June 22, 2010 by Tim
I love tradeshows. I like meeting new people and seeing new stuff. I have been to a few technology shows since by day I do computer stuff and am also a computer nerd along with a ukulele nut. Both actually come in handy from time to time.
The atmosphere at NAMM is over whelming in so many ways. You want to look at everything and the noise from all the instruments is deafening at times. It made it real hard to hear the instruments or to take any kind of video that you could hear anything on. The summer NAMM is pretty much just one giant room, not like winter, so I am told, were it is several floors and there is an acoustic floor. I really hope I can make it to that one.
While at NAMM I talked with a ton of people and vendors about everything about ukuleles, straps, and home recording. I have about 30 different business cards from the vendors alone and I also made a couple connections with people that sell them like Mim from Mim’s Ukes. She Has a Hawaiian shaved ice store and she also sells ukuleles there (and online) in Charlotte North Carolina. Also in the post before this I have a pic of Chris Martin of martin guitars holding 2 of his ukes.
Funny story about Meeting Chris Martin, I actually almost knocked him over coming out of the Martin booth, so I stopped and asked if I could take his picture and he said sure. The funny part was that I texted 2 of my friends that were with me that I had just met Chris Martin. They thought I met the Chris Martin from Coldplay. It was not until I showed them the picture that they realized who I actually met. and for the record I would rather meet the Chris Martin that I met. Very cool and nice enough to talk with me for 5 minutes
Cool stuff that I saw:
Bamboo ukes from Kiwaya called Pauleles. Played nicely and I am hoping that I will have a chance to review one along with their Kiwaya KS-1. I don’t have a picture since it was not at NAMM, but Cordoba is also coming out with a bamboo uke very soon.
Banjo ukuleles from Morgan Monroe, and they are under $300 street price!!! That to me seems like one of the holy grails right now. They are loud and really well built. I am hoping that sometime in November, when they catch up with orders, to get one in my hands to review and show people.
So, I was at the Saga Music booth looking at the Mahalos and I see what I know to be a camp ukulele, but I look at it and it says banjo ukulele. I scratched my head and laughed a little. An owner of a music shop wanted to know what I was laughing at. She thought I was being condescending about the products on the wall. Yes they are on the lower end, but they are still ok. I said to her “that is not a banjo ukulele” She asked then what is it because she has one in her store an no one will buy it. I told her that it is a camp ukulele, I have seen several of them and it is called that. She rushed over and grabbed the sales guy and told him “you need to talk to this young man, he knows his stuff!!” I proceed to tell him what it is and he pulls out a pen and changes the name of it on the little tag hanging with it and tells the marketing guy to also change the name in the catalog. It was a good feeling to have someone change something because you recommend it. Excuse me as I go deflate my huge head.
One of the interesting ukuleles I saw were the Oriolo ukes. The Oriolo family owns Felix the cat and the brothers decided to start a guitar company. They look fun. I like the way they did the base with Felix’s head, his nose is a knob of some sort.
On the topic of interesting design, Boulder Creek Guitars had a booth showing off their guitars and ukuleles. They are the ones with the off-set front sound hole and one on the side. They have the regular laminate mahogany and a line of solid wood ukes, but they are also coming out with a couple with a printed top. The designs are fun. One with a wave and the other with a golf theme.
For completely crazy design I would give that to Eleuke. A “tie dye” electric. I like the idea, I am not in love with the colors they used.
We cannot leave Kala out. They had all of their well known products like the U-bass, and that is all the guitar and bass people talked about, and the travel ukuleles. They had 2 things that I really thought were cooler than everything else. The pocket uke and the new 10 watt “Round about” amps.
The last new thing that I will talk about is from Papas Boxes. I did not even know they were going to be there. I just ran into their booth. They now make whole ukuleles and they are beautiful. They use lasers to etch the boxes and cut the holes. It was fun to go to a booth where the owner is really happy to meet you. I think they will be very successful with their new instruments along with the kits.
A couple I lusted after:
I can dream can’t I? I had to stop by the Collings booth. I played the one pictured and it is like butter. I also played a Santa Cruz, and a few of the high end Big Island Ukuleles ( I was able to take their least expensive home for a review, a SP-KRGT, so watch the site for the review). Also while I was at the Kiwya booth Augutino LoPrinzi ukuleles was also in the same booth. Very very nice ukuleles. the one pictured was really neat with the 2 shoulder holes, very loud. If I say loud I mean it, it was loud in the convention center.
The other side:
Ukuleles are popular. They are blowing up. I heard from several companies that their ukuleles sales are 75% of their sales in the last few months, so with that people want to jump into it also. I saw several like the ones below that are toys and not real instruments by any means. that makes me mad. Just don’t make them or carry them if they are such junk.
Not sure how I feel about ukulele lamps. I want one, don’t get me wrong, I just feel bad for the little guy.
I need to thank all the vendors that I talked to, I am a total spaz at times and I was also sweating like crazy, so embarrassing. Also my two friends, Paul and Marc, for hanging with me and not beating me while trying to leave and I get lost at another booth that caught my eye, and spreading the word about Ukeeku to everyone you saw.
I really want to go to winter NAMM in Anaheim CA, time will tell.