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Birmingham's The Guitar Show Highlights

AC GuitarsAdrian ThorpeAlan CringeanAlex ErnandezAlex MillarAlexander MillarAnasoundsAudio Distribution GroupBen CroweBig Muff Style FuzzBossBruce DavidsonChapman GuitarsCrimson GuitarsD'AddarioDistortionDriveFilling DistributionFredric EffectsFuzzFuzz Face Style FuzzFuzz-Drive and FuzzstortionGeorgia ThorpeGermanium FuzzGreuter AudioGuitar Gear ResourcesGuitar Gear RetailGuitarsHeadless GuitarsJennings GuitarsLP-Style and Single-Cut GuitarsMansons GuitarsMatt KnightMick TaylorMike PayneMikey DemusMillimetric GuitarsMythos PedalsOffset GuitarsOld Blood Noise EndeavorsOrange AmplificationRabea MassaadRedbeard EffectsReiver GuitarsRob ChapmanRob Williams GuitarsSacha GreuterSilicon FuzzSkindredS-Style and Double-Cut GuitarsStone Wolf GuitarsStuart TateTate FXThe Guitar ShowThorpyFXTim WebsterTone Bender Style FuzzToskaT-Style GuitarsUnique-Shaped GuitarsZach BroylesZander Circuitry+-
2020GPXMikeyDemus700.jpg

For me, this turned out to be the best The Guitar Show yet - where I pretty much managed to round off all my pre-show goals - in terms of seeing what and whom I wanted to / needed - as per the following highlights. I caught 2 great lunchtime showcases - first by Mikey Demus of Skindred / Redbeard Effects fame and then Rabea Massaad of Andertons, Chapman, Dorje, Toska, etc. fame - and D’Addario as it turned out - albeit people were really just there to see Bea play.

 

I must have circled the various aisles of the show floor dozens of times in waiting for my turn to talk to the notables at the show. I had quite a few mini missions at the show which all worked out well, and I was there right from opening through to 5 o’clock with no breaks for anything all day.

 

As it was there wasn’t much new new gear specifically at this show which I wasn’t already aware of - it was just framed for me in a more immediate and impacting fashion as will be revealed :


Mikey Demus - Redbeard Effects Showcase

I've been long aware of Mikey Demus and his band Skindred - while this was the first occasion I've encountered him in the flesh as such. I have raved about the Redbeard Effects Red Mist MKIV collaboration with Adrian Thorpe - which distortion pedal went straight onto my board - and while encouraging listening to a lot more Skindred than I had previously had - I came to realise that I really loved this particular style of punchy percussive Riff-Rock / Dub Metal - and Mikey's guitar tone throughout in particular.

 

Although not implicitly conveyed, the Red Mist Distortion carries that same sort of punchy / percussive Orange Rockerverb 100 saturated grind - which is of course Mikey's signature amp / sound. The showcase was super loud and really demanded ear protection - but it was all really articulate and just sounded fantastic. I had my noise canceling headphones on and had to apply them a few times to prevent later ringing of ears - which actually worked very well.

 

Mikey demo'd both the previous Red Mist and new release Honey Badger Sub-Octave Fuzz pedal across 3 recent Skindred tracks - if memory serves me - the first 3 tracks off the most recent Big Tings album - Big Tings (as above), then That's My Jam, and Machine.

 

I'm not always a fan of Tele-style guitars - but something about the incredible sound and the whole vibe of the performance sort of made me fall slightly for the Mikey's signature Manson MD-2 guitar too. The Red Mist is already in heavy circulation for me - and I'm waiting for my Honey Badger to land - they both sounded superb throughout the showcase. The Manson guitar is around £1,500 which is right in my sweetspot too. I've already determined my next most likely guitar is the EOB Strat - but I could be persuaded to go for the Manson first!


Rabea Massaad - D'Addario Showcase

Rabea Massaad - D'Addario Showcase

This was another great little showcase with Bea playing some classic Toska tracks with a significantly Boss pedals featured pedalboard assembled by Matt Knight no less - and using his own signature ML3 Bea Pro Chapman Guitar of course - through his signature Victory Kraken Amp. A slightly more expansive sound than Mikey Demus' earlier set - yet not nearly as loud and raucous as the previous Skindred material.

