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2017 NAMM Best & Worst of Show Awards

by Christian Wissmuller • in
  • Special Report
• Created: February 14, 2017

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See who took the award for “Worst Surprise/Best Turnaround,” “Worst Mini-plague,” and “Best Eye-catcher,” among others. 


Worst ‘With the Times’ Hotel Service After wrestling with weak and frequently dropped Internet service at my hotel (name withheld just because I’m trying to be nice…), the folks at the front desk informed me, “I guess our internet service isn’t able to accommodate this many hotel guests using it all at the same time.” Um… maybe that’s something you should work on fixing before the next big convention – whadda you say?




Best Packaging The Ozzy Osbourne signature harmonica from Hoher has a distinctive look, comes in a creative coffin case, has an appropriately “spooky” display box – plus each potentially contains a “golden ticket” which gets the winning customer a harp actually played and signed by the “Prince of Darkness,” himself.



Best Eye­-Catcher The Boutique Guitar Showcase not only provided a great opportunity for smaller suppliers and luthiers to display their most elaborate, adventurous designs, but it was consistently teeming with retailers, players, and fans taking a break from “regular” show business just to ogle at the craftsmanship.



Best Jaw­-Dropper On display in the Fender suite was Yuriy Shishkov’s Studioliner Masterpiece, valued at roughly $450,000. Inspired by and sold with a Kodak Bantam Special Art Deco photo camera produced in 1936, the “Studioliner” features 1,000 diamonds that trace the body of the guitar and travel up the neck. Silver work and Guilloche Enamel inlays add to the overall wow­factor. Save up, guitar aficionados…





Best Sign of Things to Come It’s not quite there, but it was clear that the expansion of the Anaheim Convention Center is well underway, meaning that the familiar home of Winter NAMM will be able to continue to host the event, even as the convention continues to grow.




Worst Surprise/Best Turnaround It’s typically a safe bet that Orange County is going to provide some welcome sunshine and warm temps (a particular treat for visitors from northern climes), but this year NAMM attendees were greeted by legit downpours – much needed by drought-stricken SoCal, but still… “I’m not going to lie, the rain was a drag,” says NAMM’s Joe Lamond. I always appreciate the sunny weather when we have it and will not take it for granted as I’ve been guilty of in the past!” Happily Friday saw sunshine return to the area(though Sunday was another story – fog and rain causing innumerable flight delays)


Worst Mini-Plague After years and years of mocking those complaining of “NAMMthrax,” I finally got some karmic retribution, as I was laid up with the malady for most of the week after this year’s gathering. By all accounts, this year’s Show was a particular hotbed for illness. “There is still ongoing concern over NAMMthrax,” observes Zildjian’s Craigie Zildjian. “People are afraid that they will get sick at NAMM and each year that happens, even though we provide our people with flu shots, try to wash our hands, and have Purex at the booth.  This year again, several people had to go to the doctors to get antibiotics and took sick time immediately following NAMM.”


Worst (Best?) Unintentional Aesthetic

The idea of an area populated with beanbags for NAMM attendees to rest tired limbs in a casual fashion sounds good, but the result of this particular area of Hall D’s “The Loft unfortunately resembled some extra-large… droppings.



Best Surprise Performer Whether you’re a big fan or not, when U2’s Larry Mullen Jr. showed up at Yamaha’s “Heart of Inspiration” event, everyone got pretty excited. A touching and funny speech was followed by a kickass performance with Butch Walker taking over lead vocals on some U2 classics, which didn’t hurt.


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