Wednesday, November 25, 2015

2015 Fall Philly Guitar Show

Yes, kids, it was time for the twice-yearly religious pilgrimage to the Fall Philly Guitar Show; so named because it's not really fall and it's not in Philly. I suppose the Oaks Guitar Show doesn't have the same ring, but what do I know about marketing (except that they only hire attractive people).

We were quite happy that the show moved back to the larger hall. This means we weren't too close to the Furries, which was a real gift. We were, however, next to the reptile show. I'm not sure if this is a good thing or a bad thing but I'll leave it up to you. In a backhanded and sneaky way, the Expo Center generates revenue for the county. They have precious few handicapped spots but the Mounties prowl the parking lots for any violation they can invent spot. Handicapped placard the wrong color? That's a ticket. Parked outside the lines? That's a ticket. No insurance? That's a tazing. Considering that most people come from Philthydelpia, there are over 50% uninsured. That's a lot of tazing. The police carry howitzers in their trunks, just in case.

As is the norm, right inside the door are the Greyhound rescue people, with some of their dogs. You'd think a racing dog would be running all over the show, knocking $125,000 guitars to the floor, but no. Most were perched or sacked out on their huge beds. I went up to one particularly immoble fella and noted to my wife that the dog was just like me. She agreed and put a few bucks in their bucket. The story here is that the racetrack owners (in Florida) use these dogs until they're done, then dump them to shelters or rescues, who try to find them good homes.

Business seemed brisk and there were some interesting things to see. The left-handed count was a little meager but it's always fun to see what's there.

The first intersting booth (table) I saw was Taylor. They were nice enough to bring a few lefties. The saleslady told me they make all their guitars in lefty. This is the kind of company we need to support (never mind that the guitars are really nice and feel and sound wonderful).  Martin was also there, with a complete and total lack of anything left-handed, although they do make them.  That was mostly it for the large manufacturers. Most everything else was small vintage dealers from all over the place. And Asian folks, who are smart enough to purchase a lot of guitars then sell them back to us at outrageous premiums. Be fair - they have a vintage market too.

Taylor 210 - $699: good price, good guitar

Taylor K16ce - $4132: not crazy about the color but it played like butter, with a slight V-neck, slightly expensive

Taylor 814ce - $3499: really sweet, a bit out of my current range

Unfortunately, the show is not a good place to try out acoustic guitars. While you can get a feel for the feel of the guitar, you pretty much have to hire someone to stand a few feet in front and tell you how it sounds. Fortunately I had my wife and she has a pretty good ear. One of the few joys of being left-handed is the attention you draw while trying out a guitar. I call it the Spaceship Effect: Hey Martha - he's a-playin that there gittar the wrong way round! Lookit! I could walk on water and not get the same reaction (trust me, I've tried it).

You were likely to find all sorts of vintage guitars, amps and accessories, as well as the odd cheap new guitar and one really good guy who had parts out the wazoo, down to screws. There were some ancient Marshall amps, including a 20w head. You don't want to know the prices. There was even a `74 full stack (I have a `74 half stack - great amp). There weren't enough Fender tweed amps but more Stratocasters than you can shake a stick at (for those with a burning desire to shake sticks at things). You could purchase anything from a $300 Mexican to a six-figure `54 Strat. There were ancient Esquires and Teles that you could ogle and perhaps even play (with your first-born as collateral).

Need pedals? There was no shortage of them, from cheapie distortions to new micro-pedals, to the obscenely-priced Strymon units ($250-450). Mitch Colby was there with a very sweet-sounding amp of his. Warrior had a huge booth (of unhelpful, snotty, hair dyed black employees who sneer at lefties). One guy had a bunch of Nash Strat and Tele-style guitars. Nash builds them like vintage guitars. I really like them, in spite of never having held a lefty.

At one booth, we spent some time discussing ugly finishes. Never having heard of Gibson's moonburst, the very attractive lady yanked out her tablet to look it up. I figured she completely regretted having appeared at a sausage-fest but she admitted that she found some eye-candy and that she actually had a hand in building the guitars. She did really good work.

1991 Strat - $850

Carcass bass! $125

great color - American Strat - $950 - NJ Bass and Guitar

Tele - $399 + Strat - $449 - NJ Bass and Guitar

Axis - $1399, Epi LP - $499, Schecter J-Bass - $399 - NJ Bass and Guitar

Partsmaster - $599

1968 J Bass - $7595: if this were a Strat, the price would be out of this world

buncha Taylors - thanks for bringing them!

1971 Strat - It's sad when the most expensive lefty is only $11,000

I think the most interesting or bizarre sight was this nice gentleman with his seven-string Warwick bass. I believe his name was Chris. He played really well and offered to let me have a go at it. The neck on this beauty is wide enough to sit ten people for dinner. I struggled in vain for something that sounded like an E but failed miserably. Chris was kind enough to point out that the reason I was failing so miserably was that there were NO open Es. There were a bunch of F#s and Bs. Not being that good, I handed the beautiful instrument back to him. It was very easy to handle and light. I dared not ask the cost.

All in all, it was fun. Maybe next time I'll know how to use my phone's camera and maybe even take some shots of other interesting things.  See you next summer for the spring show.

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