iPads Abound: Reflections On The 2011 NAMM Show

Now that the dust has settled in Anaheim, California, and all the NAMMies have returned to their husbands or wives (or guitar collections), we’re thinking back on the week that was. Most companies we spoke with were highly optimistic about 2011 and many said that, surprisingly, 2010 was a strong year. Things are definitely looking up for the musical instruments industry, or “MI” as the initiated say.

Martin Guitar Co. introduced a custom model for company CEO, Chris Martin, dubbed the “CEO,” which playfully utilizes a Gibson-style “Martin” logo (click the image at left to view a larger version).

Fender dominated the top floor of the Anaheim Convention Center with loads of new Custom Shop guitars, which were mostly sold out by the end of the show. The Scottsdale, Arizona-based company’s showroom didn’t look a whole lot different from 2009 and showcased their diverse range of brands like Gretsch, Guild, Fender Acoustics, and Jackson.

In the subterranean Hall E, acoustic guitar builders had a nice showing. Collings, the Austin, Texas builder that makes about 2,500 guitars a year, introduced an updated mandola and a new laminate style for their electrics. McPherson, the Sparta, Minnesota builder that makes even fewer guitars than Collings, introduced a new 12-string guitar as well as a series called Cambriella, named for the daughter owner Matt McPherson never had, which will feature a Florentine-style cutaway, a move away from the company’s trademark sloped shoulder.

On the main floor, heavyweights like Roland and Avid made strong showings. After a quiet 2009 in which the company was revamping it’s M-Audio, Digidesign and Pro Tools brands, Avid came out swinging in 2010, showcasing the recently-launched Pro Tools 9, as well as new M-Box recording interfaces, Euphonix control surfaces, and a new M-Audio synth called Venom. Significantly, Pro Tools 9 and new Avid hardware are both Avid-branded (rather than Digidesign) and, for the first time, are platform agnostic.

One of the defining trends of the NAMM show could also be witnessed as the major headline-grabber at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, Nevada, one week ago. In booths big and small, recording professionals and enthusiasts have increasingly adopted tablets like the iPad for recording. It seemed like everywhere we turned, someone was demoing their product with an iPad, or featuring a product that had integration with an iPad. Whether it’s a keyboardist using an iPad synth app or a front-of-house engineer using an iPad to soundcheck a band, in 2011 music just gets more and more wireless.

Note: This article has been corrected from a previous version which stated that Gibson Guitar was not showcasing at Winter NAMM.


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