"What is the NAMM show?"
NAMM stands for National Association of Music Merchants. It was first held in 1901(!). It's generally where for four days buyers from music stores and chains go to see and order merchandise for the coming year from major and minor manfuacturers. Guitars, basses, amps, pedal, recording gear, keyboards, pianos, lighting systems, karaoke machines, everything and anything that has to do with music and music production. Most every industry has a similar trade show. CES is the consumer electronics trade show. E3 is the Electronic Entertainment Expo. There are trade shows for plumbing suppliers, clothing retailers, home builders, for just about anything. Many are open to the public. However, NAMM, historically has not been open to the public.*
Generally Winter NAMM is in Anaheim in January every year. Summer NAMM is in Nashville or Austin in July.
You might ask me... "As an aspiring musician why should I go to the NAMM show?
1. See amazing new gear
2. See amazing musicians
3. Meet amazing manufacturers
4. Meet amazing musicians
I've been going now for years, at least twenty, and it's most fun the first couple of times you go and more than a little overwhelming. I mainly go now to bond with my sons. I've seen a lot of famous musicians over the years; Carlos Santana, Eddie Van Halen, Stevie Wonder, Bootsy Collins to name but a few. And seen some amazing players at booths like the guy who invented the e-bow, he's got that thing down! Amazing 10 year old shredders that will make you want to sell your gear. Country shredders like Johnny Hiland and John Jorgenson and Jerry Donahue from the Hellecasters. Old school jazzers. Bass slappers. And all sorts of unknown players like you killin' it in the booths while trying out gear.
And that's the main reason to go to the NAMM show. The gear and those that build it. I've seen and heard some amazing guitars, amps and pedals in Anaheim before the general public even heard about them. And the inventors/builders, who often risk everything they own to bring their products to market, are inspiring. I've made many "love connections" and gotten some great gear for cost or even free in return for my endorsement and/or evaluation.
"OK, Tom you sold me. How do I get a badge to get in?"
That's the tough part. But doable. Do you have a store that you frequent? Do you have a store that you spend a lot of money at? OK, let me be more blunt, is there a store who's owner is depending on you to put his kids through college. If they are a member of NAMM they can get you a badge even if they aren't planning on going. Ask.
Or do you know a manufacturer? Someone who is going to have a booth there? They can get a badge for you. I've gotten most of my badges from this source. Martin Guitars, Taylor Guitars, Elixir Strings, Marshall Electronics, Roland, all companies that I had some connection with through the years. If you know someone who works for a manufacturer, ask him.
Do you know someone who works for a trade magazine? They also have access to badges.
Every year I hear that they are going to crack down on unauthorized people getting into the show. Use to be you could use anyone's badge to get in, but true to their promise they have been checking and matching ID to badge for the last couple of years now. One year I was "Bruce Kulick". I got a lot of double takes that year.
*This year, 2011, NAMM opened Sunday to the public. Not sure what it cost but I'm sure it was insane. I tend to go only on Thursday and Friday as is it's mildly less swarmed.
Heet Sound Plus EBow Electric Bow for Guitar with 2 Batteries Included
Johnny Hiland -
Johnny Hiland: Chicken Pickin' Guitar
The Hellecasters -
Return of the Hellecasters
Escape from Hollywood
New Axes to Grind