iPad AND TECHNOLOGY STAR AT NAMM SHOW 2011

by Lorraine Kay    

 Every year thousands of musicians and people working in the music industry gather in Anaheim, California for The National Association of Music Merchants (NAMM) Show. This year the attendance was reportedly up three percent from last year with 90,114 registered attendees, representing a new attendance record for the 109 year old show. It was also reported that the international registration experienced a two percent increase from last year to 10,400. The association also reported another sign of economic recovery in this industry was 1147 exhibitors at this year’s show, including 247 new exhibitors.

     According to NAMM President and CEO Joe Lamond, “The world’s brightest minds and most innovative music companies came together in Anaheim for four amazing days of commerce, networking and learning. After meeting with NAMM Members from around the world, I am continually impressed and amazed at the resolve and optimism our industry has shown these past years and I believe that we are now on a path of recovery and future growth as more people of all ages and talent levels discover the fun and proven benefits of playing music.”
     NAMM is the not-for-profit association that unifies, leads and strengthens the $17 billion global musical instruments and products industry. NAMM’s activities and programs are designed to promote music making to people of all ages. NAMM is comprised of more than 9,000 member companies.

The NAMM Show is one of the largest music products trade shows in the world. Held every January in Anaheim, California, USA the show brings together all facets of the music products industry to reveal new musical instruments/products and ideas to help music products retailers and manufacturers become more successful. Not only the  largest but the oldest tradeshow of its kind, the NAMM Show continues to offer without a doubt the most comprehensive opportunity for the manufacturing members of this industry to introduce its newest products and services and allow other professionals to see close up and personal the newest and greatest products. Closed to the public, the show demonstrates to the retail branch of the music industry annually the latest and greatest items available for its customers and this year was no different. Known for its celebrity attendees and performances, as well as a multitude of parties and showcases from NAMM and its exhibitors, for attendees it is four days of “like being at Disneyland”, which by the way is geographically across the street from the show.

     Vendor spaces with elaborate displays, promotional giveaways and other attractions are prepared with sales teams equipped with personalized pens, order blanks and brochures ready to take orders from retail store managers to stock inventories for the upcoming year. But it is more than that. The battle to get those retail managers to their display means a kind of war. The best and most successful manufacturers prepare by offering free stuff and demonstrations or mini-concerts by major star musicians and autograph signings. Walking through the show at times is like sailing through the Pirates of the Caribbean ride at Disneyland as musicians and sales teams take aim at the passing potential customers in the form of simultaneous competing demonstrations. Stevie Wonder was jamming on the latest Dave Smith’s Synthesizers keyboard while another awDisneyland, esome keyboardist jammed on a Hammond organ across the aisle. Impressive, but competing drummers are another matter. If you can imagine several drummers performing drum solos simultaneously from opposing drum manufacturers, thunderously beating loudly and rhythmically. Then there are the guitars, just as shredding guitarists demonstrate impressive new guitars, each seemingly trying to be the loudest and most impressive, all at the same time.  But it is not all mega decibel demonstrations, Some booths, like Albion Amps, had its top engineers like Steve Grindrod, on hand to talk about the technology and answer questions, about the products. Other notable engineer/designers available to discuss technology were Dave Smith, Roger Linn, Paul Schreiber, Eric Persing and Don Buchla just to name a few.

     The main focus of the show, of course, was the instruments, instruments and more instruments. Every kind of instrument was represented. Much of the show was about education. From school band instruments and instruction books to software applications for teaching.  In addition, this year, the show highlighted many new features, exhibits and learning pavilions, offering NAMM members and music product professionals business tips and insight for success in today’s marketplace. Themed “Take It to ’11,” this year’s NAMM Show added a new App and Gaming Pavilion, welcoming this growing market of high-tech music-making product companies to the show for the first time. 

Technology was a big star

iPad and iPod

     So, the big star this year throughout the show was the iPad. Many companies, new and established are jumping on the iPad and iPod technology with a wide variety of apps. The possibilities were endless. The connectivity and applications were scattered throughout the show as one manufacturer after another creatively found ways to use the technology to enhance musician’s performances or recordings or to make the business side of the industry a little easier.

