News from NAMM 2019 #1: New Guitars and Other Products, Meetings with Colleagues, Etc.
BY BLAIR JACKSON
Well, the giant 2019 Winter NAMM (National Association of Music Merchants) convention in Anaheim, California (south of L.A.), is over now, and all that lingers are my aching feet, ringing ears, and a mildly hoarse voice from talking above the noisy din of a thousand electric guitars turned up to “11,” drums bashed at deafening levels, hundreds of trumpets and saxophones and violins and keyboards all being played at the same time every second somewhere on the convention floor, and endless thwacking electric bass rattling my insides. It’s still fun, though, being immersed into this cacophonous maelstrom of sound! It’s all musicians and music merchandisers, and folks involved somehow with the music business. Good people!
And there always is a sizable classical-guitar component, most of it on the considerably quieter basement floor, mixed in with all sorts of acoustic guitar and ukulele companies showing their wares. Here are a few highlights from my visit:
Above, Southern California-based luthier Pepe Romero Jr. (featured in a profile story in the Winter 2018 issue of CG) shows off one of his new line of economical classicals that are made in Vietnam, but boast the same design ideas he incorporates in his much-sought-after top-of-the line guitars that come from his shop. And, as has become a tradition, Pepe Jr”s illustrious guitarist father, Pepe Romero (who aided in the original design of the classicalmodel) dropped by to hang out at the Romero Creations booth (where they were showing ukuleles and classical guitars) to chat with folks and also play a little. Below, that’s Pepe Sr. on the right, with his good friend Bill Kanengiser of the LAGQ.
Above, here is another top California luthier, Kenny Hill (left) of Hill Guitars, who just happened to be meeting with the wonderful Swedish guitarist Johannes Möller (right) when I cruised by the booth. That interesting-looking guitar with the unusual frets is one of Kenny’s recent True Temperament models, originally developed by Swedish luthier Anders Thidell, and introduced to Kenny by Johannes a couple of years ago. Both swear by this novel neck/fret design. You can read some of Kenny’s thoughts about the guitar here. We reviewed one of Hill’s more conventionally designed (but exceptional!) guitars in our Winter 2017 issue.
BAM, the French company that has been making superlative durable for guitars and other instruments for a number of years (that’s a classical case with a matching backpack in front of it) was pushing its helpful new Gigs app, which not only can be used as a tracker for your instrument, but also aids in monitoring and controlling the temperature and humidity of the instrument, and serves as a place where musicians and groups can organize their schedules, plan rehearsals, chat among themselves, and other cool features!
This beautiful and fine-sounding instrument is the first classical model for a respected American musical instrument company that has been around since 1864! Lyon & Healy’s just-introduced classical guitars are handcrafted in Spain and come in two different wood combinations: cedar top and grenadilla back and sides (pictured); and spruce top and white ebony back and sides. Both are equipped with a piezo pickup and internal microphone, paired with an external preamp.