NAMM Roundup: Part 3

Looking back on it, it was perhaps the biggest NAMM show of all time, certainly in the last three years. More than 88,000 buyers, store owners, distributors, artists, agents, fans and musical instrument manufacturers crammed into the Anaheim Convention Center for four days from January 14-17, and they were there to do business. We'll be bringing more reports and images this week on the drums, electronics, microphones, accessories, pedals, hand drums, cymbals, sticks and other products we saw at the show. Here's a quick update.

We just had to bring you this pic of Gene Simmons, above, holding his new Cort bass. Larry Goldstein of Westheimer Corp. was understandably excited about having Gene as an endorser but he was equally excited about new Basix drums, endorsed by Danny Gottlieb. Their beginner line will now be distributed at all Five Star Shops, and their Custom line, with rugged 3/4" hardware and upgraded lugs and tension rods.

The most talked about new product at the show was Pearl's E-Pro Live, Pearl's radical new entry into electronic drums. As Steve Armstrong of Pearl put it, "our goal in designing these drums was that they look like real drums, play like real drums and feel like real drums." Initial reports indicate they accomplished that goal. The sets consist of 10", 12", and 14" toms, a 14" snare aacoustic fnd a 20" bass drum. These are real drums, with Pearl hardware and pedals. They feature Pearl Tru-Trac electronic heads with dual-zones for multiple sounds. The heads are smooth coated. Although we don't think there are any electronic drums that feel exactly like acoustic drums, these are quite playable. The cymbals come in black rubber or brass on the high-end version. The Pearl r.e.d. box (brain) offers some really great features, including an intuitive interface and the ability to flash the memory and substitute new smaples from Toontrack, Oceave Way and other companies. This new entry is intriguing in other ways, too. You can replace the heads with the acoustic drum heads if you wanted to, which means you could also put Pearl's tru-track heads and triggers on a different kit. We expect the company may offer retrofit options once they have fulfilled initial demand. And, demand at this show was strong. We talked to one salseperson who sold 48 kits alone-and that's just in one state.

The E-Pro Live was only one of several new electronic drums at the show. Alesis showed new versions of its USB and DM-10 kits; Yamaha brought out a new pad and DTX models; Korg displayed its hot new Wave drum; 2box, from Sweden, showed off its Drumit Five series; and more. Some of those will make it into our NAMM Top Ten later today.

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