Last Friday, I had the opportunity to attend Summer NAMM 2014 in Nashville. NAMM, which is short for the National Association of Music Merchants, is a biannual event where many of the giants of the music industry, as well as smaller start-ups, come together to showcase their new products. The winter NAMM is held around January in Anaheim, CA, and the generally smaller summer NAMM is held in the Music City in July.
As this event is closed to the public, this was my first time getting to get inside through some very special connections of mine. As soon as I arrived in Nashville and I made it to the convention center, the area was abuzz with people entering the show. NAMM was held at the Nashville Music City Center which is an absolutely stunning venue, conveniently located downtown across the street from the Country Music Hall of Fame. As you walk into the building you notice that not only is a NAMM a great place to check out new gear if you’re a gear head like me, but there are a few areas where you can catch performances from some of Nashville’s up-and-coming talent.
Inside the showcase you are visually and sonically assaulted with so many sights and sounds, for a first time show goer it can really be quite overwhelming to take it all in or know where to start. There are product demonstrations, concerts, product giveaways, guest speakers and industry workshops. Larger companies like Gibson, Boss, and Casio have a large presence, and for many of the smaller companies NAMM is a great way to generate buzz about their products and secure dealers. For a music lover like me it was a very rewarding experience.
I spent two hours walking the show, trying out products and networking with people in the industry, and even then I only began to scratch the surface of all there was to do. When I was done with the show, I decided to get a little bit of guitar shopping in. Nashville is one of those cities where you just have to take a look at their selection and there are plenty of great vintage shops near downtown. Although I will caution the prices in these places are not for the faint of heart, but then again these are the same shops where you might run into Brad Paisley, Vince Gill, Billy Gibbons, or Keith Urban. I dropped into Carter Vintage Guitar after reading about them in Epiphone’s press release about the NAMM show. This place was an absolute treat! They had guitars ranging from a couple of hundred all the way up to over $167,000! If you love vintage gear, even if you can’t afford it, this is a great shop to stop in to get up close and personal with music history.
Even though I didn’t get to stay at the show and Nashville the entire 3 days that it was held, visiting on Friday was a definitely a worthwhile experience and I think it’s something every gear lover should try to do at least once, especially if you can make it out to the larger Anaheim show.
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