ESP at the 2012 NAMM Show
Didnʼt make it to the show? Read on, and youʼll feel like you were there with us in
Hereʼs something that might surprise you: even though the NAMM Show happens in January, at ESP, we have to start preparing for the show several months earlier. Between our new guitar and bass designs, building prototypes, working with our artists on new Signature Series models, and preparing our famous showroom at the Anaheim Convention Center, we actually start getting ready for NAMM in August!
But this yearʼs show proved once again that all the hard work is worthwhile. At the 2012 NAMM Show, ESP introduced dozens of new guitar and bass models, had some outstanding clinics showing off the power of our instruments, and hosted several artist signings that were some of the most attended at NAMM.
New Guitars and Basses
We actually let the worldwide fans of ESP know about our new product introductions a full week before the show right here on espguitars.com, which turned out to be a great thing. People arriving to our NAMM exhibit (in Demo Room 213D, where weʼve been for the past four years) were already primed and pumped to check out the latest guitars and basses. You can read all about the new ESP and LTD models that we introduced at NAMM here, but we wanted to make special note of a few guitars and basses that really grabbed peopleʼs attention at the show.
While Whitechapel might still be considered an up-and-coming band, their new Signature Series models for LTD were some of the biggest hits of NAMM 2012. After all, there are many players looking for high-quality 7-string guitars at reasonable prices, and the new LTD AW-7 (Alex Wade), BS-7 (Ben Savage), and ZH-7 (Zach Householder) models fit that description perfectly. In the case of the AW-7 and the BS-7, our NAMM visitors were particularly stoked to find high-quality 7-string guitars with passive pickups. As guitarist Alex Wade mentioned during the show, we were happy to see that people who had never even heard of Whitechapel were loving the guitars based on their own merits.
Contrasting Whitechapel was the introduction of new models from Anthraxʼs lead guitarist and bassist. Long-time ESP player Rob Caggiano was finally able to show off his Signature Series LTD RC-600 and ESP Rob Caggiano. Perhaps more surprising was the announcement that bass player Frank Bello has moved over to ESP, and his new Signature Series bass models -- the LTD FB-4 and ESP Frank Bello -- were met with much admiration.
There was plenty of love for all of our new Signature Series models, but it should be said that the new guitars from Slayerʼs Jeff Hanneman -- the LTD JH-600EC and ESP Jeff Hanneman EC -- got a lot of attention at NAMM, as did the new double-cutaway designs from Kirk Hammett (the LTD KH-DC and the ESP KH-DC).
New ESP Models and Finishes
Itʼs probably not a big surprise that people get excited by new ESP Standard Series models and finishes. At the NAMM Show, we had a huge amount of hot new ESPs, and everyone was loving them.
A whole new ESP Series was introduced at NAMM -- the HRF. It combines the body styling of the Horizon with the headstock of the F-Series (aka Forest) guitar, with Seymour Duncan Blackout AHB-1 active pickups, and people were loving them. Also, the Horizon line got bigger with the new Horizon FR-27, a new model that features a 27- fret neck (with scalloped frets from 12-27). Still, one other new Horizon model -- the FR-7 -- is a seven-string beast that had our NAMM visitors drooling.
The 2012 NAMM Show also saw the introduction of a bunch of finishes for ESP models that were previously unavailable in most places. Horizons in new colors like Volcano Red, Mystic Black, Black Aqua, and Reindeer Blue really grabbed peopleʼs attention, as did new Eclipse models in Silver Sunburst and Silver Sparkle. Interestingly, one new finish for our LTD EC series -- the EC-1000 Metallic Gold Sunburst -- was a hot item at NAMM as well.
Demos from Andy James and Evan Brewer
Throughout the NAMM Show, visitors to the ESP Demo Room were treated to amazing clinics by guitarist Andy James and bassist Evan Brewer. In addition to being a virtuoso player, Andy is a genuinely nice guy who did a great job showing off the power of his LTD H-1007. After each clinic, he would hang out with people and answer their questions about his guitar. The same could be said of Evan Brewer, who used his custom ESP (based on the Surveyor) to play some magnificent songs that spanned a variety of musical genres.
Both of our NAMM clinicians had people leaving the room with big smiles (or with their jaws hanging open from having been blown away by their outstanding performances). Thanks, Andy and Evan!
Signings, Signings, and More Signings
Itʼs well known that ESPʼs demo room at NAMM is the place where some of the coolest artist signing sessions in the entire show happen. This year, we started out on Friday afternoon with Alex Wade, Ben Savage, Gabe Crisp, and Zach Householder of Whitechapel. These young guys were at their very first NAMM show, but they handled the onslaught of the crowd like seasoned veterans.
On Saturday, we had signings going on nearly the entire day. It started out with a bang when Alexi Laiho (Children of Bodom), Buz McGrath (Unearth), and Gus G (Ozzy/ Firewind) sat down with a pile of Sharpies and 8x10 photos. While the crowd lined up all around the ESP demo room, these three great players couldnʼt have been cooler to everyone, and were happy to take photos and sign various items for everyone who made it inside.
After that, we had the pleasure of hosting Rob Caggiano and Frank Bello of Anthrax. Weʼd never done a NAMM signing with either of these guys before, and we can tell you: theyʼre every bit as cool as could have possibly hoped they would be. Scores of Anthrax fans lined up to get a chance to shake hands and take pics with these two monsters of metal, and they were very friendly to everyone who came by.
We ended the day with another powerful collection of musicians that included George Lynch, Michael Wilton (Queensrÿche), Pancho Tomaselli (War/PHILM), and Stephen Carpenter (Deftones). As usual, people lined up and waited patiently to get up to the table... itʼs very nice to see how cool ESP fans are to each other, with the common love of great guitars and great music binding them together. George, Whip, Pancho, and Stef were all their usual gracious selves, and we enjoyed having these great players together in one spot for the benefit of ESPʼs NAMM visitors.
Best NAMM Show Ever?
Itʼs hard to make judgements about something like NAMM, but we can say that it was one of the busiest NAMM shows in history, with well over 90,000 attendees packed into the Anaheim Convention Center. We can also say that between our new ESP/LTD Signature Series models and standard guitars and basses, we had one of our biggest single product introductions at any NAMM Show weʼve ever done. Finally, weʼd like to thank everyone that helped make NAMM 2012 a huge success for ESP...
NAMM 2012 Video: Part 1
NAMM 2012 Video: Part 2