We awoke feeling refreshed, surprisingly we slept a good 12 hours. After getting breakfast, we made our way across the street to the convention center. Our first stop for the day was the Eastman string booth. I was able to test drive one of their new double bass designs called the Busan. It was a lovely instrument, with a great warm arco response. I was impressed with it. I also played one of their violins, again, it was a phenomenal instrument.
After speaking with the team at the Eastman strings booth, we made our way over to the Huss and Dalton booth. I played all the acoustic guitars they had at the booth, and they were all amazing. Seriously, amazing. Talk about a company dedicated to perfection, but best of all, the owners are incredibly friendly and welcoming. They made us feel right at home and part of the family. I can’t speak highly enough of Huss and Dalton. I am so thankful that we can work with them. One guitar that I gravitated to, was a dreadnaught they had with a redwood top. It was a monster of a guitar! Sadly, it was already spoken for. Had it been available for the taking, it would have been coming to our shop!
After leaving the Huss and Dalton booth, we headed out of the convention center and found us a place to eat lunch. We dined on some delicious pizza. I am a pizza lover and will probably eat it again for lunch tomorrow.
After eating lunch, we made our way back onto the floor. As we were walking back in, I noticed a nice leather guitar strap with a Tennessee logo stitched on to it. I immediately stopped and started talking with one of the reps. Turns out the company is based out of Tennessee, and all the straps are made in Tennessee with materials sourced from the US. The straps were also beautiful and well-constructed. To make a long story short, we will be carrying Franklin Straps at the store moving forward. We placed our first order and are super excited to have them as partners. There is a special place in my heart for Tennessee businesses. If you don’t know already, I am very proud to be a Tennessean. I have traveled many-a-mile, and seen many-a-thing, but nothing is as beautiful to me as East Tennessee. The guy we worked with was incredibly friendly and knowledgeable about the products. They also manufacture a sliding capo, which I tried for the first time, it was also amazing, and we will be carrying them as well. I can’t wait to demo the capo to you all.
The sales rep from Franklin straps then introduced us to the sales rep of String Joy, also a Tennessee business. They talked about how the strings are manufactured and how they differ from all other strings on the market. They gave me two sets to demo when we get back to Tennessee. I can’t wait to try them out and we will most likely be carrying them in the near future.
From there we made our way around the floor, talking with Santa Cruz guitars and Collings. While I would love to carry both brands, it doesn’t appear that we will be able to this year, just because of the backlog in production. I played a couple of Collings mandolins, and both were excellent, as you would expect.
We then meandered our way over to the Eastman fretted instrument booth and met with our sales rep. It was great to meet him in person. He was very knowledgeable and friendly; a professional. He walked us through all the new products coming for the year. I played some of the guitars, and mandolins, and sampled some Bourgeois mandolins and guitars. I tell you; I am very impressed with Eastman and Bourgeois. Everything I touched in the booth was beautifully crafted, and played as good as you could ask for. Sadly, I was unable to gauge the tonal qualities in the booth, because as I was demoing them, another fellow with a love for electric guitar was also demoing with great volume. I stayed as long as I could, but I eventually had to leave as my ears could not take it any longer. I feel that I am slowly developing a hatred for electric guitars… maybe it’s just the NAMM experience… I wish I had brought earplugs. 😊
From the Eastman booth we headed upstairs to see the other vendors and happened upon the Breedlove/Bedell showroom. We walked in, not sure what to expect. I asked a very nice lady if I could play some guitars and she allowed it. I then proceeded to pick up the first Bedell guitar I had ever touched. I strummed it, and I was absolutely blown away. It was incredible! Hands down, one of the best guitars I had ever played. I played several different ones, and they were all perfect in every way. After playing a few of them, I was introduced to the sales rep, who to our surprise was an acquaintance. The stars had aligned.
We then looked at the USA made Breedlove guitars. I was equally impressed with them. I suppose in the past, I had only ever played the import Breedlove’s, and not that anything is wrong with them, I just didn’t know that they offered a higher end guitar. These high end Breedlove’s where beautifully constructed. The quality of wood was impeccable, and the sound was as pleasing as you could ask for. In particular I played a slot headed 12 fret small body guitar that had such a lovely, sweet voice that I wanted to take it home. You might just be seeing some Bedell’s and Breedlove’s in the store in the very near future. 😊
We had an appointment with Deering banjos, so we headed back downstairs. As we were awaiting our meeting with the sales rep we actually got to sit down and speak with Mr. Deering himself, the guy who started it all. During our conversation he gave us some business advice that I have taken to heart. He was an unbelievable nice gentleman, who was so down to earth, that it made me proud to carry the brand. After talking with Mr. Deering, we met with the sales representative, who was equally as nice, I tried some banjos and finally got to try out some Propik. They are awesome, and we will have them in stock soon. They have a different design, the part that wraps around your finger is divided into two sections with the one closet to you going at an angle. This made them very comfortable to wear… I was impressed.
Furthermore, I played a banjo called the Julia Belle which I fell in love with. I also played some of their Vega old time banjos which were also amazing. I am so thankful to be working with them. Their products are top notch, and the people there are awesome as well.
We then made our way back upstairs because I wanted to try out the new Yamaha red label guitars. I played a couple, and they were excellent. It is amazing to me how many different products Yamaha offers. Everything they make is top notch in my opinion. Though we don’t currently carry the brand, I have a place in my heart for them. I played a Yamaha bass for many years, and the guitar that hangs in my living room is one of their sub $300 guitars, and it’s great.
Our next stop was the KLOS carbon fiber guitar booth as I wanted to get my hands on the Carbon Fiber mandolin prototype. It was awesome and I want one. Furthermore, the CEO of the company is a great guy. I love working with folks who are passionate about what they do.
We continued to walk around for a little while longer, but soon were ready to go. It had been a long day; my knees were killing me and I was getting hungry. We headed down the street to Bubba Gump shrimp, had a good dinner, and then headed back to the hotel where we quickly drifted off to sleep.