     “At NAMM we unveiled the trumpet app and it’s been great,” said Tom Scharfeld, president and founder of Spoonjack, a musical app developer. “In general I think this is the place to be for music. Our products are apps and they are sold through the Apple app store so people might ask why would we be here. Well, it’s because this is where music is. Everyone in this room is going to have some sort of interest in what we’re doing. And if they like it they’ll tell their friends. Retailers in particular. They’re working with customers. They’re building relationships. They’re interested in showing them new things. Our products are ultra entry-level instruments. Instead of going off and buying a $1,000 trombone or a $2,000 trumpet they can start off on a three or four dollar trumpet on their phone and learn about how things are structured—the harmonics—and hopefully migrate to the real thing.”
     “It’s been great,” said James Taylor, director of global business at Artist Works, an online learning platform for online music schools and academies. “As the weekend went on a lot more education providers and teachers were coming to see what we were doing. As we’re entering a new phase in teaching using iPads and tablets, our product is coming onto the market at the right time.”

Spectrasonics OMG-1

     One extreme example of using the iPad was demonstrated by Eric Persing of Spectrasonics as he performed on the fly a one man performance on the stunning OMG-1, Persing’s one of a kind custom hardware synthesizer he created integrating the worlds of analog synthesis, computers, software synthesis and the latest multi-touch surfaces into one extraordinary instrument. The OMG-1 was designed by Persing as a live performance instrument and is not a commercial product — it’s truly one-of-a-kind. The state of the art dual manual OMG-1 combines a Moog Little Phatty® analog synthesizer, Spectrasonics’ flagship Omnisphere® software synthesizer, a powerful internal Apple Mac Mini computer, dual Apple iPads®, dual iPods®, and Spectrasonics’ brand-new Omni TR™ iPad app — all integrated into a beautiful, hand-crafted curly maple cabinet created by American artisan Daniel Auon.

     Daughter of renowned synthesizer creator Dr. Bob Moog, Michelle Moog-Koussa who was available for comment added, “The Bob Moog Foundation is grateful to Eric Persing for creating and sharing this one-of-a-kind innovative instrument. The foundation’s mission is to ignite creativity at the intersection of music, science, history and innovation. It is fitting that Eric’s OMG-1 does just that. His instrument represents the contemporary convergence of analog and digital, hardware and software. I think Bob would applaud Eric’s efforts to transcend boundaries in order to create an instrument with new and unique capabilities.”

     The OMG-1 workstation was and will not be for sale. It is a one-time creation that will be given away as first prize in a contest that Persing will be announcing in March.

MOOG

     The new electronic and technological advancements were everywhere. MOOG, The granddaddy manufacturer of electronic keyboards of course was on hand with several new products.
     The Little Phatty and the SLIM Phatty, The Most Portable Moog Synths were demonstrated throughout the booth.  Several were set-up for hands-on exploration by show attendees.
     The Slim Phatty’s 100% analog signal path, intuitive user interface, rugged construction and rich MIDI, USB and Control Voltage functionality make it a must-have for producers, touring musicians and DJs. Available for the Slim Phatty and coming soon for the Little Phatty with OS v3.0, this free download makes experimenting with alternate scales a breeze. Tuning data is easily editable and is displayed as a ratio, frequency and in cents. Scala files (www.huygens-fokker.org/scala) can be imported and exported for use with other tuning software. An unlimited number of tunings can be saved on your computer and the synthesizer’s hardware can store up to thirty-two different tunings. For traveling, the Little Phatty and Slim Phatty’s convenient size and universal power supplies make them ideal travel partners.

Minimoog Voyager XL was designed in celebration of the 40th anniversary of the Minimoog. The Minimoog Voyager XL is a sonic powerhouse that pays homage to important milestones in the Moog synthesizer legacy. It starts with the heart of a Minimoog Model D. Fat oscillators and warm Moog filters give it that unmistakable Moog sound. From the current Voyager lineage, the XL inherits a 100% analog signal path with stable oscillators, patch storage, touch surface, pot mapping and extensive MIDI control functionality. To all this, add a ribbon controller and 61 note keyboard and you have a monster analog monosynth built on a 40 year legacy of sonic exploration.

Also placed in a strategic place of honor was the return of the Moog Taurus Bass Pedal, the ultimate bass machine. Bass connoisseurs worldwide made this instrument possible by pre-ordering it sight-unseen. Now the wait is over. The new Moog Taurus 3 Bass Pedals faithfully recreates the sound of the legendary Taurus I. Beginning Moog started with an in-depth analysis of the original circuitry, and then added modern amenities like MIDI and USB.

