If not for anything else, the NAMM Show (once known as the National Association of Music Merchants, now representing the International Music Products Association)—the world’s largest music products trade show—is a great way to walk up to someone and say, “You used to be in that shitty band, right?  What are you doing now?  Oh you work at Blockbuster and moonlight at Guitar Center?” 

Upon entering the Anaheim Convention Center, area you are instantly taken aback by the overwhelming urge to start walking up to strangers and drop names.  After my own encounter with a 20-something who came up to me and asked if I was “so-and-so” in “that one band,” I decided to make my first stop at the Taylor booth.

Taylor guitars are a staple of every famous recording artist.  No matter what genre, no matter what your social status in the musician hierarchy; if you’re signed and can afford it, you’re playing a Taylor.  The most impressive thing that I have come to know about this company is not only the fine craftsmanship and beautiful woods they use to construct their masterpieces (seriously, each and every guitar that comes out of their shop is a work of art), but the amazing customer service on which Taylor prides themselves. 

Amazingly enough, that great customer service was even present at their booth at the show.  Most vendors may approach you, but as they shake your hand, they immediately look down at your badge to see who you are, for whom you work.  Not so with Taylor, whose representatives look you straight in the eye and make sure you remember them in the event you should ever become super-famous (and, of course, super-rich). 

The Taylor guitar line has been divided into three main categories: Acoustics, Acoustic/Electrics (A/Es), and Electrics.  I was perplexed when I heard the word “Electrics,” not knowing that this company had crossed over into the solely electric world.  The Taylor T5, with its humbucking pickups and proprietary body sensor, produces a versatile range of pure analog tones from strumming acoustic to crunch electric that rivals even more seasoned solid bodies. 


Advancements in their Acoustic/Electric line include upgraded binding (even maple binding on their 800 series), abalone rosettes on the 500 and 700 series, and Gotoh tuners on the 900’s.  I also have to make mention of the strides the company has made in creating a more accessible guitar for those of us on a tighter budget.  Although they’re using laminate rosewood and spruce tops, the 100 and 200 series from Taylor sound almost as incredible as their illustrious counterpart, The Grand Auditorium.

After an enjoyable tour of the Taylor booth, I began roving the grounds and found some incredibly interesting new and innovative products that are going to improve the lives (and laziness) of today’s artist.  The two most notable ones are: VirtuosoWork’s Notion music composition and performance software, and WaveMachine Labs’ Drumagog drum replacement plug-in software. 


Notion is simply great.  Their music composition software allows you to hear what you’re composing…played by the London Symphony Orchestra.  Notion also lets you determine the key, time signature, and dynamics of the song, then you can compose your masterpiece.  The program replays your score, backed by the London Symphony Orchestra as recorded at Abbey Road Studios. 

Ease of use and an impressive sound library make this an accessible and versatile program.  Personally, my compositions sounded like utter crap, but that’s solely because I am impatient and click random points on the scale in concomitance, hoping the finished product will sound halfway decent, and it doesn’t. 

Then there’s Drumagog.  WaveMachine Labs’ Drumagog is a plug-in that automatically replaces drum tracks with a vast array of other samples.  Engineers and producers worldwide use Drumagog to fix and enhance existing drum tracks.  Drumagog is extremely easy to use.  Just insert it onto a drum track and select your favorite sample.  Drumagog does the rest.  A huge sample library and extremely user-friendly controls make this my pick of the show.

Mark Johnston, a native Californian, has travelled the world with various circuses, sideshows, and arena rock tours. As a musical monkey he has delighted fans the world over. Upon his return, he has since founded the Atomsmashers Publishing Company, written 2 books in the company's Warm Horchata series, created a weekly comic strip based around LA's more "colorful" characters, written reviews, articles, and rantings under various pseudonyms; this has since culminated in Johnston being named Captain Fabulous by the Superhero Association of America.