I have been attending NAMM shows since the 80’s. Back then, NAMM was bombarded with guitar builders, amp companies, and shredders. If you could shred, you could get a crowd around you especially in the 80’s.
Throughout the years, NAMM has always represented that to me. It got to a point where I started to dislike NAMM. Specifically, I used to get stepped up to by other bassists. I would find myself playing at a booth and another bassist would start shredding right next to me. I hated this competitive element that came about, though I understood it. These musicians worked endless hours on their craft and wanted to get free gear. I just didn’t appreciate their approach.
One year, I went to NAMM with Tim Commerford of Rage Against The Machine. I warned Tim that it gets pretty gnarly with these competitive shredders. Tim was not intimidated in any way so we walked in. We cruised the isles, wanting to check out new basses and amplifiers…what everyone else at NAMM wants to do. At some point, I turn to Tim and I tell him that two dudes have been following us around the show floors.
As the day progressed, these two bass players became increasingly annoying. Tim turned to me with an exasperated looks and thought we should pick up the pace to try to lose them. We start hustling through the convention center and we think we had lost them. Tim and I decide to check out some new bass at a booth that had headphones. I put headphones on and start playing and I get lost in the sound and the bass and after about 5 minutes, Tim is gone and those two dudes are shredding right next to me! I start walking away and one of the guys says “I told you he sucks.”
Well the 2000’s come in and computer/digital technology impacts the music world immensely. I found myself wanting to go to NAMM again. You want to see how far Protools has come or you want to check out all the software available for recording. The digital world even enters the bass/guitar world with digital pedals and samplers and such.
My point is that NAMM is not the goofy shred show that I once knew it to be. I used to be part of that problem when I was in Racer X. I would parade around with Paul Gilbert and just shred for gear. Now, I really am looking to find what is going to inspire me to make music and sound.
This year’s Summer NAMM was great. Earthquaker Devices has great new pedals and a new guitar stack! Pigtronix makes amazing Supro amps now. I also got super excited about Pittsburgh Modular Synthesizers’ Patch Box FX1! For sound tweakers and pedal nerds, this quite possibly could be the future. They are linking guitar/bass to euro rack modular synths! Look for my demos soon! Or, email and order one and please tell them Juan/PedalsAndEffects sent you!