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NAMM 2011: On the Upswing?

Record crowds, good music and sensible innovation at NAMM 2011

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Martin Taylor performs at the ArtistWorks Inc. booth, NAMM 2011
NAMM 2011 hits the Anaheim Convention Center
Fender G-DEC 3 Thirty Blues
Sabian AAX Omni cymbal

This past January in Anaheim, Calif., the annual wintertime tradeshow of the National Association of Music Merchants (NAMM) seemed to reach a state of equilibrium after years of economic anxiety. The numbers were hopeful-NAMM reported record registration figures (90,114 attendees) and 247 new exhibitors-and conversations generally seemed less martyrly and more workaday, more healthy. In other words, it was “What are you listening to?” and not “What are we gonna do now?”

Maybe the industry is accepting its reined-in resources and has come to peace with the mantra of “more with less.” And perhaps that’s a good thing: This year’s new stuff seemed smart and practical-as in, gear you’d actually want to buy, rather than the gizmos and gadgets of pre-recession shows. (The scene, however, in all its SoCal guitar-shredder glory, remained outrageous.) Here are a few of the worthy products available now or scheduled to ship sometime in 2011.

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