The History Of NAMM, And Why It’s Important

Brian Hoover

Well, it’s that time of year again. A good chunk of our work force gets to fly down to Anaheim California, get wined and dined by our reps, party with Rockstars, and see what this year will hold for the music industry…except for me, I’m stuck here because of school, and because we need a few good men to hold down the fort. But I got to talking with some of the new guys here, and amazingly, a few of the newbies had never heard of NAMM before. So I figured, it was my duty to explain it, and I figured I would bring some of my know how to you good people!


So what is NAMM at its core? Well NAMM stands for National Associations of Music Merchants, which might seem like a cumbersome name for a trade show, but that’s because the name is as old as it is, we’ll get to that in a second. It basically shows a sort of pre-release of all of the years upcoming new gear. You get big name companies like Fender and Taylor releasing what they are coming out with for the new year, and you get younger up and coming companies making their debut to try and get dealers (the primary attendees of the convention) to take a chance on them, and add them to their repertoire of brands. Because every company is competing for your attention, you get big guys like Gibson and Fender bringing in their A-List stars, with guys like Slash, Stevie Wonder and Eddie Van Halen being regular attendees. But after the trade floor cools down for the night, you also have the reps for all of these companies trying to get contracts signed, and relationships strengthened with afterhours parties, dinners and just general fun stuff happening all over Anaheim. All and all, it’s amazing, and I always want to go, but I can’t because it conflicts with my college class schedule, and the fact that I, and the remainders of the crew here right now are as important to the day to day operation as we are, it would be ill advised to send any of us…I’m not jealous I promise, I’m just saying that hanging out with rock stars on a sunny 70 degree beach sounds much better than shoveling snow and doing course work.


So let’s jump in the way back and figure out why NAMM is what it is? As I find that kind of stuff very interesting. Basically NAMM started in 1901 by what was at that time the American Piano Manufacturers Association, as a way of curbing the growing problem of fraudulent advertising, where people would charge what they knew you could afford rather than what an item really should have cost you, so you saw pianos in New York costing less than in Detroit, but more than in Las Angeles, just because they knew they could charge more money for them, regardless of what they really cost to make and ship. So, they established a trade organization to help set some ground rules so that no one was acting “unfairly”. Through these early interactions they organized the NAPDA, or the National Association of Piano Dealers of America (which would eventually evolve into NAMM) which established those ground rules, tackled trade problems they were all having and organized their first convention. Some of them had to travel as far as 2,500 miles via railroad, but this was successful at improving conditions nationwide.

Over the years they have changed locations off and on, and seen countless innovative products introduced at it. From the First mass production electric guitars, to the innovative Ovation acoustic guitars, to Solid State amplifiers and even piezo acoustic pickups, they all saw their debut on that trade show floor. While things have grown, moved, changed and evolved, one thing has remained the same. They have always tried to bring the best things forward, to try and help the industry steer itself into the future. As the week goes on and NAMM draws to a close, and in the weeks ahead, I will likely bring you a few more blogs, covering what all cool, new gear has come out this year. But right now I think I have given you more than enough info, but I can’t wait to tell you about some of the cool stuff that is coming your way.