Where: Anaheim Convention Centre, California
When: 24-27 January 2013
When you enter the huge halls that make up the Anaheim Convention Centre in California, the first thing that strikes you is the enormity of the show. It seems that each and every instrument from all corners of the globe is here… and then some. With so many products to cast our eye over, spread across this mammoth venue, it’s impossible to bring you every single percussive product on display, but after spending four very full days walking miles around the halls of NAMM, we bring you a taste of some of what this wonderful show had to offer…
Mapex showcased the new range of Saturn kits that contain a host of exciting features, including the newly designed tom suspension mounts, Black Panther lugs and new bass drum spurs. Mapex also proudly showed off the latest addition to their snare drum range, the Nomad, designed in collaboration with Will Calhoun. There was also upgrades to the Falcon hardware range, which now includes hi-hat, snare and boom stands and significant tweaks to their already popular bass drum pedals.
Vic Firth shows no sign of slowing down after reaching 50 years in the business, and had a range of new sticks on display. Theses included new models from their Extreme series; the return of the Japanese white oak Shogun series; signature sticks designed with master-drummer and multipercussionist (and Drummer regular) Pete Lockett, and a raft of new Timpani mallets. Also, for a limited time only, a choice of eight special commemorative models are available, all branded with the original logo Vic used when starting out back in 1963.
The biggest news from Pearl is the re-introduction of their massively popularExport series. The best-selling drum kit returns with new hardware, including a feature-packed pedal based upon their Demon range, as well as a choice of eye-catching finishes. Pearl also unveiled a new range of hardware, some innovative cajóns, downloadable upgrades for their E-Pro Live acoustic-electric conversion sets and some newly updated cowbells designed with Latin-master Horacio Hernandez.
Sabian’s massive cymbal tower was a real focal point in the hall. Once on the stand, Sabian had the winners of their recent cymbal vote on display. The new Hoop Crasher looks set to make a big splash, too. It’s a dual-layer EFX designed by JoJo Mayer, who was on-hand at Sabian’s stand to demonstrate its uses and possibilities. It won a best in show award from NAMM University. Due to land in the UK soon, look out for a review of the Hoop Crasher in a future issue of Drummer.
DW introduced a plethora of new drums featuring some stunning new finishes, including some in exquisite maple and sycamore. However the undoubted star was the eye-catching kit featuring their end cut walnut. They also showed off a selection of their limited edition snares, including a 40th anniversary tamo-ash drum and theVault Edge, designed in collaboration with Sabian. Further innovations for 2013 include an upgrade to their 9000 series pedals and the new Tambo-Pedal designed by Gregg Bissonette – a unique pedal allowing you to replicate the sound of playing a tambourine by-hand with your foot.
The main focal point onTama’s impressive stand was the new range of Star drums; their new high-end flagship kits that are all handcrafted in Japan. Available in either maple or bubinga, the kits feature a host of features including new tom suspension mounts and tom brackets. Elsewhere Tama showed their full range of SLP snares as well as a special display dedicated to the 20th anniversary of their highly regarded Iron Cobra pedals, including a couple of new lines, the 600 and 200 series.
Taken from their popular range of snare drums, Premier unveiled full kits from the Aviation, Extreme HR, One Series and Vintage Series, with each kit being built in the UK at Premier’s factory in Lancashire. Also on display were selections of the company’s superb snare drums, including the eye-catching Aces High inspired by Nicko McBrain, featuring designs and motifs inspired by Squadron 66, who flew Mk6 Supermarine Spitfires on which the finish of the drum is modelled.
Celebrating their incredible 390th anniversary, Zildjian’s impressive display included new additions into their A Custom series, including the re-introduction of 19” and 20” thin crashes and a 20” mediumthin crash as well as a brand-new 23” sweet ride. Alongside this they also unveiled a new Direct Source Pick-Up for their Gen16 electro-acoustic cymbals, which were ably demonstrated alongside the new A Customs over the weekend by Grammy Award-winning drummer Russ Miller. Zildjian also introduced a host of new sticks, including signature sticks from Ringo Starr.