 

For the latter half of the set Bea was joined by Toska bandmate bassist Dave Hollingworth for a quite superb rendition of their classic Prayermonger track. A proper 10 minute Prog romp. The queue was so big for this showcase that it snaked entirely back on its whole length and I feel not everyone managed to get inside the marquee tent in the end. The Live Rock Circus Marquee was cleared after each performance to allow for proper setup and warm-up in between - I much preferred the seated auditorium of the UK/London Islington Guitar Show - but the content here was great - and the stage graphics were cool.

 

I found the D'Addario angle a little odd here as apart from a brief mention of brand loyalty at the start of the set there was no reference to string usage or dynamics throughout the showcase. Rabea favours the same NYXL strings as me - but the showcase should really have been more properly called 'an introduction to Toska!' I'm a huge fan of Bea's playing and versatility - yet it was the previous Mikey Demus Redbeard Effects showcase which somehow resonated more with me throughout the day. Mikey has a real knack for monster riffs - and that's practically how I jam myself - just a series of great sounding punchy riffs!


Buce Davidson at Audio Distribution Group - OBNE Expression Slider

Buce Davidson at Audio Distribution Group - OBNE Expression Slider

The very first thing I did at the show was to track down the Audio Distribution Group (ADG) booth. I have been interested in acquiring an OBNE Expression Slider for a long time - but it has been pretty much unobtanium in Europe. A combination of product demand in the USA and logistical issues related to the pedal's pricing. All that has been resolved now and these will be more readily available in Europe / UK from around late March onwards.

 

In any case I contacted ADG before the show and asked them to bring an Expression Slider for me - which was duly arranged by Steve Russell and handed over by Bruce Davidsson at the show for a very reasonable show special rate. When they arrive at dealers they will be priced at near enough £50.

 

I would have of course preferred a version in black - while the coloured versions are really only available direct from the OBNE website from time-to-time - where Europe will just be getting the standard white ones to begin with - possibly with a black version to be added later. For me these are really the perfect expression controllers - small and sleek and you can pretty much fit them in anywhere with the minimum of fuss. On the topic of Expression Controllers - I have of course been talking to my friend Alex Ernandez at Anasounds and I will most likely be acquiring one of his Spinner Expression Controllers to use with my forthcoming Anasounds Ages Harmonic Tremolo - q.v..

 

The above visual is an update from my earlier 'Express Yourself!' article.


Alex 'Anasounds' Ernandez - Ages Harmonic Tremolo, Sliver Optical Tremolo, and Spinner Expression Controller

Alex 'Anasounds' Ernandez - Ages Harmonic Tremolo, Sliver Optical Tremolo, and Spinner Expression Controller

Weirdly Anasounds wasn't mentioned in the listings for The Guitar Show Exhibitors even though they were doing a DIY Pedal Masterclass on the Sunday - around their new Teacher FX Sliver Optical Tremolo pedal project.

 

The Elements Spring Tank Reverb is doing really well for Anasounds and pretty much every batch sells out almost immediately, while the show focus for now is on Tremolos and Spinners! Just as well really as I had ordered an Ages Harmonic Tremolo immediately in the aftermath of NAMM and was checking on likely delivery times for that - which still looks set to be around the 18th of March.

 

I also discovered how to apply the secondary parameters on the Ages Tremolo by holding down ByPass footswitch and using the Depth dial to adjust follow-mode sensitivity and direction for Depth and Rate, while the middle toggle doubles up as an LFO wave-type mode selector - with the LED logo lighting up in different colours to reflect selection made - supposedly 7 different modes.

 

Alex reports they have less than 10% remaining on the pedal production cycle - just some fine tuning to the digital control layer - the core circuit is of course fully analog. As usual Alex and I touched on a variety of topics - including the articles on the Neural DSP Quad Cortex and its influence on my perfect pedal design article. I also indicated a desire to be one of the first to review the new Spinner control - and negotiations have started to get that all sorted in line with the Ages Tremolo delivery.


