NAMM 2015: 526 percussion merchants under one roof

An artist's pass to experience NAMM 2015's 96,000 attendees, 6,000 exhibitors, and 526 percussion merchants checks an item off of my bucket list.

By Darin Soll

Anaheim Convention Center, site of NAMM 2015
As many of you know, the annual NAMM (National Association of Music Merchants) show is the premier showcase for the latest in music gear.  2015 NAMM did not disappoint!  From January 22 through 25, 2015, nearly 96,000 people descended on the Anaheim Convention Center in Anaheim, California, to see, learn about, and experience the latest in music products.

Attendance at NAMM is limited to music products industry merchants and their guests, and I was very fortunate to receive an artist's pass for this year's show from Stone Custom Drum, LLC, a Fort Wayne, Indiana, builder of quality drums in the American tradition.

Two of the four exhibit and meeting levels on the NAMM 2015 show map
Two of the four exhibit and meeting levels on
the NAMM 2015 show map
In a word--NAMM is overwhelming.  With four levels of exhibit and meeting halls, over 6,000 booths, and tens of thousands of attendees checking out music gear, the atmosphere in the Anaheim Convention Center is a continuous crescendo.  There were 526 merchants in the percussion category alone!  Fortunately, NAMM provides a smartphone app to help attendees organize their plans of attack.

Celebrity sightings are fairly common at NAMM.  Many artists were scheduled to appear in exhibits for autograph and photo opps, as well as in-booth jam sessions.

Tre Cool of Green Day talking to fans
Steve Smith and Danny Carey were scheduled to appear in the Sonor booth.  Among the many artists scheduled to appear in the Yamaha pavilion were Kenny Aronoff, Bobby Blotzer, Steve Gadd, Tommy Igoe, Dave Weckl, and Alan White.  Endorsers for Pearl Drums appeared in its exhibit throughout the show, and Ludwig hosted artist autograph signing events.  And Stewart Copeland and Dave Lombardo were on hand to demo new Paiste products--unfortunately in private press rooms.

I was able to get close enough to shake hands with Tre Cool of Green Day in the SJC Custom Drums exhibit, and John Good of Drum Workshop just outside the DW pavilion.

But I was more interested in the gear than the celebrity sightings, and I had the opportunity to see and play the latest gear from dozens of recognized brands.  Just to give you an idea of the breadth of products represented at NAMM, here is an alphabetical list of percussion-related exhibits I saw...

Neil Peart's DW "R-40" kit
Replica of John Bonham's Ludwig Vistalites
Aquarian, Avedis Zildjian, Ayotte Drums, Axis Percussion, Canopus Drums, Craviotto Drum, Crush Drums and Percussion, Ddrum, Dream Cymbals and Gongs, Drum Workshop, Dunnett Classic Drums, Evans Drumheads by D'Addario, Gretsch, Intellistage Stages, Istanbul Cymbals, KickPort, Ludwig Drum, Overtone Labs (makers of Tune-Bot), Pacific Drums and Percussion, Paiste, Pearl Drums, Pork Pie Percussion, Premier Drum, Mapex Drums, Meinl, Peace Drums, Promark, PureSound Percussion, Regal Tip, Remo, Roc-N-Soc, Roland, Sabian, Sakae Drums, SJC Custom Drums, SKB, Sonor, Soultone Cymbals, Stone Custom Drum, Tama Drums, Taye Drums, Trick Percussion Products, Truth Custom Drums, TRX Cymbal, Vater Percussion, Vic Firth, WorldMax, Yamaha Drums...and that's less than ten percent of the percussion-oriented merchants exhibiting at the show!

Attending NAMM should be on the bucket lists of all music gearheads.  I highly recommend it...just be ready for a five-alarm headache at the end of your first full day!


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