Also sharing the booth was Dr. Bob Moog’s daughter Michelle Moog-Koussa representing the Bob Moog Foundation. The Bob Moog Foundation is a non-profit organization created upon Bob’s passing in August 2005. After witnessing the outpouring of thousands of testimonials from people around the world who had been touched by Bob’s work, Bob’s family and colleagues established the foundation to carry on his legacy.

The Foundation officially launched a year later in August 2006, and is based in Asheville, North Carolina. After volunteering her time as director for over a year, Michelle Moog-Koussa, Bob’s third daughter became the full-time executive director in February of 2007. Over the course of the past three years, Michelle, the Board, and a team of dedicated volunteers have been leading the foundation to fulfill their goals of creating a Moogseum, preserving Bob’s archive and bringing electronic music into the schools as a vehicle to teach children about science, music and innovation.

DAVE SMITH INSTRUMENTS

     Dave Smith Instruments’ the Tempest created by both Dave Smith and Roger Linn is a first for the longtime friends. A new analog drum machine, the Tempest is a collaboration between the two designers… In the past the two have consulted with each other on past projects but the Tempest marks the first time a product will carry both the Dave Smith Instruments and Roger Linn Design logos. “If you’re going to make a drum machine, who better to have in your corner than Roger Linn?” said Smith, referring to Linn’s legacy as inventor of the digital drum machine. Both designers, Smith and Linn were on hand to answer questions about the new product.

     Though Smith is also responsible for some fine drum machines—most notably Sequential’s DrumTraks and Studio 440 —Tempest is his first to utilize analog synthesis to generate the sounds. “We’ve designed a very flexible new synth voice for Tempest,” said Smith. Linn added, “The design of Tempest reflects a rethinking of what a drum machine needs to be in the current era. It’s not so much a drum machine as a new musical performance instrument for the creation, manipulation, and arrangement of beat-oriented music, with an intuitive and efficient use of human gestures.”

Dave Smith Instruments Evolver

     Also new this year is the Evolver Keyboard PE. The Potentiometer Edition of the Poly Evolver Keyboard is DSI’s flagship synthesizer, a nearly-knob-per-function knockout that sounds unlike any other synth out there—except another Evolver, of course! Don’t like a high-end hardware synth that requires wading through endless menus to program? Not an issue with the Poly Evolver’s 78 knobs—60 of them potentiometers—and 58 buttons, including a keypad for direct access of programs.

     An analog/digital hybrid, the four-voice Poly Evolver features four oscillators per voice—two analog and two digital—in a unique stereo voice architecture with a real Curtis analog low-pass filter per channel. The digital processing does not simply add effects at the end of the signal chain, but is tightly integrated with the analog electronics for tuned feedback, distortion, bit crushing, and synced delays. It can also process external audio and has separate stereo outputs for each voice.

     The Poly Evolver is capable of producing sounds ranging from classic analog to more brash and edgy digital sounds. It is also multitimbral, with the ability to play up to four parts simultaneously through separate stereo outputs. And it can process external audio.

     The Potentiometer Edition of the Evolver Keyboard is now shipping. If you’re an owner of a standard Evolver Keyboard, conversions are available at www.davesmithinstruments.com.

KORG     KORG is always a big star at NAMM. This year the KRONOS Music Workstation was the star.

     For nearly half a century, Korg has set the standard for technical innovation, leadership, and superior sound. Korg has created entire categories of musical products, and has produced some of the top-selling synthesizers and keyboard instruments ever; the instruments favored by musicians around the globe. Today, in 2011, Korg redefines and reimagines the music workstation, revolutionizing the capabilities of the hardware instrument and exceeding the demands of the modern player: introducing the KRONOS Music Workstation.
     With nine sound engines, each offering a unique sound-creation technology, 16-part Combis allowing all engines to function together in perfect harmony; and Dynamic Voice Allocation keeping the polyphony high KRONOS sets a new standard. It is available with 61, 73 or 88 keys. The 73 and 88 key models feature Korg’s finest RH3 Graded Hammer Action. The 61 key model borrows the responsive synth action from the Korg M3-61. This new workstation has a comprehensive interface, based around a new large 8” TFT TouchView™ display and uses Virtual Memory Technology (VMT), aided by a fast SSD (Solid State Disk) providing high polyphony and massive, ultra-long, and unlooped samples; offering unheard of performance from a hardware instrument

     Offering Smooth Sound Transition: this often-requested feature allows held or sustained notes to keep sounding when changing sounds or modes. There is also a Set List mode: to Organize the Programs, Combis, and Songs you need to perform your set in a single, easy-to-select screen – including performance notes!

