January 17, 2011 by Tim
Well, Winter NAMM 2011 is over and I am on my home (back to reality) so I figured I would do a big recap. The last four days have whizzed by so fast, it is a blur of meeting vendors and walking around with 2 of the most fun people in the world (Sally and Mim).
Below I will break down stuff so you can skip around and not have to read all the boring stuff.
I have noticed a few trends with the ukulele during NAMM. The first is that ukuleles are still exploding and the market is growing, this is past fad. I was asked so many times what was going on and all I could say is that the uke is here to stay.
Another trend is bamboo. I did a review of the Paulele already, and waiting on the Cordoba, but I saw several bamboo ukes from Pono, and I carried a Tall grass uke with me to NAMM to show people. I think it is the fact that people are trying to be more eco-friendly and trying new materials. Bamboo seems like the one for now, not sure how it will last. All I can say is that the Pono one hits every wicket on looks, quality, and sound.
The last one is Banjo ukes. Gold Tone has had the Banjolele for a long time, but it is well above the $300 mark. The holy grail, if you will, is below $300. Morgan Monroe (soon to be Eddy Finn) was the first 6” open back banjo uke that I saw at summer NAMM, but now I can find the exact same one from aNueNue and several other people. It was funny, I went to Chesbro (Eleuke) and said “ Wow! No banjo ukes.” They responded with “wait another month or two” so it seems that everyone is getting in on the game and they seem to be all from the same factory. On the Banjo uke trend there are 2 companies that have ones out or coming out very soon, and they could not be any different. Mainland has their close back concert with a much larger head than all the little 6” head ones you see everywhere, and Flea Market Music (Flea and Flukes) banjo uke made from a small hand drum.
There were so many new products, these are the ones that caught my eye.
Martin S1- I was lucky enough to get one a few days before NAMM and wrote some first impressions on it. LINK
Kala Ukadelics- We knew they were coming out with these, and they are a ton of fun. So many fun designs and they play pretty well, I think they will be about $120. For anyone who wants some fun designs and a pretty good uke, this is a winner.
Gold Tone Reso uke – Yes it will be $400 but it is a really awesome rose copper color and is a lot less than any other reso uke out there.
Eddy Finn Ukes – SHS will be making these fun ukes and they range in price from $100 – $400. As you can see the sound hole is very fun with the fin, but it is even cooler than that. When I picked one up I was thinking I was going crazy, I smelled pineapples. The Ukes are rubbed with a coconut and pineapple oil so they will smell awesome. So unique and just par for the course for SHS. Ask Mim of Mim’s Ukes in Charlotte NC about them, she is getting a few of them right away. I will also getting some for review in February.
Flea Market Music Banjo Uke – I was told they will be available soon and be going for $220, but they are working on a poly fret board version to get the price down. I have to say they are a ton of fun and the lightest banjo ukulele you will find. They sound awesome to boot with the open back. When I asked about the body they said “if your wife hits you over the head with it and crack the body we can replace it pretty easily” I said “Do you know my Wife?”
On top of the banjo uke they also came out with a ton of new designs. I really dig the retro countertop design.
Big Island Mango – I did a review last year of a SP-KT and loved it, but now they also have mango and mahogany ukes. The mahogany look like the others, but the mango are just eye catching. Sally and I fell in love with them. They will be another Uke that Mim will carry when they come out in the next few months.
Eleuke Peanut – The one I saw was a prototype and will look different than the one pictured (Square head and a little longer butt to make it easier to hold) and they are aiming at sub $100 for it, and they have the same guts as all the other Eleukes, should be awesome. I hope to review one when they come to market.
Kala Solid UBass – I think this is really cool. I am not a fan of acoustic basses, seems like a waste. You can’t really get a loud sound out of one when a good uke is going. You have to plug it in anyways. They are so light and small; I think regular bass players will get one to travel with or to be unique.
Spider Capo – So how many times are you like “man I wish I could change my tuning without having to retune the whole uke? We were sitting in the press area and they did a press conference on this product. It looks like fun. I was lucky enough to get one for review. I will play with it and a contest of sorts will happen in the near future. I will keep you posted.
Beside annoying vendors for review stuff I was lucky enough to do some really fun things like the big uke jam that Aldrine from UkuleleUnderground.com organized, and then going to dinner with a big group of UU people, including Aldrine and Aaron of UU; nothing but laughter. Sally made a video of those that were there.
I walked by a ton of famous people, beside Aldrine who played at least 5 gigs. I saw the bass player from Blink182, Jonny 5, Steve Vai, Michael Anthony, and many people signing autographs that I had no clue about. I would just walk by and look. It was weird. I Know Sally saw Glen Campbell. All in all it is weird to see them walking around.
Here is a video that will blow your f-ing mind socks off! 11 string bass plugged into an amp that runs on battery and a pedal box that also runs on battery.
I also was lucky that the two people that came with me are way too much fun. We had so many inside jokes and did nothing but laugh; there are so many great stories.
I want to thank my readers for some of the biggest site numbers I have ever had without a contest going on. Some of you also contacted me to make sure that I did not miss any of the cool things that where there. I do this for the love of the uke and really love when people care enough to participate and keep me in the loop.
My biggest thanks has to go out to Mim of Mim’s ukes and Sally. Sally was kind enough to kick her kids out of their beds for 4 days so Mim and I could stay at her house. Both of Sally and Mim where the best 2 people to bring I could have ever wished for. Every booth I went to, Mim and Sally would get to later, they would talk Ukeeku.com up and make sure that they remembered me, it was just awesome.
More NAMM 2011 Coverage
The Best place to go for Ukulele related NAMM 2011 coverage would have to be UkuleleUnderground.com