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Summer NAMM 2019

Ah, another fun trip up I-65! This was the 6th year for our team to attend the Summer NAMM Show at Music City Center in Nashville and it didn’t disappoint.

Reverend Guitar's Zak and Will MasonOur first stop once we arrived on the NAMM Show floor was the Reverend Guitar booth, where we caught up with Ken and Penny (Ken Haas is the owner and CEO of Reverend). They are such great people to work with, and super fun to hang out with. We also talked with Joe Naylor (the designer of all the Reverend Guitars and Naylor Pickups) and hung out with our sales rep, Zak (pictured left). It’s definitely one big family with Reverend, and we’re lucky to be a part of it!


New from Reverend in 2019


Greg Kock GristlemasterThe Greg Kock Gristlemaster is an amazing guitar. This was custom designed for Greg (who is a monster guitar player). It’s slightly larger than a tele (Greg’s a big dude) but it doesn’t feel unwieldy to the average mortal. The design aesthetic is inspired by Greg’s vintage guitar collection, but there are plenty of modern innovations to bring this guitar to the cutting edge of your tone quest. A raised center ridge, the signature Fishman Greg Koch pickups with 2 voicings (there’s a secret little button onboard the switch plate for easy activation) and a USB jack for recharging the pickups (no batteries folks!) make this guitar a really hot item.


The Charger RA is another sweet addition to the Reverend line – with a Railhammer Nuevo 90 in the neck position and a Railhammer Hyper Vintage pickup in the bridge, this guitar is definitely a kindred spirit of the Double Agent OG, but with its own distinct flavor and look. We loved the transparent blue flame maple color.


Will Mason with Reverend BassWe also picked up a Mercali 4 bass for the Mason Music Recording Studio to have its own studio bass for projects that come in. This thing is a beast and sounds so good. Very full low end with plenty of clarity. It will be great to have on hand for any session. We put together a social media poll, and most people preferred the alpine green, but I had to go with my gut and get the cream one – after all, I’m the one who’s going to be looking at it all the time!


Supro Amps

I moseyed over to the Supro Amp booth after leaving Reverend. OK, so I love these amps. I spent just about as much time at this booth as I did at the Reverend booth. I’ve visited them every NAMM Show for the past three years. I really want to bring them on board at our shop, but it’s a matter of $$$ and timing. As we are growing our retail business, we have to be selective and patient. Maybe now is the time? Talk me out of it! I LOVED the Blues King, the Statesman, and the 1605, but my FAVORITE was the Black Magick, a 25-watt combo amp. Modeled after Jimmy Page’s 1969 Supro amp, this thing sings. It has more on board gain than the other amps in their reissue line, and the tremolo is gorgeous. To be honest, I didn’t expect much out of their guitars (I was so focused on the amps) but they were really great too. The vintage voicing on the pickups is really great, and they feel solid and look really cool. I’m a fan.


I, of course, had to stop by and visit the Gibson booth to check in on my future guitar (if anyone is in the mood to give me an awesome gift, I’ll take a Red ES336 please).


Swindler Effects

Will Mason and Drew Swindle

Then we stopped by to visit our friend Drew Swindle at the Swindler Effects booth. Drew is a classic tinkerer; he went from repairing pedals to building his own and now has a thriving boutique pedal business. We’re big fans of his, plus he’s a Birminghamian like us! He has some exciting new MIDI functions coming soon, and the new versions of his pedals are hitting our stores this week. Here is Drew explaining some of the new features for 2019 he’s excited to be rolling out:

The end of the day culminated with a concert by Greg Koch and Rick Vito with Greg’s band at the Reverend Guitar party. You could immediately tell that these guys are some serious players. The fans in the audience were mostly guitar enthusiasts and even they were impressed by the technical prowess and soul on stage.

On Friday, we headed back to the Music City Center and were treated to an awesome loop and layer filled performance by Taylor Reed. She sang while playing acoustic guitar and violin. Super talented! She layered each instrument skillfully and used her voice to create some really cool textures to back up her lead parts. Her original songs were amazing – great lyrics and composition. Then she pulled out a cover of Gansta’s Paradise and blew everyone’s mind!

After she left the stage, we heard from Shep Hyken, a great presenter on the customer experience revolution and were reminded of how important our customer service and the customer experience is for the continued success of our business. After all, our customers are the reason we exist, so it’s best we obsess over how we treat and take care of them!

Friday afternoon I sat on a panel at the NAMM U Idea Center where I joined folks like Kimberly Deverell and Robin Sassi of San Diego Music Studio, Michael Cathrea of Resonate Music and Tim Spicer of Spicer’s Music to discuss lesson program innovations and where the music education industry is headed. I learned a lot, shared a lot, and felt honored to sit next to such great business leaders in our industry.


I happened to walk past the Tec Tracks area, which is the site at NAMM for music technology sessions on topics like “how to make your mixes more dynamic,” “getting the best guitar tone in the studio,” etc. Will Mason and Craig AlvinI noticed a session by Craig Alvin and realized I knew that name. After a quick email search, I realized he mixed a project I worked on a few years ago for Sarah Simmons. I tracked him down after his session and said hey. We had worked back and forth over email but never met in person. It’s funny how technology is so good at creating opportunities for collaboration, but often falls short of the same for connection. Now Craig and I are talking about having him come down to do a special master class for our Recording 101 class. Craig is a Grammy award-winning audio engineer and did a killer job mixing the Sarah Simmons record, so this will be an incredible experience for our students!


While we’re talking about it, it’s always a requirement for me to drool over the recording studio gear at NAMM – I had to find the API, Neve and Empirical Labs booths. Some day …

On our way out the door, I walked past the Kala Ukulele booth and watched a ukulele trio play a traditional Hawaiian tune. It was the happiest song I’ve ever heard, and the guys playing it were genuinely having a great time. It was a great reminder of why we drove up to Nashville, why we have a business at all, and how important music is. It’s part of what makes us all human.

Thanks to all of our customers who are out there making music. You are supporting an incredible, one-of-a-kind industry of people who are passionate, driven, and creative. Plus, you rock.


Will Mason

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