Well, another year and another NAMM show. For those of you who are not familiar with NAMM, it stands for the National Association of Musical Merchants.
Every year, they have the big industry convention in Anaheim, CA. It is a time where dealers from all around the world can "shop" the various suppliers and manufacturers in the music industry. It is a closed attendance show for NAMM members only and not open to the public. However, some consumers will make their way into the show as a "Visitor" of a NAMM member. This year, we helped a few local pros gain access.
For me, this represents my 10th visit to the NAMM show and much of it is the same today as it was 10 years ago. However, there are always some exceptions and some new products that catch our eye. This is what I write this annual report for. For the consumer who is unable to attend the show to hear what I found that might be coming to a store near them in the near future. While there are many positive things at the show, there are of course not so positive things that I find at the show. I will not discuss those items or companies that I didn't care for from the show.
In the past, I have seen a few consumers feel that I was doing a disservice by not reporting on the negative. That is definitely their prerogative to hold that position, but it is also my own prerogative to not succumb to the negative. Also of course, my whole point of going to the show is to evaluate product for the purpose of selling it in our stores. So yes, the items that I discuss will likely be something that we will sell. However, this is not the purpose behind this post.
Enough of the ground rules and explanations, on to the show!
Big Companies' Prototypes!
I was pretty impressed at the number of big companies that had prototype products that were there at the show. Typically from a big company, they will only bring "new ready to sell" product. However, there were 2 companies that had prototypes to show off to select stores… which of course we were one of. However, sadly, I cannot yet tell you about them! I know this is a terrible tease and I am sorry. Trust me, it goes against my nature not to shout them out to the world, but I promised that I wouldn't get into specifics. Just keep your ears open… I promise it will be worth the wait!
Galway Spirit Flutes
If you check out my blog often, then you are already aware of my blog post about the Galway Spirit model flutes. These flutes are the newest offering from Conn-Selmer. They are based around the more advanced Avanti body tube design which features a modern professional Cooper scale pitched at A=442. Basically for the flute jargon impaired… that basically means that the intonation of the flute is on par with a $10,000 handmade professional flute.
The Spirit flutes are absolutely the best student and step-up flutes we have ever seen. Another great bonus is the fact that they are 100% Made in the USA. Sadly, there are not many flutes that can make this claim anymore. The player response on the Spirit models at the show were great. They will be available in 3 models. For more information visit our special Galway Spirit flute page on our site. They should start shipping to customers in the next 1-2 weeks!
Drake Ceramic Mouthpieces for Sax & Clarinet
Yes, you read that correct. Ceramic mouthpieces. If you are a teacher or adult player, than the first image that likely has just popped into your mind has to do with a mouthpiece dropped and shattering into a million pieces. Honestly, I can't blame you as this is the first thing that I thought of as well when I saw one a few months prior to the NAMM show. However, I have to say that I was really impressed with the quality of craftsmanship and the technical information that Aaron Drake provided. In the end, these are high end caliber mouthpieces, not student mouthpieces. So if someone drops one and it does break, there is no one to blame but themselves.
The positive aspect of the mouthpieces is that they are basically temperature/humidity neutral. There is no worry about warping from heat, or shrinking/swelling from the environment (great idea when it comes to the clarinet barrels by the way). So the pros of the product will outweigh the cons for many players concerned about performance. While I cannot say that we are stocking them yet, there is a very good chance that Drake Ceramic mouthpieces and clarinet barrels will be finding their way into our product offerings in the near future.
Selmer Paris' 125th Anniversary
This year marks Selmer Paris' 125th Anniversary. While they have not really announced much at the show, they are planning some new releases for this anniversary. They are planning on doing these releases at the big European counterpart show, the Frankfurt Music Messe. I do have some information as to what some of them are but am sworn to secrecy. Sorry, you too will have to wait just like the rest of the world on this.
Kessler Custom Products
There are a few things that we are working on for 2010. I won't get too detailed as all plans are still somewhat subject to change. However, we met with our factory at the show and also the day after the show as they came to visit our shops in Las Vegas the Monday after. We have already announced a new Kessler Custom Alto based on our "Handmade" line. We are calling it the "Jazz Handmade" as it is designed to be more vibrant and quicker responding. Similar to a Yanagisawa A902 in this manner.
We are also looking at offering an even higher lineup of saxophones… Again, not posting anything concrete on this, but keep your eyes open for this one as it is sure to surprise many.
Theo Wanne Classic Mouthpieces
Theo makes the most beautifully crafted mouthpieces with the most unique performance in the world. At the show, he had 2 new models to introduce. First is his new Vintage Rubber GAIA Tenor Sax mouthpiece. This mouthpiece is the same design as his existing metal GAIA mouthpiece for tenor but made from his new Vintage Rubber. These had a great fat dark tone with excellent response. They will be available soon at the price of $595.
The other new product is his new line called BRHAMA. These are Vintage Rubber pieces that use similar designs to their tenor and alto counterparts except they will not have the same sidewall scooping of the other models. I only saw the prototype at the show, but it looks GREAT with paper thin rails just like the GAIA rubber. The thing that most will be excited about is price. Brand new, these are going to sell at $350.
The Asian Market
The Asian market always has something new and great. We found several things that we are excited about. One of which is a fantastic low A bari sax that was based on a Yanagisawa design. This is something that we are looking into stocking in the near future and will likely sell for UNDER $2,000. It is Chinese, but it was fantastic. Played like a million bucks, was comfortable and built well. More to come on that in the future.
Otherwise, it was another NAMM show. We had a great time. Went out to dinner at some great places including my favorite, The Crab Cooker in Newport Beach (AWESOME). If you are ever in Newport, go there and get the crab (duh). You won't regret it!
Here's looking forward to 2010!