What a Messe
Brats, Beer &
Four Days at Musikmesse Frankfurt—Europe’s
Biggest, Baddest Musical Instrument Trade Show
BY SHAWN HAMMOND AND JOE COFFEY
EverygeargluttonworthhisG.A.S.diagnosis knowsasmorgasbordofdelectablenewgui- tars,amps,stompboxes,andaccessoriesgets rolledouteachJanuaryandJulyatNAMM showsinAnaheim,California,andNashville, Tennessee,respectively.Butifyou’retapped intoglobalguitardom,youknowsimilar showsarealsoheldallaroundtheworldeach year.Europe’sbiggestsucheventisMusik- messe,andit’sheldinFrankfurt,Germany, eachspringatahuge,elaborateconvention centerthat’sreachablefromjustaboutany partofthecityviaafast,convenientnetwork oftrainsandsubways. Atthetimeofthiswriting,ithasbeenless than24hourssince PG’ssmallcontingent returnedfromawhirlwindtriptothelandofbratwurstandoverflowingsteins.Andrather thansitonourstashoftantalizingpicsand insiderscoopsuntilthejetlagsubsides,we’re crankingoutthispieceASAPtogiveyouthe lowdownonstuffthat’llmakeyourGAScon- ditionevenmorechronic.Because,hey,that’s thekindofmagweare. AttendanceatMusikmessewasdownatad fromlastyear,butitwasstillhoppin’.Andthe finalday,whichwasopentothepublic,was
insanelybusy.Manufacturersandattendees alikedugthatthepacewasbriskwhilestill allowingforplentyoffacetime—andample opportunitytotest-drivethenewwares. Thoughweyearnedtocradlepracticallyevery six-stringandtwiddleeveryknobinsightto seeifwewerecompatible,wesoldieredontoboothafterbooth,knowingweweren’tdoing youjusticeifwedidn’tcoverasmuchofthe showashumanlypossible. Intheprocessofsniffingoutthelatestand greatest,weshotseveralhoursofkick-ass demosandwalkthroughvideosthatshouldbe
ditedandpostedtopremierguitar.comby thetimeyoureadthis.Wesawstuffyou’vere- centlyheardabout(likethenewGibsonSlash AppetiteLesPaul)butalsokeptourearsto thegroundforinsidernewsonproductsthat weren’tondisplaybutyoucanexpecttosee materializeinthenextfewmonths. So,let’sdivein.Withoutfurtherado,wepres- enttoyouourtreasuretroveofphotosand infofromFrankfurt.
118 PREMIER GUI TAR MA Y 2010
Welcome to another issue of Premier Guitar.
Our May offering was thisclose to being a
very different issue—it was almost 16 pages
lighter, in fact. You see, we had most of our
coverage planned out and well in the works
when we left for Musikmesse Frankfurt,
Europe’s biggest musical instruments trade
show. But when we got there and looked
around, we realized there was just too much
cool gear to share with you in a mere four-page spread. After all, we have G.A.S. and
we know that you do, too. So, we bumped
our Messe coverage up to 20+ pages
because… well, that’s what happens when
true gearheads run their own magazine.
Speaking of gearheads, we hope you enjoy
our interview with Nels Cline—a gear nut
who likes “ugly duckling” guitars as much
as his beloved ’ 59 Jazzmasters. We also talk
gear with Lynda Kay and Jonny Coffin, a
couple whose very different-looking careers
overlap much more than you’d think. She’s
doing everything she can to bring real
country music back and he’s doing everything
When it comes to sexy guitars, Musikmesse offered plenty of opportunities to gawk and twang—from
new companies like France’s Voyage Instruments to the industry’s biggest manufacturers and even
some companies we weren’t even sure still existed. Whether you’re a headbanger or an old-school
cat, you’re bound to find something that whets your appetite here.
James Tyler Variax The next generation of Line 6 Variax guitars combines the company’s piezo-powered modeling technology with magnetic pickups and three sleek new
designs by luthier James Tyler—who has built guitars for the likes of Prince, Michael Landau, and Warren DeMartini. The three new models are available in a high-end US custom
shop line, as well as a more affordable Korean-made line.
Danou Guitars Serious head turners from Swiss luthier Daniel Meier. Each features a bent outer “lyra” made of several wood layers. Woods include chestnut, walnut,
bot yew, ebony, spruce, and maple. The two electrics (left and right) feature Häussel single-coils, while the acoustic (middle) has a Schertler transducer.
he can to serve the needs of artists who are
looking for guitar cases and stompboxes that
you can’t find just anywhere.
In a recurring feature that might best be
described as PG meets CSI, this month’s
“Secrets of the Masters” installment digs
into Mötley Crüe’s “Looks That Kill.” The
engineers behind the popular Jammit iPhone
app blow the dust off the song’s multi-masters, load ‘em up, and see what there is
to discover about that moment in time when
rock ’n’ roll’s rowdiest bunch committed yet
another strip-club classic to tape.
On a sad note, one of music’s most famous
photographers is no longer with us. Jim
Marshall passed away in March at the age
of 74. His craft, photography that celebrates
musicianship, is something we devote six
pages to in every issue with our “Opening
Notes” photography section. As such, we
thought it would be fitting to start this
month’s gallery with a shot of Marshall.
In terms of gear, we’re proud to say that this
issue pretty much encapsulates what we’re
all about—exploring gear, new and old, as
well as talking to the people who make and
play it. This month’s cover story profiles Joe
Knaggs, a well-established builder who is
venturing out with new designs and a new
company. And Bob Taylor is in this month’s
“Go Ahead and Ask” hot seat answering
questions that you provided. (Joe Bonamassa
will be in that seat next month, so go to
submit your questions today.) Other featured
gear coverage in this issue includes a look
at Jim Worland’s creative approach to guitar
building, and an exploration of Gibson’s
GA- 70 amp from the ‘50s.
Our review lineup is loaded again this
month—we review Mesa/Boogie’s much-talked-about Mark V amp, Way Huge’s Aqua-Puss reissue, Nik Huber’s rough-and-ready
Krautster guitar, Freekish Blues pedals (which
were recommended to us by Dweezil Zappa),
Henry Clift’s latest tone monster—the Jaguar
Junior amp—and much more. Enjoy!