Friday 1/28/2011 ~ 2011 NAMM Show Report
Whew, it's been a busy week... Boxes of guitars and amps have been showing up every day. Thankfully my highly trained, expert staff is very organized, and everything is running smoothly! Here's me trying to help. It certainly is fun opening new guitars!
The rapid influx of new inventory is due to my recent visit to Anaheim and the NAMM Show. Sure, it may seem like I was just going to sunny California just to get away from non-stop Pittsburgh snow... But, hey, it's not easy walking around a big convention center, looking at guitars, and hanging out with instrument manufacturers! And I had to buy sunglasses when I went outside, since the sun was so bright. And I even had to go to the trouble of rolling my shirt sleeves up, since it was so darned hot. But those are the kind of sacrifices I'd make to bring you, my favorite customer, a quality selection of new guitars.
After the busy Christmas season, inventory was low here at the store. So I needed to re-order lots of stuff. But in my never-ending quest to keep myself entertained, I decided that in addition to the standard, must-have items (like Fender Strats and Martin acoustics), I'd order some fun, wacky guitars.
Here's my NAMM Show report, along with some background info...
You may remember an Email Special from 9/17/2010 about the Valco Company. In the early 1940s, three owners of the National Dobro company formed a new company called Valco, to focus their attention on the exciting new field of electric instruments. After a slight detour making airplane parts during WWII, Valco moved heavily into designing and manufacturing electric guitars. They sold these under three brand names that they owned: National, Supro and Airline. In the early 1960s Valco introduced some of their most famous designs, oddly-shaped bodies with lots of knobs, including one that became known as the "map" guitar because it was kinda shaped like the outline of the USA. Here's Jack White with an "Airline" model. Here are The Black Keys with a black "National" map guitar, and a white "Supro." When Valco went out of business in 1968, these brand names floated off into space, later to be purchased by other folks. The "National" name, for example, is now owned by a company in California that makes resonator guitars. And "Airline" ended up in the hands of the Eastwood Company from Canada. Today Eastwood makes great repros of the early 1960s Valco electric guitars, including the one Jack White uses and the "map" guitars.
We've been Eastwood fans for years, so I ordered a variety of different models. The guitars left Canada last Wednesday, so they should be here soon.
Our next story goes back to WWII, too. (Ha... two too!) At the end of the war, in Castelfidardo, Italy, Oliviero Pigini started to work in his uncle Mario's accordion factory. In 1945 accordions were big! And folks continued squeezing accordions left and right through the early-1950s. But by the late 1950s, the times were a changin'. Oliverio could see the new rock & roll era dawning, and when uncle Mario Pigini's accordion company went bankrupt in 1959, Oliverio bought the factory and started to make guitars. He called his new company Eko. Now, if you've ever seen a fancy old accordion, you know that sparkle and pearloid materials were commonly used. So, when Oliverio took over the accordion factory, it's no surprise that some of his new Eko guitars featured the same sparkle and pearl finishes.
Today the Italia company makes sparkle and pearl guitars inspired by those unique 1960s Ekos. And who doesn't need a little sparkle in their life? Here's Sam with a green sparkle Italia Modena, with a white pearl back. Here he is with a gold and pearl Italia Marinello. These guitars are not only entertaining to look at, they are also fun to play. The pearl material on the back of the neck has a unique feel. It's smooth and fast. Even if you don't think a sparkle top guitar is for you, stop in and try one of these. I think you'll get a kick out of the neck.
You may have noticed that Fender had some delivery issues last year. There were a variety of rumors about behind-the-scenes causes (bad paint, chain-store order cancellations, aliens...), but apparently in early 2010 Fender briefly stopped making guitars in the USA. And then, when production restarted, they spent most of 2010 trying to catch up with orders. They're back up to speed now, and at NAMM they told us that orders for new USA-made guitars should only take three or four months. Meanwhile, the overseas Squier factories are still cranking them out, and we just got another 20 or 30 Fender Squier instruments this week. And there are some pretty cool new Squier models coming next month, too.
Fender has also introduced a new amp line, called the Mustang series. Each amp comes with a USB cable, so you can plug it into your computer and do some sort of computer stuff with it. Sam has been checking them out, so come in and so ask him about them. It works like a regular amp, too, so I can show you that part!
You can't mention long delivery times without mentioning Rickenbacker. But at the show they were happy to say that they are catching up too! Many of the guitars that previously took two years to get are now down to a year-and-a-half! And some models will now arrive a mere year after you order them! Woo-hoo! As proof, this week we received two Rickenbacker 330s that we ordered in January of last year. That's pretty fast for Rickenbacker! (It's actually fun for us, because we have long since forgotten what we ordered in 2009. So, it's always a pleasant surprise when a Rick shows up!)
We sold a lot of Martins over the holidays, so I ordered big. The UPS-man brought ten yesterday, and more are coming next week. I know they're kind of expensive, but I'm pretty proud of our selection of models... and our prices. If you're looking for a guitar that you can play for the rest of your life, we have the Martin for you. Here's Scott with our Wall-O'-Martins.
The ol' Dano company has almost run out of reissue models, so this year's new offering is a reissue of a guitar they never made. It's modeled after an old prototype. And, man, is it pointy! Here's a link to their site. You would think that a guitar like that would never sell... but there was something about it that appealed to me, so I ordered a few. Check back in early 2012 and I'll let you know how that worked out!
With their high quality and low prices, Yamaha has become the biggest selling brand in our store. And we stock almost every acoustic they make. At the show they introduced some new models, which will arrive in a few months. One new item is already here... and we're having a blast with it. It's a ukulele guitar! Yamaha's official model designation is the GL-1 Guitalele. It's bigger than a concert-size uke, smaller than a baritone uke, and tuned in guitar intervals, from A to A. John has been playing everything from Beatles to Black Sabbath on it, and it just makes you smile! Only $99, with a gig bag. Here's John.
Vox, Gretsch, Hofner, etc...
There's more... but we'll save that for later... I've gotta go make signs! (Yes, after 32 years I'm still the only one who writes the price cards.) (I have to wear my glasses now, but I still enjoy it...) (Maybe it's the magic marker...) (Or the challenge of fitting "Classic Vibe `50s Telecaster" on one line...)
See you soon,
PS: At NAMM I had a chance to visit with our old guitar instructor, and good friend, Korel. The band he plays with, the Goo Goo Dolls, had a week off, so he was able to spend a couple of days at NAMM before heading back out on tour. Korel says "Hi" to everyone back in Pittsburgh!
PPS: Customer of the week: The North Mississippi Allstars