“We’re thrilled to be back – in-person interaction is vitally important for the industry”: Fender will return to NAMM in 2025

Four Fender guitars, stood against a colorful background
(Image credit: Fender)

Fender will return to NAMM next year, marking its first appearance at the show since 2020.

The gear giant has been a noticeable absence from the past four editions of the world’s biggest gear trade show, starting with 2021’s virtual edition. 

As of last year, CEO Andy Mooney said that Fender’s return was unlikely, so its U-turn has understandably caught gear lovers off guard, but it’s certainly not an unwelcome surprise. 

Thus, Fender will make a grand return to the gear-filled halls of the Anaheim Convention Center in January 2025.

Speaking via an announcement video, Mooney, joined by NAMM CEO John Mlynczak, has detailed the firm’s thinking.

“When NAMM closed during COVID, we were compelled to come up with a plan B,” he explains. “We developed [an] online dealer event and reallocated the money we would have spent going to the show into increased marketing.

“That has worked for us,” he goes on to say. Yet, while Fender has zero intention of calling it a day with its own events in the wake of its NAMM return, Mooney says they “missed having a physical presence” at the event.

Two Fender guitars

(Image credit: Fender)

“That high-touch, in-person, long-form interaction is vitally important for the industry,” he believes. “We were just looking for the right time to come back.

“Going forward, [Fender] will have more and exciting new products to intro at NAMM and then in the fall, we will revert back to our online dealer events. We’re thrilled to be back, we missed being there, and I’m excited to see everyone again back in Anaheim.”

Justifying Fender’s absence from previous events, Mooney had cited associated costs weighed against the benefits and capabilities of remote networking, no doubt buoyed by the success of its COVID-forced virtual events.

A guitarist plays a Fender guitar while seated on a couch

(Image credit: Fender)

He’s also drawn parallels to the cancellation of the E3 gaming show, which attracted nearly 70,000 attendees year-on-year until COVID changed the landscape. Big hitters, including Sony, Mircosoft, and Nintendo, pulled out of the show entirely, forcing its permanent cancellation in 2023.

At that time, he had flown the flag for virtual events, saying: “Out of necessity during COVID, people experimented with other approaches and have found that they are actually not only better for the brands but better for the industry.

“In our case, it costs to set up the booth [and] have everybody there – that’s a substantial bill. What happens during NAMM which always used to make me pull my hair out is, we’d only get to spend an hour with major retailers.”

A close-up shot of a Fender guitar

(Image credit: Fender)

Feeling similarly, Gibson, PRS, and Boss have all previously pulled out of the winter event, though Boss returned for NAMM 2024 as it harmonized with the 50th anniversary of its first product.

It will be interesting to see whether this U-turn helps turn the tide of NAMM’s fortunes and encourage other big-name brands to return.  

NAMM 2024 proved especially successful, with Fender no doubt keeping a close eye on proceedings and being impressed with what they saw. The event shone spotlights on innovative gear developments and outside-the-box thinking, with some smaller firms perhaps benefitting from the lack of some of the spotlight-stealing big boys.

Visit Fender for future updates.

Phil Weller

A freelance writer with a penchant for music that gets weird, Phil is a regular contributor to ProgGuitar World, and Total Guitar magazines and is especially keen on shining a light on unknown artists. Outside of the journalism realm, you can find him writing angular riffs in progressive metal band, Prognosis, in which he slings an 8-string Strandberg Boden Original, churning that low string through a variety of tunings. He's also a published author and is currently penning his debut novel which chucks fantasy, mythology and humanity into a great big melting pot.