Electric Violins, Octave Strings, a 3D-printed fiddle, a new kind of Manhasset stand -- these were a few of the innovations I found Thursday at the annual NAMM Show in Anaheim, Calif.
The show is a giant gathering of the National Association of Music Merchants -- expected to attract more than 100,000 people and 1,600 exhibitors.
I first dropped by what I would call Yamahaland -- Yamaha has so many products that it holds its displays in the Marriott Hotel, adjacent Anaheim Convention Center, which houses all the other merchants. Yamaha Music's stringed instrument division was celebrating the 20th anniversary of the first Yamaha electric violin, the Silent Violin, with a new model (the YSV-104) which goes back to the idea of the instrument as mostly a practice instrument, used with headphones.
You may remember that in 2016, Yamaha introduced its Yamaha Electric Violin, or YEV, which is priced around $600-$650. The YEV is still getting a lot of buzz, and I caught a little demonstration by LA-based violinist Andrea Whitt:
One of the headline-catchers for NAMM this year was the new 3Dvarius, an electric violin made completely with 3D printing. It's the brain child of violinist and engineer Laurent Bernadac. Here is an interesting video about the making of the violin, which is priced at $7,000. I did not see this one in person, but here is a performance by its inventor:
One fun thing about NAMM is the fact that it attracts so many musicians -- you just might see someone you know, or that you know of. I've always been a fan of the Dave Matthews Band, so I was happy to get the chance to meet its violinist, Boyd Tinsley, who recently formed a new band called Crystal Garden.
Going inside the convention center, I found all kinds of goodies. I'd say that the NAMM show seems to center a lot on the guitar and band instruments, but I still found plenty of things for string players. For example, these guys from Maple Leaf Strings, based in Cincinnati:
I especially enjoyed this little detail, where they kept their business cards:
I was also impressed with these violins with "pyrograph designs" by Gliga violins This one with a ballerina goes for around $3,000:
At the D'Addario booth, I found Lyris Hung -- a number of years ago she gave me a tour of their string plant in New York. She told me about their new line of Helicore Octave Strings, fresh on the market this month. I first had to ask: What are "Octave Strings"? Apparently, you put them on your fiddle and they make everything an octave lower, so you can sound like a cello! Lyris explains here:
On my way out, I caught a glimpse of something familiar: The Manhasset music stand booth. I have a Manhasset music stand, but it doesn't look like this!
Decorative, and a little wider than the regular stand, they had designs with other instruments as well as this violin design. I want one! They must be very new, as I can't find them online anywhere!
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