Express & Star

The Guitar Show returns to Birmingham

Guitarists donned their best band t-shirt, grabbed a spare plectrum and headed for Birmingham in their droves for a day spent trying out dream axes, amps, effects pedals and more.

Bernie Marsden

The Guitar Show made a return to New Bingley Hall on Saturday and the sound of hundreds of different riffs and licks filling the air has never been such sweet music.

Thousands of people – men, women, young and old – turned out to browse the many exhibitors' stalls, hear words of wisdom during master-classes and listen to real life guitar heroes play on stage – what could be better!

From Halesowen-based Laney to Ibanez, Orange, Patrick Eggle, Martin and more, all the big-name brands set up shop next to boutique brands with representatives more than happy to talk to punters about the goods.

Guitar store chains like Fairdeal Music and Guitars 4 You were also on hand with plenty of show special deals for people to take advantage of too.

And despite probably making solemn promises not to return with any more gear – a good few were splashing the cash and walking off back towards the train station with guitar shaped-boxes.

During our multiple laps of the exhibition hall on Saturday our attention was caught by the stunning guitars on the Alexander Guest stall. A cabinet maker and draftsman for a number of years Alexander turned his hand to luthiery in 1994 and his guitars looked beautiful. We were particularly impressed with the 'denim' finish model and may start saving the pennies now.

Elsewhere the Bareknuckle Pickup guys were also very happy to have a chat and answer questions about how you can customise your existing guitars. They even left me nodding along to the idea that I too could maybe be soldering in new pickups with the best of them (I have never soldered anything in my life).

There was even a place where you could grab the tools and practise crafting your own guitar neck and maybe even walk off with all the parts to put together your own custom guitar at home, which promises to be a lot of fun – not sure how mine would end up sounding though.

Away from the exhibition halls was the Reverb stage where classical and fingerstyle maestro young Billy Watman opened the day putting his new signature Ortega guitar through its paces.

As seen on Sky Arts' Guitar Star in 2016 Billy is known for putting new spins on some well-known covers. And what better song to play at a guitar show than Stairway to Heaven. But with the talented Billy putting his own stamp on it those gathered were mesmerised and no one collared him for playing the tune that is outlawed in guitar stores up and down the country. He also performed Fear of the Dark by Iron Maiden and Hotel California by The Eagles during his acoustic show and is surely a name to be watching out for.

Later on in the day the Reverb marquee was packed out as rock guitar hero Bernie Marsden made an appearance on his 71st birthday. The crowd jammed in to listen to the Whitesnake guitarist even treated him to a rendition of Happy Birthday to celebrate before he showed why he is still one of our true guitar legends.

It was great to see the event back again and hopefully it continues for years to come. The Guitar Show is back at New Bingley Hall, Hockley Circus, on Sunday.

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