     You can use up to 16 premium-quality effects at once; individual effects rival dedicated units of 12 Insert effects, 2 Master effects, and 2 Total effects. There is an On-board sequencer that offers 16 MIDI tracks + 16 audio tracks (24-bit, 48kHz recording quality). It has an Open Sampling System, with Instant sampling and resampling from any mode: Program, Combination or Sequencer.

     The Sophisticated KARMA® technology generates infinitely variable performance-driven phrases, musical effects, and backing tracks to catalyze your creativity. There is also and Expanded Drum Track for play-along grooves and inspiration and Signature sounds created with guidance from world class musicians

Pa3X

     Also of interest at KORG was the KORG Pa3X, Professional Arranger Workstation and the Micro Piano. The Korg Pa Series has a new flagship: the Pa3X, the most realistic, powerful, and easy-to-use arranger workstation ever produced. Once again, Korg has raised the standard of excellence by offering new, richer, and more realistic sounds; creating amazing new features, and offering a fresh – yet elegant – design.  

microPiano

     The microPiano digital Piano is charming, conveniently sized, and designed like a grand piano – complete with an opening lid! Small in size, the microPIANO features our expressive 61-key Natural Touch mini-keyboard, carefully designed to provide true playability. The bold, smooth grand piano sound uses the same stereo samples as Korg’s flagship digital pianos, generating full-bodied tones with depth and character. With Built-in speakers and battery power it offers “play anywhere” performance.

     KORG’s products were not limited to keyboards, also sharing the spotlight were the PANDORA mini PERSONAL MULTI EFFECT PROCESSOR, an Ultra-compact pocket-size multi-effect designed for both guitar and bass and  the KAOSS PAD QUADDynamic Effects Processor Control with multiple effects in realtime using the intuitive Kaoss X-Y touchpad and the nanoSERIES2 Slim-line USB-MIDI Controllers  with three compact and convenient USB-MIDI controller models offering serious features for the computer-based musician.

NUMARK
     NUMARK presented products from each of its brands, Numark, Alesis and Akai.

     Alesis Micron SC was the star of this vendor. With virtually limitless sonic palette, The micron is an eight-voice analog-modeling synthesizer. Despite its small size, it has an impressive big micron sound. The micron contains a powerful sequencing section with phrase, step, and drum sequencing, an arpeggiator, and stereo effects. It has two multi-mode filters, three envelope generators, and two LFOs: the full spectrum of synthesis components for shaping and creating sonorities and textures. For stage and studio-ready quality, the micron has 24-bit audio outputs and inputs via balanced connections.
     Each of the micron’s voices contains two LFOs, each of which offers rate, depth, shape, and tempo sync; and three envelopes: Amp Envelope, Filter Envelope, and Pitch/Modulation Envelope. The micron gives you a full complement of stereo effects and powerful synthesis capabilities, great sound, and excellent portability. On stage or in the studio, the micron is the perfect tool for creating exactly the sound you need.