Matt Knight - Boss/Roland Europe

Matt Knight - Boss/Roland Europe

I had a series of illuminating chats with Boss's ambassador of tone - Matt Knight throughout the day - Matt of previous GAK, Andertons and Guitar Nerds fame. We discussed a variety of subjects - including probable new pedals for the year. Of course Matt was sworn to secrecy and couldn't reveal any properly salient forthcoming launches - but he indicated for definite that we would not be getting a Waza Craft HM-2 Heavy Metal as the numbers just didn't add up to justifying a full R&D and production reissue campaign for said pedal.

 

What is definitely happening is that all the mainline pedal building is now being transferred to Malaysia away from Taiwan - while Waza Craft editions will continue to be made in Japan. The Waza-Air Headphones were the item causing the most significant interest on the stand with queues of show guests lining up for a go.

 

Other major focuses of the show were the very recent Katana Artist MKII Amp and the two new synth pedals - the SY-1 and SY-1000. The former of which is Boss's bestseller of recent times with fairly significant batches getting sold out almost immediately.

 

I will most likely be making my way to Boss's Chiswick Studio in the not too distant future for some further Boss Intelligence sessions. In any case my ongoing Boss support was rewarded with a cool Waza Craft Pedals Tote Bag with a couple of wee goodies - the bag is pictured in the centre of the above image.

 

Matt and I really did rattle through a series of different topics and some of those may well be fodder for a forthcoming post or two. Even though I haven't been told exactly what - I'm led to believe that Boss will continue in 2020 much as it has in previous years with some very significant pedal launches. I asked Matt if that meant the Reverb range was going to be revamped - i.e. an RV-7 and RV-200 - much like we got with delays in 2019 - but I've been told probably not - while that could just be a red herring too!

 

I do think we can expect some more pleasant surprises this year though in reading between the lines - while it intriguingly does not appear to involve any of the usual suspects. I have made my own predictions over the previous months - but I'm frequently surprised by Boss - I really wasn't expecting the Katana MKII Artist to be released quite so quickly. This year should see the launch of a number of new pedals including most likely at least one more Waza Craft edition! I guess I will need to build some kind of algorithm for predicting which bestselling Boss pedals need updates and have sufficient ongoing sales to justify a Waza edition!


Tim Webster - Fredric Effects

Tim Webster - Fredric Effects

I've been meaning to do a feature on Fredric Effects for a while - particularly for Tim's cool quartet of wedge-shaped pedals - the Dresden Synth Fuzz, Noveau Super Unpleasant Companion, Utility Perkolator and Verzerrer Distortion - we've still to come to terms on that project - while it's somewhat moot currently in any case as Tim is one of many pedal makers who is experiencing parts supply issues because of the current Covid-19 outbreak.

 

I also like the look of Tim's Regent 150 Preamp and Square Wave Fuzz. I believe the current two best-sellers are the Nouveau Super Unpleasant Companion and Regent 150 and I'm interested in both of those.

 

Tim's more experimental line - Cloak Audio may we be about to be absorbed into the main Fredric Effects range, as it currently doesn't make too much sense to have a whole separate branded line for just one pedal. The idea was that the Jackdaw would be one of many experimental pedals - but so much has been going on with the Fredric Effects core line that it really makes more sense to streamline that one oddity - stick it into one of the more compact new wedges and absorb it into the core line.

 

I haven't always been the biggest fan of the somewhat mishmash approach of different illustration types deployed - I tend to prefer slightly more pristine and homogenous designs - which is why the above 6 referenced pedals appeal to me in particular. I've been trying to encourage Tim towards more homogenous design across the whole range - but he really likes the somewhat rudimentary style of illustration - so that's not likely to happen any time soon. We will more than likely though see a fee more wedge designs in the not too distant furture. Tim just needs to get the parts in first so he can ship what's 99% complete at the workshop already. I would ask all pedal fans to be patient over these next few months as we know for sure that there will very likely be some significant delays in production and delivery for the vast majority of pedal makers - some may have enough supplies to carry them through a few months - but they will all need re-stocking eventually!

 

 


Sacha Greuter - Greuter Audio

Sacha Greuter - Greuter Audio

I've been aware of Greuter Audio for a while - largely because of the Fuller Drive and Jumbo Fuzz appearing on That Pedal Show back in 2018. But also because Sacha and I share mutual friends in Dan Querner of DanDrive and Pete and Matthias of Demon Pedals. In fact it was Dan who told me to reach out to Sacha in the first place and I thought this attendance at the Birmingham show would be a perfect occasion for that first encounter.

