NAMM Announces Best in Show Winners

Brandon Ferguson
Panelist Mike Guillot shows off the new Level 360 drum head from Evans Sunday at NAMM

The fact that NAMM's Sunday Best in Show event, featuring a panel discussion of the week's  coolest gadgets and companies, happened at the ungodly hour of 8 a.m.and was still packed speaks volumes about the allure of this epic trade show and its ability to inspire musical gear heads and retailers. Though many of the folks hunched over plates of scrambled eggs  spent the previous night getting debauched at NAMM parties, yet they awoke at zero dark thirty to flood the massive Pacific Ballroom at the Anaheim Hilton to watch six panelists announce their picks for cool NAMM products in four categories: Best Add On/Accessory, Gotta Stock item, Company to Watch and Best in Show. 

The panel was made up of music store owners from across the country (many rocking long "O" Southern accents), who engaged with one another in good-natured ribbing as they referenced the previous night's parties. At one point panelist Donavan Bankhead of Springfield Music presented panelist Alan Friedman with a pair of Brazilian leather underwear sporting pink tassels. Most of the humor though would have made Krusty the Klown cringe, especially Friedman's lamentations regarding his kid's taste in music, which involved obsessions with the bands Sum 41, 311, and Avenged Sevenfold. One had to wonder if the kid is in his mid 30s. 

Here's an abridged list of some of the niftier finds at this year's show according to the panel:

3D Guitars.jpg
Brandon Ferguson
Guitars printed by 3D systems.

Best Add On/ Accessory
D' Addario Evans Level 360 Drum Head

Whether or not this proclaimed advancement in drum-head technology is all its cracked up to be I can't say--I don't play drums. But what's cool is that it doesn't cost extra. According to panelist Mike Guillot of Mississippi Music, the new drum head features a unique collar that allows it to sit level making it easier to tune. Later in the day, a rep giving a demonstration at the Evans booth was heard making the pitch "Who picks up a pair of drum sticks and says to themselves, 'I want to spend my time tuning?'"

Best Add On/ Accessory
Ernie Ball Slinky M-Steel Electric Guitar Strings

Ears perked up when panelist Alan Friedman mentioned this product from the popular string manufacturer was made of defense grade steel.  "They make bombers out of these things," he declared. Supposedly these new strings allow for a greater output of sound and are break resistant. Though it's unlikely Friedman  had a chance to put the product through serious paces in the last four days, it sounds like it might be worth while for guitarists to pick up a pack or two and give them a rigorous strum.

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