     Alesis also offered the MultiMix 16 USB FX is a live and recording mixer with built-in effects that doubles as a computer recording interface so you can mix, record, or do both at the same time. Whether you are mixing a band or sub-mixing a group of inputs such as a drum set, the MultiMix 16 USB FX is easy to use, rugged, and packed with features. Offering microphone inputs with phantom power, guitar-direct inputs, and line-level inputs for connecting everything else, plus a selection of stage-ready effects, the MultiMix 16 USB FX delivers clean audio to your PA and recording systems.
     The MultiMix 16 USB FX contains a complete USB recording interface. Musicians and engineers can plug the MultiMix 16 USB FX’s class-compliant USB connection into their Mac or PC without installing any software drivers and enjoy a digital-direct stereo connection with virtually any audio software application. The MultiMix 16 USB FX enables bidirectional stereo signal, so musicians can record the stereo Main output into their computer and listen back using the mixer as an interface from software to headphones and monitoring loudspeakers.
     The Alesis QX49 USB/MIDI Extended Keyboard Controller receives power while also transmitting MIDI data to your Mac or PC software or hardware device of choice through standard USB connection, Punch out a drumbeat on great-feeling pads, open up a filter with smooth, tight knobs, or adjust volume and playback of sequencing software with long faders and snappy buttons. QX49’s immense parameter control and velocity-sensitive keyboard get your hands off of the mouse and into the action for a more efficient, visceral music-making experience.
     With a 49-note keyboard, the QX49’s pitch range is perfect for performing with software instruments and samplers while still remaining highly portable. Furthermore, the Q49 provides keyboard players with a full complement of controls including pitch and modulation wheels, octave up/down buttons and the ability to send program changes directly from the keys. The QX49’s keyboard can even be split into sections to control multiple instruments at once!
     The QX49’s array of assignable controls works with virtually all music software and MIDI hardware devices. Whether you’re looking to fire drum samples, tweak a software synthesizer or adjust individual tracks in a mix, the QX49’s extensive layout ensures appropriate feel and proper response with its eight sliders and rotary knobs, four backlit drum pads and dedicated transport controls.
     The compact controller features USB-MIDI and traditional MIDI jacks for easy connection to Mac, PC and MIDI hardware. The QX49 also has two traditional MIDI jacks: one for sending MIDI data directly from the keyboard and the other for routing MIDI data from a connected computer. When not using a computer, the QX49 can also be powered using a wall power adaptor (sold separately) to perform and control MIDI hardware. A footswitch input is also included on the back panel.
     The QX49 comes with a copy of Ableton Live Lite Alesis Edition software for performing, recording, and sequencing music right out of the box. The QX49 is also the perfect choice for controlling hardware MIDI devices. Its compact size and portability make it ideal for fitting into existing rigs and then hitting the road. Place it a tier above an existing workstation keyboard and utilize QX49’s streamlined layout to maximize your sound and performance options.
     AKAI’s SynthStation49 is the most advanced, intuitive music controller designed specifically for use with the iPad and the first true iPad performance tool for musicians. Working seamlessly with Akai Professional’s heralded SynthStation software, SynthStation49 provides unparalleled music creation capabilities, including direct in-app MIDI recording from its velocity-sensitive keyboard, nine MPC-style drum pads and array of transport controls. In addition to its integration with the SynthStation app, SynthStation49 is also completely iOS CoreMIDI compatible, making it instantly compatible with dozens of music apps already in the App Store and hundreds more on the way.
     Dock, power and position the iPad perfectly using the adjustable-angled cradle, or establish commanding control over your favorite computer software using SynthStation49‘s USB/MIDI port. Professional ¼” outputs and extreme portability ensure you’ll be able to take your sequences straight to the stage at a moment’s notice.
     SynthStation49 is the only full-featured, professional keyboard controller allowing direct MIDI performance recording onto an iPad. Bridging Akai Professional’s popular MPK controllers with the previously released SynthStation25, SynthStation49 provides immense software control with forty-nine, full-size velocity-sensitive keys, nine backlit MPC-style drum pads and full transport buttons. An adjustable-angled dock for iPad allows the user to easily slide their tablet into the SynthStation49’s cradle and position the screen to their preference.
     SynthStation49’s keyboard, pitch/modulation wheels and sustain pedal input provide great feel and the essential controls for musicians and producers to compose, record and perform. The nine drum pads of SynthStation49 give users immediate, intuitive beat-creation capabilities over the 50 classic and modern kits available within the SynthStation software. Program, Sequence, Song select and Transport buttons also provide quick navigation to the SynthStation App’s most used components for a seamless, efficient workflow.
     SynthStation49 also contains a stereo pair of professional ¼” TRS outputs with volume knob for easy connecting to other pro audio equipment on stage or in the studio. A headphone output also lets users practice and compose in private. The SynthStation49’s USB port can be connected directly to a Mac or PC computer to receive power in addition to transmitting MIDI to and from music software – a great way to turn the SynthStation App or other CoreMIDI compatible App into a sound module. You can even use SynthStation49 as a traditional USB MIDI controller with your computer – no iPad required!
     AkaiConnect SDK allows third-party developers to take advantage of all the professional controls and capabilities of Akai Pro’s SynthStation49 keyboard controller and incorporate support for those controls within their iPad applications. Software developers interested in creating programs compatible with SynthStation49 can submit an application now at SynthStationApp.com.

