By Geoffrey Manigart
Anaheim,CA(Hollywood Today)1/28/13/—Four days at the NAMM convention is guaranteed to amaze, impress, excite and certainly leave you with a splitting headache by the end of the day. Just kidding, maybe. This year as a member of the press we were invited to a rather disorganized and claustrophobic day before the main event to meet a few of the exhibitors and artists in a press area that can best be described as suffocating. Last year the event was in one of the halls. This year they funneled everyone into a small space in the lobby of Hall E with a breakfast table at the end of the space that one had to nearly fight to get to. Conversation with the guests was nearly impossible as we spent most of the time trying not to step on other people.
That said, there were a couple of interesting moments for this writer and fiddler. Wittner of Europe, famous for their metronomes developed a geared tuning peg for string instruments that is quite unique. The pegs were actually mounted in a very famous Stradivarius violin know as the Red Mendelssohn owned and performed beautifully on by Elizabeth Pitcairn. This machined peg will actually protect the pegbox of fine instruments because the ends do not revolve saving wear on the original rare wood. There was also unique compositional software displayed and a bit boringly presented. The product is called Score Cleaner and is worth checking out.
Muse electronics had some technical difficulties with their performance by Milburn & Vigoda who sadly could not get the midi instruments to sync up, but it did look like a good product. There were also new types of drums presented made out of ceramic material and of course various guitars.
Moving on to the main show on Thursday, it was time to check out the many booths devoted to violins, string instruments and all of the myriad accessories available from companies all over the world. Carbon fiber is taking over the world and all kinds of instrument cases, violin bows, and material are becoming in demand. The French company Bam has one of the most popular carbon fiber cases on the market now even if they are a bit pricey. The Chinese are working hard to undercut every price category and with great success. The instruments being made by many of these makers and string instrument companies from the far-east are rivaling and in some cases even surpassing the instruments made in Italy and Germany. Scott Cao violins are very fine and some of the best in the show. J & R had some wonderful instruments also.
As a string player, one always makes a visit to the Connolly booth to purchase violin strings at the best prices around in this country. They also have some of the best guitar strings. If you are looking for something as simple as a music stand or just musically branded gifts there are just too many booths to name. Go to the NAMM website and browse. Of course, one of the joys of the show has to be the great performances by many of the finest musicians in the world. My favorite is always the Rock Orchestra with the amazing Mark Wood with all performing on the fretted viper violins developed by Mark. He is a revelation to hear and watch and has even toured with Celine Dion. The performance was on Friday in the courtyard near Hall C. Even in the drizzle it was packed, loud and brilliant.
There is just no way to imagine the advances every year in the digital world of composition and recording. Microphones get better and better, software can make anyone into a brilliant composer and micro electronics has turned hand held recording devices into studio machines that rival Tandberg, Revox and Ampex tape recorders of yester year. Olympus recorders are unbelievable. If you are into video, GoPro is taking over the world with their miniature HD video recorder that will go literally anywhere including the bottom of the sea.
Sitting through the lectures at Motu, Pro Tools, and so many of the amazing compositional software tools is a revelation. Lectures about the music business were within reach. Learning about the expanding world of formats, advances in midi, mixing panels, amplifiers, music business software, sound design, sampling, scoring, multi track mixing, and of course everyone’s big question – How to make money in this digital age and not give away your product. Music education had there corner of the show as always and the software, literature and devices available just keep expanding and are all there to be sampled, played, banged on, bought and in some cases just admired.
The NAMM show is a unique experience for merchants, developers and or course we musicians. It is a great time to be a musician now and the industry is making it exciting and mostly accessible to anyone with the desire to have their inner musician heard. Whether you are there to purchase the next keyboard instrument from Roland, Casio or Steinway, a trumpet or brass instrument from the many manufacturers around the world or even discover a new instrument just developed for the first time, NAMM will be the place to begin. The show this year did not disappoint. Whether you were standing in line for an autograph from your favorite rock star or just looking for that dream instrument in your future, NAMM was the place to be last weekend.
The NAMM Show: http://www.namm.org/thenammshow/2013
John Rowlands: Photography