Last weekend saw me venture up to Birmingham in the pursuit of new music equipment at the Great British Guitar Show. The ‘Great British Guitar Show’ has been running and expanding for a few years now and thankfully fills the hole that ‘Music Live’ left (does anyone remember how huge those Birmingham NEC shows were, awesome). Thankfully 2015 saw the return of the big names peddling their latest wears including Fender (inc. Charvel, Grestch & Jackson), Blackstar, Marshall, Orange Amps and PRS. These guys had to compete alongside some great independent stores with anything from pre-loved vintage gear to shiny new-stock.
2015 Highlights included:
- Fender / Hard Rock Cafe bringing out a Jeff Beck Esquire and a Duane Allman Stratocaster. Both guitars were heavily road worn and had the mystique you’d expect. I’m still not sure how I feel about guitars in glass cases never being played but I suppose they are museum pieces. I really need to visit the Hard Rock Cafe London vaults.
Jeff Beck’s Esquire
- Seeing a performance by acclaimed guitarist Ron ‘Bumblefoot’ Thal was inspiring. He was playing on behalf of Vigier Guitars with his beautiful signature double-neck which included one fretless neck. His playing had the accuracy and control you’d expect but still had enough character to draw you in. It reminded a little me of Steve Vai in terms of feel and unsurprisingly of Guthurie Govan in musical style. The vocal tone of his fretless work was excellent and the best example of this instrument I’ve seen so far. I was impressed by how entertaining his performance and anecdotes were, he has an almost Zappa-esque sense of humour in his approach to music. In the coming weeks I’m go to have a go at implementing some of his approach to my playing as it went beyond playing the fretboard and instead focusing on the string. Genius.
Other stand-out stalls included Tanglewood acoustics that once again impressed with a range of well finished acoustics with solid tops for great prices. I was tempted to get a new acoustic but didn’t quite have the cash although I did pick-up a solid top Ukulele that I’ll do a ‘New Gear Day’ article on later this week. Many of the high end builders were there including Patrick Eggle, PRS, James Tyler, Suhr and the aforementioned Vigier. Despite how much I admire the beauty and quality of these instruments I’ve always felt that an instrument that ornate wouldn’t suit me, anyone else feel that? A few second-hand offerings had me wishing I’m sold some excess gear including a Guild Starfire (£795), Hohner TE Custom (£300), 07′ Gibson SG Standard (£795) and a 71′ Fender Musicmaster (£599).
On that note I should start saving some cash for the next show.