With the NAMM Show returning to the Anaheim Convention Center June 3-5, event producers hosted its annual preview day on Thursday. A select number of vendors gathered outside the main exhibit hall to display and demo their latest products, which will appear alongside thousands of others this weekend.
The event was for media and invited guests only and kicked-off inside the Martin Guitar (C.F. Martin & Co.) booth, where the company announced a special collaboration with the The Black Crowes’ Rich Robinson. Robinson showed up to talk about the new Rich Robinson Custom Signature Edition D-28, which was modeled after a guitar that was passed down to he and his brother, Chris Robinson, by their late father.
“My dad was a folk musician in the ’50s and early ’60s, so this guitar in particular was in our house our whole lives,” he said while talking with Martin Guitar’s new CEO Thomas Ripsam and holding the original model. “My dad would take it out and as we got older, my brother and I would take it, much to his chagrin.”
The replica model is nicknamed The Appalachian after his father’s ’50s folk rock duo and retails for $6,999. Robinson also said the original guitar is what he wrote most of the band’s 1990 debut album, “Shake Your Money Maker,” on. It’s also the one he wrote the hit single, “She Talks to Angels” with.
“It’s the only decent guitar I had access to,” he said at that time. “Whenever I play acoustically, I’ve had it on every record I’ve ever made.”
Others showed off their latest innovations as well.
A Disney’s Haunted Mansion-themed Minarik Guitar was hard to miss as it was displayed in an eye-catching themed case that included the beloved attraction’s gargoyle wall sconces and signature black-and-purple wallpaper.
“There are only 13 of these made,” Minarik Guitars founder Marc Minarik said as he held the instrument, which was marked #10 on the headstock. It’s the only one left and was built in partnership with Disney to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the ride. The other guitars sold quickly for $13,000 each back in 2020, one of them going to Greg Nicotero, famed special effects makeup artist and director and producer of “The Walking Dead.”
“There’s a ton of Easter eggs on these guitars,” he continued. “There’s UV paint on it, so if I hit it with a black light, all this invisible stuff will pop out including 10 hidden Mickey’s.”
The last guitar will soon be available, but it comes with a big ‘ol price tag. Minarik said it’s going to be selling for $150,000. Since all of the others, including a one-off acoustic guitar with a similar design, were swiftly claimed, Minarik said that the buyers were approached by other collectors offering “obscene amounts of money.” To his knowledge, all of the original buyers refused to sell. He wanted to make sure this one got into the hands of someone who would truly cherish it, but he also wanted to give something back. He said they’ll be donating “a large portion” of that sale to various children’s charities.
Though they’re pretty to look at, guitars weren’t the only thing at the event.
Positive Grid showcased its new Spark Mini portable smart guitar amp and Bluetooth speaker. Guitarist Rob Math of Orange County metal band Leatherwolf, who was demoing the product, said it “makes practicing and playing super fun.” For $195 retail, it’s a pretty cool-looking speaker on its own, but when paired with the software, a guitarist can plug in and play around with seemingly unlimited sounds.
Since it’s only about six-and-a-half-inches in height and weighs only about three pounds, Math said it’s easy to throw in your vehicle and go. Plus it has an eight-hour playtime on a single charge.
Tama Drums also debuted its new True Touch Training Kit.
“It’s for anyone who wants to practice and improve their drumming,” Tama’s percussion merchandiser Bill Ludwig said.
It’s a sturdy and quiet kit that includes a 10″ snare pad, 6″ bass pad, 8″ and 8.5″ tom pads plus a 9″ floor tom pad and retails for $1,000. Ludwig said it’s something professional drummers can breakdown and take on tour to practice in spaces like backstage greenrooms or where the normally super loud instrument would need to be turned down a bit.