Q&A: ESP at the 2020 NAMM Show

In just a couple of days, the 2020 NAMM Show gets underway. Every year, we get a lot of questions from people who are interested in what we're doing at NAMM, as well as wanting to know details about the new guitars we're announcing. Here's a one-stop guide that should provide some answers to everything on your mind... at least about what we're doing at NAMM. For other answers to the many mysteries of life, you're on your own.


The NAMM Show

When is NAMM?
This year's NAMM Show runs from Thursday January 16 to Sunday January 19, 2020.

What is NAMM?
NAMM is a trade organization for the music and audio products industries. A couple times per year, they are the hosts of a large trade show called The NAMM Show where nearly every manufacturer of musical instruments, live sound products, recording gear, and related tools for creating and performing music set up exhibits where visitors can come see what they make.

Where is NAMM?
The Winter NAMM Show is held at the Anaheim Convention Center in lovely Anaheim, CA. It's basically next door to Disneyland.

How is NAMM?
NAMM is pretty crazy. It can be pretty crowded and noisy and generally intense, for obvious reasons. The ESP staff, and that of most companies exhibiting there, are tremendously busy, and there's a lot to accomplish in a short time frame. If you're coming to the show, we still welcome you to come by the booth and talk us to get your questions answered about our guitars and basses!

Why is NAMM?
Simply put, it's good to get together face-to-face with people every once in awhile. Even in this age of social media and mobile communications and all that, NAMM is pretty cool from the aspect of being able to see these music products in person, and meet the people who help create them.

Can I go to NAMM?
The answer is probably "no". NAMM attendance is limited to people who work in the industry in some capacity, along with a limited number of guests. The official statement from the NAMM organization is as follows: "Attendance at NAMM trade shows is restricted to owners, suppliers, employees, endorsed artists and guests of NAMM member companies. NAMM's membership is comprised of companies that make, buy and/or sell musical instruments and products."

Can I just borrow my friend's badge for NAMM and get in?
That's a big "no". Every person entering the convention center for NAMM has to have a photo ID that matches the name on the badge. With the number of people attending, it's important that NAMM be held in an environment that is safe and secure as possible.

If I'm going to NAMM, how do I find ESP?
For the past 10+ years, ESP's NAMM booth is in a great location. It's upstairs on level 2 of the convention center. Take one of the escalators up from the main lobby and you'll find us pretty easily. This year, as has been the case for the past several years, we're in NAMM Booth 208A/B along with our US distribution friends Takamine Guitars.

What are "NAMM Hands"?
"NAMM Hands" is a phenomenon that occurs when you get up to demonstrate or perform on an instrument in front of a group of people at NAMM, and it suddenly occurs to you that everyone around you is a musician, and that more than half of them think they are a better player than you, and then your left hand turns into a block of concrete and your right hand turns into a misshapen hook, and you forget everything you ever knew about how to play. We hope you never experience this. It's horrifying.

What is "NAMMThrax"?
When you put 100,000 people from around the world into a crowded area for multiple days, chances are that some of them are going to bringing germs along with them, and sometime during or directly after the show, you get sick. Our advice: wash your hands a lot. Don't kiss random strangers. Perhaps consider sealing yourself inside some kind of bubble. But definitely wash those hands in any case.


The ESP Booth at NAMM

Who is performing or doing artist signings at the ESP booth?
No one. We stopped having artist performances, meet-and-greets, and signing sessions at the ESP booth a few years ago, and it turned out to be one of the best decisions in regard to NAMM we ever made. Look, we love being able to put on free shows for NAMM attendees, and we understand that everyone loves seeing their favorite artists in the intimate environment of a trade show booth. But the purpose of NAMM is for us to do business with our dealers and distributors, and quite often, the folks who are at NAMM to do their job were unable to do so with our booth being packed with people who were only there for a live music performance, or to get something signed.

Instead, the stars of the ESP booth are now the guitars and basses we make. Not having the booth packed full of people gives NAMM attendees the chance to really get to know our new instruments without getting pushed and shoved around like they were in a mosh pit (or not being able to get into the booth at all due to long lines and so on). It's just a much better environment to do business, and for visitors to check out guitars and basses.

