Birmingham’s The Guitar Show is the UK’s main guitar / gear show, and this year features the largest selection of pedal brands yet as far as I’m aware. Obviously there are several large distributors here representing a number of brands - like Audio Distribution Group which covers Cioks Power Supplies, Darkglass Electronics, Death by Audio, EarthQuaker Devices, Emma Electronic, Fulltone, JRAD / J Rockett, JPTR FX, KMA Audio Machines, Meris, Neunaber, Maxon, Nobels, Old Blood Noise Endeavors, Peterson Tuners, REVV Amplification, and Two Notes. I contacted them about a month ago and they will be bringing some OBNE Expression Sliders to the show - which are still in very short supply in Europe - I hope to negotiate the release of one or two of those!
First Line Distribution are there too as usual - covering Aclam, Bogner, Diezel, Empress Effects, Friedman, LAA Custom Pedals, Massive Unity, Matthews Effects, Rat, Source Audio, Thermion, and Wampler. And Face MI will be there with Beetronics, Carl Martin, Radial Engineering / Tonebone and Walrus Audio - so I will be looking in on my pal Mario Van Helden per the usual.
In terms of the big winners from NAMM - Adrian Thorpe / ThorpyFX / Redbeard Effects will be in attendance - and I will be checking the status of my order for all those new NAMM pedals. There are quite a few misses/absentees at the show and some inexplicable ones for me - no Origin Effects or Rainger FX for example - which both had notable NAMM showings. Also two of my other favourite NAMM participants rarely if ever appear at these UK shows - Chase Bliss Audio and Jackson Audio. Also no Gamechanger Effects and no Red Panda Lab this time. I would have thought it would make sense for TC Electronic to introduce their brand new Plethora X5 here - but they are another notable absentee - as is Electro-Harmonix - which surely should have been here showing off their fabulous new Oceans 12 Dual Channel Stereo Reverb!
I am frequently disappointed with the UK shows in the wake of NAMM - as a lot of the heavy hitter pedals and prototypes which starred at the January show are notably absent from the UK roster - and now UK brands seem to be skipping the main show too? The UK shows have some way to go to match the best European one - Mannheim’s Guitar Summit - which most of the leading brands are targeting this year - 4th-6th September. That is a highly likely attendance for me as a lot of the usual gang will be there.
I have a sort of routine at these shows where I check in on all the usual suspects first - friends and acquaintances - and then seek out other points of interest. There is so much at this year’s show that I will unlikely make any/many of the breakout events - but I’m hoping to catch the Mikey Demus Redbeard Effects Showcase at 11:45 on the Saturday; possibly Rabea too at 12:45 - but we’ll see how much time allows.
While the distributors handle most of the brands here, it still does not preclude personal appearances from the actual pedal-makers themselves, and we saw Enrico Preuß for instance at the Islington Guitar show - as well as Colt Westbrook & Jason Stucle from Walrus Audio. So I will be keeping my eye out for likely suspects. I’m aware Josh Scott of JHS fame is in the country to at the moment - so since he’s a fan of these sorts of things there is some slim outside chance he may be spotted in attendance on one of the days.
Last year I spent a little too long in discussion with Alex Ernandez of Anasounds (all worthwhile of course) - who are also alas absent this year (no opportunity to chase up my Ages Harmonic Tremolo) - so this year I will try and divide out my time more equally. I certainly need to meet up with Matt Knight on the Boss stand, Adrian Thorpe of course, Ben Crowe and James Blackburn of Crimson Guitars, and Mike Payne at Stone Wolf Guitars to name a few.
I will hopefully be making some new connections and introductions too - I see Greuter Audio / Sascha Greuter is here for the first time - a friend of DanDrive Dan - so I will be looking to make contact there. I tend to spend around 90% of my time on pedals, and 10% on the rest - although there are a number of guitar brands in particular that I enjoy checking out. Most of the early months of the year yet spent waiting for the NAMM reveals to materialise - and a lot of the pedals this year seem to have been in prototype format as the vast majority won’t be available until mid-to-late March. I’m still awaiting some key details for several of the NAMM featured pedals - for the Friedman Small Box pedal we have nothing yet - and for most of these we still don’t have firm release dates - so it’s obviously a waiting game - probably a good time to reorganise if you feel the need for that!
If anyone wants to meet up at the show - drop me a line and I will try to fit you into the schedule.
There are over 50 pedal brands at the show this year - and I’ve tried to feature most of them in the above visual - I have prioritised those with recent new product releases - apologies to anyone who feels left out here - but if they have something interesting to say at the show - I will cover it in my usual follow-up show report.
Don’t forget to make use of my essential Trade Show Survival Guide - particularly if you’re manning a stand all-day-long!