Report from the 2006 NAMM Show
Anaheim Convention Center
As a new company, DeMars Guitars came to the 2006 NAMM show with realistic, yet hopeful, expectations. Nobody had ever heard of us. Our website had been up for only two weeks prior to NAMM. We had little pre-show press, and the releases we sent out in time for the NAMM periodicals lacked photos. With 5 guitars and 2 basses on display, we simply had to rely on the opinions of those who visited our tiny 10’x10’ booth down in Hall E. What would dealers think? What would players say? Would the media even notice?
First we were simply blown away by some of the artists and players that took the time to stop by our NAMM booth and give our instruments a thorough test-drive, notably:
- Leland Sklar (Phil Collins, Lyle Lovett, James Taylor, Hall & Oates)
- Phil Chen (Rod Stewart, Jeff Beck, Keith Richards, The Doors)
- Bobby Cochran (Bob Weir, Steppenwolf, Flying Burrito Bros.)
- Timothy B. Schmit (The Eagles, Poco)
- Jeff Linsky (award-winning fingerstyle jazz guitarist)
- Derrick Murdock (“The Tonight Show” band with Kevin Eubanks)
- Oz Barron (Northern Lights)
- Lawrence Hightower (“The Professor of Bassology”; Motown bassist)
- Ronny North (MTV heavy metal virtuoso)
- Jo Sallins (“Two Man Trio”)
- Paolo Gustavo (Jackie DeShannon, Brasil Brazil)
- Michael Tyrrell (Jason Upton, solo clinics)
- and many others.
Thank you all for your insightful comments, and what a thrill to see these instruments come to life in your hands!
These instruments had never been shown in public before NAMM, so we simply asked what our booth visitors thought and gathered those opinions (good and bad) once they finally saw and played them. When visitors had something to say, we listened and took careful notes. These opinions came straight from your basic run-of-the-mill NAMM booth visitors, ranging from a typical teenager to one of the top recording/touring bassists in the world (incidentally, he visited the booth 3 times to play the fretless bass) to two legendary instrument designers, and everyone in between. We were amazed at the comments, listed here in no particular order:
“These are the two coolest instruments at the whole NAMM show – hands down!”
“I’m looking for something other than what’s available at [large guitar chain]. This fits the bill.”
“Beautiful, beautiful, beautiful. A-plus.”
“Your bass clef soundhole says ‘I AM A BASSIST!” before I even pluck a note. I love it!”
“These are different! Exactly the kind of instruments that my customers are looking for.”
“I love the Viridis Guitar. The neck is butter! Super sweet and pure – so bright and rich.”
“Nice designs. The bass clef guitar is awesome. Felt nice.”
“The guitar neck is a little too chunky for my hand. Can you make a slimmer neck?”
“This fretless bass is bitchin’! I’m taking this on tour with me.”
“Amazing sound. The transducer under the neck totally warms it up.”
“I’m a guitar tech for [a major touring band]. This guitar eliminates most of the hassles I have in caring for [the band’s] acoustic guitars. I love the AutoTrim tuners – no need for wire cutters. And I’ll never have to hunt for lost bridge pins in the dark again. Way cool.”
“I love this bass. So comfortable to wear.”
“A very clever piece of execution. I’m impressed.”
“I like my guitar necks thinner than this.”
“Oh yeah!!! The guitar and bass both kick. Clever use of two pickups. Where did you guys come from?”
“Bass clef holes – a good idea!”
“I can’t wait to show this bass to our guitarist. He’ll hate it because the audience will be finally looking at ME! Ha-ha-ha!”
“A little pricey but I’ll bet it’s worth every dime.”
“Can you make the output in stereo for the two piezos?”
“My high end acoustic guitar customers are tired of [M] and [T]. This gives them something new and exciting. Sign me up!”
“A guitar this nice needs a custom hardshell case, not a gigbag.”
“Very cool idea to tuck the onboard preamp away. Set the EQ and forget it. Just a volume knob on top. That’s all I need.”
“Can I take this one home?”
“Is there any detail you haven’t given thought to? You nailed what an acoustic-electric should be on your first try. Great job, Dan! Keep up the good work.”
“Strange place for the body to join the neck – at the 16th fret?”
“I love the feel of this neck – slick and silky. Frets on the guitar are perfectly dressed. Very nice.”
