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‘Best In Show’ Highlights
Top New Gear at Summer NAMM

Best In Show, the gear-centric panel discussion at Summer NAMM, delivered 24 new products and services that an expert panel of music product retailers deemed to be the best they saw during NAMM’s annual summer convention.

Six retail-buying experts shopped Summer NAMM in selecting their top products in four categories. Then, they presented their Best In Show selections July 13 at the Davidson Ballroom of the Music City Center. Categories included:

Best In Show — The best product or service that panelists saw at NAMM
Company To Watch — An exhibitor with trendsetting products or services
Gotta Stock It — A product that retailers want to stock right now, if they haven’t already
Best Accessories And Add-ons — A great product from the small-goods arena

This session’s panelists included:
• Mike Guillot, director of purchasing, Mississippi Music, a four-store chain headquartered in Hattiesburg, Miss.
• Donovan Bankhead, vice president, Springfield Music, a three-store chain headquartered in Springfield, Mo.
• Brad Boynton, owner, Rhythm Traders, an independent percussion retailer in Portland, Ore.
• Paul Decker, owner, Music Villa, an independent retailer in Bozeman, Mont.
• Tim Pratt, president of Dietze Music, a four-store chain headquartered in Lincoln, Neb.
• Myrna Sislen, owner, Middle C Music, an independent retailer in Washington, D.C.

Here are this summer’s selections:

Best In Show
C.F. Martin Ed Sheeran Acoustic Guitar (Selected by Mike Guillot)
“The guitars that are really selling these days are the small-bodied guitars. All you have to do is touch this guitar and you can feel the quality. It's a travel guitar that you can also use on stage.”

NAMM Retail Boot Camp/NAMM U. (Selected by Donovan Bankhead)
“I brought my entire management team and definitely got my money’s worth. Even if this was all we came for, it was worth it.”

Tattletale Remote Alarm System (Selected by Brad Boynton)
“It has similar technology to what we have in our stores as far as door sensors and motion detectors, but because it's portable we can now use it to protect gear. Little sensors go on a music stand or guitar, and, when the sensor is triggered, it will notify you on your cell phone.”

Zoom H6 (Selected by Paul Decker)
“It sells to anybody, from TV guys to musicians to parents who want to record their kids.”

Pedaltrain Volto (Selected by Tim Pratt)
“You can travel all over the world with these, because they have plugs for European countries and Australia.”

Roland Cube GX Series (Selected by Myrna Sislen)
“They sell like crazy and have a reasonable MSRP.”

Companies to Watch
Hal Leonard (Selected by Mike Guillot)
“They are now starting to distribute products from companies like Line 6, Alto, Avid and Tycoon Percussion. And I think we are going to see this continue to grow.”

Breedlove/Bedell Guitars (Selected by Donovan Bankhead)
“Owner Tom Bedell wants to build another great American guitar company. He treats his dealers with respect like they are friends and partners. I think he is a great example of how vendors should treat their dealers.”

Mapex (Selected by Brad Boynton)
“In an era of overproduction and overabundance, especially where prices keep on coming down, we as dealers are always looking for something unique that we'll have that may not be available nationally, and Mapex does that.”

Blackstar Amplifiers (Selected by Paul Decker)
“The great thing about them is that they are all about amps, and they are all guitar players. They are making amps for the working musician.”

Zoom (Selected by Tim Pratt)
“They have created such a niche market. And you know it's an innovative company when they can show up to a trade show with one product.”

Cordoba (Selected by Myrna Sislen)
“The problem I have always had is that of the fractional guitar, and how to get an instrument in the hands of little kids that is of good quality and can be played. Cordoba did some research and found the same quality in a guitar that is a quarter-size that is now in the $200 range.”

Gotta Stock It
Yamaha APXT2 Guitar (Selected by Mike Guillot)
“Small body guitars are what's hot right now. It has a great look and has the antiqued-looking tuners on the back of it.”

Nashville Music Stands (Selected by Donovan Bankhead)
“They catch your attention the second you see them. They have all kinds of fun designs and even some for kids, and they come in all different colors.”

Remo Silent Stroke Drumheads (Selected by Brad Boynton)
“They open up a whole new world of possibilities in terms of different sounds.”

Gator Frameworks GFW-ID-SPKR Speaker Stands (Selected by Paul Decker)
“The third leg of the speaker stand is adjustable, so if you are on uneven ground you can adjust it.”

Fishman Triple Play (Selected by Tim Pratt)
“This is a great piece. It is easy to install, and features a non-intrusive installation with no cables.”

Ukulele packs and books by both Alfred and Hal Leonard (Selected by Myrna Sislen)
“These packs are huge money-makers. Don't underestimate the power of print music to making dollars.”

Best Accessories and Add-ons
Planet Waves NS Micro Tuner (Selected by Mike Guillot)
“Super micro and comes with a visual metronome, so it doesn't make a sound.”

Souldier Straps (Selected by Donovan Bankhead)
“All of their stuff is U.S.-made, and made out of a nylon material that comes in a ton of colors.”

CruzTOOLS (Selected by Brad Boynton)
“As drummers, we have always been a little envious of guitar players because they have little tool kits. So finally there is something for us. It fits into a nice little footprint.”

Option Knob (Selected by Paul Decker)
“Now you can change your volumes and adjust everything [using your feet] with just this one little tool.”

BoloPick (Selected by Tim Pratt)
“You just hang this up at the counter and away they go. They make a great gift and a great add-on.”

Crafter First Chair Violin Tuner (Selected by Myrna Sislen)
“This tuner fits right on the scroll of the violin and has all the wonderful features that other tuners have.” MI