Summer NAMM 2008 -   Nashville, Tennessee

The GuitarAttack Crew traveled to Nashville, Tennessee for the "comeback" NAMM Show in the Nashville Convention Center.  The NAMM Show is the annual meeting of manufacturers and retailers of all things relating to music -- especially guitars.  Everything musical could be found in the Nashville Convention Center and Arena.  After a failed attempt by NAMM to host these shows in Indianapolis and Austin, Nashville became the host after a four year hiatus.

Once again, we attended the show with Mr. Ken Huddleston of KK's Music in Tennessee.  Overall the show was pretty tired.  Gibson had a very weak, “Robot Guitar”-centric booth.  The predominance of the booths seemed to focus on accessories and other low-dollar products.  There was very little sound reinforcement or big ticket items.

There were a lot of manufacturers who were conspicuous in their absence.  There was a lot of apprehension out there which is probably a reflection of the economy. 

Let's go through some of the interesting stuff, in no particular order.

Warning:  Unlike some other sites, we are posting information on products that we liked, rather than a comprehensive look at everything.

Click on the photos with blue borders to see full-sized photos.


After parking near the convention center on 7th Ave North, I was confronted with a desolate building which used to house Hewgley's Music.  I thought it was odd that the theme of this year’s NAMM show was the “community music store”, while this monument to the decline of the same was sitting less than a block from the show.  I remember visiting this store in the late 70s and looking at the then-new Nashville-made Gibson guitars and other cool music gear.  This was one of the places to go in Nashville.  RIP Hewgleys.

Also, the old Sho-Bud store, where – according to legend – Mr. Eric Clapton bought six 50’s Strats for $100 each from which sprang the legendary “Blackie”, was just about literally across the street from the convention center!  The building now houses “Robert’s Western World”, and hosts some of the best bands in Nashville.

Baden Guitars. 

Here we have some cool guitars form a guy who worked for Taylor Guitars for years.  These are some very, very clean guitars, inside and out.  We were particularly impressed with the bracing and the lack of glue and trash inside the guitar.  These guitars have a great acoustic tone and integrated Fishman pickups.  By the way:  They are built in Vietnam, and show great promise for being very popular.  Vietnam seems like it is the next frontier of cheap labor and great workmanship.  Give it 10 years and we'll fix that!

Here is John and Bill Lawrence, one legendary pickup maker and one wannabee.  I asked Bill a question about the new Tele neck pickup he introduced at NAMM, and he literally took me to pickup school!  He pulled out a calculator and a little LCR meter and started showing me how it worked.  I was intellectually exhausted after about five minutes, and I had to struggle to remember the incredible knowledge which had been passed to me!  Mr. Lawrence, thanks for taking the time out of your busy schedule to show me how dumb I really am.

Zakk and Ken look on as a demonstrator puts a new set of Yamaha digital drums through their paces.  Not a particularly good demo, but the samples of Bonzo's drums from "When the Levee Breaks" blew us away.  We have always wanted to play live with a set of these drums to allow for a really killer mix and give us the ability to change drums sounds to match the song.

One question: If we all play digital drums and amps, what will people in the future sample?  Will there be any classic tones, or will everything be a rehash?

That goes for music, too.



More Strats and Teles than you can shake a stick at.  They were all killer, but the black relic in the middle was particularly cool.  Check out the metal flake Strat on the left.  It was an impressive display, but we had to wonder:  How long do you think this relic stuff will last?

Here is a shot of John with a prototype of the Yngwie Tribute Strat.

The only problem with this is that we heard that Yngwie doesn't use cases for his guitars -- he just keeps them in big piles, trying to achieve critical mass.

Well -- you have to have something to help tease the Guitar Center crowd.  We are sure this will be a megabuck instrument.


Our friend Chad had to check out the prototype of the Yngwie Tribute Strat.

Chad is a pretty prolific Strat player from Nashville, and he was impressed with the megabuck instrument.  I'm not sure this axe would fit into Chad's tasty, well-developed style. 

Chad, like all of us at GuitarAttack, is kind of old school.  That is, we like to relic our guitars the old-fashioned way: by playing them.

Here is "Proto 1" of the Yngwie tribute guitar.  We really impressed until we realized that the neck was not scalloped like the Maestro's!  GASP! 

How can you have a Yngwie without that neck?  Answer:  You can't.  Note the Custom Shop "Proto 1" and "John Cruz" decal marking on the back of the headstock and the cool Yngwie case.

Watch out for fakes.  I bet there is already a repro decal like this floating around the guitar boards.

Shredder/Goth Chick Flash Bathory put on a Michael Angelo Batio-style shred show at the Tregen Guitar booth.  She is a good player, and seemed like a pretty good sport with old geezers wanting photos with her.

Suddenly I felt like I was back in the late 80's at the Chicago NAMM show watching a band called "Envy" at the Kramer Booth!  Does anybody remember that one?  They had guitars painted green.  Must have been a play on “green with Envy”.  Wonder which Waffle House they are working in now?

When we were at Legend's Corner on Saturday night we saw a young guy set-in with the band who was an absolute shredder.  He was literally all over the guitar, Yngwie-like, which was kind of odd for Broadway.  We saw him the next day, and were stunned by his speed and dexterity on the guitar.  An older guy at the booth said, "Hey...that's Andy West." 

Well, that dude was wrong.  He is actually Andy Wood, from Knoxville, Tennessee.  We were initially unkind to Andy on this page, and we apologize because we didn't realize who he was.

Andy is the 2003 winner of Guitar Center's Guitarmageddon Contest. He is a monster player, and teaches guitar at Rik's Guitars in Knoxville.  We read an article on him this weekend, and we hope his band gets it together.

Rock on, Andy!



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