“Why don’t you make a real acoustic that doesn’t need to be plugged in?”
“I gotta have that bass. I will say it again, it’s the best acoustic bass that I have ever jammed on.”
“How many can I order?”
“Forget the instruments – your company has the slickest logo at NAMM. Who designed it?”
“Any plans for a 12-string?”
“Wow – I’m playing slap/funk on an acoustic bass! That pickup under the neck is giving me that percussive “click” of the strings hitting the frets like no other instrument I’ve every tried. F$&#ing awesome!”
“The most playable acoustic-electric bass I’ve tried. Can you make a 5-string? ”
“Love the details like the rosewood edge binding. Classy and subtle, and a clever position of the wooden volume control.”
“This preamp is probably quiet enough to record with. I want to show this to my producer. Maybe double it with my other acoustic panned hard L/R.”
“What a killer piece of flame maple. Can you make a colored finish like a PRS?”
“A beautiful headstock shape – an ‘instant classic’. Most guitar designers would be happy to come close to something that looks this nice. Great job.”
“These instruments are simply spectacular.”
“This bass is da bomb!”
“I’ve wanted to try a guitar with an Earvana nut and this thing really works! Full chords are in tune all the way up the neck! Amazing! I’m putting one on my Strat.”
“Too expensive for my humble wallet…but I can dream, can’t I?”
“Why did you even bother with a volume control? I always play on 10!”
“Great looking and playing! And it’s all USA-made. Five stars, man.”
When a customer speaks, we listen. The good news clearly outweighed the bad (and the bad wasn’t even bad), yet it showed that we should perhaps think about some improvements. There were several comments about the shape of the neck on the Viridis Guitar, so a second neck profile will be considered. The original neck is modeled after a “fat V” neck – full and beefy. We will be looking at other instruments (both acoustic and electric) to determine the ideal dimensions for a thinner, more conventional “C” shaped neck for guitarists who prefer such. There are no immediate plans for a 5-string bass or a 12-string guitar, as both revisions would require notable changes to both fingerboard and headstock shapes/sizes. No plans at this time for translucent colored finishes, but that might change depending on the requests of our dealers and customers. And the K&K Sound 9V active preamp runs only a mono output.
As for other NAMM news, it was great to finally meet our great suppliers in person after a full year of emails, phone calls and invoices: Craig Theorin from Elixir Strings, Dineen Patti from Earvana, Roger Fearing from THG Knobs, John D’Addario from PlanetWaves, Harvey & Dennis Levy from Levy’s Leathers, and Tim Jones from Phil Jones Bass. Due simply to being busy at our booth, we never made it upstairs to see the folks from TKL Cases, Gotoh, Stewart-MacDonald or Allparts. Dieter Kaudel and his staff from K&K Sound, the makers of our wonderful pickups and preamps, did not attend NAMM this year. It was also great to see old friends from NS Design, theMusicPlayer group, Rowan Guitars, Rigel Mandolins, Spector Bass and Renaissance Guitars, as well as make some new friends at ESP(through our friend Dineen at Earvana) and our two NAMM booth next-door neighbors at Big Island Acoustic Koa and StageMagic.
As for media attention, thank you to the nice folks at Bass Player, Guitar Player, Bassics, Fingerstyle Guitar and Performer magazines for taking the time from your VERY busy schedules to speak with us and check out the instruments.
We are appreciative of the dealers who saw something they liked at our booth and placed orders right then and there. We look forward to a long and mutually productive relationship. Your contact information will be posted on the Dealers section of our website soon and your instruments will be hanging on your store walls before too long.
A sincere and timely “Thanks!” must be extended to Mark Barnes and the members of the online Beatles forum, BeatGearCavern. A couple weeks prior to NAMM, Mark graciously posted the info of the launch of DeMars Guitars on the forum and encouraged members to check out the DG website. Not only did at least one BGC member drop by my NAMM booth to say hello, but the constant words of support and encouragement since posted on the BGC site from these gentlemen (and ladies, I presume) are appreciated beyond words. Now if we can only get Macca to try our bass. You guys are gear…you’re fab.
Finally, our thanks to Darlene and all the folks at Azteca, probably the only totally Elvis-themed Mexican restaurant in existence. Great food, great atmosphere, great people. You guys rock – and we’ll see you again next year! Save that front table for the DG crew!