of the design definitely made it a NAMM standout.
 A Lime Green PRS Mira X: Sometimes, a color just DOES something to you. I was never dropped to my knees by a PRS Mira until I saw this puppy. I was on my way to another appointment, and, as I passed the PRS booth, the mean greenie held my eyes in a death lock. I mentioned it to Rebecca -- the totally groovy PRS marketing guru -- and she said she dug it and wanted one. I blurted out that I'd zap her to dust if I had to in order to get mine FIRST. This was not how I was raised -- which was, you know, to open doors for women and all that -- but manners flew out the window here. And all for the color green. Embarrassing, huh?
 That Mick Ronson Signature Tone Bender that I mentioned in Sunday's blog: 'Nuff said!
 VHT Special 6: Small, light, butt-simple, totally affordable, and raging as hell. As I'm but 5'6" and full of energy, I think of this amp as a "mini me."
 LAG acoustics: Loved 'em when I saw them in France, still love them now that Korg is bringing them to the USA. Beautiful wood, a unique preamp, and a twist of French sophistication.
 TC Electronic Polytune: Yeah, I reviewed it in the March issue, but it still blows my mind that I can tune my guitar by strumming the strings simultaneously.
 Billy Zoom's amps, pedals, and reverb/tremolo unit at the TV Jones Booth: Extremely excellent vibe and tones that produce "dropped jaw" syndrome. Marvelous stuff. TV is probably going to carry the line, and that's good news for tone hounds.
 The You Rock guitar/game controller: The worlds of gaming and guitaring collide, and no one gets hurt. This is a game controller for Guitar Hero and Rock Band, but it has rubber-like strings that you can strum and pick instead of that awful switch, and GUESS WHAT? Those strings can power an internal sound source so that you can actually PLAY real guitar parts with it. Newbies can jam to onboard backing tracks, and get a sssstf sound if the note they hit isn't in the proper key or scale. So this is a very slick learning tool, a "virtual guitar" that actually lets you play chords and riffs and notes, and a cagey game device that imparts the feel of playing a real guitar instead of putting plastic buttons under your fingers. I dug it.
Stay tuned to GP, GP2, and the GP Web site for NAMM wrap-ups by the other fine editors of GUITAR PLAYER, as well as late-breaking product news, and tons upon tons of gear coverage from the 2010 NAMM show.
Editor Boy out!
Michael Molenda, Editor in Chief, GUITAR PLAYER