Above photo: The seven founding Master Builders of the Fender Custom Shop celebrate 30 years of customized awesomeness.
The calm before the storm is always so, well, calm.
The day before NAMM officially kicks off on Thursday, January 19, is certainly one of buzz and effort. Booths are being built, instruments are dollied and/or carried down hallways, and the music stages are getting constructed and sound systems rung out. But their are no hordes careening down bustling thoroughfares, the restaurants and bars aren't packed to bursting, and you can actually hear yourself think — a luxury that will disappear in just a few hours when multitudes of chatter and the insane volume levels of the "beehive" eradicate all hope of conversation lower than a shout.
I do love the unbridled chaos of NAMM shows, but I also love the chance to ramp up to the craziness with a day of quiet greetings and two very groovy pre-NAMM parties.
First up for me today was the Roland/BOSS press event, where all the new 2017 goodies were introduced. Of particular interest to guitarists were the BOSS Acoustic Singer Live ($499 retail; 60 watts) and Acoustic Singer Pro ($699 retail; 120 watts) amps that offer acoustic players a built-in looper and a vocal channel with vocal-harmony processing. BOSS is also celebrating its 40th anniversary by releasing a Limited Edition DS-1 Distortion in a black case with gold lettering, a vintage silver battery-compartment screw, and gold-capped control knobs.
The big surprise was the "casual" announcement of a partnership between BOSS and Strandberg Guitars. The Strandberg/BOSS Guitar will incorporate Roland V-Guitar capabilities. A formal announcement is due later this year. But, for now, I'm able to share a shot of the prototype guitar model with you...
Prototype Strandberg/BOSS Guitar
After that bash, I walked down the hall to the Fender VIP Showcase celebrating the 30th anniversary of the Fender Custom Shop. Seven of the founding Master Builders were on hand to take bows, as well as debut the very limited-edition instruments they built for the 30th Anniversary Custom Shop Collection, along with 2017 collections by other master builders and team-built models. All-in-all, more than 300 stunning guitars were sitting proudly on stands, including a Gold Leaf Telecaster, a Prestige Edition P90 Set Neck Tele, the Michael Stevens Founders Design Esquire, and this wacky little beauty — Dale Wilson's Psychedelic Poster Art Tele (with artwork by Madison Roy)...
Fender Custom Shop Psychedelic Poster Art Tele [Note: The cards placed under the strings on the neck are from retailers vying for a chance to purchase this guitar. Most all of the Custom Shop models on display had these "buyer's cards" placed on them. Feeding frenzy!]
It was fun and easy negotiating these affairs along with GP Senior Editor Art Thompson and GP Nashville Editor Michael Ross. Tomorrow will be a different story indeed. Stand by for the tales of madness and delight — if I survive, that is...