The Winter NAMM Show returned to Anaheim this January, and it was good to be
back. The Anaheim Convention Center was turned into a small city of 50,000 or
so, with streets of red carpet and city blocks filled with just about every kind
of music gear there is. It is truly an amazing experience!! The proper name of
the show is the International Music Market, and the international flavor is one
of the best things about it -- it's great hearing other languages besides
English, knowing that we all share that international language: that's right,
money. The dreaded rolling blackouts due to the power crisis in California
struck only when I was waiting to pay for my lunch on Friday. But it turned out
that somebody had just tripped over the register's power cord, so the power
chords being churned out by the heavy metal hair-band guitar god across the
aisle were unaffected (a close call).
This report is really just a piece of even the *bass* part of the whole show
-- there was so much, that to truly catch everything would probably mean to miss
out on a lot of the fun. And I wasn't about to do that.
There were lots of beautiful basses, as you can see from the sample pics in
the gallery (see link below). And judging by the number of pictures I took, I
guess I find that the basses are more photogenic than the gear in general.
Though they may not be as photogenic as some of the people in attendance. The
one picture I'm sorry I missed was of "Magenta Man" -- some dude
walking around in a magenta body stocking that completely covered him from the
head down, face and all, so he was solid magenta except for his shoes. He
probably wouldn't have shown up on film anyway.
There was certainly some cool gear, and it was great getting to check out
some things that weren't necessarily new, but were things I'd been curious
about. Notably, the Line 6 gear sounded pretty good and versatile, though in
that noise-drenched environment you can't critically judge tone from anything.
But I know their stuff looks pretty. The SWR Mo' Bass was set up in a booth all
its own, and I was able to dial up some pretty fun and funky tones from it.
Ashdown's stuff sounded pretty killer, as did Glockenklang, Euphonic Audio,
Aguilar, and Epifani. But I guess none of this is exactly news, is it?
Roger Sadowsky has two new versions of his
acclaimed preamp out. First is a stomp box [black unit in photo above ] that
replaces his original outboard preamp, and features the same Sadowsky bass pre
with vol-treble-bass controls, an active/passive footswitch, a mute footswitch
with tuner out, both 1/4" and DI (XLR) outputs and a low batter indicator
(AC adaptor is optional). Roger said he is "very pleased" with the new
unit, as it more than doubles the features of the old one, while also featuring
a very reasonable price of $229.
Also new from Sadowsky is the RSD-1 Headphone
Amplifier/Bass Preamp. This unit looks to be VERY cool. It's got the
Sadowsky preamp and its controls, but adds a second input with volume
control, an input for CD/DAT/etc. with volume control, two headphone
jacks, tuner out, 1/4" and XLR outs, and a pre/post EQ switch. Sweet!
He's selling them for $329 (direct from Sadowsky
Pearce Instruments, in association with Moses Graphite,
had some very interesting basses at the show -- dig this: their "Dbass"
had a 38" scale with DGCF tuning and a "zero" fret double
dot at the 34" scale location (i.e., where EADG is), but the string
tension and gauges and overall length of the bass are all the same as a
standard bass! It's 22 frets, and the retail price is $499. They also have
a similar "Cbass", 24 frets, with a 37.5" scale tuned
CFBbEb for $549.
But not every booth was exciting. In fact, one of the
most boring (so boring that nobody was in it) was Clarion
Insurance, but they specialize in insuring musical instruments, so
bookmark their site in case you need it.
The real highlights of the show for me were the
concerts. TM Stevens was funkin' it up in the EVI booth, and did a great
job of getting a NAMM crowd involved in the show. "Don't be a NAMM
Boy!" he said. Good advice. Steve Lawson was seen in various places,
sounding great no matter where he played, though I think he sounded best
on Modulus basses. He had some lovely fingernails, too. Michael Manring
kicked ass in the Zon booth, and did a great duet with an acoustic
guitarist. Saturday night was the Meteoric Intergalactic Universal Big
Bang show at the Hilton. Though guitar was the focus, there was plenty of
great bass playing, with the best being done by Marco Mendoza. His trio
was just absolutely slammin'. Will Lee was also good, as was Mark Egan.
Keanu Reeves was, uh, there too with his band Dogstar. Bill Dickens and TM
Stevens closed out the night. What a show!
The absolute best part of the whole NAMM 2001 odyssey
for me? Meeting my bass hero Marcus Miller at the DR Strings booth,
chatting with him for a bit, and giving him a "Play The Bass"
poster. I'll never forget it. What a truly nice guy.
Well, again, this page is just a fraction of the