Flying the flag for UK custom drum builders, Liberty had on display an excellent selection of drums, all handcrafted in their north-east workshop. Showcasing their full kits as well as superb snare drums, Liberty’s stand was a real head-turner and it was great to see a UK-based company gaining so much attention and admiration on such an international stage. Watch out for reviews of Liberty snare drums and full kits in coming issues.
Remo revealed the Versa: a lightweight, compact range of instruments with easily detachable heads that allow the bodies of the various drums, which include djembe, timbau and tubano, to stack inside each other for ease of transportation. Ably demonstrated by Pete Lockett, each drum sounds superb, ensuring they will be a big hit with percussionists and teachers the world over. On the drumhead front, Remo introduced white suede versions of their Ambassador and Emperor range.
Sonor’s stand featured the kits of endorsees Gavin Harrison, Benny Greb and JoJo Mayer – who performed at the booth over the weekend – and a stunning new SQ2 double kick kit. With some stunning new finishes for their SQ2 range, including some cool tribal designs inspired by Mr Harrison, as well as their new Protean snares which were designed with the German manufacturers by Gavin, Sonor’s stand was a talking point for many over the course of the show.
Featuring a vast array of percussion alongside their range of cymbals, Meinl’s stand was popular all weekend long. Cymbals-wise, the German giants launched a variety of new models to expand their existing ranges, which have also been somewhat re-categorised to make finding your favoured sound easier. They also launched a couple of funky new products including some very eye-catching rugs as well as a very practical laptop table.
Showcasing a large number of their products, Soultone’s stand was a popular focal point for many, with drummers itching to play the various cymbals they had set up. Series including their Custom, Extreme, Gospel and Vintage were just some drawing admiration, as well as some brand-new prototype models that garnered much attention.
Alongside Craviotto’s vast array of stunning snare drums and kits were a bunch of new snares for 2013. The limited edition foursome comes in differing depths ranging from 4.5” to 8”, with each shell being handcrafted from two-piece heavy brass or copper. Elsewhere they also showed their floor tom to bass drum conversion kit, which does exactly what its name suggests and is an available option on any Craviotto floor tom to quickly turn it into a small, funky bass drum.
Canadian stick-smiths Los Cabos were on hand with their large range of high-quality sticks, brushes, practice pads and accessories, with new additions including 5A and 5B Grip-Dips, adding an almost rubber feel to the butt-end of the stick, as well as their Red Hickory Wire Brushes, which combine red hickory handles with a traditional wire brush.
Yamaha were based in one of the large suites at the nearby Marriott Hotel, where they were displaying their newest offering, the Live Custom, an update of the company’s popular Oak Custom kits. With a special appearance from last month’s interviewee and long-time Yamaha endorsee Tommy Aldridge, the new Live Custom looks set to be a popular addition to Yamaha’s acoustic drum range. Elsewhere, they were also showcasing their electronic drums, including the DTX400 that we reviewed back in Drummer 110.
The big news from Paiste was the official launch of their Formula 602 Modern Essentials range in association with the legendary Vinnie Colaiuta. Drummer was privileged to attend the official press conference held by Paiste, where Vinnie himself was on hand to discuss how the new models came to be, as well as demonstrating thoroughly each and every model in the range. Due to land on our fair shores in the next couple of months, be sure to check future issues for our full review of these very special instruments.
Launched back in November, Roland featured their new TD-4KP portable V-Drum kit. Lightweight and easy to transport, the kit is set to be a sure-fire hit with any drummer for who space and transport is a concern. Also new from Roland are their BT-1 Bar Trigger pads, which are a great way of incorporating electronics into your acoustic set-up without taking up too much room or making you adjust your kit’s positioning to accommodate full pads. Look out for a review of both the TD-4KP and BT-1 in coming issues.
