For serious players who obsess about everything in their signal chain, attending the January NAMM show in Anaheim, California—the year’s biggest US gear show—is the stuff of dreams. It’s the guitarist’s equivalent of stepping inside Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory. Everywhere you look there are wonders to make you gasp in awe or blanch in terror. Instead of Oompa-Loompas, you’ve got hordes of mullet wearers, goths, shred heads, aging hippies, rockabilly dudes, and hair-metal survivors and revivalists in their respective garb, all intermingling with more “normal”-looking people, all striding purposefully toward the next piece of gear promising to revolutionize their tone and/or how they play. Instead of people inflating into giant human blueberries or getting swept away by chocolate rivers, you’ve got product guys doing their best to hawk their wares—and sometimes employing rather gratuitous hyperbole to inflate their value—while sweep-picking maniacs wail across the way in an attempt to lure you to their booth. Instead of spoiled Veruca Salts marching off to steal squirrels busily sorting nuts, you’ve got buxom, scantily clad booth candy leading vulnerable attendees around by their . . . well, you get the idea. It’s madness. Glorious, glorious madness.

This year’s NAMM was remarkably busy, which was somewhat surprising, considering the economy is still hurting pretty badly. Unlike last Summer NAMM, which had a public day to boost attendance, this showdidn’thave a public day, but you never would’ve known it. Whether the place was hopping because people knew there would be so many cool new products or whether that was just a lucky coincidence, the fact remains that this was one of the most productive NAMMs in a while. And that holds true for both exhibitors andPremier Guitar. As usual, our entire editorial staff was there, keeping you up to date with constant posts and pictures on Facebook and Twitter, shooting more than 100 demo videos, sending e-newsletters with our daily Editors’ Picks from the floor, and arranging for gear to be sent in for reviews.

Here we’ve assembled a selection of electric, acoustic, and bass gear that grabbed our ears and/or eyes. Look for reviews of many of these in the coming months, and be sure to check out our demo videos. Let us know what you think via email and online posts. Enjoy!