"I'm freaking out," said Mike Miltimore, founder of Riversong Guitars in British Columbia. Miltimore's business card also bills him as 'Passion Igniter,' and with his incandescent grin it is easy to see why. Miltimore brought his patent-pending guitar design to the show for the first time, unsure if he would meet his goals of finding more international distribution. "At the show, we've seen big-time interest from countries I did not even know existed," he said. "I also wanted to connect with my current dealers, and NAMM is the place to do that." Serenely regarding the brisk business at his booth and his smiling, upbeat crew, Miltimore seemed satisfied. "This is beyond my wildest expectations," he said.New exhibitors accounted for 20 percent of the exhibiting companies this year, with another 118 companies returning to NAMM after a year or more off . The increase is a subtle indicator that the music products industry is stealthily creeping back onto terra firma. Not so subtle is the vibrant, positive feeling among new exhibitors, some of whom are at NAMM because they felt the time was right to expand their businesses and gather input from the music-making world. "We came to NAMM to network, to meet new retailers, and to get reaction from the music professionals out there," said Helen Georgopoulos, director of sales and marketing for Wave DNA of Toronto. Her company develops a drum- and beat-creation software instrument designed for music producers, remix artists and songwriters. "We've hit every one of those goals. People see the demo and they immediately get the value and the uniqueness of what our product offers. Music and merchants. That's NAMM." Buyers make a point to find new products at the show. "Coming to NAMM is my mental catalog for the rest of the year," said Clark Baker, owner of Clark Baker Music in El Centro, CA. "I always walk every row and see everything I can because you never know. You could be out there, and Wow! That's a new thing! I'm so glad I saw that."