The MagazineMarketplaceEventsResourcesNewsContact

'Best In Show' Highlights Best New Gear at Summer NAMM

The brightest new products for this fall were on display at Summer NAMM, held July 21–23, and the crown jewels were presented during the convention's popular "Best In Show" panel discussion.

Six music retail experts shopped the NAMM show floor to find the top gear in four categories. On the morning of the 23rd at the Renaissance Nashville Hotel, they discussed their choices in front of more than 350 NAMM attendees. Categories included:

Best In Show — The best product or service that panelists saw at NAMM.
Gotta Stock It — A product that retailers want to stock right now, if they haven't already.
Companies to Watch — An exhibitor with trendsetting products or services.
Something Small — A great product that's either small in price or small in size.

This session's panelists included:
Tim Pratt, co-owner, Dietze Music, with four locations in Nebraska
Liz Reisman, owner, Creative Music Center, Monroe, Conn.
Brad Boynton, owner, Rhythm Traders, Portland, Ore.
Myrna Sislen, owner, Middle C Music, Washington, D.C.
Chris Basile, owner, South Jersey Music, Sewell, N.J.
Pete Gamber, owner, Alto Loma Music, with two locations in Southern California

Here are their selections:

Best In Show
CTK 7000 & WK7500 Keyboards, Casio (Selected by Tim Pratt)
"I was absolutely blown away by these keyboards. I was amazed by what they do. I'm a guitarist, and I am always intrigued by things I can't do. I can't wait to get them in the store."

S-U-B Series U-Bass, Kala (Selected by Liz Reisman)
"Ukuleles turn and turn and turn. The S-U-B Series U-Bass comes in sunburst and black, and it fits in the [airplane] overhead compartment. Every bass player should have one."

DTX 500 Series Electronic Drums, Yamaha (Selected by Brad Boynton)
"I chose the DTX 500 series because they have a lot of the features that high-level drum sets have. These drums are great for recreational drummers. The series has 427 voices, 50 preset drum sets and over 40 songs to play with."

Taylor Swift Music Books, Hal Leonard (Selected by Myrna Sislen)
"My choice is the print genre. Print is the one thing where our margins are really good. I chose the Taylor Swift series of books because I can't keep these in my store."

Rhythms Of The Game by Bernie Williams, Dave Gluck & Bob Thompson, Hal Leonard (Selected by Myrna Sislen)
"Rhythms Of The Game is a link between musical and athletic performance. This book will help parents and students understand that if athletes take music lessons in addition to sports they are going to be better performers in both areas."

The Heritage Series Acoustic Guitar Line, Bedell Guitars (Selected by Chris Basile)
"All of the Bedell Guitars are quality-controlled in Oregon, and they are good, solid spruce guitars. Customers are going to love these instruments. The quality is there."

iBuy Business Commerce Platform, Independent Music Store Owners & ProActive Systems (Selected by Chris Basile)
"Sometimes, store owners get busy and don't have the time to order. With iBuy, if store owners remember at night after dinner that they forgot to order, they can jump online at any time, put everything in one shopping cart, hit send and purchase everything from our participating vendors at once."

Stagg Acoustic Guitar Packs, Stagg (Selected by Pete Gamber)
"On the side of Stagg's Acoustic Guitar Pack's entry-level box, it says, 'Ask your music store about taking lessons.' If every manufacturer did that, they would have many more kids that would be taking lessons. The packs feature nylon and steel-strings and come in half, three-quarter and full sizes."

Gotta Stock It
The Real Worship Book Series, Hal Leonard (Selected by Tim Pratt)
"This book has all kinds of fresh stuff in it. It's not just old standards. The changes are good. It's fully licensed. We've done well with all the other Real Books. Retail is $29.99."

K&M Guardian 3 & 5 Guitar Stands, distributed by Connolly Music (Selected by Liz Reisman)
"This is about 4 pounds. It folds up. It's padded. It has nice rubber and is protective. I hope they make it in cello someday. I can also use it in the store as a display item."

Celebrity In-Ear Buds, Harris Musical Instruments (Selected by Liz Reisman)
"I have a lot of students who come in and are looking for something they can purchase quickly without mom and dad's approval. These come in Pink Floyd, Kiss, Elvis and Sex Pistols. It's a great blister pack, and the MSRP is $15."

Rudimental Jazz by Joe Morello, Hal Leonard (Selected by Brad Boynton)
"It's a classic. It was originally published in 1967. This should be a good seller. Joe passed away earlier this year and has been on a lot of magazine covers recently."

