From left: Frank Alkyer, Bobby Montemurro, Gayle Beacock, Lynn Nicholson, Michael Doyle, Sammy Ash and George Quinlan.


'Best in Show' Highlights Great Gear at NAMM

Best In Show, the popular Sunday-morning breakfast panel discussion at NAMM U, featured 19 new products and eight companies highlighting excellence at The NAMM Show 2017.

Six top retailers shopped NAMM for three days and presented their top products in four categories. On the morning of Jan. 22, in the Anaheim Hilton Hotel, they discussed their choices in front of more than 700 NAMM attendees. The categories included:

Best In Show — The best product or service that panelists saw at NAMM.
Companies To Watch — Exhibitors with trendsetting products and/or services.
Gotta Stock It — A product that retailers want to stock right now, if they haven't already.
Best Accessories And Add-ons — A great product from the small-goods arena.

This year's panelists included:

• Sammy Ash, Chief Operating Officer, Sam Ash Music, Hicksville, New York
• George Quinlan, President, Quinlan & Fabish, Burr Ridge, Illinois
• Lynn Nicholson, General Manager, Rhythm Traders, Portland, Oregon
• Michael Doyle, Senior Vice President, Guitar Merchandising, Guitar Center, Agoura Hills, California
• Bobby Montemurro, Director of Pro Audio Sales & Marketing, Alto Music, Middletown, NY
• Gayle Beacock, Co-Owner, Beacock's Music, Vancouver, Washington
• Moderator: Frank Alkyer, publisher, Music Inc. and UpBeat Daily magazines, Elmhurst, Illinois

Here are this year's selections:

Best In Show
Roli Blocks Modular Music Studio (Selected by Sammy Ash)
"This is about the coolest thing I've seen in a very long time. It's just a wonderful device. This is clearly a product to watch and to watch grow. Portable revolution in production."

Cannonball Vintage Reborn Roadster Limited Edition Saxophones (Selected by George Quinlan)
"Every year Cannonball produces a limited edition series, this one struck my attention because Cannonball sustained a rock-solid commitment to supporting their local dealers, believing that people want to try them before they buy them, so it allows us opportunities to finance purchases for parents to make them more affordable."

Roland EC-10M El Cajon Microphone Processor (Lynn Nicholson)
"This evolved from their previously released El Cajon, and I think its only improved on that concept. Basically it's a clip-on condenser mic that can be used as an acoustic mic, or you can layer-in electronic sounds, and it's just one mic that separates the two layers of the cajon. I really like the ease of use, the versatility, and I really think it's just a knock-out."

Fender American Professional (Michael Doyle)
"They revolutionized the electric guitar business back in the 1950s, and it has been a course of refinement ever since."

Universal Audio Apollo Twin MKII (Bobby Montemurro)
"The Apollo Twin — the original version — was one of the best things we ever had to sell. It's such an easy sell for any customer, and it does so many things. It's perfect for the novice entry-level user, and it's perfect for the pro user."

Hohner Mariachi Instruments (Gayle Beacock)
"There are 66 million Latin Americans right now. They have 1.5 trillion dollars in spending money right now, and we are underutilizing that. [Hohner Mariachi Instruments] have brought us some really great products."

Companies to Watch
Roli (Selected by Sammy Ash)
"They have a three-year plan — most companies don't even have a plan — and it's a very exciting time for this company."

Eastman Music Co. (Selected by George Quinlan)
"This company is about 20 years old, family-owned and operated. The founder came to the U.S. as a flute student and began selling violins out of his car. Eventually he built a workshop. They're very impressive to watch, and they're very supportive of school-music dealers."

Tackle Instrument Supply Co. (Lynn Nicholson)
"They make high-quality handmade bags and accessories for drummers, by a drummer. The beauty of their products is just having a really classy, high-quality bag that will last you a lifetime."

Aston Microphones (Michael Doyle)
"What got our attention is a pencil microphone that can repeat the position of the microphone night after night or in the studio. If you arrive on stage and the drumhead freaks out, you can put X marks the spot on the drumhead, point the laser, get that laser in the position of X marks the spot, and repeat that position of the microphone."

Line 6 (Michael Doyle)
"They're full of innovation and their new Spider 5 amplifiers have got a built-in wireless receiver, which is pretty unique in the amplifier industry. You've got a wonderful up-sell opportunity for the retailer and a great, simple solution for the customer."

Roland (Michael Doyle)
"A company that is always coming up with products where I say, 'Why didn't I think of that?'"

Warm Audio (Bobby Montemurro)
'Warm has found all those things that may have been out of reach for most people, and it's made them look unbelievable."

Cordoba Music Group (Gayle Beacock)
"I think they have the finest beginner nylon guitars that you will ever see."

Gotta Stock It
Taylor GS Mini Bass (Selected by Sammy Ash)
"This thing completely blew away my expectations. It's one of those things that you truly don't get until you start to play it. I'm going to sell a lot more of these to guitar players than I will to bass players."

Music People BSK2500 Bell Kit with Stand (Selected by George Quinlan)
"There are no note names on the bells, but they are on the reverse side. It comes in a rolling bag, and it stood out as a bread-and-butter product."

Ludwig Element Evolution Drum Set (Lynn Nicholson)
"It's a home run because it's three of the most classic names in the drum world — Ludwig drums, Zildjian cymbals and Remo drumheads."

Denon SC5000 Media Player (Michael Doyle)
"It can play any audio file, including FLAC."

Ludwig 8x14 Black Beauty Snare (Michael Doyle)
"Ludwig is a fabulous company and at the top of their game with The Beatles. The Black Beauty is one of the great pieces that [it] has."

American DJ Airstream Wi-Fi Pack (Bobby Montemurro)
"Everyone loves a cool light show, and you can do it with this."

Alfred, Led Zeppelin—The Complete Studio Recordings (Gayle Beacock)
"There's still something to be said about a beautiful book in this day and age. It's just heavy and it smells good."

Best Accessories and Add-ons
Mikme Wireless Microphone and Audio Recorder (Selected by Sammy Ash)
"It's a small, extremely sturdy device about half the size of a pack of cigarettes [that] records via Bluetooth. It's got 16 GB, about four hours of recording time, and an excellent frequency response. It's just a really cool, small device you can put in your pocket."

BandTool, distributed by St. Louis Music (Selected by George Quinlan)
"It's a little accessory that is kind of like a Swiss army knife for band directors and road reps."

Meinl Cymbal Tuners (Lynn Nicholson)
"Customers are going to love it because you're going to be able to get more sounds out of your cymbals. Retailers are going to love it because it's a really easy add-on."

Ernie Ball Paradigm Guitar Strings (Michael Doyle)
"It's guaranteed for 90 days not to break. If you go online there's a video of John Petrucci really trying to break them ... the strings surely don't break but the vibrato bar did."

Gator Frameworks GFW-GTR-SEAT (Bobby Montemurro)
"There's nothing more practical than sitting down and putting your guitar somewhere. It's incredibly comfortable to sit on and it works anywhere."

Music Gifts, Hall E (Gayle Beacock)
"Gift products enhance our customers' experience in our stores." MI