Friday, January 29, 2016

NAMM Show Report 2016 - National Association of Musical Merchants Winter NAMM - A first hand look at what it's like from AZPianoNews

NAMM 2016 - Anaheim, California USA - New Music Products & Digital Piano Report - People ask me all the time when and where I get a chance to look at and play so many different new digital pianos and keyboards from so many manufacturers? Actually, there are a variety of places and events where I get these opportunities and one of them is called NAMM (aka: National Association of Musical Merchants). NAMM is an international organization which is composed of Music Industry leaders who are from instrument manufacturers, dealers, suppliers, and a variety of other music related merchants. Whatever musical instrument or related product or service that could be a part of the music industry, NAMM represents them. Twice per year in the US, once a year in Europe, and approximately 2 times per year in Asia there is a large private (generally not open to the public) trade show convention where instrument manufacturers and suppliers and other music entities display their products and services to music dealerships and buyers along with assorted musicians and/or music professionals who are looking for the latest greatest musical product that fits their needs and desires. There are literally thousands upon thousands of music related product (big & small) that go anywhere from $1.00 to well over $100,000 including the latest greatest guitars, mandolins, banjos, ukuleles, acoustic & digital pianos, keyboards, synths, organs, accordions, drums, band & orchestral instruments, musical products from every continent (maybe with the exception of Antarctica:), sheet music, recording product, percussion, audio gear, DJ products, music computer technology, etc, etc, and every type of music accessory you can imagine. - (click on pics for larger views) - 

Going to the NAMM show convention is like going to a musical Disneyland. In fact, the US "Winter NAMM show" takes place in Anaheim, California and is located one block from Disneyland. So every time I attend that particular trade show, I take some time to go into Disneyland and enjoy a bit of fun & relaxation! There are thousands of incredible musicians everywhere inside and outside the large NAMM venue (some very famous, some not so famous) playing every kind of instrument in display booths, rooms, halls, nearby famous hotels, and a variety of areas throughout a gigantic convention center, with some convention centers as large as 4 stories high and spread out further than large football fields displaying products. In fact it is easy to get lost within the maze of products, sights, and sounds. It can take days to go through most of the displays and there will be things that you just do not have time to see or experience. The instruments and music products are all available for anyone to play or try out who has access to this convention. It takes special credentials to get in to these trade shows or you have to be invited by someone you know in the music products industry who can get you a pass...and those passes can be very difficult to get and costly. Everywhere you go at this show (especially the main annual US show) officials are checking your ID to be sure you are supposed to be there....you cannot just walk in.

When it comes to the miles of music items displayed at NAMM, you name it, and that product and brand is there including famous brands like Yamaha, Kawai, Bosendorfer, Roland, Casio, Martin, Fender, Gibson, Martin, Taylor, Steinway, Fazioli, Samick, Moog, Hammond, Kurzweil, Korg, Marshall, Sony, JBL, Apple, just to name a few. Every kind of music is represented including every style of Jazz, Rock, Country, Western, Latin, Big Band, Disco, Metal, Aluminum (just kidding:), Ragtime, Kids music, Movie music, Dance, Rap, Electronic, Polka, Acoustic, Folk, Bluegrass, Asian (Japanese, Chinese, etc), Middle Eastern, Russian, and the list doesn't stop. Whatever music product you can imagine, it is there and people are trying them out.

One of the drawbacks in trying out some of these instruments and listening to all these music products is that it's normally just so loud inside or near these product display areas (very high DB levels) that it can be difficult to hear what you're doing and to properly examine instruments unless there is the ability to plug in headphones to listen in privacy. This year in 2016 at the show Gibson came up with a very creative and practical display area for their electric guitars and amps which allowed people to plug in the Gibson guitar of  their choice to a bank of headphone distribution centers and sit down and try out the guitar listening through headphones. There were also special effect devices used to recreate the sound of a live amplifier with everything coming through headphones. It was the quietest guitar room I have ever heard, and I have been into hundreds of guitar demonstration rooms. Who knew that I could get some peace and quiet in an electric guitar room displaying loud Gibson guitars?! When it came to digital pianos, most of the display areas showing new digital pianos use stereo headphones so that their product can be played in privacy without disturbing others. Unfortunately some of these digital piano displays have big acoustic grand and upright pianos sitting nearby with people playing them at full volume, so even though you may be trying out digital pianos & keyboards with headphones, you can still hear loud acoustic pianos nearby so it's not the ideal conditions to really analyse and examine some of the products.

