BunnyBass Field Trip:
2003 NAMM show

Anaheim, California
January 16-19, 2003

The NAMM show is over now and we (Harry, Henner, Nancy, Jon) all had a superfun time. Of course we got to meet up with many old friends, and also made some new ones too. For four days, 10 am to 6 pm, we had a chance to check out first hand what some of the world's greatest builders and musicians are currently up to. Our evenings were just as fun, hanging out together, talking about what we'd seen that day and comparing impressions, notes, and analyses. Then go to sleep late, wake up early the next morning and do it all over again. It was intense and tiring but definately the most fun we've had in a long time!

But the NAMM show was more than just fun and recreation for us - we also made time to work out some new directions for BunnyBass. In 2003, in addition to our existing activities, BunnyBass will also become a dealer for the finest new instruments we've found. In the coming months, the luthiers who impressed us most will be sending us instruments as they are completed, and we really look forward to examining, photographing, and describing these very special instruments for you - under circumstances more peaceful than the chaotic exhibition halls of NAMM!

But for now, we hope you enjoy this NAMM show report. It includes some of our general observations and impressions of the show, together with our thoughts on which bass builders really distinguished themselves from the many others 'out there'.

Table of contents.
[ page 1 ]  
introduction & setting (you can skip this part if you've already been to NAMM!)
[ page 2 ]  
basses & builders: Jens Ritter.
[ page 3 ]  
basses & builders: Michael Spalt.
[ page 4 ]  
basses & builders: Celinder, F bass, Dave Olson.
[ page 5
basses & builders: Rick Turner.
[ page 6 ]  
basses & builders: Mike Kinal.
[ page 7
basses & builders: Carey Nordstrand, Geoff Gould, Harvey Citron, Abraham Wechter, Lightwave.
[ page 8
basses & builders: Hanewinckel, Michael Pedulla, Moses Graphite, VF Guitar Works.
[ page 9
interesting!: Daisy Rock guitars, King Doublebass, Burrell (the twisty bass).
[ page 10
other cool stuff: Coffin cases, Nancy's balalaika, the Strapture strap, Jeff Berlin.

The NAMM show is held twice a year, in Anaheim, California during the winter and in Nashville, Tennessee for the summer session. NAMM (National Association of Music Merchants) is an old organization - over 100 years old - and represents about 8,000 music retailers and manufacturers worldwide. This year about 70,000 people from around the world came to NAMM, including four from BunnyBass.

We all met in Anaheim - Harry from New York/Berlin, Jon from Honolulu, Nancy from the San Francisco area, and Henner from Paris (aren't we a very diverse group?). The Anaheim Convention Center is a large place, with an arena (left) connected to several exhibition halls, and the NAMM show took up the entire thing.

Here's a picture of Henner, Nancy, and Harry getting ready to go in (Jon is behind the camera). We are all looking sharp wearing our BunnyBass uniforms and feeling good - we just had strawberry waffles for breakfast. Yes! The show isn't open to the public - when you register, the NAMM people give you a tag to wear on your clothes that has your company name, your name, and your status (exhibitor, buyer, first time newbie, international visitor, trade reporter, etc.). As you cruise the exhibition halls you can see people trying to read your tag as you walk by to see if you're a "somebody" or a "nobody" - pretty weird.

One thing that was really interesting for us was that in addition to our tags we also had our uniforms - as we were walking down the aisles we could hear people saying "hey look, it's the BunnyBass people!" and stuff like that. A lot of people also came up to us and greeted us like old friends - this was something unexpected but really nice. Everybody was so friendly and open to us it was amazing.

Just inside the main entrance, a eclectic mix of people go about their business - there are lots of business-types in suits, people in 'regular' casual clothes, rock stars and imitation rock stars, trade reporters, hard core groupies, cheerleaders (don't ask), all kinds. We didn't take photographs of most of the 'celebrities' we saw at the show - most of the time we felt a little sorry for how they were constantly being mobbed by fans. There were a lot of famous bass players at NAMM this year: Rocco Prestia, Bill Dickens, Lee Sklar, Jeff Berlin, Mark Egan, Brian Bromberg, Bootsy Collins, Michael Manring, Lincoln Goines, Victor Bailey, Matt Garrison, Doug Wimbish - the list goes on. We also saw a LOT of 'unknown' bassists who just happened to be there to try out basses and amps - some of them were unreal, superbad players who could groove like crazy. The bass universe is both smaller and larger than anyone can imagine!

There were a lot more men than women at NAMM. There seemed to be a lot more men doing the exhibiting and the majority of the buyers were men too. On the other hand we saw lots of girls in sexy/skimpy outfits hired to attract attention to the products for sale, but not many boys in skimpy outfits. If you're into silicone you'll get your fix at NAMM. The sexual heirarchy was evident at the level of interpersonal communication too - quite a few people would ignore Nancy entirely while only addressing the guy bunnies instead.

And how about race? Same as always. It was funny - some people would speak regular-speed to Harry or Henner, but slow down their speech when talking to Nancy or Jon (even though Nancy and Jon are the native English speakers and Harry and Henner are the ones with the heavy European accents!). If Harry and Jon stood side by side, questions were invariably adressed to Harry. Jon was even asked (twice!) if he was at NAMM to shop the Korean and Chinese guitars. We didn't go to NAMM looking to do social analyses but it's hard not to notice these things when it's so in your face.

The exhibition halls themselves were insane. Super crowded and noisy, everybody bumping into each other, especially on Saturday and Sunday. It's almost as unpleasant as a Tokyo train station at rush hour (okay, maybe it's not THAT bad). If you're going to NAMM, make sure you eat a good breakfast and bring a snack - the food at the concession stands was expensive and none of it looked tasty. A bottle of water will cost you $3.75 - even worse than across the street at Disneyland!

Enough of this talk - let's go look at basses and meet the builders!

[ continue to page 2 : basses : Jens Ritter ]

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