Aside from the huge centrepiece kit, which certainly made them one of the most noticeable stands at the show, Ludwig also unveiled a host of new products and upgrades, including their highly innovative Atlas tom suspension mount, which is a two-piece system that replaces one of the drum’s lugs and is designed so that the shell has the minimal amount of contact with the mount to ensure maximum resonance. Alongside their Atlas hardware, Ludwig were displaying a wide range of kits, including their Keystone and Club Date kits, as well as a bevy of beautiful snares.
Dixon’s unassuming stand showcased perfectly their array of products, including kits from their Artisan, Blaze, Fuse and Spark, a superb collection of snares including the Artisan series Australian Rose Gum built in collaboration with Chris Brady, and their excellent hardware including the Kinde series which we gave a glowing review to last issue. With so many well-made products on-show, it’s little wonder that Dixon Drums and Hardware scooped a NAMM University award for Company to watch in 2013 – well deserved in our opinion.
The big news from Evans was the introduction of their new Level 360 technology to all of their ranges. Featuring a steeper angle from the flat of the head into the aluminium hoop, which has also been redesigned as a rollover collar to hold the skin firmly in place, the head sits flatter onto the drum’s bearing edge, giving maximum contact all around the shell.
Regal Tip’s stand was jam-packed full of their large range of sticks, brushes, mallets and percussion sticks, including new additions to their Performer Series, including signature models featuring the moniker of Daniel Adair, Ulysses Owens Jr. and Daniel De Los Reyes as well as a new Session Stick, a variant on their 8A stick from the Classic range.
Toca unveiled a range of new products, including their triple conga cajón, 25th anniversary djembe and various hand percussion. With performances from Sheila E and the rest of her famous percussive family, Toca proved popular throughout the weekend for percussionists and drummers alike.
Alongside their range of acoustic heads, Aquarian were showcasing their innovative inHead Trigger System as well as launching their new onHead system, which is a series of pads containing triggers that sit on top of your drums and turn your acoustic kit into an e-kit. With such innovations on display, Aquarian’s stand was a popular focal point throughout the show, and even had a visit from Stevie Wonder, who played on one of the kits.
Snare drums were the main order of the day at Gretsch’s stand, with new additions including two made from walnut; two new stave drums, cherry or oak, and a solid bell brass model for their Full Range Series. Kits weren’t forgotten however, with a new rock configuration for their Catalina Club range as well as a new Satin-Walnut fade for the Catalina Maple range. Gretsch also announced details of some very special drums to be released throughout the year to celebrate their 130th anniversary, including five kits from their USA Custom and Brooklyn lines as well as three unique snare drums.
LP’s stand was jam-packed with new products, including new inclusions into their Brazilian range, innovative cajón castanets, new hand percussion, a unique foot tambourine and adjustable snare cajón. They also introduced a new range of congas and bongos made from durian, a rich sounding wood that is lighter in weight than most existing LP congas.
Turkish cymbal-smiths TRX were on-hand with a large selection of their handcrafted cymbals, including their brand-new Thunder and Lightning EFX cymbals as well as their CRX series featuring discs categorised as Rock, Classic and Extreme. Keep an eye out for reviews of both new ranges in future issues.
Natal’s impressive stand featured myriad new products, including their superb new Spirit kits aimed at the entry-level market. They include low mass lugs, newly designed suspension tom mounts and a very cool flat tom mounting post sitting atop the bass drum. Coupled with the various kits and snares Natal had on show, they had also teamed up with Bullet & Kitch to bring a very special Natal-branded version of their unique FB-007 pedal, and a brand-new double version, which proved to be very popular.
The folks at Gibraltar have been very busy recently and launched a huge range of new products at the show, including the new G-Class bass drum pedal, Lightning Rod hi-hat stand, Moto-Style quad-base stool, innovative Cajón Pedal and Port Hole Cutter for creating perfectly round holes of any diameter in your kick drum’s front head. Alongside this, they have also introduced a new hi-hat stand with quick release clutch and a snare drum stand into their highly regarded Turning Point hardware range as well as producing new snare drum shell hardware in collaboration with master drum-smith Ron Dunnett.
Words: Nick Carter & Nick Robbins