Monday, January 23, 2012

NAMM notes: Deering Banjos' Phoenix, Taylor Guitars, Pick Grips

TJR with Deering Banjos Company Project Manager Jamie Latty at NAMM.

The more I saw across the five days at the 2012 NAMM Show, the more I'm sure I missed.

Through all the great performances, my chats with musicians and music lovers, and interviews with innovative minds who create the products of tomorrow, I'm always reminded why the music trade show is such a rush.

In addition, this year I really made it a point to actually sit down and try out some of the instruments. Believe it or not, I know there was at least one year I attended NAMM that my schedule was so stuffed with appointments I never even plucked a guitar. Now that's a crime.

One of my biggest thrills was jamming with my Music Worth Buying co-host TJR, as I got to play one of Taylor Guitars' GS Mini instruments. The guitar is easy to play, boasts great tones from its rich lows to its high notes and really defies its compact design. The Mini is available with either a solid spruce or mahogany top. Very, VERY nice. Click here for more details on the GS Mini.

I still have great memories of my father playing the banjo when I was a youngster just learning to play guitar. Although I never picked up the instrument, I kind of re-connected with those memories at NAMM on Sunday (Jan. 22) courtesy of Deering Banjo Company's Phoenix. A true banjo-guitar hybrid, it was amazing to sit down and be able to play the Phoenix like I would a guitar, but to hear the lovely tones of a banjo emerge from its beautiful design. TJR (seen here on the left) also was impressed and really created some lovely sounds on the instrument. As I learned in reading some materials from the Spring Valley, California-based company, Keith Urban, John Fogerty, David Hidalgo, Nils Lofgren and even Lee Rocker have all used Deering 6-string banjos. Now I know why!

It's not unusual to find new products at the NAMM Show. But I was truly impressed by a simple, but much-needed invention showcased by a fledgling company out of Mesa, Arizona.

Anyone who has ever played guitar with a pick knows the frustration of either having to dig their through pockets to find one, or being forced to mount them on a stand or even tape them to a prized instrument (and likely damaging their guitar).

No more. Pick Grips really does offer an easy, affordable and winning solution for musicians who play their guitar, bass, mandolin or other stringed instrument using a pick.

"For years, we used to weave the pick through the strings. I always thought there was a better way," said Pick Grips founder Bac Tran. "I thought there needs to be a solution. I was watching an Eddie Van Halen video and he had duct tape on his guitar (holding his picks in place) and I came up with this design."

Tran's Patent Pending-device simply attaches to the surface of an acoustic or electric instrument, with a slot where the pick fits snugly into place. When a musician wants to remove the Pick Grip, no residue (okay, "scum" better fits what happens when using duct tape) remains.

Musicians or companies ordering Pick Grips can select from a number of cool colors and even imprint their own logo or band name into the surface. Both TJR and I were blown away by this product, and just imagine, it doesn't involve electronics, apps or a digital interface!

Visit the Pick Grips Web site for more information on this amazing product!

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