Blown Away by the NAMM Show

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Adam Grayer with Scott Uchida and Jim Dunlop

Sidney Frank's Adam Grayer with Scott Uchida and Jim Dunlop of the latter's eponymous accessory company.

Last weekend, I visited the NAMM Show for the first time. What an eye-opening experience that was! Probably three or four football fields of musical instruments and associated items like strings and other accessories. Like one giant Saturday trip to 48th Street, it was fun to see the wares of brass makers, violin companies and even toy instrument manufacturers. I also ran into a few old friends from various guitar-oriented projects over the years, particularly Curt Mangan, who now has his own string company based in Colorado.

I did a few laps with Sidney Frank marketer Adam Grayer, and saw him check in with various collaborators including Schecter Guitar Research, Jim Dunlop (see photo), Peavey and live event promoter Kevin Lyman.  Master salesman Paul Fidler of Rockstar Pyro was hot on his flaming microphones and other pieces of equipment.

Grayer rolled through and hung with his people, occasionally reaching into his branded knapsack to retrieve a pass for that night’s Cheap Trick concert or a Jager sample for one of the artists he works with. I didn’t have the energy to fight the crowd in order to renew my vibes with Steve Morse, but it was nice to see he is still a force in this area. ¬†Of course, I was impressed with Adam’s savvy and leadership, and the night’s Cheap Trick event further confirmed his vast influence!

The instrument/guitar scene has always been an important one to me, and represents an important marketing avenue for new music. At the Peavey booth for example, I saw a poster featuring the guitarist from Bullet for My Valentine. Who else is willing to make a poster for these guys? In the next few years as people who were introduced to playing an instrument through gaming attempt to play for real, it will be these companies and their ability to reach kids that will create the next generation of artists.

Speaking of which, one of the best moments at NAMM was when a ten year old boy jammed on old metal songs with old guys in the lobby of the Cheap Trick show. My old friend Kevin Estrada documented the moment in anticipation of future arena-level stardom. For more pictures and details from NAMM, please visit Kevin’s page or Premier Guitar, who made extensive video reports on new equipment.

A few of the other companies I visited with include Jaguar Amplifiers, Neon Strings, Denon, Rickenbacker, Coffin Case, Iconic Metal, Airline Guitars, Pick Guy, Normandy Guitars,, marketer Phil Garfinkle and David Robinson, who shows up in the damnedest places.

Don’t miss the Jagermeister Musictour 2011, featuring Buckcherry, Hell Yeah, All That Remains and The Damned Things. For more info, visit

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