Okay, so what is going on at the ESP booth?
In addition to our team showing off the full lineup of our guitars and basses, we spend time at NAMM doing interviews with the ESP artists who are attending the show, which we grab on video and post during and after the show. We also do videos to showcase many of our new products, and these also get posted ASAP during NAMM and the days following. You'll be able to see most of these as they get finished and uploaded to the ESP site's front page. If like most people, you're not attending the show, you'll still be able to check out these interviews and product videos almost as soon as they happen. If you are coming to NAMM, by all means, do come visit the booth, say hi to us, check out the guitars and basses, and hang out while we do our thing. 

Will (name of favorite guitar player) be there? What day and time will they be there? Will they sign my (guitar/album/poster/body part)?
We genuinely don't know. We have a few people loosely scheduled for interviews, but many others will be coming by the ESP booth whenever they can. As always, our advice is to be polite to musicians and perhaps they might be happy to chat with you and so on. No guarantees, though... that's between them and you. 

Does every ESP artist come to the NAMM Show?
No, definitely not. Some musicians are busy touring or recording. Others live in different parts of the world and go to events that happen in Europe or Asia or wherever they live instead of going to NAMM. Others just aren't into being in a crowded convention center, and we can't blame them.


New Guitars and Basses

We saw the three phases of "New for 2020" previews. Will there be more guitars announced at NAMM?
Yes. In addition to the dozens of new LTD and LTD Deluxe models we've already previewed, we will have a number of new ESP USA, ESP Original Series, and special ESP Exhibition Series models at the show, as we always do.

What about new E-II models?
Yes. Since E-II guitars and basses are available in smaller quantities than our LTD guitars, we've held back on making announcements of new models for now, as we continue to fulfill the overwhelmingly successful E-II models we launched in 2019. However, we do have plans for new E-II models later in 2020. Keep in mind that the NAMM Show isn't the only time during the year when we announce new products!  

Will any of the new models be available in left-handed versions?
Yes, of course. ESP offers one of the widest ranges of left-handed guitars of any instrument manufacturer. Not every guitar or bass can be made in lefty versions, but we will be announcing which ones will be available at some point in the near future.

When will the "New for 2020" models be available to purchase?
Some are already shipping to ESP dealers in the USA and ESP distributors around the world, and are literally available right now. Others will be coming in over the next few months. At the NAMM Show, we'll be able to communicate the schedule of availability to our dealers and distributors, and starting next week, you should be able to get in touch with them for this information.

Why can't you just tell us now?
Because ESP is a global company and different products might be available at different times, depending on where you live and where you buy guitars and basses. We don't want to give you incorrect information, so check with your ESP dealer after the show.

Why do you discontinue certain models each year?
Because we only carry a number of different guitars and basses that we can properly offer the level of quality and service that ESP is known for around the world. Also, we only have so much room in our warehouse to physically stock all the instruments we sell, and when new models come in, some just have to go. Note: just because we discontinue a model doesn't make it a bad guitar or bass! It just means we don't currently offer that model. Sometimes, discontinued models find their way back into our offerings based on popular demand.

Are complete specifications available on the new models?
Yes! On the morning of Thursday January 16 -- the first day of NAMM -- our site is being updated with all the details of the new guitars and basses.

How much does my favorite new model cost?
As of Thursday, customers in the USA will be able to see the retail prices of the new models on the ESP site. Outside the USA, just get in touch with your local ESP dealer or distributor sometime after NAMM for pricing information.

Can I get this new LTD model in some other finish, or with different pickups?
No. We do our best to offer a great variety of colors/finishes, and we very carefully choose pickups that best align with the sonic vibe that most of our customers request of us. If you want to personalize your guitar with a much wider variety of color/finish and hardware options, please try out our ESP USA Configurator. For a completely customized guitar or bass that's built to your original design, the ESP Custom Shop in Japan will be happy to help you create the instrument of your dreams!

How can I best keep up with information about ESP guitars and basses throughout the year?
Join the ESP All Access community. It's free, and by joining, you will receive our email newsletter, and get info on things like local ESP clinics and events. ESP All Access members also get special discounts on clothing/accessory merchandise, and are eligible to participate in all of our contests and sweepstakes. Join today!

Comments
Karl K.

My friend told that the event was very successful and in fact, he picked some nice guitars for his business brokering business.

Tsuin I.

I can't wait to see what new left handed models . I would love the viper, more of the black metal series, and 7/8 strings, but it's no biggie. I'm very much considering looking into getting a Custom shop and USA model done .

Matthew S.

I can't wait until the fade-finished burl-topped super strat fad dies in a dumpster fire so that we can have more EX models.