From left, Tim Spicer, Carol Cook, Robert Christie, Bobby Montemurro,
Gabriel O'Brien, Todd Johnson and Frank Alkyer.

'Best In Show' Highlights Great
New Gear

Best In Show, the popular NAMM University breakfast panel discussion, named 18 new products and four companies that exemplify excellence at Summer NAMM.

Six retail experts shopped Summer NAMM and presented their favorite products and companies in four categories. On the morning of July 15, in the Music City Center Grand Ballroom, they discussed their selections in front of more than 300 NAMM attendees.

The categories were:

Best In Show — The best product or service that panelists saw at Summer NAMM.
Companies To Watch — Exhibitors with trendsetting products and/or services.
Gotta Stock It — Products 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 were:

• Robert Christie, President, A&G Central Music, Madison Heights, Michigan
• Carol Cook, Owner, The Music Room, Palatine, Illinois
• Todd Johnson, Manager, Groth Music, Bloomington, Minnesota
• Bobby Montemurro, Senior Director, Pro Audio Sales and Marketing, Alto Music, Middletown, New York
• Gabriel O'Brien, Sales Manager, Larry's Music, Wooster, Ohio
• Tim Spicer, Owner, Spicer's Music, Auburn, Alabama

Summer NAMM's winners are listed below.

Best In Show
Remo Rhythm Lid (Selected by Tim Spicer)
"You can use them as hand drums, or you can pop them and slide them right onto any bucket that costs $2.50 at Lowes or Home Depot. Not only is this an affordable way for some of our younger students to get involved in drumming, but it is also an accessibility thing for me. Our store is huge on community outreach and on engaging the community, and there are a lot of people who love to play drums, but don't have the opportunity to purchase a drum kit. I could see this taking off not only in retail stores, but I can see it taking off in communities all over. It’s an incredibly innovative approach to make music accessible to as many people as possible."

Ortega Eclipse Series Guitars & Ukuleles (Selected by Carol Cook)
"I just love this product. It's beautiful. It's well designed. It's going to fly off our shelves. I can feel it already."

Breedlove USA Series (Selected by Gabriel O'Brien)
"If you've ever gotten to the end of a gig and [you feel] like the "127 Hours" guy and you're ready to carve off your arm because your shoulder is killing you so bad, these weigh hardly anything. They're just killer guitars for the money and very ethically sourced. It's a hard thing to find in this range that’s U.S.-made."

Artiphon Instrument 1 (Selected by Todd Johnson)
"It does everything. It's crazy. It looks like a space ship. It looks like a Chapman Stick from 2020. You can cradle it and play it like a violin. You can play it like a guitar. You can lay it down on the table and turn it into a keyboard. It’s really affordable."

SJC Custom Drums Mappa & Bubinga Snare Drum (Selected by Robert Christie)
"They're a custom drum manufacturer. They make stuff that's eye-catching, beautiful and sounds amazing."

Universal Audio OX (Selected by Bobby Montemurro)
"You can put it in the guitar department, and it can start a conversation. It becomes a conversation about DSP, about plug-ins, about how easy it is to get into home recording, and how you can, basically, get a great guitar sound without buying a $10,000 guitar rig. It's pretty hip."

Gotta Stock It
MXR Carbon Copy Deluxe (Selected by Tim Spicer)
"It's just a tried-and-true delay pedal. We sell a ton of [MXR] pedals. They've just come out with this Carbon Copy Deluxe, which has everything you need, including the same carbon copy tones. We project that this pedal is going to take off. If you're in the guitar pedal world, I would highly suggest you throw this in your store."

Loog Guitars (Selected by Carol Cook)
"I love the Loog series of guitars because there are three strings on this neck — and only three strings — and they are tuned identically to the first three strings on a guitar. First of all, it makes for faster and easier learning on the guitar. When it's time to transition into a six string, it makes for a seamless transition. I love the way they look. They're going to look great on our wall. I love the fact that they have included a set of flashcards. The app includes video lessons, chord diagrams, a tuner, a monkey drummer and a songbook. It makes it a lot of fun for kids to learn, and it's also something I can sell to adults as a travel guitar."

Vintage Guitars (Selected by Gabriel O'Brien)
"They just have killer, killer designs. They play great, and they sound amazing. They're really affordable. We love them."

Yamaha P-115B Keyboard (Selected by Todd Johnson)
"It's a simple, 88-key instrument with graded-hammer action. You can split it. You can layer it. It's simple to run. It's not complex. You just turn them every day. I can't keep them in stock. I just have to give kudos to Yamaha for their Yamaha P-115B. It’s a proven seller." 

