The Biggest Metal Moments of NAMM 2014

- Victor Wooten doing a Hartke demo at Samson Technologies--Wooten has won five Grammys and was hailed as one of the Top 10 Bassists of All Time by Rolling Stone.

- Dave Ellefson from Megadeth at the Jackson booth, where some of his signature bases were on display.

- Saul Zonana, former sideman bassist for Ace Frehley of Kiss shredding at the Bitchstraps booth.

- Paul Reed Smith Guitars Show & Tell: Evolution of the PRS Custom 24 hosted by Paul Reed Smith himself.

Lauren Wise
New Dimebag Darrell Dean guitar, top

And this blog wouldn't be complete with without mentioning the introduction of the new Dimebag Darrell model from Dean Guitars.

Created by Dean in collaboration with Dimebag Darrell's estate, the guitar is limited to only 200 individually numbered pieces--and with good reason. Each features an oak razor blade inlayed directly into its body, which was cut from a branch of an oak tree just outside the studio window in Darrell's back yard where Pantera recorded most of their albums.

The booth signings are with things can really get crazy, especially when Synyster Gates and Johnny Christ from Avenged Sevenfold stopped in at the Schecter Guitars booth. The lines for signings like this one stretched for hours.

Lauren Wise
Lace Pickups comical sign

NAMM is also known for some kick-ass live concerts after the convention center closes down, and I think one of the hardest decisions is what show to attend. There was Black Label Society, a tribute to Randy Rhoads, Queensryche, and a super secret show (which I would've gone to if I had tickets) that featured Alice Cooper, Johnny Depp, Marilyn Manson and Steven Tyler all on stage singing such jams as "Come Together" by the Beatles. Yeah. And it took place on a high school campus.

We ended up at the House of Blues in Anaheim to watch Queensryche. The hot air was heavy with vibrating energy, and the crowd was a mix of LA hipsters, some famous musicians (I swear I spotted Joey Jordison in the crowd), and a lot of drunk people -- most of them in the 30s to 40s age0range. I've only seen Queensryche once before, but it was clear that everyone around me in the crowd, including the people I was with, had seen them each about 10 times.

Everywhere you turned you could hear arguments floating through the air about who was better or worse: original front man, Geoff Tate,with the band for three decades, or Todd La Torre, who came on board in 2012.

Either way, I thought La Torre did a fantastic job. The band was tight, on cue, and in love with the crowd -- and vice versa. The crowd was singing along, and the cheers were deafening. Awash in purple, red and tangerine lights, the band surged through such hits as "Speak," "The Whisper," "The Needle Lies," and "Eyes of a Stranger." Almost 20 songs later La Torre had soaked the front row with his constant sweat-drench hair flipping, and he shouted thank you before walking off stage.

Short of the two chicks who got into a fist fight right before the band came on stage, and the puke-saturated bathroom, I'd say it was quite the successful show.

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