 

I'm well known for my love of fuzz - and it is understandable therefore that Sacha's 3 fuzz pedals are front and centre in my selection of interest - the Moonlight (Germanium Fuzz Face) and Star Bender (MKIII Germanium Tone Bender) besides the aforementioned Big Muff style Jumbo Fuzz which is based on an unspecified Italian derivative in turn based on a 1970's Big Muff original - which likely means Triangle/Ram's Head territory.

 

All these pedals are superior hand-made quality with distinctive small + large knob topologies and typically geometric graphics - of course utilising the finest quality components available anywhere. Had you seen That Pedal Show you would have been aware how amazing the Fuller Drive and Jumbo Fuzz sound - I'm looking forward to doing a proper feature on Sacha once my schedule clears up a little post all my existing NAMM-related commitments and priorities.

 

Note that while I prefer the more monochromatic designs - all of these pedals can be ordered with significant colour variation direct from Sacha - he had a number of different colourways at the show - which I told him might be slightly more tricky for passing consumers to process. I would suggest just a single board with the key colour variations for one of the more popular pedal types and then the regular board featuring the whole range. In any case as arranged - I will be contacting Sacha following the show and we will see where that conversation takes us.


Zach Broyles - Mythos Pedals

Zach Broyles - Mythos Pedals

I was delighted to have been able to make a proper connection with Zach at the show - where's he's over on a sort of mini tour of England with his wife and daughter and is dropping in on several of his UK friends - Adrian and Georgia Thorpe, Dan and Mick, Lee Anderton, Rob Chapman, Stuart Tate etc. - we obviously have a That Pedals Show episode to look forward to at some stage.

 

Zach Broyles is one of a trio of celebrated 'Zach' pedal masters alongside Zachary Vex (ZVex) and Zak Martin (Spaceman Effects). He collaborates a lot with Ariel Posen, Joey Landreth, Rhett Shull and RJ Ronquillo - all of whom I follow via social media and which between them provide a particularly wide window view on the Mythos Pedals empire!

 

To date I have acquired the Golden Fleece and Joey Landreth Signature High Road mini fuzzes - and there are 4 further Mythos acquisitions on my imminent yet infinite wishlist - the new lower gain AU Gold derivative of the Golden Fleece, the Argo COB style octave fuzz, the Chupacabra ZZ-Top / La Grange style drive and the now discontinued Erlking overdrive - Zach's take on the Nobels ODR-1 - which I've been meaning to get in for a while. There are a number of ODR-1 takes/clones/replicas out there - including a few by Vemuram - but for whatever reason - it's the Erlking that I want! It also looks nice in a trio alongside the Argo and Chupacabra!

 

Zach was at the show promoting his recent Rhett Shull and RJ Ronquillo signature pedals - the Lark Overdrive & Tremolo and Susmaryosep Boost + Herculean + Delay. Those two are a little overly signature and particular for my own needs and rig - I appreciate what they do - but I have other solutions in those areas already firmly rooted to my board.

 

I look forward to doing a proper feature on Zach in the future - he had a tremendous NAMM show and is furiously still working through the backlog of orders from that show - with numerous preorders for both the aforementioned signature pedals.

 

I look forward to adding a few more Mythos Pedals to the collection over the next months and years - starting with the 4 above I don't yet have!


Stuart Tate - Tate FX

Stuart Tate - Tate FX

I made a point of connecting with Tate FX's Stuart Tate for the first time at the show. I have his Lime edition Silicon Raise The Dead Fuzz (One-knob Fuzz Face). I just really like that colourway - so it seemed the right choice at the time. I fully intend to get the matching pair in the guise of the more recent Germanium version - but am sort of hoping Stuart will do another special colourway run for that too - and to which ends I've made a suggestion!

 

Stuart's other big seller is his Antares take on the Tube Screamer with added Clean blend control - which lots of players are liking too - but I probably have too many tube screamers already - so I'm not sure I need another one in that vein albeit the Clean blend makes it fairly unique.

