The Guitar Summit 2017
This weekend, I am heading to the first ever ‘Guitar Summit’ held in Germany’s ‘music city’ Mannheim for the 100% guitar dedicated exhibition.
Throughout an extensive weekend, from Friday through Sunday, Mannheim will become the centre of the international guitar world and gear up for electric guitars, acoustics, basses, fx-pedals, amps, accessories, and more.
On arriving at the exhibition centre after a rather speedy journey with our good friend Jens Ritter, I was surprised to already see the venue filling up with a nice queue of eager guitar buyers, builders and enthusiasts awaiting the first ever Guitar Summit show - always a good sign of what is in store for the weekend at a guitar show.
The Exhibition Centre itself is in a beautiful grand building and unlike any typical exhibition centre with a very corporate edge to it. Situated in the heart of the very beautiful centre of Mannheim directly opposite the city's park.
“Did you know Mozart loved Mannheim, Ben?” Jens calmly chats to me doing 150 kmph on the motorway on our way to the Summit. Yes, a new thing I found out…all Germans drive very very quickly.
“No..” I reply with white knuckles grabbing the car door.
But Jens was absolutely right, he did and, in fact, wrote to his father after his mother's death, the town comforted him: "... in one word, the way I love Mannheim, Mannheim loves me, too”…Got to love Google!
Anyway back to the show..
So, as with all guitar shows, I tend to just go for a nice long stroll around the entire exhibition space, visiting all the brands and just observing what is on display at the moment. Nice to see who is there, what is new and what might be fun to bring into The North American Guitar for our wonderful customers. Then, after a long walk I start again and start chatting to people.
As you can imagine with an exhibition purely aimed at guitar buyers there are a lot of brands exhibiting. I bump into an old friend Russ, who is one of the heads of Marketing at Fender, our friends at Reverb.com and even managed to stop by Martin to chat with long standing friend of TNAG and ex editor of Acoustic Mag Steve Harvey. Steve and I chat guitars, Ed Sheeran, Martin Strings (although nothing comes close to Elixir..let the debate begin) and the industry and all its changes and new exciting developments.
But I have to be honest it is quiet in the main exhibition area…so where is everyone? Where is that queue I saw forming outside?
**NOTE TO READER**
Now being the MD of a boutique guitar company you could think I am making this bit up and just looking for a reason to tell you how great boutique guitars are…But I am not…back to the story.
**END NOTE TO READER**
And then … there it is … the sign for upstairs ‘EGB----this way’ - The European Guitar Builders Association section.
One word – Packed! The room is packed with people. Yes! As Michael Spalt said, there were a lot of red badges (luthiers) but not as many red badges to the ticket buying public. What a wonderful thing to see, that our small niche section of the guitar market is the place on the first day of the show that is so busy people are struggling to move. The EGB movement is without a doubt growing year on year!
The guitars on display are just unreal. From Nick Huber to Jens Ritter, Frank Deimel, Ruokangas, Spalt and Teuffel - the list goes on and on..everyone has put their ‘game face’ on and come to this show ready to show The Guitar Summit what the EGB really is!
A little bit of info on the EGB if you don’t already know, the EGB was formed by professional independent European luthiers, it was founded with the goal of organising the independent luthiers, as well as people related to the field of guitar building all across Europe.
The main aim was to create a community dedicated to support each other and each other's work and to increase the visibility of their art and craft.
With 60+ members of the EGB you can definitely feel they are looking out for each other and that the boutique guitar section of a show is no longer just the quirky add on to give the general public something different to look at whilst trying to find Fender or Gibson.
First up was Ulrich Teuffel. Ulrich has on display a stunning signature ‘Bird Fish’ which, as always, is catching everyone’s eye, and also a phenomenal sunburst ‘Antonio’. Wow this guitar is just beautiful and I think we could see one arriving at TNAG HQ very soon.
Chatting to Mr Spalt himself I discover his new ‘Player Series’ guitar in a faded blue. A stunningly versatile instrument which offers the plays a plethora of pickup options and tone control. We chat about the incoming guitars TNAG has just purchased (watch this space) and next year's Holy Grail event. There is no doubt you will be seeing a selection of beautiful Spalt instruments in the TNAG showroom very soon.
Our newest member of the TNAG electric roster is the hugely popular Frank Deimel of Deimel Guitarworks. As some of you would have already seen we have just brought in two of his incredible Firestar Models (photos and videos to come) which are just sensational.
Ritter Instruments is right at the back in centre stage of the room and cannot be missed. The sparkle of his phenomenal Princess Isabella and Blue Dragon models cause hoards of people to stop and stare.
For the first day the show had a really welcoming and good vibe. The room was well set out and a stunning array of exhibitors. There were some unbelievably cool new brands I had not heard of before but will be checking out in more detail very soon.
“Ben are you coming to the EGB dinner tonight?” Tania Spalt asks.
“No, I am off to write this weekend's blogs in my hotel room.”
Hard work but someone’s got to do it!
Well done Guitar Summit organisers, a great job all round!