NAMM: my top tips for surviving and thriving at the worlds greatest music show


Number one tip:

Wash your hands, wash your hands, wash your hands! 

Also, If you already have the lurgy, (aka NAMMTHRAX) have some tissues, throw them away after use, wash your hands and don't shake people's hands, don't cough on people.

Transport to and from NAMM.

If you are flying in to LAX, be prepared for the migration process. Act normally, follow the guidance, get yourself scanned. You will need your landing card as well if not a US citizen.  Don't forget any Visa, Visa waivers, passport.  I have been through and it's taken anywhere from 40 minutes to 3 hours to get through. (yes I lost my luggage as well) . Tip here is make sure you have some spare stuff in your hand luggage.

After passport check, pick up luggage and head for customs control, again there are likely to be queues here as well. Then it's off to Anaheim if that is where your headed.

  • Bus is cheapest
  • Uber Ola, not you have to go off site by bus to get these now, Share if you can
  • Taxi. Share if you can to reduce the costs!


  • There are a lot of people at NAMM
  • There are a lot of booths at NAMM
  • There are a lot of halls at NAMM

You will not see it all! So be nice and gracious to those you meet. There are people from all over the world who are there doing their job, it's not a holiday (although it might feel like it at times). The most important aspect of NAMM is to market and sell products, with some education on the side.

You might be a musician, this is a great opportunity to network with companies you use. If that is the case, you need a plan, some business cards etc, resume, etc  particularly if your looking for an endorsement, but remember the number one driver is marketing and selling gear, so if you don't have a significant following don't expect anything to come of it. Educate yourself  as there are also some great free education sessions that you can take advantage of.

Note , you won't be able to buy guitars at the show but you may be able to place orders. You can't take guitars in or out of the show unless you are a product demonstrator, and this is shown on your NAMM pass. Only people working on the booths will be allowed in before 10:00 AM, again this is shown on a NAMM pass to. Media passes are normally allowed into the foyer, 30 minutes before opening, but you can only go to the booths from 10:00 AM. There is a media area in the basement with good network and refreshments (although these run out quickly, but usually a good place for water, providing you have a media pass)

If you are a demonstrator, be professional, be on time, make time to check the location of the gig, get there on time to check your performance requirements. The company is also likely to have a storage area for your gear. Remember that you may not be able to hear your backing track, so rehearse a lot. Sound police patrol and can close down a booth and BAN a company from future NAMM shows. If you want respect and repeat visits to NAMM, do your job well and you'll be invited back. Your booth may also be making media  broadcasting live at the show. Note these as they will be good promo for you post show. (remember to add this to your curriculum vitae!)

Visitors, be aware of your surroundings. Let the demonstrator set up, it's not normally a good time for selfies as they are working with the company to prepare the demonstration. Don't block the isles. Take note that people with media passes are also doing a job creating content for companies, so don't get in their way. Again the prime objective of NAMM is marketing and selling gear, not your amusement. However both can be achieved with a little care and courtesy.

Visitors will note that there will be signing sessions by well known artists, these tend to have long queues and will consume time from seeing product demos. But you are likely to get a selfie with the artist if you take your time and wait nicely.

The NAMM pass

Get you pass on the Wednesday if you can. You will need your passport. Keep your passport secure, you will need this as proof and to get back on that aeroplane again. (US citizen probably use driving licence + photo ID).

Make sure you secure your  NAMM pass, as it can cost $100 for a replacement. So check the fastening and keep an eye on it when your walking around.


Chances are if you don't plan your visit you will miss the things and people you want to see. A plan will provide you better chance of meeting your goals. I use the NAMM app for this. it has all the locations and many of the product demo times.Remember that other people will have planned their and may not have time for an impromptu photo session/selfie as they will be on their way to the next demonstration. The place is VERY large, if you see people moving at speed, they usually have a plan. So don't be surprised if their time is limited. Fist bump and quick selfie might be the order of the day.


I recommend taking twice daily changes of clothes, shoes and using the shower a number of times a day. I also take multiple pairs of walking shoes. If you are a female musician, suggest taking stage shoes for the photo opportunities in a spare bag. Note to all,sundown is 5:15pm so it will be dark when you leave the show, so it might be colder than anticipated. So what might be great for the sunny warm day, might leave you cold at night.

Bars in the hotels near the show are expensive but this is as to be expected.  If cash is tight, use a 7-11 they will sell alcohol, but I think you have to be 21 and be able to prove it. Remember to drink plenty of water!

There are lots of places to eat around the show use you google maps to locate. Much is in walking distance, but remember you might have walked many miles during the day.

During the day

I use Uber/Ola to get to and from the NAMM show. Share if you can to reduce your costs. There will be lots of cars, and even with the wide roads, traffic can be a nightmare. There is a lot of parking but it tends to be expensive.

Note any bags you take will be inspected by security guards on the way in and way out of the show. There are places to put coats(but I've never used them).

Some items to remember

  • Water
  • Cash for food
  • Comfortable shoes, you will walk miles
  • Alcohol wipes/hand wash (fist bump rather than handshake), please, always wash your hands.
  • Take ear plugs, some locations can be loud.
  • If you like chewing gum, buy it outside the show, they don't sell it inside.
  • Snack bar in case you get hungry and forgot your cash.
  • NAMM app to navigate you around the show.
  • Agenda in other format if NAMM app fails.
  • Wifi at NAMM can be poor.
  • So use 4G/5G if you have it(paid in advance, some people also buy a local SIM to get this access, the signal tends to be good in the building.)
  • Spare phone battery for longer disconnected use.
  • US to USB charger for you phone (purchase in 7-11 outside), there are some points where you can charge your phone.

Media guy?

  • Spare camera batteries
  • Lens Brushes
  • Additional phone battery if you taking video/ photos
  • Microphone, test it is working.
  • Test power to camera/video before you set off for NAMM.
  • Know that when your taking video, background noise can high. You might need to point the microphone towards the amp. Directional microphone will be better.
  • Make sure you don't get in the way of a  professional media guys who is creating content for the product.

The first real day is Thursday, so use this day to locate the booths that you want to visit. Great if you can memorise the locations in your head. Foot traffic is lighter on this day. Note where the WC locations are.  The higher floors are he bigger companies, they will have larger product presentation areas and possibly sounded stages for product demos. If your trying to create content at these locations, make sure you give yourself plenty of time to set up as the locations are sure to be popular for media outlets and visitors alike. Remember that there are many product demonstrations going on in parallel, so you can't see them all. So plan your show!

Note some elevators will be queued to limit the number of people using them this might delay you to your next product demonstration, so plan ahead and allow yourself time. Try and remember where the booths are, particularly their proximity.

In the evening

Remember to that when you buy something, the price shown is before tax, they then add on local and state taxes. There will also be plenty of bedroom jams, but don't be surprised if old guys like me fall asleep during the hottest of jam sessions!

There are a lot of free shows in NAMM, or in the local area. Some of the shows will require tickets so look out for them, listen to your network for opportunities. You might have to queue for entry. There are also some great shows where you will have to buy a ticket. These will feature great players, that won't often play together. Tickets for these shows are already available, like xjamm at M3 just down the road.

IMHO avoid too much alcohol etc, drink plenty of water to stay hydrated. Go out to eat with your friends. Don't jay walk. The roads are wide, so please use the traffic lights. Take care of yourself, I'd like to meet you at the next NAMM, because I missed you at this NAMM.

Next thing you know, it's all over and you will be flying home...  Have  a good trip home