2012 NAMM:
Products Off The Beaten Path

The 2012 NAMM Show is now in the record books as one of the biggest and baddest of its kind. Anyone who attended was stunned, entertained and thoroughly impressed with everything the four-day event had to offer. Simply put, going to this show is a whirlwind of sensory and technological overload — in a good way.

From tiny mom-and-pop start-ups relegated to the basement of the Anaheim Convention Center to the big guns on the main floor with over-the-top exhibits and big-name talent onsite to sign autographs and shake hands — they're all at NAMM to generate interest and make sales. We took it all in, and thought we’d share some of the more unique products we came across.


PocketStrings

PocketStrings is a portable guitar practice tool. Based out of Utah, the company’s Gavin Van Wagoner has created a portable tool for guitarists of all levels to practice. Retailing for under $30 and available with four or six frets, PocketStrings will literally fit in your pocket, giving guitarists the opportunity to practice anytime, anywhere.

Pianowand

Pianowand, based out of the UK, is a small company with a big future. Their Chordwand and Scalewand products are learning tools to help piano players of any skill level. The wands retail for around $20 and the company is looking for a distributor in the states. After selling all 500 wands they brought to NAMM, they should have no problem finding a distributor.

Farmer Foot Drums

Farmer Foot Drums, of Bellingham, Washington, had spectators stopping in the aisles. Their high-quality, hand-constructed Foot Drums give a whole new meaning to the phrase “one-man band”. And they sound as good as they look.

Gruv Gear

Gruv Gear, based out of Orange County, California, produce extremely tough, user-friendly gear transporting carts. Aside from allowing you to potentially move all your gear in one trip — a definite plus, in our opinion — they fold and store easily.

Moog Music

Moog Music’s Minitaur is the “ultimate compact analog bass synthesizer” that can be hooked up to any MIDI controller or keyboard for thunderous bass tones. There are no hidden menus to scroll through, just good old fashion knobs on the front panel to take control.

Alfred Music Publishing

Alfred Music Publishing, one of the world’s largest educational music publishers since 1922, has a new book on making it in the music business called The Big Gig by Zoro. Recommended by the likes of Lenny Kravitz and Quincy Jones, this 440-page book is billed as a “template for success for all musicians and non-musicians, covering the vocational, personal, and spiritual aspects of achievement.”

Avid

Avid has major presence at NAMM, and showcases a variety of software and audio interfaces, notation software, keyboards, control surfaces, studio monitors, DJ tools, even apps. Their Sibelius and Scorch applications caught our eye. Sibelius 7 is “the smartest, fastest, and easiest way to write music,” and Scorch lets you view and interact with sheet music on your iPad.

Slaperoo

When you first see it, the Slaperoo doesn’t look like much more than a blue, metal rod. But pull on the alloy steel band, and it creates a unique percussive, bass sound captured by a built-in pickup. The robust all-metal construction makes the instrument virtually indestructible and maintenance-free. You can view videos of the Slaperoo being played and learn techniques by going to their website.

Rockstar Pyro~Fire

Rockstar Pyro~Fire (RPF) aims to go beyond your garden-variety pyrotechnics and visual effects by introducing fire into the rock and roll arena in new and unusual ways. Everything from guitars and drums to tambourines and microphones can breathe fire, according the engineers at RPF who claim they can “precision handcraft any original fire effect imaginable.” Stressing that “Safety is our #1 priority,” the good folks at RPF have been at it since 1974, adding that they have created and safely presented more than 24,000 fire shows for the paying public. If you’re looking to heat up your stage show, check out their website for more information.

Power Float

Serious drummers are constantly looking for ways to tweak and refine their sound. The Power Float is an integrative floating drum head bracket that separates the drum head and hoop from the drum shell, creating a clean and pure tone. Even better, tuning is easier with a broader tuning range. The makers of the Power Float say their product gives you superior sounding drums. Based on what we heard, this is definitely the ticket if you're looking to create your own signature sound.

David R. Pighin, Chris Murphy, Robert Murray and Shawn Perry contributed to this report.

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