The Road to NAMM
January 20-24, 2016
by Robert Cavuoto
The biggest and best names in musical instruments come to Anaheim, California every winter for 4 days to show off their new products. This year NAMM boasts 1,700 exhibitors showcasing products of every type across music products, pro audio, lighting, and sound recording, collectively displaying over 6,000 brands to attendees from 125 countries and regions around the world.
From world renowned dealers to the up-and-coming, this convention was in no shortage of amazing musical instruments. From what we were told this year’s convention promised to blow the doors off of previous years…and it did.
This was by far the largest convention I have ever attended or covered from a media perspective. The shear volume of booths was overwhelming, and I did my best to get photos of the booths, artists and new products. I can’t tell you how many times I got lost or started out for one booth and then was taken-in by something at another. I literally was on the convention floor for three solid days, from the minute it opened to the minute it closed and wasn’t fully able to cover every booth or every “happening” at the convention. To put things in perceptive Fender, ESP and Schecter Guitar booths were so large that they needed their own floor! Fender was a massive convention room which included Charvel, Jackson and a section for the EVH Wolfgang and 5150 amps and of course the countless Fender Strats.
Being a guitar fanatic, I couldn’t help notice that all the models of this year’s guitars broke the mold on originality. In the past it seemed as if every manufacture tried to duplicate the look and feel of Paul Reed Smith. It was as if everyone was now thinking out of the box from colors, finishes, styles and shapes. I love getting a first hand look into what you will be seeing at your local Sam Ash and Guitar Centers.
The convention was also in no shortage of musicians promoting their signature guitars, gear, or CD with the likes of Zakk Wylde, Brad Whitford, Derek St Holmes, Brad Gillis, Sixx AM and Billy Sheehan just to name a few.
What I hope to share with you in this article are some of my favorite manufacturers and some artist insights. It is only the tip of the NAMM iceberg. Enjoy!
Robert Cavuoto: What do you think of Alice Cooper taking LA Guns 1991 LP title, Hollywood Vampires, for the name of his new solo band with Joe Perry, and Johnny Depp?
Phil Lewis: He actual had that name long before we did. When I used to go to the Rainbow Bar & Grill in LA, there was a plaque with his name and all his friends called the “Hollywood Vampires.” I couldn’t believe no one grabbed the name and so I borrowed it for our LP.
Mikkey Dee of Motorehead
Robert Cavuoto: What are your future plans?
Mikkey Dee: Come Spring I’ll be playing with Thin Lizzy for their 40 Anniversary Tour of Jailbreak But I’m actively looking for a new band to join up with on a permanent basis.
Brad Gillis of Night Ranger
Robert Cavuoto: What is Night Ranger up too these days?
Brad Gillis: Kelly Keagy and Jack Blades will be coming over my house in February to start writing the next Night Ranger CD.
Nicko McBrain of Iron Maiden
Robert Cavuoto: Is Bruce Dickenson ready to start the tour and singing live?
Nicko McBrain: He is more than ready and Maiden will be starting February 24th!
Zakk Wylde – Wylde Audio Press Conference
Robert Cavuoto: Where did you get the inspiration for the design and images for your new line of Wylde Audio Guitars?
Zakk Wylde: As far as the paint job goes with the buzzssaw, pinstrip or the vertigo, I got it years ago. When you see a cool pattern you just mash it up and put it into the guitar. I would go through books of old guitars and see what meshes up. The inlays are extra big because I remember Django Reinhardt’s jazz guitars had the big block inlay and thought they looked cool so when I designed these guitars I wanted those same big blocks. Now that I have my own company the sky’s the limits, even down to the wood as they all have different characteristics and tone. Just like in cooking when you put the different woods together they sound different.
Robert Cavuoto: Any plans for writing a follow up book to Bring Metal to the Children?
Zakk Wylde: If we go out on the road for another month and a half; I’ll have another book for you!