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PCBD-Feb2016

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56 The PCB Design Magazine • February 2016 Not Your Granddad's Guitar by Dick Crowe BURKLe USA The National Association of Music Mer- chants (NAMM) held its biannual show in Ana- heim in January. PCB Design007 Editor Andy Shaughnessy, columnist Dan Feinberg and I at- tended this huge event to review the ever-in- creasing role electronics is playing in the world of musical instruments. It seems as if every in- strument has a circuit board now. Musicians have been using amplification sys- tems for decades. Early guitar amps were used by lap steel guitarists who capitalized on the popu- larity of Hawaiian music in the '30s and '40s. Today's electric guitars and amps have come a long way technologically, but many guitarists still prefer the sound of vacuum tubes over solid state circuitry. Les Paul and Leo Fender would be proud to see all of the new companies that honor their heritage and contributions. First, the show itself. Entering the show floor at the Anaheim Convention Center, we were greeted with a cacophony of sound so loud that Floor Noise patrols walked around with Db me- ters kept trying to tone the booth noise down. But that is hard when you hear drums, clarinets, trumpets, trombones, synthesizers, electric gui- tars and all sorts of other instruments compet- ing for attention all at once, and all day long. Exhibitor booths filled the hall with live perfor- mances showcasing their particular products. For musicians like us, this was Toy Land. And even after visiting NAMM for the past five years, I still love coming here. It never gets old. NAMM is a trade show, and not open to the general public. That does not diminish the size of the crowds; attendance was expected to be over 100,000. The show brings people of all types and appearances, many too bizarre to describe in this article. Suffice it to say that my dress and coiffed hair were the exception to the rule. I walked around the show on Thursday scop- ing out the manufacturers that we wanted to visit. We selected three companies, but frankly one would need a week to visit and speak with many other exhibitors. Friday was spent look- ing at instruments and interviewing manufac- turers. We tried to speak specifically with those involved in either designing or specifying elec- NAMM 2016 Review by Dick Crowe and Dan Feinberg special section

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