YAMAHA
     Yamaha took over several ballrooms of the Marriott Hotel had many new products to demonstrate throughout the day. Everything included pianos, keyboards, guitars, saxophone and other orchestral instruments, sound reinforcement equipment, drums and more. Several artists, including Erick Norlander of Asia were on hand to play the instruments and answer questions.

Motif XF

YAMAHA’s MOTIF XF and XS

     In music creation, the MOTIF not only offers its own music creation capabilities, it also offers a system for integrating those capabilities with a variety of software applications. And now Yamaha offers two new models of the Motif, The next generation XF builds on the decade-long heritage of MOTIF, and provides Flash memory expansion capabilities that will set a new standard for keyboard workstations for years to come. And the MOTIF XS has absolutely everything you need to make professional quality music.

     The XF with 741MB of internal Wave ROM includes incredibly realistic pianos and acoustic instruments, vintage synths and the hip hop sounds that all of today’s top producers are using. A sophisticated 8-element synth architecture with XSpanded articulation and 18 different filter types let you shape your sound anyway you want, and the 8 front panel knobs and sliders make it easy to do even in real time. 1664 Voices and 97 Drum Kits put more sounds at your fingertips than ever before.

Motif XS

     With the new Yamaha MOTIF XS, inspiration is just a key press away. High-quality sounds to inspire you, intelligent arpeggiators to fuel your creativity, recording features to capture every idea, built-in sampling to create full audio/MIDI arrangements, rhythmic Patterns to compose with, studio-style mixing controls and versatile effect processing to master your final productions…

 ROLAND

     Roland, like Yamaha, took over an entire wing of the convention center for its exhibit featuring keyboards, drums and sound equipment. Roland raised the stage-piano bar with the RD-700NX. Today, the world-famous SuperNATURAL sound and expression of the flagship RD is available at a lighter weight and more affordable price … introducing the RD-300NX! This state-of-the-art stage piano boasts an advanced SuperNATURAL Piano sound engine, E. Piano sounds based on SuperNATURAL technology, a newly developed Ivory Feel-G keyboard with Escapement, a unique Sound Focus feature, and more.

Roland AXSynth

     Another star of the Roland exhibit was the debut of the AX Synth in a new premium color: AX-Synth Black Sparkle! Gorgeous glass-particle UV finish that reacts to various lighting conditions. The stylish AX-Synth represents Roland’s new generation of remote keyboards, but for the first time, this one has a sound generator onboard. Unlike earlier models, It is self-contained and equipped with powerful, solo-oriented sounds from Roland’s latest, greatest synths. It also has a Ribbon controller, D Beam, modulation bar, knobs, and easy to see display for stage. It is USB MIDI for easy connection to PC and has a Dedicated V-LINK button for video/visual control.

 ANALOG HAVEN

MOTM-730 VC Pulse Divider

     Analog Haven had such notable designers as Paul Schreiber of Synthesis Technology on hand to demonstrate the MOTM Analog Modular synthesizer and his latest creation the MOTM-730 VC Pulse Divider of which Analog have has exclusive distribution. Recording artist Robert Rich was also on hand to demonstrate the MOTM.

     The MOTM-730 is a PIC microprocessor-based digital module that takes an input signal and generates lower frequency square waves at multiples of the input frequency. It is a “big brother” to the MOTM-120 Sub-Octave Mux (in divide mode): the ‘120 divides by the multiples 2, 4, 8 and 16. The MOTM-730 can generate multiples from 1 to 33, as well as ‘half’ multiples (1.5 to 16.5). There is also an 8-step, positive-going sawtooth wave that has 3 user-selectable step intervals.

    Of course, guitars were everywhere. Everything from the most simple acoustics Dreadnought models to the most extreme electronic models, elaborately decorated with intricate airbrush designs or inlaid with precious gems. Each manufacturer had its prize signature guitar on display with lines of autograph seekers wrapped around the booth to get that prized autograph of a favorite recording artist.

 DEAN GUITARS

Leslie West's Signature g\Guitar

     The list of demonstrations and autograph signings everyday included iconic rock and roll guitarists like Leslie West of Mountain, at Dean guitars signing autographs and promoting his latest signature guitar along with Michael Schenker and Uli Jon Roth and over a dozen other notable musicians.