 

I feel that the Antares could do with some further colourway updates too as it's not quite as dynamic looking as the now legendary Raise The Dead artwork. In any case I look forward to seeing what Stuart does next - while a Germanium RTD is definitely on the cards for some day soon...


Adrian and Georgia Thorpe - Thorpe FX

Adrian and Georgia Thorpe - Thorpe FX

My guitar show ritual usually involves checking in on ThorpyFX's Adrian first as we have a fairly long association - but en route to the Audio Distribution Group booth to pick up my OBNE Expression Slider I found that Adrian unusually wasn't in place at the start of the show - in fact I had some difficulty in pinning him down throughout the day as he was evidently busy offsite with other concerns.

 

When I did at last catch him for a chat he delivered the good news that production on the new Bunker and Field Marshal pedals is going really well and some of us may see those quite a bit sooner than the mid-March date advertised. I've known about those two for a while - so looking forward to properly run them through their paces. I already know which pedal-chain slot The Bunker is going in on, but need to decide where the Field Marshal is best deployed.

 

The Camoflange is obviously still doing really great - with every batch selling out pretty much as quickly as Adrian and Georgia can make them - I of course love mine and use it a lot. A nice surprise at the show is that I encountered Adrian's other half Georgia for the first time - our paths have somehow never crossed before. Funnily enough I met her at Zach 'Mythos' Broyles' booth as they are good friends.

 

When I checked in on Zach earlier in the day - despite previous arrangements he had not been given the promised table and chair for his booth and he was running solo with his wife and kid elsewhere - I thought it best to check in on him every now and again for emotional support and to see if he needed anyone to grab him a drink or two at some stage - lucky by my second encounter his wife had arrived with food - and I encountered Georgia Thorpe there at the Mythos stand shortly thereafter.

 

Thorpy is very much on a roll now and I believe we can expect at least 2 more Dan Coggins / Lovetone collaborations for the year ahead alongside one or two other core line additions. Thorpy is already working with Mikey Demus on the third Redbeard Effects pedal - which should be ready around the end of the year for a NAMM Winter 2021 launch.

 

I kind of categorise all the Adrian-Thorpe-built pedals together - which means I now have 11 of his creations - including the two Redbeard Effects ones.


Alex Millar - Zander Circuitry

Alex Millar - Zander Circuitry

It has become routine for me to check in on Zander Circuitry's Alex at these shows - and his main focus at the moment is his really great looking new 8-mode Junipero Aqueous Modulator. All the design decisions have really paid off - the mostly raw enclosure with highly detailed single-tone graphic - and those superb Chase-Bliss-esque knobs - everything really looks the part.

 

I'm looking forward to seeing Alex transition his mostly medium vertical format range of pedals into compact enclosures. He's already started the ball rolling with the Sono Bass Fuzz and SiClone evolved Silicon Fuzz Factory. I feel both those artworks could do with some improvements - as the shift in format will inevitably require a change to the illustration - you can't typically just re-size something to a smaller form factor - you need to change line-thicknesses and other detail points as the resolution will be so different with the smaller surface - also the move is from white-out of solid block colour to line colour onto raw enclosure - so invariably you will get odd results if you just try to invert the existing larger artworks.

 

Everyone knows by now that I have a significant preference for compact style enclosures - and I look forward to adding some Zander Circuitry representation into my collection. I undoubtedly need to do a proper in-depth feature on Alex - probably when a few more compact versions are out and revisioned!

 

For those dying to get your hands on the new Junipero with its 8 modulation modes - detune, vibrato, chorus, tremolo, harmonic tremolo, flanger, phaser and through-zero flanger - be aware that there is a slight delay on the pre-orders because of parts supply issues brought on by the Covid-19 virus outbreak in China. Several manufacturers are impacted by this and I would ask all consumers to exercise patience as regards this evolving issue as it's a fluid situation, and there will undoubtedly be more surprises and delays along the way.


Mike Payne - Stone Wolf Guitars

Mike Payne - Stone Wolf Guitars

I've featured Mike Payne's Stone Wolf creations on this site several times now and he is still probably my favourite UK-based luthier - in fact really in a class of his own with the beautiful shapes he keeps coming up with and his exceptional technique with mixed materials - where I don't know anyone who uses resins quite so well or creatively.