Hamilton KB130E iPad Tablet Holder (Selected by Robert Christie)
"The Hamilton KB130E iPad Tablet Holder holds any size tablet. The adapter on the bottom is just a standard microphone stand adapter, so that’s great. It also comes with this little device that will allow you to adjust it to fit on virtually any kind of stand. It allows you to stock one item that will cover a bunch of your customers."

Korg Grandstage Digital Stage Piano (Selected by Bobby Montemurro)
"On the retail floor, it's just going to pop. It's got seven different sound engines. The way it's laid out is incredibly intuitive."

Companies to Watch
Supro (Selected by Tim Spicer)
"Supro is coming back, and they're on fire right now. Not only do they have some awesome amps and pedals but they also have great guitars and basses. They feel great, they sound great, and they've really taken off."

Ortega Guitars (Selected by Carol Cook)
"We have been a dealer for Ortega for about a year now, and there's a lot of things in the last year that I've experienced just by having an affiliation with the company. First of all, we love their products, and our customers love their products. [Ortega has] nylon strings and ukes as well as a line of accessories. The guitars are available in full sizes, ¾ and ½ sizes, so we can reach our large audience of varying age groups and levels of experience. We can be profitable with this company. They are flexible. They are willing to work with us. They have extremely high inspections standards — as do we. But above everything, they have demonstrated a willingness and a commitment to work with us and support us in our endeavors to represent their products."

LD Systems (Selected by Gabriel O'Brien)
"LD Systems is a killer company to work with. They make really great portable P.A.'s. When I started out as a singer-songwriter, the worst part of any gig was setting up and breaking down. Think about walking into a gig or coffeehouse and literally being able to set up [really] fast. It sounds great. It will fill a room, and it has multiple channels. They also have Bluetooth. It's a great product at an astounding price point. What I love about these is there are multiple levels of them. I highly recommend you check them out. I've just been killing with them." 

Cherub Technology (Selected by Todd Johnson)
"Most of the world's tuners are made by one company — Cherub. And, they're here now. For a long time, the Cherub brand wasn't available in the U.S., but it's all been in Europe. They make just about everybody's tuners, except for maybe a couple. Cherub has kind of branched out. They've got the NUX pedal line, capos and metronomes."

Zylia (Selected by Robert Christie)
"You can make a circle around the microphone, and you can get a really good recording with just one microphone. Once you've got that recording, the software does its magic, and breaks it into individual tracks. This will give you a multi-track recording that sounds fantastic. One microphone, one cable and one computer. It's really cool."

Universal Audio (Selected by Bobby Montemurro)
"A lot of these companies will make the same thing over and over again. Universal Audio seems to take a new approach to everything they release and come up with what they believe is the best version of their product — not necessarily what their competitors are doing. I think the stuff they do is groundbreaking."

Best Accessories and Add-ons
(Selected by Tim Spicer)
"When we heard about drumdots we thought we would give them a shot, and we were blown away with not only how well they performed but how easily they sold themselves. They are essentially like a tone deal for your drums, but they're not really sticky. They don't get any residue on them. They don't change the tone of the drum. They just dampen the sound, and our drummers love them. They've got the standard size, the original size and they've got some minis, too. They're also about to unveil this awesome package that holds 25 in here, so it’s pretty cool. It's a great thing to stock up for the store."

Cooperstand Pro Instrument Stands (Selected by Carol Cook)
"We have a classy looking store, if I say so myself, and these instrument stands are very classy looking. They're wooden. They collapse into two or three times smaller the size. You can put it in your gig bag. It's very affordable. You can also brand it with your brand if you choose to do that with an engraving on the bottom. They're just really gorgeous. These stands are available for guitar, uke, and most recently, they created a double stand for guitars."

Digitech SDRUM (Selected by Gabriel O'Brien)
"It's a drum machine for guitar players, which means it's really simple to use because guitar players can't do complicated things. I love it. I've been a big fan of their Trio pedal, and it’s based on that technology."

Option Knob WingMan (Selected by Todd Johnson)
"It gives you the ability to adjust [your effects pedal] with your foot. It's really a cool little device. It's really affordable. It’s a great counter piece."

Killer Q Killer Quick Release Saxophone Strap (Selected by Robert Christie)
"It's super easy to adjust, which is good for the kids. You can play tug of war with it, you can't break it, and it won't slide down, so your sax stays put. For the guy that doubles, the part that attaches to the sax clips off. When it's time to switch, you don't have to fiddle around with hooking up a new saxophone, so you just plug it in and roll. You can have a very slick, quick demo, and it's solving a problem that people have. You can make them as crazy or as conservative as you want. You can print anything on there, including your store name or a picture of your face."

Isovox 2 (Selected by Bobby Montemurro)
"It allows everyone to have a world-class studio environment in their house. It looks like a stormtrooper helmet." MI