GIBSON GUITARS

Jackson Browne's Signature guitar

     Gibson guitars had Jackson Browne on hand to demo his new signature guitar and talk to show attendees. “This is a great day for me,” said Browne. “I have been trying to make acoustic guitars loud since I first started playing with a band. So go back 35 years, but most important in those 30 years I figured out what I want. First time I had someone to build a guitar for me and he asked me what I wanted and I figured out that I didn’t know what I wanted. A lot of guitars sound good to me. I liked a lot of different guitars. After playing on stage and playing a lot of different situations I began to realize the various qualities that I liked, Guitars have to be loud. They had to project. They have to have a lot of bottom. I play really simple accompaniment but if I play light it still has to be loud. It has got to be rich and light it can’t just be… But if you want it to be very light, see the problem is, this gets into the pickup, getting Gibson inspired to put this particular pickup in the factory in their guitar has been a real personal triumph for me, because I know how to get these guitars to sound – I mean every guitar can be made to sound good. That’s why when I play solo acoustic – I might have a dozen guitars on stage. And people will say, what do you need all the guitars for – well they are in different tunings and they all sound good for something. There are very few guitars that sound good for everything. While you want a guitar that is versatile and can do any number of things, I think it is a good idea to tune different ways.”

     “I just want to thank Gibson for making this guitar. This is my favorite guitar. I’m playing light strings and it’s a meaty sound to it.”

     Distinguished by a red spruce top and sustainably—farmed English walnut back and sides, the Jackson Browne Signature model was inspired by Gibson’s legendary 1930s-era Roy Smeck model—several of which are among Browne’s own prized collection of vintage Gibsons—known for its big tone, pure traditional acoustic sound, and flawless projection during concert performance. Responsive and powerful, the “Jackson Browne” has a wide neck, deep round shoulders, and the scale of a classical guitar, with 12 frets to the body. It is as much a fully modern instrument as a vital link to Gibson’s heritage, with innovations including a sophisticated pickup offering unparalleled sound reproduction when amplified, and exceptional gain before feedback capability.

LUDWIG
     Drum manufactures also had their demonstrations throughout the day and autograph signings. Ludwig tapped into the new iPad craze with as they iintroduced the Ludwig Metronome App, Ludwig, for iPhone, iPod Touch, and iPad! Allowing musicians to keep time in multiple speeds and signatures drummers can use the TAP feature to find their own meter, and choose historic Ludwig wraps as wall paper.  Ludwig announced that it can be downloaded FREE now at the iTunes App Store!

VICTOR WOOTEN

     As always the 2011 show was studded with lots of music artists wandering through the show – checking out the latest and greatest gear and in the booths performing demonstrations of the newest gear and equippment on behalf of the manufacturers. Some just hung around and visited with fans, taking pictures and signing autographs. And then there were some artists, who had their own booth to promote their newest product.

     One gracious performing icon was Victor Wooten, who redefines the word “musician.” Regarded as one of the most influential bassists since Jaco Pastorius, Wooten appeared at the Samson booth to play a little bit and talk about the products from the companies that endorse him. He also seemed to enjoy himself and linger to talk with fans and take pictures and sign autographs.

     Wooten is known for his solo recordings and tours, and as a member of the GRAMMY-winning supergroup, Béla Fleck & The Flecktones. He is a brilliant technician and innovator on the bass guitar, as well as a talented composer, arranger, producer, vocalist and multi-instrumentalist.

     Besides supporting the company that endorses him, Samson and its three subsidiary companies, Samson, Zoom and Hartke, Wooten was there to promote his latest album release, which is a re-release of his first complete solo bass album 15 years ago, “A Show of Hands”. “It is still my best selling record today. So here we are 15 years later and I am going to re-release it to the public. It is a re-mastered version so it sounds bigger and better, plus I added three bonus tracks. So I am really excited about that. When I first recorded “A Show of Hands” I thought I would be recording another solo bass record in ten years. But it is 15 years later and I found out there was no need to do another one. So I am re-releasing this one. And even more exciting is that I am doing it on my own record label. Vix Records. So with the help of my friends I can have more control of all the things that I produce.

     Wooten also talked about his bass and nature camps based near Nashville, Tennessee. ”We are in the twelfth year of running the camps. We call it a music and nature camp for bass, because to me nature is a very, very important part of whatever we do. But I don’t think most people realize it. So Instead we lock ourselves in the woodshed and close ourselves off from nature in order to get good at anything. But I just make nature the classroom. And it seems to have a profound effect on people.

