Sadly, my heart was just not into NAMM this year, as we lost our eldest dog Auggie last Sunday (Facebook friends, thanks for your sympathies).

But I needed an excuse to get out of the house, and had a business meeting with the team building the new Timberline harp guitars, so made the trek.  It was a good day, especially after a surprise hook-up with pal Joe Morgan (who visited the show friend Chris Jenkins).


I only attended on Saturday, so missed Thursday’s special harp guitar concert with Travis Bowman, Muriel Anderson and Don Alder.  But I ran into all 3 on Saturday.  Don was at the Timberline booth (he’s endorsing them) and we had a good catch-up chat.

Before the crowds hit, I was able to check out the brand new upgrade (available in a couple months) – made from locally sourced Indonesian acacia with tamarind binding and arm bevel, gloss finish.  Beautiful looking and sounding. Price TBD, but under $2k!

Endorser Jamie Dupuis (it was his request almost 2 years ago that instigated the project), with the standard $999 model (with his own custom electronics).

At the Ernie Ball booth…the closest I could get to Andy McKee all day (not true, I caught him later at the Tonewood Amp booth).

The Museum of Making Music didn’t have their small exhibit space this year; instead, they ran a small concert stage.  Muriel had played the day before, and now at noon I caught Travis Bowman, our feature at HGG15 last October.  He played 6-string, his Dyer harp guitar, and also 1 Eagles tune on the Steve Klein harp guitar on loan from the Carlsbad exhibit.

After a quick hello to Travis, time to head upstairs to the newly laid out guitar area.  As luck would have it, Tim Bertsch was coming down the escalator.  As a passionate fellow Knutsen owner/player, I was anxious to give him a copy of the new all-Knutsen CD.

Upstairs, along the far wall was a new 6-builder “Luthiers Beyond Limits” exhibit.  Naturally, I found Steve Klein there.

Steve Klein & Tim Bertsch, with a new Jim Worland-built Klein electric.

Speaking of “no limits”…Michi Matsuda does it again!  His 3rd harp guitar (which sold during the weekend).

Yes, the first modern harp guitar with double course octave sub-basses!  It was only 4 weeks ago that I blogged about the newly discovered doubled-basses Knutsen harp guitars (which Michi had not seen) – and was wondering who would be first to try it.  It is, of course, a brilliant idea.

After experimenting with the two octaves on the same nut (same scale length), he decided that the higher octave strings sounded better when shorter…ergo his dramatically staggered – but still weight-balanced – tuner/nut array.  It was too noisy to demo, but with my ear against the arm I got a sense of the effect.  Now I’m anxious to really explore this!

In another nearby curtained off area, NAMM repeated their successful “Boutique Luthiers Showcase.”  There, I found new acoustics by former Kathy Wingert apprentice Isaac Jang, met Davide Serracini from Rome, who built that triple neck for (and gave me a CD of) Luca Stricagnoli that has been burning up YouTube.  There was just one harp guitar there, this sculptural electric by Canadian Mike Sankey (whom I didn’t meet – he posted his own photo, shown below).

It was good as always to run into other guitar friends (Rick Turner, Stan Werbin, Harry Fleishman, Calum Graham, Adam Werner, Adrian Bellue, to name a few).  But I was antsy to get home to Jaci and our now-“only child” Maezi.  With the preciousness and bittersweetness of life and death weighing on my mind, it was a delightful surprise that the last thing I spotted in the lobby on my way out was someone’s beautiful reproduction of the animated guitar from the recent Coco, a beautiful Pixar film touching on these very themes.  I was in tears at the end of that exquisite film, and here they come again…