I have attended these NAMM music instrument shows for well over 30 years and my son Erik has gone with me to these shows for a number of years now because he wants to help people like you just as I do. I have see and heard it all, but it never gets old. After attending for that long I have learned important "tricks of the trade" in trying out and examining a variety of new digital pianos, acoustic pianos, keyboards, along with guitars (I play and teach guitar so I am always interested in those instruments too:), and other products that my son & I enjoy. The special tricks and inside info that I know allow me to have full and quiet access to all the instruments I need to see at these shows without the need for headphones, so that I can write comprehensive reviews on all important aspects of the piano instruments that you want to know about. I go to these NAMM shows and spend nearly a week walking miles & miles looking at and examining musical instruments because I love music, love playing and listening to a variety of new instruments, and talking to the people who make these instruments. It's a labor of love and someone's got to do it for your benefit, so it might as well be me and my son Erik. It is also amazing that everytime we go to one of these shows that we see things we have never seen before, especially in the technology products industry such as digital pianos. I saw new digital piano models from Kawai, Yamaha, Roland, Casio, Korg, Kurzweil, and from digital piano companies that have not been at this show before. There was even one European company called Alpha which has an actual full size acoustic grand piano (Renner) key action installed into a custom acrylic case (your choice of colors) with control knobs on the outside and the latest virtual (computer) piano sounds triggered by the key action on the inside the piano (see pics on left side). Cost of these pianos go from approx $25,000 - $40,000 each and take 6 months to get after order is placed. I must say that after playing them for awhile, I was very impressed....just like a real grand piano but no tuning and no regular maintenance and the ability to add features. Due to electronics becoming more advanced and prices going down in some but not all cases, it's really fun to see what the creative minds of these digital piano and keyboard designers and builders come up with. There are always different and unique designs, colors, display screens, control panels, and overall more authentic piano playability in digital pianos than ever before. For me and my son Erik, as digital pianos specialists and consultants, we love to see what new things are out there and what's coming next.

It is interesting to me that so many people from around the world who are at this big NAMM convention, recognize me . Whether they are manufacturer presidents, musician product demonstrators, product engineers, manufacturer salespeople, designers, inventors, etc, they have read my reviews and comment on the fact that what my son & I do is helpful to so many people around the world who are shopping to buy a new digital piano and need unbiased comprehensive info about their products. I don't work for any of these brands or people because I am wholly independent and say what I want to say about the things I review. If I don't like something I say so and if I do like something then I talk about that too. Music is my passion and it allows me to express inner feeling and emotions through my music that nothing else allows me to do. I hope music will do the same for you, your children, your friends, your fellow musicians, and for others who may be involved with playing a musical instrument.

Although I love and focus on digital pianos and have done so for most of my musical career which spans well over 50 years since I was just 2 years old and my parents got me my 1st of many guitars, I believe getting into music for personal recreation and enjoyment is important regardless of the musical instrument you play. Whether the instrument is a violin, trombone, sitar, pan flute, banjo, sax, clarinet, bass guitar, drums (is that an instrument!:), or whatever it is, playing music is the goal and it will bring back personal rewards to you for the rest of your life (and/or your children's lives). If you are 3 years old or 93 years old, music will inspire you and help you

in life, so do whatever it takes (especially for you're children) to get involved in playing a musical instrument and taking some lessons to learn it well and you'll probably be so happy you did. When it comes to digital pianos and pianos in general, it is the foundational instrument of all instruments produced in my opinion. It teaches you all aspects of music including melody and harmony, point & counterpoint, expression, movement, exercise, discipline, and accomplishment. Although I have seen all kinds of people prosper in their life from having taken music lessons and play a musical instrument, it's the piano which is near and dear to my heart especially because I have 2 daughters who play and teach piano and have been doing so for many years. One of them plays for orchestras, singers, and of course, for herself and her children. Her husband is also a musician and plays and teaches guitar at very high skill levels. They own digital pianos and a large grand piano and understand that music technology is important in getting students to want to play and become engaged in the learning process, regardless of the instrument, and I feel the same way. Get yourself a new digital piano that is a good one and please contact me and/or my son Erik before you make a purchase anywhere so we can help you with making the best decision withing your budget.

*Take a look at this "homegrown video" below. It's a quick musical tour that Erik created of what it's like to be at a NAMM music trade show from the recent 2016 NAMM convention in California, USA. You may even see some familiar faces in it as well as see some of the things I have been explaining in this report. We hope you enjoy:)



If you want more info on new digital pianos and LOWER PRICES than internet discounts, please email me at tim@azpianowholesale.com or call direct at 602-571-1864.

* I recommend eMedia educational software. If you decide to make a purchase after clicking on link below, I have arranged a big discount for you direct with eMedia for their educational software and that discount price is displayed through this link only! I want to see everyone learn to play and enjoy piano!

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