NAMMbulating 2009 - The Luckiest NAMM yet

This is by no means a comprehensive look at NAMM.  And there's not any pseudo-paparazzi shots like last year.

I started out the day at NAMM by meeting several friends at the Waves booth, watching 21st Century Guitarist Craig Anderton demonstrate a number of guitar amp plugins. 

Craig with Jeff Leites and Jeff Klopmeyer at the Waves booth at NAMM, Anaheim 2009.

Jeff has known Craig since the late 1960s when Craig played guitar in the classic psychedelic band Mandrake Memorial.  Jeff is recording a new album which I had the pleasure of playing e-Bow guitar on a couple of months ago.

Sitar guitar.

I met up with my friends Chris and Brian, where we watched the demonstration of the new Moog guitar.  I was excited about seeing this, as I'm a huge Bob Moog admirer and love Moog synths and pedals.

But although the guitar had some beautiful features, such as the infinite sustain and harmonics, I felt disappointed by the $6000 guitar.  And one of the reasons was that as a "normal" guitar, I didn't think it sounded good.  The idea of infinite sustains on as many as all six strings simultaneously, muting on as many as all the strings, using an expression pedal to alter the harmonics, and the filtering bring the guitar screaming into the 21st Century.  I will definitely be keeping my eye on subsequent guitar developments by this company.

Chris tries out one of the Moog Etherwave theremins.

Chris, Brian and his unbelievably groovy shirt and I stopped by the Big City Music booth to once again check out the Mark VI Mellotron.  It was gorgeous sounding, and we wished that we had $6800 to go order one.

The Nord Electro 3, quite a step up from the Electro 2, had samples of Mellotrons.  I can't be sure if it captured the true character of the Mellotron, but regardless, it sounded good, especially the Mellotron flute, which was expressive.  And the rest of the sounds on the Electro 3 were stunning - the pianos, in particular, were a noticeable step up from the piano on the Electro 2, and all the sounds were excellent.  It also has reverb, more sounds, and more effects. The Electro 3 ships in April for about US$2300.

And this was the luckiest NAMM day that I'd had yet.

I had met up with some friends early on, walked around with two other friends, and then had gone to the ADAM Audio booth to listen to their amazing monitors. I talked with Dave Bryce, Byron (SteadyB), and Christine a bit. I own a pair of ADAM P11As.  They gave me an ADAM Audio shirt to wear.  I put it on right away.  Cool.  And before I left, they mentioned that at a random time, Dave would call Byron when he was walking the NAMM floor,  and he'd look for the first person they saw with an ADAM shirt on.  That person would win a pair of ADAM A5 monitors, about US$800 for a pair.

An hour later, while looking at guitars, I was tapped on the shoulder.  I turned around.  It was Byron.  "You just won a pair of ADAM monitors!"

I hadn't even told Chris or Brian about this yet.  They looked at me quizzically.  "You're kidding!" they said.  We all went to the ADAM Audio booth.  Dave Bryce was there.  Byron said that he saw my shirt and I had won.  Dave started laughing at the oddity of it all.  "Congratulations!!!!"

This is the second time I've won something at a convention.  About eight years ago, I won a Lawson microphone in a drawing at the AES Convention.  I use that microphone just about every time I mic anything up. 

The Anaheim Convention Center, hosting NAMM 2009.

Later that evening, about 30 of us who post on the Keyboard Corner forum met up for dinner at Buca di Beppos.  I talked to Dave Pierce, his brother Mitch, Mark, Gus, and Mike.  Mike had named his second son Samuel Adams.  We drank a couple of these in his honor.

Carlo from the Keyboard Corner was the surprise guest.  Dave Bryce flew 'im in from Italy.  Wow!!!  Dave apparently makes everyone around him feel lucky and blessed.

Since I've known him, Dave is always doing really cool, thoughtful things for his friends, going out of his way to be hospitable, kicking stuff down to people, giving things away, helping people, and so forth. He's someone who seems to bring happiness and brotherhood to everyone. They just don't make many people like Dave Bryce.

Gus, Mike, and me, still wearing my lucky ADAM Audio shirt.

The next day, I saw the Hammond 44 melodica.

Weighing 3 pounds and sporting 44 keys, the melodica is the first non-organ product issued by Hammond since the 1950s, and has an on-board dynamic microphone for amplification.  And of course, you can play it acoustically as well.

Along with the Electro 3 keyboard, I really was lusting after this new Neve Fidelis mic preamp from Neve, with an all-new transformer that engineer Craig Hutchinson (formerly of Manley Labs) described as the largest transformer yet, and quite different from the Neve Portico preamp.  This four-preamp unit also has several flavors of Silk Control, one the same as the Portico, one more blatantly distorted, one with more bass response, and the other I don't remember.  It also has high-quality A/D converters.  It's shipping in April and is about US$4800, and is the first in a new line of products by Rupert Neve.  Between this and the Nord Electro 3, I was realized that it was impossible for me to go to NAMM and not be filled with gear lust.

I always make a point of going down to Hall E.  There's a lot of small companies, and many make innovative and interesting products.  I found this micro-fiber string cleaner, which provides 360 degrees of string cleaning, and preserves the life of the strings 5-6 times longer.

This is yet another one of those "why didn't anyone think of this before?" sorts of ideas, beautifully practical and easy, and another wonderful Hall E sorta thing.

Infinite Response keyboard MIDI controller for gigging musicians, built for a little more portability.

Minarik guitar.

Pointless guitar picks, completely round picks that are harder to drop.  The guitar pick manufacturer boasts improved accuracy, volume range, speed, feel and tone.

A fretless Fender guitar.  Frank Zappa, Erkan Ogur, and Adrian Belew have used fretless guitars.  I have not.  Am I missing out?  I don't know.  I never played this.  I am curious.

Chris tries out some Fender bass amps.

NAMMbulating 2009

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