Welcome to my Digital Guitar Player NAMM 2016 Review. I have just come home feeling excited and accomplished. Why you might ask? I just spent four days in Anaheim, CA at the 2016 Winter NAMM Show. This is a mind-blowing experience for me. I am going to get right to it because this story is not a short one.
I arrived in Anaheim, CA on January 20, 2016 and get settled in with picking up my badge. I met up with my friend and previous guitar player of the month on this site, Rob Balducci. We got to catch up and grab a few drinks. Rob was scheduled to perform alongside Larry Mitchell at the Majik Box Guitar Pedal party at Di Piazza Pizza and Bar in Long Beach, CA. This was a great event for the artists that are endorsed by Majik Box to play together and jam out.
The next three days were action packed for myself. I witnessed and experienced some of the most incredible things that I have ever seen from a musical standpoint. I met so many wonderful and talented musicians from all over the word. As a huge fan, networker and editor of Digital Guitar Player I got to meet people like Carmine Appice (Vanilla Fudge), Nita Strauss (Alice Cooper), Joel Hoekstra (TSO, Night Ranger, Whitesnake), Brad Gillis (Night Ranger) and Jordan Rudess (Dream Theater). It was a huge treat to see Stevie Wonder one of the days but the line was huge and the section was overcrowded. In a line at the bathroom I bumped into Angel Vivaldi, a seven string great that lives near me in New Jersey.
I met vendors that produced some of the neatest creations when it comes to guitar. Some of these vendors were guitar luthiers that build fine instruments all over the world. There were vendors that had game changing products that really are about to change the way that we play our instruments. One of the companies that I will never forget had a device for guitars that allows the player to tap on it and slide to create different sounds as well as clearer tapping technique. I forgot the name because it is not on the market yet. They will be in touch with me after the show.
I was impressed with companies like Wampler with their production of smaller sized pedals and how incredible they sound. I personally think that Wampler has some of the best line up of pedals in the business. There were other very impressive pedal companies such as Fulltone and EarthQuaker devices. The line up of guitar pedal companies was huge so just about everyone had something for everyone.
When it came to guitar amplifiers I spent a great deal of time enjoying the likes of Orange Amps, Marshall, Mesa Boogie and Black Star and DV Mark. In fact I saw Travis Larson with Jennifer Young do a demo at the DV Mark booth. They played great as always but also opened my mind to the idea of what it is like to travel and tour with DV Mark amplification products. Again I saw a lot of vendors with plenty of choices that I would have never imagined seeing anywhere.
Ah guitars…what can I say? When it comes to electric guitars Fender and Paul Reed Smith (PRS) still always will have my heart. Although I played some very unique pieces there as well. Kiesel guitars were very impressive to check out especially since artists like Alan Holdsworth, Frank Gambale and Greg Howe are some of their artists. I enjoyed exploring Vigier guitars and further understood why Bumblefoot uses their instrument. It was certainly fun to see what everyone brought out to the show.
When it came to acoustic guitar I did not know what to like since I am a huge Martin and Taylor fan. There were a lot of local companies that built beautiful instruments. I found some great guitar builders that should consider getting some Carpathian spruce wood for their guitars like Martin once used to build the Eric Clapton and Elvis Presley signature models. I wish I had more time to really explore the acoustic section longer.
My very good friend and previous guitar player of the month at Digital Guitar Player spent time at the Studio Devil booth where we performed some of his tracks and demonstrated their unique amplifier plug ins. Studio Devil really is an incredible tool for guitar players that need to travel light and still be able to maintain the proper tone for playing. The company is based out of New York and is local to me.
For three different nights I attended to the same venue called M3 Live where Brian Tichy (Whitesnake, The Dead Daisies) along with Joe Sutton hosted their annual tribute shows. The first night the gang put up a Rush tribute show with different musicians playing drums paying tribute to Neil Peart and Rush. Sebastian Bach sang some songs at the show. The second night they did a Bonzo Bash tribute to John Bonham where various drummers played including Rob Affuso (Skid Row/ Four By Fate), Will Calhoun (Living Colour), Dave Lombardo (Dead Cross/ Slayer), Joe LaMonde (NAMM CEO), Ray Luzier (Korn), Dave “Chili” Moreno (Puddle of Mudd), Stephen Perkins (Jane’s Addiction), Gregg Potter (Buddy Rich Band), Glen Sobel (Alice Cooper), Mike Terrana (Yngwie Malmsteen/ Tony MacAlpine), Brian Tichy (Ozzy Osbourne/ Whitesnake), Franklin Vanderbilt (Lenny Kravitz/ Chaka Khan) and Simon Wright (AC/DC/ Dio/ Operation Mindcrime).It was epic.
The final night was Randy Rhoads remembered with guitar gods like Jeff Watson (Night Ranger), Joel Hoekstra (Whitesnake), Kiko Loureiro (Megadeth(, Chris Broderick (Act of Defiance), Michael Angelo Batio, Mike Orlando (Adrenaline Mob), Robert Sarzo (Hurricane), Doug Aldrich (Whitesnake, The Dead Daisies), Marzi Montazeri (Heavy As Texas), Lexii Lynn Frazier, Akira Takasaki (Loudness), Mark Zavon (Kill Devil Hill) and Brian Tichy. This was truly an amazing night of guitar. I actually missed the Zakk Sabbath with Zakk Wylde show because I choose to be here. It was a treat to see one of my friends who I did not expect to see work the show. We got to reconnect.
Did I mention that Metal Blade records was kind enough to give me an a half hour one on one interview with Chris Broderick at the NAMM show? I got to talk to Chris about his career with Megadeth and his newest band, Act of Defiance. Chris is such a talented guitar player and such a great guy, it was a treat for me to be able to do this interview.
So as I sum this article up I can say that I had a memorable weekend of living my dream of attending the 2016 winter NAMM show. I walked around like a kid in a candy store and took so many pictures. All that was missing was stacks of cash that I could use to try to make deals on some of the cool toys that I played with for myself to bring home.
I could not end this blog without giving an honorable mention to the food trucks outside of the convention center. I had to try something different each day. While it was expensive I had to remind myself that I do not get to experience trips to California often. Buy seriously I want to thank NAMM for having Digital Guitar Player attend. I hope to be able to have the same experience next year as well but for now I hope that you enjoyed the Digital Guitar Player NAMM 2016 Review.