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The Ultimate Poor Man’s Guide to Guitar Shows (10 Reasons Why You Should Go)

by vaughn skow March 13, 2013 4 min read

Most of you reading this blog probably live within a day’s drive of at least one annual guitar show.  You should go.  I know what you’re thinking, "those shows are only for folks with big bucks to spend", or maybe "it’s just too long a drive, it’s not worth it".  I her ya, in fact, I used to feel the same way.  Man was I wrong.  I’m blessed to live just outside of Nashville, TN, with several local and regional shows each year.  Even still, I always found reasons not to go to one.  Until a few years back; and now I’m hooked!  Let me tell you why.

Reason # 1, consider it a "Guitar Museum" ... where you actually can ask to touch and play the museum pieces!  Maybe you DON’T have sixty grand to drop on a sweeeet ’58 Strat, but man, it’s wonderful to be in the presence of such a fine instrument.  This thing actually SMELLED cool!

Original mint 1968 Fender Stratocaster for sale

Strats not your thing?  There are always plenty, and I mean PLENTY of vintage LesPauls to gawk at.

Vintage Les Pauls for sale

Acoustic players will find more vintage Martins than you can shake a 70 year old Brazilian rosewood stick at.

Vintage Martin Guitars for Sale

And where else will you reconnect with the childhood friends that taught us to play, and were our BEST friends, even when we were in that awkward adolescent stage?

Vintage Fender MusicMaster headstock for sale

Reason #2: consider it a vintage AMP Museum ... As a man with a self-confessed amp addiction, I practically passed out when I turned a corner and ran into these fine vintage Fender gals all decked out in tweed.

Tweed Fender Amp for sale amps

How about this little cutie?  Nearly 70 years old, and just as fresh as the day she was born.

Vintage Gibson Suitcase amp 1940's

And this one, too!

vintage 1940's Gibson suitcase amp

Man, I wanted to just bask in the presence of this pair of 1stgeneration Marshall 45’s.  Oh the Rock-n-Roll stories THEY could tell.

Vintage Marshall JTM 45

Before we leave the amp museum, I would like to draw your attention to the holy-grail of Texas tube tone, the blackface Fender Vibroverb.  Holy-cow.

Blackface Fender Vibroverb

Reason #3: Wife says the two of you need to do something TOGETHER.  Invite her to accompany you to the guitar ART-GALLERY!  These masterpieces by artisan James Macdonald are equal to art found in any gallery anywhere. Period.

James MacDonald Art Guitar

James MacDonald Art Guitar

Reason #4: Because everyone needs to broaden their horizons from time to time.  Ever imagined playing a triple-neck steel guitar in an Oklahoma cowboy bar circa 1949? It’s easy to do when you’re standing in front of this honky-tonk time capsule.

Tripple neck 1940's Fender Honkey Tonk Steel Guitar

Reason#5: To be taught that’s what’s old really is the NEW thing!  When my eye caught this flawless Magnatone I thought "holy cow, that baby looks showroom new".  It should, ‘cause it is. Turns out the Magnatones are being made once again just like they were decades back, right here in the Good old USA, St Louis to be exact; and yes, they still have that infamous Magnatone tremolo. Sweeeeeeeet!

New Magnatone Amp

Reason #6: To be reminded that one of your heroes lives on through others that are continuing in his footsteps.  As a devote of Mr. Leo Fender, I can truly appreciate it anytime someone flatters Mr. Fender by generously borrowing from his design features and producing guitars and amps the way he did in his early (best) years: small numbers, one at a time, and in America.  Take for example Dr. Mojo guitars.  The only way you’ll find a Strat or Tele style guitar with more mojo is to find one made prior to about 1965.

Dr. MoJo Guitar at guitar show

And then there are newly minted tweed honeys that live up to their legacy.

Kendrick Amp

Reason #7: To answer the age old question: Do blonds really have more fun?  This stately old gal is a good argument that indeed they do.

Blond Fender Tremolux amp

And certainly this little blond bombshell looks like a bunch of fun:

edwards amplification lil liza kate guitar amp

Reason #8: To snag some impossible to find parts.  Where else can you walk out with an original pickguard for your 72 Strat, a replacement handle for your old Silvertone amp, and  a single ’69 Grover replacement tuner?

Guitar parts at guitar show

Reason #9: You just might learn something new!  For instance, did you know that Rickenbacker ever made 12-string guitars with this little contraption to grab and sequester six of the strings, thereby rendering it a regular 6-string (sorta) with the flip of a lever?

Rickenbacker 12 string with string mute

Or, have you heard about Switch Vibracell guitars?  Some ingenious dude (Trevor Wilkinson of Wilkinson Vibrato fame) came up with a composite material that REALLY does sound flat out awesome, and makes a gerrrr-ate guitar.  The company only survived a couple of years, and precious few guitars were produced during that time, but man-oh-man are they sweet.

White Switch Vibracell Ultima-IV Signature ed.

Reason #10: This one’s a no-brainer ... because there are tens of thousands of square feet of guitars!  Old ones, new ones; traditional and bizarre! Electric, acoustic, space age and archaic.  All shapes, sizes, and colors.  I’m tellin’ ya, it’ll make your head spin and your heart race.  It’s a rush.  Seriously, ya gotta do it. 

guitar show

Oh, and then there’s the reason I probably shouldn’t mention ... but what the heck, my wife never reads my blog anyway ... you just might find a honey that rocks your world and hitches a ride home from the show with you. In my case it was that super-sexy and equally unique gal wearing the Champaign-sparkle dress with the Gold accessories.  Yep, I bought the Vibracell :-)

See ya all next week!

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