AXL USA Series Electric Guitars, The Music Link (Selected by Myrna Sislen)
"I like companies that don't have minimums. I like companies that have good margins. This guitar is an American-assembled Stratocaster. The body and the neck are imported. The fretting and the electronics are done in California. My guys love this guitar. The MSRP is $399 — for an American-made instrument."

AS-900 Wireless In-Ear Monitor System, Galaxy Audio (Selected by Chris Basile)
"MSRP is $259. It comes with a set of earbuds, but they have some upgradable ones for better isolation. Galaxy Audio's another great company that stands behind independent music retailers. And they have great margins."

Greg Bennett G Series Acoustic Guitar Line, Samick (Selected by Pete Gamber)
"I'm not a Samick dealer, but this may change my mind. This guitar cosmetically kicks butt. Great price point. This is the kind of thing I can move every one of my students into if they need a real guitar."

Chromatic Music Tones Playing Cards, Knowledge Of Music (Selected by Pete Gamber)
"Music theory sucks. But these are playing cards. This isn't work."

Companies to Watch
Gold Tone Stringed Instruments (Selected by Tim Pratt)
"Gold Tone has banjos of all kinds, including a banjo bass, 10-strings, banjo ukes and a banjo guitar. They are making a buzz, and they are really something to keep your eyes on."

Maple Leaf Strings (Selected by Liz Reisman)
"I absolutely love these cases. Their cello cases come in unique, traditional colors. If you show an African safari case in your store, people are going to be like, 'What else is here?' They might take a unique buyer, but they are going to liven up the store."

Gon Bops (Selected by Brad Boynton)
"They launched the Mariano series, and they are fundamentally different from the rest of the pack. They have some new artists this year. This company is going to be around for a while and definitely one to watch."

Goldfish Guitars (Selected by Myrna Sislen)
"Younger and younger children are being brought in to play bass and guitar. There aren't good instruments for these kids. The Bassfish is a nice bass. It is $209 and is very well-made and has a good sound. They are a safe way for little ones to have an electric guitar without having to worry about plugging in."

Spector Basses (Selected by Chris Basile)
"They have been around for over 35 years, but overall, they are really nice basses. The MSRP starts around $599, and they are beautiful, nice quality basses for that price point. And that is a price point that we are selling stuff at right now, so it's ideal."

Bedell Guitars (Selected by Pete Gamber)
"This is an awesome guitar line. The instruments are beautifully made. The whole series is playable, all the way up and down from the most entry-level to the most advanced level. Their entire focus is acoustic guitars."

Something Small
Pick Punch, Pick Punch LLC (Selected by Tim Pratt)
"It's a fun product. You'll have all kinds of kids [as customers] — I guarantee it."

NS Mini Headstock Tuner, Planet Waves (Selected by Tim Pratt)
"This is so small. You can put this on the back of your guitar. It swivels all the way around. You can actually clamp it to the headstock and hide it."

Pic Stik Pick Holder, Pic Stik (Selected by Liz Reisman)
"It's a plastic gizmo that clips right onto a guitar strap. It has an adhesive, so it doesn't slip down. It's $6.95. And they all come with picks."

Drum Stackerz, Score Marketing (Selected by Brad Boynton)
"It's basically a display method for all of you who don't have space on the showroom floor. It's a way of stacking kits. You get a whole set. They have a list price of $28.80, and it'll pay for itself the first time you don't have to discount a drum set [because it got damaged when stacked]."

Ron Centola's Quntessential Guitar Chord Pickin'Tionary, Corporate Printing (Selected by Myrna Sislen)
"This is very, very, very, very small. The binding on this is really good."

AudioBox 22VSL, PreSonus (Selected by Chris Basile)
"It's basically a studio in a box. It takes all the great features of the StudioLive series mixers and puts them into an interface box that is USB 2.0. My customers are going to love this. They can go home and do a high-quality recording at an affordable price. And it has great point-of-sale packaging."

Glee Vocal Method & Songbook, Hal Leonard (Selected by Pete Gamber)
"In my store, books are a great product right now and are still moving well. This is actually a method book that has the songs from 'Glee,' and it shows you how to sing. What a novel idea!"

The Evolution Of Jazz Drumming, distributed by Hal Leonard (Selected by Pete Gamber)
"Most of my drum students are not jazz freaks, but they're interested in anything that's going to be exciting. And this has MP3 tracks. It also has DVD clips."