     Paraphrasing him, Wooten’s approach to playing music combines a simple philosophy of getting back to nature and tapping into one’s own soul and spirit and unleashing the musician within. “I don’t want people to say it exactly like me. You got to mold it so that it fits you. And if it helps you to produce something beautiful, perfect. Most of us are concerned about playing correctly or playing right, where a child just plays. There is no right or wrong to it, they just play. So for us adults we have to relearn how to do what is natural to a child.”

     The best place to start is www.victorwooten.com Vixrecords.com to find out about the record. You can go to bassnaturecamp.com to find out all about the camp that I’m running.Wootenwoods.com is a new location that is like a musical retreat center. And it is where I host all my camps. A little bit west of Nashville Tenn.

 ALAN PARSONS ASSR

     Alan Parsons of the Alan Parson Project was available at his own booth to visit with fans, taking photos and signing autographs and to talk about and to promote his latest product, the groundbreaking video series on music production. An educational DVD Alan Parsons’ Art & Science of Sound Recording is about the recording business, presented by multi-platinum producer, engineer, and artist Parsons, teaching on the most elementary level each aspect of recording in the simplest terms, breaking down everything from microphones, to the most powerful recording systems. It is simply a top-to-toe, soup-to-nuts examination of the sound recording process. The program covers everything from dealing with room acoustics to creating timed delays. From demo loop to iTunes.

     Filmed in HD, the project comprises more than ten hours of original video material broken down into 24 sections. Many sections feature interviews with renown engineers and musicans. The DVD Boxed set contains 3 DVDs and features all of the program material or it can be downloaded or streamed off the internet. It can also be purchased in Individual Sections, where you can purchase Sections individually either for download or streaming (one-time-only) view. If you are a school or college you can purchase a special Education License that gives multiple students access to the program material online, plus tutor/director access to student scores on the Quizzes.

BAND FROM TV

     Saturday night had a special treat for attendees. NAMM is a non-profit organization and this concert was performed by a band that is all about giving back as well. Although parties and concerts were ongoing all weekend until all hours of the night and in some cases, morning, Saturday NAMM hosted a special concert featuring Band From TV performing at the NAMM Show’s first annual All-Star Celebrity Jam.

     The evening’s concert featured actors and reality stars who aren’t usually known for their musical talents along with a few surprises. BAND FROM TV performed a variety of cover tunes and rock n’ roll classics. The Band From TV lineup includes a powerhouse of well-known and acclaimed actors. Members who performed at NAMM’s All Star Celebrity Jam included the band’s founder drummer Greg Grunberg of Heroes and NBC’s upcoming love anthology, Love Bites. Jesse Spencer (violin) and currently starring on House; Bob Guiney (vocals), who appeared on The Bachelor and is now the daily host of GSN: Live; Adrian Pasdar (guitar), from Heroes and Desperate Housewives; keyboard/vocalist Scott Grimes from American Dad, ER, and most recently, Robin Hood.

     Rounding out the band are accomplished musicians Chris Kelley (Music Director), Barry Sarna (Eagles), David Leach (Ben Harper), Chris Mostert (Eagles) and child-star turned bass player Brad Savage. ‘Band From TV’ is all about giving, with the majority of the money raised from gigs and the band’s CD/DVD “Hoggin’ All the Covers” being donated back to help the charities in their endeavors.  “We just do it for fun. We don’t charge anything. Sometimes these concerts are fundraisers and all the money goes to charities, which sometimes has been as much as a $100,000,” said bassist Brad Savage.

         As the show wound-down Sunday there were still enough stars and fun everywhere in the building. We spotted quite a few stars over the four days, some doing demonstrations, some signing autographs and somejust hanging out. We got to spend a brief time with some, including Billy Sherwood of Yes and Asia, Ryo Okumoto of Spock’s Beard and Asia, Erik Norlander of Asia and Rocket Scientists, Peter Tork of the Monkeys, Robert Rich, Stevie Wonder, Alan Parsons, Leslie West, Michael Schenker, Alan White, John Payne of Asia and many others. But even though the stars are fun, the show is about the products and getting them to the consumers. It is about information and education, and about another year of making music.