Well said. The custom makers have a passion generally not found with the majors despite their hype. So many have come and gone, even really great makers of fine instruments. That's a shame. The custom and DIY movement had a lot of influence on the majors and what they had to bring to the table to stay current. It'd sad how things have dwindled down to dollars. Perhaps that is a sign of the times for most manufacturing today.Larry, keep in mind that The NAMM Show is (ostensibly) a trade show, not a retail event. The primary purpose, even though plenty of the public actually gets in to see it, is for manufacturers, distributors, and retailers to get together and conduct trade. So the actual sound of the demo instruments is secondary to the appearance, marketability, and pricing structures of them. Frankly, this is one of the troubling sides of the music instrument industry, but to be honest it's no different from automobiles, electronic gadgets, home furnishings, etc., etc., in that regard. Mass production, mass marketing, and mass consumption lead to all the attention on curb appeal and price, and very little on longevity, performance, craftsmanship, or other indications of substance.
There are a few outcomes of this mindset. One is that preference is given to things that sell quickly on the retail floor, that provide fast turnover of investment without too much actual exploration of details. Another is the ongoing "race to zero" for how inexpensively a product can be made and marketed -- clearly seen in the extremely low-end (in all senses of the term) lines being offered by almost every major brand. And a third is the practice of innovation for innovation's sake, focusing on what's new and different for each year -- which produces not only planned obsolescence but also an awful lot of solutions for non-existent problems, and very few significant improvements overall.
Sorry if this sounds like a rant, but it disturbs me that so much of the music instrument industry is focused on churning the dollars instead of advancing the actual quality of the products. The fact that exhibitors didn't bother to tune their instruments well is just an indicator of the priorities in play.