We paid a visit to the Great American Guitar Show held at the Philadelphia Expo Center this summer. The trade show offered a little bit of everything from vintage guitars and hybrid oddities to the newest electric and acoustics on the market.Bee-3 Vintage Productions, a company that hosts yearly national guitar shows, gathered U.S. manufacturers, vintage dealers, and buyers from as far as Japan and the U.K.
Along with the myriad of guitars, a nice mix of amplifiers, effects, and memorabilia filled
the exhibition hall. You could spend hours checking out the many accessories, advertising items, picks, pedals, amp heads, and beyond. Alongside the vintage dealers, leaders in the guitar industry had well-stocked exhibition booths, too, including Martin Guitar, Taylor Guitars, and Paul Reed Smith (PRS) – all showcasing their latest and greatest models.
Likewise, the event was a goldmine for historical instruments satisfying both serious collectors and curious onlookers. Unique instruments were scattered throughout the show, such as a 1957 Fender Mando-caster (in red, velvet-lined case); and a statuesque mando-bass with a large, teardrop-shaped body.
Vintage guitars and basses made up the bulk of the show, some with their road-worn charisma and original hardware; others in mint condition or refurbished perfection. You could scrutinize the same style of guitar that would have been played by a musical history-maker like Sister Rosetta Tharpe; among others. Modern guitars also intrigued bystanders such as a Grace Potter signature Flying V and a Tom Petersson (Cheap Trick) Gretsch bass. Plus, a Joan Jett signature Gibson was up for sale complete with a personal message inscribed by the rock icon.
Vintage dealers from across the U.S. came out to showcase items and share information about their services. A number of the companies refurbish equipment for touring musicians and hard-working folks with serious hobbies. In fact, this affection for vintage (and new) guitars is a worldwide thing. It wasn’t surprising Japanese buyers were at the show considering the love for American guitars is still going strong in Japan; namely, Gibson and Fender.
All in all, check out a great guitar show near you for inspiration and a whole lotta history.
Or, simply just to fuel your guitar mojo.
What’s all the Buzzzz About Vintage?
It’s no secret vintage gear is hotter than ever. Just look at the popularity of Vintage Guitar magazine (even in a dwindling print market) and it’s proof there’s a hunger for old-school amps, guitars, and information about the artists who embrace them.
For many, vintage symbolizes a need for authenticity – and maybe that’s something missing in this world.
Walk the rows of any guitar show and you can’t help but appreciate the rich history and
detailed craftsmanship that went into building musical equipment. Even though fine instruments have been manufactured since the early blues pioneers, for some artists there’s nothing like vintage gear. These coveted instruments have a signature sound and feel that’s hard-matched. A lot of today’s performers rely on vintage gear for fueling their sound and songwriting such as Jack White (The White Stripes), Ana Popovic (blues guitarist), and Dave Grohl (Foo Fighters).
Vintage…what’s old is cool again.