A lot of musicians know about NAMM, the National Association of Musical Merchants. Some have been to the annual NAMM show, while many have always wanted to. But, there are a surprising number of musicians that never heard of the show. They have no idea that this is the musician’s mecca and they should make a pilgrimage at least once in their lifetime.
In a nutshell, the NAMM show is a music conference where music instrument/equipment merchants come to see all of the latest products from the manufacturers of all things music-related such as instruments, electronics, software, accessories, and more. The main conference is held in Anaheim, CA, every January, while a smaller one is held during the summer in Nashville. The Anaheim convention center gets transformed into what can best be described as Disneyland for musicians. And by the way, it’s right next door to Disneyland so maybe some of the magic rubs off.
Imagine the following:
- rows and rows of guitars, drums, keyboards, speakers, amplifiers, mixing boards, and dj equipment as far as the eye could see
- you can touch, play almost anything you see, including the latest expensive Fender, Taylor or Martin guitars
- walking through crowds of drooling, wide-eyed folks and all of a sudden running into Stevie Wonder, Gene Simmons, the guys from Shinedown, or Iron Maiden
- walking by a booth and seeing Neal Schon from Journey or Chris Broderick from Megadeth hanging out and signing autographs
- hearing some group jamming and coming to find that it’s the guitar player, bass player and drummer from three of your favorite bands
- going to one of the close hotels at night and seeing members of Guns n’ Roses, Exodus, or Toto jamming
- going up an escalator and finding yourself next to Kerri King of Slayer and you start shooting the shit with him as if it’s no big deal
These are all things that I witnessed in the last couple of years I’ve gone to NAMM.
Rock stars from all genres and all decades are just casually walking around. All of the best and latest gear is out on display for you to try. You can talk to the engineers or product managers that produce these products. There are jams and after parties that will blow your mind.
If any of the above sounds exciting to you, then you must find a way to get into the next show.
Getting into the NAMM show is a bit of a challenge, because only NAMM members are allowed access (or press and performing musicians invited or endorsed by the vendors). Membership is not open to everyone. You have to be involved in some kind of music-related business or association. But, I’m sure everyone can find someone that knows someone that can score an extra ticket.
If you’re a gear-a-holic, beware. This event will tempt you, seduce you and leave you with a serious case of gear envy. On Sundays, some of the vendors will sell their stuff at a huge discount, so you might want to bring some $$$ so that you can come home with some shiny new toys.
NAMM will inspire you because the best musicians in the world come to the event and often perform. If you want to pick up and try any of the latest gear from your favorite manufacturer, you are encouraged to. And if getting autographs from some of the biggest music icons is your thing, you can do that too.
So, what are your waiting for. Go find that special friend or family member with connections and get your ass over to the show. You will not be disappointed.
(disclaimer: I have only been to the main NAMM show, not the one in Nashville. I will have to make that one year as well, but I heard it’s amazing as well)