Our first stop at NAMM is usually the Collings / Waterloo Guitars booth. It didn't disappoint. Waterloo unveiled their first archtops - the WL-AT - in both black and sunburst.
The Waterloo WL-AT in sunburst. From a distance it may look like a cheaper archtop from the first half of the 20th century, but it's an exquisite, carved top instrument. Julian Lage played this model at a booth demo and it sounded fantastic.
Gibson's new take on Johnny Winter’s 1964 Firebird V, crusty pickups and all.
Waterloo Guitars unveiled a pair of flattop mandolins.
In a nod to their past, Gibson had one of their old shipping ledgers on display.
A good omen: The Gibson booth actually had an Orville Gibson-built Gibson on display as an homage to the company's deep roots.
One of the big pleasant surprises of NAMM was the improved finish work on Gibson's electrics.
Gibson's new 1964 ES-330 VOS.
Kepma Guitar Co. is a newer acoustic brand, at least for us in North America. In Asia, the China-based company has been selling over 20,000 guitars a month. The demo video they had rolling at their stand promoted all the technology and automation that goes into these guitars, from the first wood cuts to the final PLEK job.
One of the wilder innovations found on Kepma guitars: Their AcoustiFex Go system. This soundhole-based pickup also boasts a delay and chorus effect that can be heard with no extra amplification.
The Kepma AcoustiFex Go system as a standalone unit, installable on any guitar.
Luthier Mike Baranik is best known for his exquisite acoustic guitars but at this NAMM's Boutique Guitar Showcase, he also had this offset electric, a nod to the music he plays in surf bands.
Scott Walker had five instruments on display at his booth in the Boutique Guitar Showcase, all made from sinker redwood.
One of the highlights of NAMM weekend was attending the annual gathering of guitar (and Mexican food) nuts known as Guitaco. Curated by Mason Stoops, this year's event included guests Adam Levy, Rich Hinman, Molly Miller, Ariel Posen, Adam Miller and Charlie Hunter, to name a few.
Fretboard Journal contributor Brian Ebin Parker Wolfe holding the new issue of the FJ. We have a lengthy feature on Wolfe's obsessions with the guitars of Nick Drake in this edition and learned so much from his research.
As always, Dana Bourgeois brought out some incredible acoustic guitars for this year's NAMM. There was a bit of a enlarged soundhole (a la Tony Rice / Clarence White) theme going on, too.
FJ favorite Isaac Jang had two acoustics on display at the NAMM Boutique Guitar Showcase. Jang told us he recently closed his wait list while he works to catch up on five-plus years orders.
Martin always has some incredible presentation-grade guitars on display alongside their workhorse instruments. This Martin D True Love guitar is a collaboration with the Sailor Jerry brand.
There's no shortage of colorful characters at NAMM. Here, Pat Quilter of Quilter amps holds court at his booth with his Fender double-neck lap steel.
Fender's Alternate Reality Tenor Telecaster. This guitar will be made in Mexico with a price of around $500, making it one of the more affordable electric tenor guitars around.
Fender's various custom shop creations.
Most of us think of Jimmy Page as a Les Paul player but during his Yardbirds days and on the first Led Zeppelin album, he was using a Telecaster. Page and Fender teamed up on four new signature model guitars this year, including this Jimmy Page Mirrored Telecaster.
Fender's other big release for NAMM 2019 was the Acoustasonic Telecaster. Plugged in, this instrument has a wide range of sounds - from pure Tele to acoustic guitar tones - thanks to its onboard Fishman-designed "Acoustic Engine."
Another legend at the Boutique Guitar Showcase booth was Steve Klein. For this show, he unveiled a new collaboration guitar he built with input from Larry Wexer, based on a smaller, OM-ish shape.
Under glass, Santa Cruz Guitar Co. had an acoustic featuring 45,000 year old Ancient Kauri wood.
At any guitar - NAMM or otherwise - the wood vendors seem to do brisk business selling to luthiers old and new.
Solid Ground Stands had an impressive display at NAMM.
Beard Guitars at NAMM.
The exquisite guitars of Kevin Ryan. Photograph by Kevin Kinnear.
Legendary guitarmaker Roger Sadowsky. Photo by Kevin Kinnear.