‘Best in Show’ Highlights Top Gear From Summer NAMM 2015

Great guitar gear, next-wave companies, cool accessories and professional educational were the big winners during Summer NAMM 2015’s edition of Best in Show, the popular breakfast panel discussion at NAMM U.

Six retail-buying experts shopped Summer NAMM, selecting the 24 best products, companies or services they saw during the three days of this year’s show. On the morning of July 11, at Nashville’s Music City Center, they discussed their choices in front of a packed audience of NAMM attendees. The 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 think will turn, turn, turn in their stores
Best Accessory or Add-on — Great products from the small-goods arena

This session’s panelists included:
• Donovan Bankhead, vice president, Springfield Music, Springfield, Missouri
• Cindy & Rand Cook, owners, Candyman Strings & Things, Santa Fe, New Mexico
• Mike Guillot, purchasing director, Mississippi Music, Hattiesburg, Mississippi
• Tom Menrath, head of strategic development, Vintage King, Detroit, Michigan
• Gabriel O’Brien, sales manager, Larry’s Music, Wooster, Ohio
• Tim Spicer, owner, Spicer Music, Auburn, Alabama
• Moderator: Frank Alkyer, publisher, Music Inc., DownBeat and UpBeat Daily magazines, Elmhurst, Illinois

Here are the Best In Show selections for Summer NAMM 2015:

Best in Show
Taylor 600 Series (Selected by Donovan Bankhead)
“They redid the 600 series this year. It’s a guitar that sounds nice and full and neat, without being too full and bright.”

GaffGun by GaffTech (Selected by Tim Spicer)
“Super cool product. Essentially this is the perfect add-on for churches or schools that are using any Gaff tape. When you think about how long it takes to run Gaff tape and run it neatly, this thing is much more professional.”

Supro 1622RT Amplifier (Selected by Gabriel O’Brien)
“It’s all Class A and made in the U.S. I’m super excited about it.”

NAMM U sessions at the Idea Center and TEC Tracks
(Selected by Mike Guillot)

“It is so important that you invest in your people educationally, and NAMM puts together all this great training for us.”

Martin GPCRSGT Guitar (Selected by Rand and Cindy Cook)
“[It has a] solid sitka spruce top and a Fishman system in it so we can record with it. I play this guitar, and it sounds beautiful, and it has an incredible price point.”

Line 6 Helix (Selected by Tom Menrath)
“Helix is a whole other ball game. Line 6 has gone to an extraordinary level of modeling amplifiers and creating effects. I really encourage everyone to go spend some time and check it out.”

Companies to Watch
KMC (Selected by Donovan Bankhead)
“They have been a main-stay in our industry. [Earlier in the year] when Fender sold them to Jam Industries they dismantled everything and sold everything off. But now they have picked up Washburn and DigiTech and brought those brands back again.”

Greer Amps (Selected by Tim Spicer)
“Really cool, very hip company. Pushing the boutique amp and pedal market which are killer sellers in our store.”

Reverb.com (Selected by Gabriel O’Brien)
“Great company, super easy to work with. It’s super easy to use, you can run it from your phone and take photos from your phone. sss

Hal Leonard (Selected by Mike Guillot)
“They are some of the most pleasant, professional, progressive people to work with. They are always way ahead of the curve.”

Earthquaker Devices (Selected by Rand and Cindy Cook)
“It’s a mom-and-pop company. There is something about the culture in this company that is really appealing to us in the family sense.”

Etymotic Research (Selected by Tom Menrath)
“Etymotic is very interesting and has been around for a long time. They have been involved in various aspects of hearing and hearing protection.”

Gotta Stock It
Vintage Guitars by John Hornsby Skewes
(Selected by Gabriel O’Brien)

“They are offered at very affordable price points and are using really super hardware so the setups are perfect.”

TC Electronic PolyTune Clip (Selected by Tim Spicer)
“The cool thing about this is you can hit just one string, and it will pick up one string. Or you can strum all six and tune them at the same time.”

Recording King RO-T16 guitar (Selected by Gabriel O’Brien)
“The torrified tops on this guitar are broken in so you get a little more vintage flavor, which is fantastic.”

On-Stage KPK6500 Keyboard Paks (Selected by Mike Guillot)
“Keyboards are back, so who is your customer for this? Everybody. Including the person who bought a used keyboard and didn’t get the accessories.”

On-Stage 9701TB+ Mic Stand (Selected by Rand and Cindy Cook)
“What I love about this is they are completely indestructible. This company has all kinds of cool add-ons for it like drink holders.”

Ace Products Group (Selected by Tom Menrath)
“Ace’s accessories are exceptional. They have stands of all kinds, gig bags of all types and cables. I highly recommend them as a one-stop solution.”

Best Accessories and Add-ons
Henry Heller Music (Selected by Donovan Bankhead)

“Great company, great products.”

Music Nomad Equipment Care (Selected by Tim Spicer)
“They make great polishes and cleaners, and they smell great, too!”

CAD Sessions MH510 Headphones (Selected by Gabriel O’Brien)
“These headphones have great isolation and quality.”

D’Addario PW-TTPW-01 Turbotune Peg Winder
(Selected by Mike Guillot)

“The Turbotune is glow-in-the-dark and fits any headstock. You can even put it on a bass.”

Neck Illusions Removable Fingerboard Graphics
(Selected by Rand and Cindy Cook)

“We see how they run their company and their honesty, integrity and drive is second to none. There’s quite a buzz going on about that company.”

Pedal-Links Effects Pedal Mounting System
(Selected by Tom Menrath)

“This system is something you should stock immediately.” MI