NAMM 2011: A Guitarists Dream Comes True

Exploring the 2011 NAMM Convention was an AWESOME experience!

The NAMM Show is one of the largest music product trade shows in the world, founded in 1901. It’s held every January in Anaheim, California, USA at the Anaheim Convention Center.

The acronym NAMM originally stood for the National Association of Music Merchants, but has evolved from a national entity representing the interests of music products retailers to an international association including both commercial, reseller members, affiliates and manufacturers. Therefore, the long form of the name is no longer used, and it is simply known as NAMM, the International Music Products Association.

The NAMM Press Room and Registration Booth

Saturday, January 15, 2011

I arrived at the NAMM show early Saturday morning to see journalists, artists, vendors and executives setting up for the day.  I was lucky enough to have a press pass with all access to artists and vendors. After meeting up with fellow SMG staff editor Mickey Richardson, we set out to to see what the trade show had to offer.

Inside the convention lies a plethora of vendor booths and cubicles showcasing all the latest gear which companies are set to release in the new year. Down stairs houses the small to medium size companies from Japan, China, Korea and private luthiers from all over the world.  Most of the vendors downstairs display Pro-Audio and accessories for guitar and bass. There were however a small amount of amplification and acoustic guitar companies displaying new products.

Oh yeah, Schecter had a great display of AXES!!!

Levels 2 & 3 housed the big guns of the musical world. Our first stop was the Schecter Guitar booth showcasing a variety of models including the Omen, C1, Damien, Diamond, Hellraiser and Blackjack series guitars. On a side note, I’m in the process of putting together an in-depth review of some of the new Schecter lines.

The Ibanez booth was jam packed with tons of awesome guitars.

Some of the notable vendors we hit were Ibanez, Washburn, Ernie Ball, Digiech, Taylor, Martin, ESP, Gibson and Fender. These vendors showcased tons of new and later model equipment. At the Ibanez booth, I spoke with representatives about the new line of S-Series models as well as upgraded amplifiers and effects pedals.

Herman Li of DragonForce and SMG Staff writer Nick Arrietta

At the artists booth within Ibanez sat super shredder extraordinaire Herman Li. I ran into Herman outside the convention center while getting coffee. He was gracious enough to take a photo with me before getting back to the booth. Hopefully next year I’ll be able to spend more time with him for an interview.

Nick Arrietta thumpin’ on an Ernie Ball StingRay bass while Steve Vai looks on.

At the Ernie ball booth, Steve Morse was jamming on stage playing his new signature model while Steve Vai sat down with Ernie Ball reps in order to discuss new products. Some of the companies had small areas, while other manufacturers had there own private rooms with stages and performances by artists and experts demonstrating their gear.

Nick of Digitech showed Nick of SMG the new line of tube amps that will hit the market in 2011.

Buckethead and Bootsy Collins making their way upstairs.

The highlight of my day was running into the master himself… Buckethead and funk master Bootsy Collins heading up towards the Gibson room. I believe I was star struck but I will never admit that publicly!

Wrapping it up

All in all, there was just far too much gear and not enough time to see everything in the convention center still yet still an amazing experience. You need a full week to appreciate what NAMM has to offer. Next year, we will spend more time covering everything we possibly can, to bring all the goods right back to you. With that, this was just a small sampling of what went on during our time at NAMM and I will have more gear reviews to bring to you in the coming weeks…. so stay tuned!

Till next time, thanks for reading and keep on shredding.

Nick Arrietta is a staff writer at SMG. Nick is a professional Music teacher from California and has been playing the Guitar for 24 years. Along with teaching music he is a touring guitarist, studio musician and songwriter. Email:

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