This year’s National Association of Music Merchants (NAMM) was a huge success for SDMETAL. The 114th annual trade show maintained its gold standard of demos, product lines, and innovative showcases. While SDMETAL had the privilege of interviewing members of Allegaeon, Necromancing the Stone, and Cattle Decapitation, there were plenty of interesting products throughout the entire convention center.

IK Multimedia’s room boasted an impressive display of iRigs and various other smartphone- and tablet-compatible amplifiers and studio rigs. After personally demoing a variety of their iRigs with different presets, guitars, etc., it’s clear that IK Multimedia spent time crafting devices that are both sonically remarkable and useful. With a simple plug-and-play approach to the iRigs, its features are built from precision and practicality while introducing a great deal of convenience and portability for musicians.

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ESP showed they are continuing to step up their game aesthetically and sonically. While their original series guitars maintain statements of boldness and edge, the signature series stole the show. The likes of Rob Caggiano (Volbeat), Glenn Tipton (Judas Priest), and Jeff Hanneman (Slayer) continue to be staples, newer models from Gary Holt (Exodus), Mille Petrozza (Kreator), and Max Cavalera (Soulfly) were sleek and innovative. In addition to their sharp models, ESP featured scorching performance demonstrations from Bill Hudson (Trans-Siberian Orchestra), Akira Takasaki (Loudness), and more.

Schecter Guitar Research more than earned their keep at this year’s NAMM show. The star of Schecter’s showcase was the Jeff Loomis “Cygnus” guitar. The menacing axe showcases a body shape reminiscent of a BC Rich Ironbird but with savory cutouts, elegant coloring, and that esteemed Schecter character. Of course the room wouldn’t have been complete without veteran models such as the Hellraiser, but Schecter’s cast 2016 designs look and sound promising.

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660 certainly proved to be one of the more intriguing displays of the year. Their eye-catching exhibit of colorful and porous geometric guitars garnered a lot of attention. 660’s axes are completely wood-free, trading the typical guitar build for aluminum bodies and carbon fiber/graphite necks. Despite just looking cool, the guitars packed a punch. Whether it was the Aviator, Patriot, or Rhino bass, 660 has a fantastic handle on combining a sleek and modern aesthetic with a warm and full-bodied sound.

NAMM’s nightlife is as exciting as the activities on the trade floor. A slew of after parties brought industry people together for favorite events and new experiences. The first annual North American Independent Rock Music Association (NAIRMA) Awards were met with ample positivity. The event was held at the Yost Theater in Santa Ana and held in honor of Metal Blade Records CEO and Founder Brian Slagel. Hosted by Don Jamieson, the ceremony treated guests to complimentary beverages from event sponsors Coldcock Whiskey as well as performances from Act of Defiance, Drowning Pool, Aghori, and many more. The annual Schecter party at the Grove in Anaheim as always attracted a large multitude of music lovers. 2016’s effort brought full sets from Swedish melodic death metal act Arch Enemy and Zakk Wylde’s Black Sabbath tribute band, Zakk Sabbath.

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All in all NAMM 2016 was a blast for SDMETAL. Every year we’re overwhelmed by the continued innovation in all things music as well as meeting the inventive minds behind it all. The NAMM show has yet to disappoint and we’re eager as ever to continue expanding our experiences and coverage of the convention.

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