 

This is the third or fourth show I'm seeing the Bubblegum Rift at - I'm surprised no one has snapped that one up yet as usually Mike's guitars go pretty quickly, while still most are made on commission. Prices are around £3K to £4K. The most expensive in the above visual is the new Atlas variant which was recently sold for around £3,800 - which is typically the upper level of pricing - most of Mike's guitars are around the £3K mark, but they're so intricate that he only builds around 10 each year!

 

I'm particularly keen on the headstock shape Mike has come up with - a really neat extrapolation of the Music Man 4+2 type - but very distinctive and unique. My favourite body shape is probably the Faroe model - and I would be looking to acquire one such eventually with a tremolo bridge - possibly an Evertune - we'll see.

 

I also love the use of the exposed coil Oil City Pickups - where they generally come with standard copper hue - but very occasionally and somewhat by chance in other colours like the pinkish hue seen on the Bubblegum Rift - which makes the guitar even more unique. I'm thinking that the Bubblegum might require a change to its bridge to seal the deal for whichever lucky buyer - I'm not clear on the intonation control of the existing variety.

 

In the meantime I'm sort of encouraging Mike to also have a go at an imported diffusion range following his very distinct templates - such an exercise could deliver a more even cashflow - albeit it has other challenges to it. In any case once my pedal obsession quietens down a little I will start saving up for a Stone Wolf Guitar in the Faroe mold - by that time I will have fully decided exactly which route to go down - and hopefully Mike will have further interesting deviations which I can borrow aspects from! Just really consistently great but somewhat unusual guitars - I really don't seem to be one for the usual vanilla stuff!


Alan Cringean - Reiver Guitars

Alan Cringean - Reiver Guitars

I've also gotten used to dropping in on everyone's favourite dour Scotsman luthier Alan Cringean of AC Guitars / Reiver Guitars fame. I'm a fan of his slightly angular shapes too - he does a nice line in Kompakt headless guitars in particular and is a master of elegant woodcraft. His price range is largely in the £2K to £3K bracket. It certainly seems like the aggregate price for a UK originated hand-made guitar is around the £3K mark.

 

I've yet to pick out a favourite model as such - possibly the SLG 6 in the above trio - really like that shade of green too and how it works with the fade/burst. No doubting the quality of these guitars or the smart choices of woods employed.

 

One of these years when I'm buying less pedals - then possibly I will have funds to add one of these guitars to the collection too!

 

 


Miscellaneous Other Guitars of Interest and further show encounters

Miscellaneous Other Guitars of Interest and further show encounters

In doing the rounds there were a number of individual guitars that caught my eye too - albeit I'm not sure I saw the exact colourway of the second and third featured here - but they certainly inspired further inquiry which yielded these results.

 

The first is the best classic sort of style of Tele I saw at the show - by Rob Williams Guitars - just a really great take on the format - with elegant proportions and cool binding, and that slim Strat-style headstock. I've been liking a lot of the Millimetric Guitars recently although I have doubts about the ergonomics of the headstock as regards tuning fidelity - they could really do with inverting that trapeze. Yet the aesthetics here are deliciously modern and sleek and they feature really unique looking pickups which complete that look of modernity. The copper colourway with those matching colour pickups just looks amazing - as seen on the James' Home of Tone stand. This is where I also encountered a couple of Jennings Guitars - not sure that I saw that exact Catalina - with dual f-holes and mastery style tremolo bridge. That trio of guitars just looks incredible.

 

I of course wandered onto the Crimson Guitars stand to cast the customary greeting at Ben Crowe - I usually have a few words with James Blackburn too - but apparently he was just there early in the morning to drop stuff off. I also made it a point to go to see Rob Chapman on the Chapman Guitars booth to give him some emotional support. The poor guy made some mistakes and has sort of been bullied into oblivion by it - he looked somewhat haunted and in need of a holiday. I told all his usual acquaintances I met at the show - to go give him a hug as that's what I felt he needed.

