A DAY AT NAMM 2015 WITH ANNETTE & NOWELL

By Annette Siegel (Living Tree Music)

(Ed. Annette and Nowell Siegel run Living Tree Music which specializes in fretted instruments. Nowell is a luthier.)

Bruce and Mary Weber NAMM 2015Our NAMM day started at one of our favorite exhibit halls “E”. The acoustics instruments tend to be in clusters here and the volume is usually a bit more tolerable. Nowell and I always like to check in with Bruce & Mary Weber even though they've sold their biz to the Two Old Hippies brand, they’re still involved with the instruments and continue to occupy the “old Schoolhouse” factory where Bruce used to make them in Montana. Weber instruments are now made in Bend, Oregon with their son (Bruce Weber, Jr.) overseeing the production end of things. Weber still offers quite a wide range of mandolins, mandolas, and octave mandolin types.


Weber Black AWeber instrumentsWeber Octave Mandolins


Our next visit was to National Resophonics.

Doug MacLeod NAMM Blues Nowell had recently worked on an older national and it got him talking with the National people. Here is a photo of their mandolin, which Roland Sturm likes to play in Irish sessions as it has a lot of volume. They also had a newer National tenor guitar. One of the many delights of NAMM are the musicians performing at various booths. I was lucky to record a bit of Blues played by Doug MacLeod and friend at the National booth. National Tenor Nat Mandolin

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A common thread we both noticed was a definite nod to “Vintage” instruments and strings.

It seems that a lot of the makers are creating vintage instruments that harken back to the golden age of instrument making (pre-WWII). Not only with some Weber’s but also Colling’s instruments, they had a new “white face” mandolin that resembles something Gibson did in 1919; the top was Adirondack spruce with back and sides curly maple though, not the birch sides and backs of the original (Gibson).


Collings white A full front

Collings White A


The strings makers were also having a vintage vibe. GHS has a cryogenic phosphor bronze Americana series for acoustic instruments this is new for 2015. The Cryogenic process is supposed to extend the life and enhance the tone. These strings are available for acoustic guitar, mandolin, banjo, pedal steel and resonator.

D’Addario has an Exp coated Acoustic strings now with “NY steel.” Steve Mucciolo was at the booth to explain about the NY Steel. He said it is proprietary high carbon steel they manufacture. “We invested in a wire mill, brought it back and vertically integrated it into our facility. This enabled us to really look at the process; what the input is and how it’s being drawn and engineered. On top of that it made the wire we call NY Steel. Our customers have overwhelming said that tuning stability was increased and that wasn’t even something we had thought of. We designed a test to check the stability of our plain steel strings and NY steel; it showed the NY Steel strings hold tune better.” These strings have a badge in the lower left hand corner indicating they have NY Steel in them.


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Our last stop was with Shubb and we were on the lookout for a capo that works with the Vintage Gibson mandolin flat fingerboards and thicker necks. Rick Shubb was there to lend his expertise about his capos. We ended up with their “Black Capo Noir.” However, he was also happy to make a “Custom capo” if needed. Do you know that Shubb has been in California since 1974!

So with tired feet and happy brains that’s a wrap on our Day at NAMM 2015.

Annette is one half of Living Tree Music & The Seagulls with her husband Nowell.  She also holds a “Day” job working for the Bob Hope Estate/Family for the last 18 years. Email: annette@livingtreemusic.com