The second Great British Guitar Show took place in Birmingham at the weekend and we have this report from the event...
Birmingham’s New Bingley Hall was the setting for The Great British Guitar show over the weekend February 25th and 26th. From the off on the Saturday morning at 10am, opening traffic through the doors remained constant right up until the end of play on the Sunday afternoon.
Jason Hunt and Jason Castle, event organisers of UK Guitar Shows, were particularly pleased with the two day event.
Hunt comments: “Our show here last year was the biggest guitar event in the UK and from the feedback and re-booking, it was inevitable to call this year The Great British Guitar Show. Again, advanced ticket sales were very encouraging from the start, we were mailing out to the length and breadth of the UK and we’ve seen people arriving from Europe. Over the weekend walk-up traffic through the doors at Bingley Hall was up by 30 per cent, pre sold tickets had an increase of up 48.3 per cent and we had 33 per cent more exhibitors. Our aim from the start has been a realistic approach to value for money. I‘ve spent years in this industry listening to people talk about the price of tickets, car parks and refreshments.
"We took ages to find this venue which has certainly paid off in so many ways, it’s centrally positioned in the UK, has free car parking and the catering facilities are excellent and charge just fifty pence for tea or coffee, which has actually been a talking point!”
Over 70 exhibitors took advantage of affordable floor space that had a maximum size limit on each stand, allowing some of the smaller companies to rub shoulders with the bigger brands, which included, Orange, Marshall, Rotosound, Yamaha, Hughes and Kettner, Elixir, PRS, VOX, Laney, Tanglewood, Line 6 and JHS.
Jason Castle expands: “We’ve gone out of our way to make everyone as comfortable as possible. The maximum limit on the stand size was welcomed by all, and we focused on showcasing some of the fine British guitar and amp builders we have in this country, brands like Vanquish Guitars, Jaden Rose Guitars, Flame Guitars, Eternal Guitars and Inky Hollow, who don’t have a huge show budget, had the opportunity to meet the public face to face and let them see guitars that possibly were only read about in magazines. This is the ideal venue and everyone is in a good location so no one is in the cheap seats.”
The live hall offered a variety of guitar styles and techniques throughout the weekend including guitarist Chris George demoing Marshall amps, Bernie Marsden for PRS Guitars, JHS had Gordon Giltrap, Line 6 Paul Hindmarsh.
Guitar and amp events are never going to be restricted to a library-like whisper, and while sound levels didn’t pin anyone to a wall, it certainly wasn’t quiet. However there was little need for any sound policing with a noticeable sonic respect between brands.
“We weren’t draconian about the volume," adds Castle, "we said do what it takes to sell your products without annoying your neighbour and it certainly worked. We had a fantastic community feel to this show, we strived to achieve a level ground where the small guy who makes just three guitars a month can show his wares, players can come and wheel and deal with a retailer whilst everyone including the big brands see this as an opportunity to exhibit new products, there must be sales prospects for everyone.”
Indeed, there were plenty of well-worn, second-hand guitars, in contrast to various new guitars and amps leaving with a proud owner. Products on view for the first time in the UK included a host of heads and cabs from Orange and its 20-watt Micro Terror amp, Marshall also raised eyebrows with its new JTM1, 50TH Anniversary 1 Watt custom heads. Accessories were high on the punters list and in contrast, Custom Colour Tattoos had their needles buzzing all weekend.
UK and European sales manager for Orange Amplification, Antony Gunter comments: “This really has been a positive show for Orange, we are very happy with sales figures here this weekend, we decided earlier that we would only attend one UK guitar show this year. I’m glad we picked this one, well done to both Jasons, great show.”
Peter Miller Smith from Madison and Fifth gleamed, “This has been a great show for us, it follows on from the success of last year, very affordable, very professional with a great class of customers, probably the most successful show that we’ve ever done and we’ve done quite a few.”
Final words, from Castle: “This industry is nowhere near the size that we’ve convinced ourselves that it is over the years, we have to work through all this together, we’ve brought this event back to more of community vibe which we’ve tried to do from the beginning. To date, show figures indicate The Great British Guitar Show 2012 has again been a success with around 2,750 tickets sold. It’s been hard work but there’s no reason why it can’t be fun as well.”