Nashville in July is typically steamy, scorching, and movin’ a little bit slow. That more relaxed atmosphere is reflected to some extent in the pace of Summer NAMM, held July 21–23 at the Nashville Convention Center in the heart of Music City’s storied Lower Broadway district. Less frantic and enormous than Winter NAMM or Europe’s Musikmesse, Nashville NAMM invites conversation and interaction with new and old friends in the industry. And, most important to the gang here at Premier Guitar, it gives us even more time for investigation of gear goodies from bigtime manufacturers and off-the-beaten-path upstarts alike.
In many ways, the little guys were the stars of Summer NAMM. South Carolina’s B.A. Ferguson guitars showed us how inspired, unique, great-playing guitars can be built from sustainable and repurposed materials. A brand-new California company called HeliArc Guitars showed off their resonator-inspired aluminum electrics. And the fast ascendant mad scientists from EarthQuaker Devices added another bunch of intriguing pedals to a line that’s become the talk of stompbox nuts everywhere. Regional stars shined bright in Nashville, too. Tennessee’s Mario Martin showed off several beautiful Fender-inspired solidbodies crafted from lightweight, resonant paulownia wood, while Mississippi’s Juliet Collective brought some of the most creative stompboxes at the show.
More experienced hands did their thing at Nashville, too. A stroll through the Martin and Korg USA booths demonstrated how restless those very established companies remain. Electro Harmonix’s Ravish Sitar pedal deliciously reaffirmed that there’s almost nothing the New York-based stompbox pioneers won’t try. And there were a few milestones to celebrate, too, as Santa Cruz Guitars did with its head-turning 35th Anniversary Cowgirl.
We found a lot of other cool stuff down in Nashville, too. You can check out just about all of it via the dozens of videos we’ve made available at premierguitar.com (they’re marked here with play-button icons). We’re guessing you’ll be hard pressed to find something that doesn’t stoke your gear lust, because regardless of what anyone might say about Summer NAMM being a smaller, more relaxed show, it’s brimming with wares that we’ll check out in even greater detail in the review pages of Premier Guitar and premierguitar.com in the days to come. In the meantime, enjoy these snapshots of our sweet times in the sweltering south.