 

Even though I caught Rabea's showcase I was unable to make contact as there were just too many people milling around him at all times - and actually on a couple of other occasions I was involved in deep conversation and it would have been rude to run off after him. Talking about running about - I saw Mick Taylor quite a few times at the show seemingly skittering about somewhat nervously - first backstage at the Live Marquee, and then in the main hall on a few occasions - to me his somewhat brisk walk signalled he did not wish to be interrupted. I assume he was making preparations for the That Pedal Show showcase which was due to happen the following day.

 

I caught glimpses of a number of other notable guitar scene celebrities but was unable to make contact with all of those - I was very happy with the day's final tally / yield in any case.


Overall Impressions of the Show

I think I've said this a couple of times before - but the standard of event management and overall production leaves a lot to be desired. I arrived by taxi from New Street Station at the New Bingley Venue - and there was straight away chaos as to which queue was for prepaid tickets and which was the ticket booth - a couple of signs or queue monitors would have helped - but the gentleman that came out and shouted at everyone appeared very late and there was a significant re-shuffling of the waiting pack as a result of his announcements - surely the venue staff can do better for future events - I remember similar last year.

 

Once you get in you get an immediately soluble stamp - which disappears within a matter of hours - these events really need those bracelets / armbands that are more visible and permanent. Generally there were issues with queues everywhere and some significant queue jumping going on due to the lack of supervision.

 

I never understand why these events can't post the Floorplan on the website at least a day or two in advance so you can plot your route. If you've been before you vaguely know where some of the brands prefer to be situated - but there's no real rhyme or reason as to the layout of the show - would be so much better to have the topology organised by main discipline or some sort of easily workable theme.

 

I feel that the single cafe and bar are somewhat inadequate for the volume of people at the show - you essentially get hundreds of show patrons scattered all over the floor with their styrofoam containers of curried chips with whatever. The queue into the canteen is ridiculous at all times and the long tables give it a sort of medieval rather than Wagamama feel - with a heavy heady aroma of chips and curry! Surely they could arrange for a few more food wagons to be present either just outside or in the same space that the Live Marquee and Canteen sit in. And they definitely need more seats - the venue seems to be devoid of any kind of seating.

 

Talking to various exhibitors, the whole management and provision of this show seems to be somewhat amateurish with poor provision of essential equipment and facilities, and a really poor and unstable power supply which was reducing the fidelity of output at a number of different booths.

 

I don't feel any of these guitar shows are fully up to scratch - the show guide is really just the floorpan with a couple of ads - it should have a paragraph or two about each of the exhibitors and what to look out for on their stand - surely that would make sense?

 

I've attended and exhibited at a number of different trade shows over the years - and these guitar shows seem to be somewhat amateurishly organised compared to those - the whole information flow, administration and collateral is just nowhere near where it needs to be or should be.

 

This still remains the leading UK guitar show - while I actually infinitely prefer the Islington Design Centre venue of the London UK Guitar Show in the autumn - that just doesn't have enough participants involved yet - while there is a lot more seating - better auditoria, and the whole of Upper and High Street of Islington to go find something to eat.

 

I really enjoyed The Guitar Show this year - and meeting all those fantastic people - which is what these shows are all about for me really - that and some of the live breakout events. I never go to these shows to trial equipment - especially with the Covid-19 breakout now - it just doesn't pay to be handling the same gear as everyone else - and it's not your own rig set up with your own preferences or own guitar even - so it can be nigh impossible to ascertain how well said device would work within your existing setup - I just really treat it as an extended meet-and-greet - and it works well for that. They should put on a snack trolley run though for the many solo individuals managing the booths - who find it difficult to break away for sustenance - a train-style trolley with refreshments would work a treat in this environment - so plenty of suggestions for how things might be improved next year. Oh and I also spoke to Matt Knight about further updating the Katana-Air headphones with proper line-out connectors so that show attendees, YouTubers and the like could just walk around with their Boss Headphones and sample everything they needed to - creating a much more pleasant and less messily noisy ambience - so that is a significant possibility for the future!

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Stefan Karlsson
Stefan Karlsson
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12 of the Best Compact Tube Screamer-style Pedals
"How does the Jackson Audio Broken Arrow tube "...
02-Mar-2020
The Kind of Pedal we would love to see Strymon do next
"In terms of doing an Iridium Deluxe - I would "...
18-Feb-2020
Waiting