Holy Grail Guitar Show 2014


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Springer Guitars

At first I tought this body shape looked awkward but it grew on my and I found myself liking it more and more. And after finally trying one of them, there's no denying the superb workmanship of Mikael Springer.

This was my favorite from the Springer table. At first it looked like a pure rock machine but it could do a lot more.  


Stevens Custom Guitars

  There were some outstanding acoustic guitars at the show but some guitars, like theis cutaway from Stevens Custom Guitars, were more outstanding than others. This ended up being my favorite acoustic at the HGGS. So comfortable to play and very balanced in it's tone.
The soundhole has a deeper soundhole rosette.  

  The beveled arm rest was, of course, part of the reason it was so comfortable to play.


Stoll Guitars

This double flip-over acoustic from luthier Christian Stoll was unique at the show. One sida is a steel string and the other side is a nylon string. Never got to try it. For some reason I'm curious as to how the hard case for it looks.


Stratmann Gitarren

From the workshop of Thomas Stratmann come his version of a hollowbody design we all know.  


t.man guitars


  Pink and green in combination was only seen at t-mann guitars. The necks were of very fine and figured flame maple.


Tandler Guitars

Jörg Tandler was one of the very first European custom guitar lutheirs I became aware of quite a few years ago. His stature in Europe is high and his guitars shows why. The gold top single cut was at least a cut (pun intended) above the originals.


Tao Guitars

Tao Guitars show a refreshingly individual design flair with their guitars.


  With a guitar off-set in the "wrong" direction you may think that it would give you restricted access to playing high up on the neck. I found that not to be the case as the neck joins the body at the 18th fret.
Eye catching? You bet!  


Tausch Electric Guitars

  Tausch Electric Guitars takes tradition and improves upon it according to what experience and tells them and what customers want.

Luthier Rainer Tausch holding his 665 model. What may at first be seen as just a striped Tele with an unusual pickup configuration is actually much more than that. The 665 was one of the few guitars that I both liked and could afford at the show and, in addition gave me musical options I don't already have. The combination of the nicest feeling maple neck I've ever tried with a hollow pear body made this guitar immensley versatile with a super fast attack of the notes. It was almost like the guitar knew what note you were going to play and was just waiting to put it out there. Of course, this can't be, but it was a great feeling playing it.

Rainer also had a special vintage trem without some of the disadvantages of a vintage design.

One other fact that struck me about Rainer was that he seems to genuinely love building guitars and we had a very nice time chatting about his builds.






I first came into contact with guita builder genius Ulrich Teuffel many years ago when he displayed the Birdfish at the Frankfurt Musik Messe. It was also the first time I thought a guitar builder must be out of his mind. For three reasons. First, how could he possibly come up with something as unplayable as this. Secondly, how could he possibly get a decent sound out of a guitar with no body and thirdly, how on earth is he hoping to make a living at selling these "things".

Well, after trying it all my three reasons disappeared quicker than money in the hands of my first girlfriend. The guitar played great and sounded good and the only obstacle to making a living at building guitars would be to get them into the hands of players and the guitars would speak for themselves.

The original Birdfish had two sets of tonebars (alder and ash) that you could mix and match but this special edition Birdfish comes with flame mahogany tonebars polished to an extremely luxurious gloss.

The pickups on this special edition are made of ebony. One of the many cool features of the Birdfish is that you can slide the pickups along the steel bars to get the tonality you want.  

  You can set the angle of the control pod for optimal ergonomics.
If I ever win the lottery or get a substantial amount of money any other legal way, the first thing I will do is order a Birdfish.  

  And then as I'm already talking with Ulrich I will order a Niwa.
The Tesla is a very innovative guitar but not quite my thing so I will be happy with the Birdfish and the Niva.  

  Here is Ulrich Teuffel who also held a very interesting lecture at the show called "The Trail To The Grail" where he outlined some historical views on how we percieve our search for "the grail".


Thierry André Luthier

This was an interesting design that had some other builders scratching their heads on how to accomplish it. But there were pictures from the build process available so we could all see how it was done. Once again a sign of the openness of mind and generosity of spirit prevalent at the show.

  The horns make an intriguing visual element and sound port design.
This roundback acoustic was often in the soundbooths being played. Never got the chance myself, but hope for an opportunity next year.  

  It's a fairly safe guess that it took a long time and a gentle effort to make these beautiful curves.


Tonfuchs Guitars

Familiar shapes with a personal twist at Tonfuchs.

Luthier Uwe Schölch is making a series of guitars inspired by two-wheel vehicles. Here's one with Ducati features including a genuine Ducati cap for the gas tank. I heard rumors about an upcoming guitar inspired by Vespa. I'm really looking forward to seeing that.  


Tyyster Guitars

From the European north in Finland we are offered these guitars with a design that, to me, takes after the European builders of the 60s with a bit of Danelectro and Supro guitars thrown in.


From a glance, the guitars looks like they are made of plastic ...


... but they are actually made of metal.

The pickups are of a single coil split design.


Versoul Guitars

  Being a staff writer for Swedish FUZZ magazine, I've been fortunate to play a number of Kari Neiminen's masterpieces before. Versoul Guitars has a very unique, almost mystic quality, that's impossible to pin-point.

A new finish for Versoul is this Arctic Salmon finish. And yes, it is actually the skin from a live fish (which is now obviously dead). So instead of talking bookmatched tops we are talking about fish-matched tops. The blue ligt is there for the looks only and can be turned off.

First one was built for Billy Gibbons who has since orded at least two more.

Kari's stories around his guitars are entertaining to say the least.


Here's a close up of the salmon skin. Versoul took a surprising number of orders for these at the show.


If you want a gold top (with real gold leaf) like Ron Wood of The Rolling Stones, then that's possible too. All you need to do is get in line with your order.




Wild Customs

  Wild Customs from France showed this 7-string guitar made out of a single piece of wood and that's the slab it's displayed within. Then on top of the neck they have a single piece of maple for the fretboard that is then extended and sculpted all the way to the endpin of the guitar. A nice piece of functional art.
Here's the back of the same guitar.  

  Wild Customs also showed a metaltop 6-string guitar.

Everyone needs to show a Tele? Well, Wild Customs did and it was a carved affair with a slight relic job to it.


The end

What can I say in order to to the picures above? The pictures doesn't come close to making these truly magnificent pieces of guitar art come alive the way they did in Berlin, so if you can make it next year, just do it. A suggestion is to bring your parter. Shooping in Berlin is great so when you go guitar ogling in peace your partner can enjoy the shops and then you can take a day together to do the historic parts of Berlin. And every night these are nice restaurants to visit. An obvious trip together? Yup!!



Mats N


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