Each year the summer NAMM show rolls into Music City like a traveling circus, but the calls of the barkers are replaced by the howl of six-strings plugged into overworked amps and the silverback gorillas are the major players in the music instrument business, including Gibson.

This year’s NAMM offers plenty of cool new gear like Gibson’s Jason Hook Signature Model Explorer, which comes with a bunch of compelling hot-rod features, and some of the most interesting items can also be found in the small booths, where boutique pedal and amp makers showcase their wares, and entrepreneurs are exhibiting innovations in items most guitarists take for granted, like capos.

Although the first two days, July 11 and 12, are open exclusively to badge holders — dealers, exhibitors, endorsers who provide demonstrations, and other industry types — Saturday, July 13, is open to the general public for a $20 entry fee.

Here’s a rundown of some Gibson products that stood out during the first day.

Diversity rules at this year’s Gibson booth, with examples from all of the company’s product lines. The recording business is represented by the Tascam DR-40 hand-held multi-track recorder — a jewel for on-the-go recording — and the self-contained DP-32 32-channel desktop unit. Cool turntables from the DJ-centric Stanton brand are on display alongside a pair of KRK studio monitors and Cerwin Vega! speakers — all part of Gibson’s pro-audio family.

Tascam DP-32 specs

And, of course, Gibson guitars including the Les Paul Standard, SG, ES-335 and brand-new 1934 Original Jumbo acoustic are available for picking.

Gibson Jumbo

A hot-off-the-workbench new Epiphone acoustic without an official designation — but with angelic tones — is on preview, but the star is the Jason Hook Signature M-4 Sherman Explorer, which is being built in a limited run of 400. The Sherman sports a modified forearm bevel and extended cutaway for easy access, plus Sherman tank inspired graphics and a distinctively routing containing a PVC tube that hold the toggle wiring. A magnificent beast.

Gibson Jason Hook Sherman NAMM

Workshops on set-up and other basics are being given at the Gibson both, and several times each day players are given a chance to “Beat the Robot” — to see if they can tune a guitar faster than the company’s proprietary mini-tuners. The prize offered is a new guitar, but as Isaac Asimov explained, it’s ain’t easy to beat a robot.

Gibson CEO Henry Juszkiewicz was on hand on Thursday as part of a panel discussion — also featuring country star Vince Gill — for retailers on the current state of the musical instrument business, sharing insight gained through experience.

NAMM 2013 Gibson CEO Henry Juszkiewicz