As veteran JazzTimes followers know, every year around now we present a report on the annual National Association of Music Merchants (NAMM) show in Anaheim, California. Why? Because going to NAMM is a longstanding tradition, rooted in a deeply held sense of duty to scout out the absolute best in new musical equipment and then tell our readers about it, so they can make informed purchasing decisions in total confidence.
Okay, so maybe that’s not the whole truth. The JazzTimes NAMM trip is indeed a longstanding tradition, but it’s only partly about duty. It’s also a chance for us to shake a lot of hands, put faces to the names that land regularly in our email inboxes, shoot the breeze with friends in the business whom we don’t get to see otherwise, and give fancy new instruments a test drive. Since we’re based in the Northeast, getting to soak in the balmy temperatures of Orange County in January isn’t a bad deal either.
All of this, like so much else, went out the window in the wake of COVID-19. This January, gathering tens of thousands of people from around the globe and putting them indoors in close proximity for four days straight was a non-starter. And so NAMM pivoted to Plan B: a five-day all-virtual event called Believe in Music Week. An array of product presentation videos took the place of live press conferences; computer screens stood in for stages at demos, training sessions, speeches, awards ceremonies, and performances; and instead of happy chance meetings in hallways or at lunch tables, we were left to scan the “networking profiles” of our fellow registrants in desultory social-media style.
It was a poor substitute for the real thing—and not fundamentally all that different from a million other online events we’ve experienced since March 2020—but the folks at NAMM knew this going in and, frankly, no better choice existed under the circumstances. This was borne out by the sheer numbers involved, and in terms of those alone Believe in Music Week has to be regarded as a success: 93,226 people signed up, taking part in nearly 1,000 separate events adding up to more than 600 hours of live and pre-recorded content.
At least one aspect of Believe in Music Week, though, was similar to a “traditional” NAMM show, and in a strangely reassuring way: There was simply no possibility of seeing every new product on offer in the five days allotted. Fortunately for us media types, there is such a thing as video on demand. Using that technology liberally and following our instincts, we found several pieces of gear that intrigued us, including the five items in the slideshow below.
Let’s say you really like effects pedals, as in: You own dozens, maybe hundreds, of them. And you’d love to take more of them to your gigs (when we can go to gigs again, of course), but organizing them all when you get there can be tricky. Say no more, because the D’Addario XPND—pronounced “expand”—offers an easy solution. This pedalboard telescopes in and out, meaning that you can, yes, expand it as you need to fit more toys … ahem, we mean devices.
$79.99 (one row) and $169.99 (two rows) MSRP | daddario.com