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Holy Grail Guitar Show 2015

- second time around

Last year I had the priviledge to be invited to the Holy Grail Guitar Show2014. As it was a new show, I really didn't know what to expect. Neither did the arranger of the show and I remember Juha Ruokangas walking around in the halls prior to the show's opening time, wondering if there would be any visitors. He didn't have to worry at all. The visitors came in unexpected numbers and the show was a success. You can read my report here!

This year when the show was announced, I thought I really should go because of two reasons. The first being that the luthiers displaying at the show are fantastic artisans, craftsmen and visionaries. The second reason was that I was curious if the visitors would return or if the show was a "one hit wonder".

So I made my travel arrangements and off I went. And I'm glad I did! Once again, the European Guitar Builders Association managed to put up a great show. The Estrel is a good place for an event like this and the decision to have seperate sound isolated rooms for trying the guitars and rooms for lectures and demo concerts makes it possible to have conversations in the main show halls. And this show is very much about conversations. The possibility to meet the luthiers and talk to them about their designs and decide what the best options for your dream build is exhilarating for people like me (i.e nerd of the highest order). If you have been in the musical instruments industry as long as I have, it's also an excellent place to meet friends.

In order not to offend anyone I have this disclaimer I'd like you to read:

This personal report should bee seen as my very own point of view and does not reflect the wiev and/or opinions of any other person or company of which I may be associated either through my work or in these pictures. If you find any faulty information in this report please e-mail me at mats.n[at]nermark.com.

So without further ado, please follow me to Berlin. The city may have a somewhat murky past, but thanks to the HGGS, it has a very bright future for guitar and bass players.

I have placed the builders in alphabetical order for your convenience according to their corporate names. I also have divided the report into 5 sections. Otherwise the load times would be problematic.

Please also accept my apology for any language errors as English is not my native language.

Enjoy!

 

Go to Part 1 Go to Part 2 Go to Part 3 Go to Part 4 Go to Part 5

 

AJL Guitars

 

AJL Guitars from Finland were one of the few to show a Django-style acoustic. I think it's cool that someone cares for and develops this cultural heritage.

 

Alquier Guitars

Jean-Yves Alquier surprised many visitors by bringing what was, most certainly, the most environmentally friendly and certified guitars, 100% made out of bamboo.

Being made of bamboo doens't prevent them from being very nice loking instruments.  

 

 

The back of the neck clearly show the the structure of the bamboo. I tried this guitar and it felt like a high quality instrument.

Mr. Alquier clearly believes that high quality hardware is the way to go.

What I found very interesting and most refreshing was that, while other environmentally friendly products in other product lines, that I'm confronted with in my daily life, looks and feels cheap and second rate, these bamboo instruments is first class all the way.

I think it's very nice to see serious luthiers taking a serious interest in alternative woods for guitars. And I think we own to them, and to ourselves, to take them seriously and give them our consideration.

 

 

 

Anders Liljeström

 

Also from Finland, Anders Liljeström brought this beautiful and somewhat unusual acoustic. There are a few luthiers out there, who like to extend the body along the neck on the bass side. I didn't get a chance to try it but and Mr Liljeström was busy with a customer so I couldn't ask him, but I am interested in knowing what his reasons behind this design are.

 

Åstrand Guitars

Clean and understated elegance are words that immediately come to my mind whenever I see guitars by Swedish luthier Ted Åstrand.

Laminated headstock and wooden tuner pegs.

Wood rosette.

 

Bacce Custom Guitars and basses

There are a lot of references here to traditional guitar designs but Daniel Cabezas always puts his own twist on them.

 

 

The ever increasing gold foil trend, here in a H/S/H configuration.

The inlayd wood and etched pick guard displays nice skills.

 

 

 

Bachmann Guitars and Tonewood

Interestingly enough, Rudolf Bachman chose to display the back of this guitar instead of the front. But as I came close and saw this elegantly arched back, I can certainly see why. Beautiful work!  

 

 

The front of the guitar is nothing to be ashamed of either.

 

 

Basslab

The two guitars on the right made me remember the, now vintage, Roland GR-700 guitar synth and, of course, made me think of Prince.

 

Beauregard Guitars

Canadian luthier Mario Beauregard displayed a truly masterful acoustic that I would love to own.  

 

 

Mr Beauregard was, understandably continually busy, so I didn't find time to ask him about the inspiration behind this soundhole. I think the word awesome is very much overused, but here it is very suitable.

 

 

Cardinal Instruments

Cardinal Guitars from Austin, Texas, once again showed a very individual guitar. I can't remember the name of the wood used for the top in this guitar, but I have never seen or heard of it before.  

 

Owner and luthier Sam Evan extolling the sonic virtues of his P90 pickups. One of the cool things about Sam is that, apart from building very individual guitars, he is also a story teller of skill. You can always count on good conversation with Sam.

 

Chateiler Fréres

The aim of the Chateiler brothers is to build an acustic guitar well suited to both finger picking and flat picking. Something not very easily found in the market of mass produced guitars, if at all. But after briefly tying this one out, I'm definitely thinking they are on to something.  

 

 

I have a very hard time with MOP and abalone inlays, but this strikes a perfect balance in my eyes.

I may just have found another reason, besides the food, to go to France.

 

Christina Kobler Guitars

These was an increase in women luthiers this year and the work they showed, should help shatter the notion that this is a man's business. Ms Koblers guitars were excellent and the guitar to the left spoke to me in a big way.

Clean lines and flawless execution.  

 

 

Beautiful wood and nice detail. According to my wife, this was the the most beautiful guitar of the show.

 

 

Danou Guitars

Danou, once again, displayed their flippable double neck guitars. Belt buckles not recommended.  

<-- Here's the acoustic side of things.

 

And here's a veiw from the side. -->

 

Di Donato Guitars

Enrico Di Donato seems to take his inspiration from both tradition and newer designs that results in guitars that are all individual and quite unique.

 

Distorted Branch Custom Guitars

Luthier duo, Lizet Albor and Paul Ortiz Murcio, definitely have their own thing going for them.  

 

 

This peacock inspired theme caught my eye and made me take notice. Definitely different!

 

 

Ergon Guitars

Tone and comfort are the two main objectives when Adriano Sérgio work his magic. These are way beyond any Tele clones some people consider luthiere.

There's something sensous about these curves. This picture does NOT do this guitar justice. The figure and shading in the wood was beautiful.  

 

Eyb Guitars

 

 

These guitars are easy to string for either left or right handed players and equally easy to play as they are symmetrical in design.

 

Here are Günther Eyb's takes on the Fullerton tradition.  

Go to Part 1 Go to Part 2 Go to Part 3 Go to Part 4 Go to Part 5