Welcome to a new feature for Guitar.com - "10 Things!" We’ve all seen or read those “1,000 things to see before you die" books; the Eiffel Tower, The Pyramids at Giza, The Grand Canyon, Hendrix Gravesite, etc. Well, this is a similarly styled list largely for guitar enthusiasts and although it most likely isn’t truly a comprehensive list of things to see, it is a list that holds immeasurable interest for those that can’t get enough of “all things guitar”. So if you count yourself amongst the world of Guitar Freaks or if you’ve contracted the nefarious G.A.S. (and if you have to ask what that stands for, then don’t worry – you don’t have it….yet, which is a probably a good/bad thing), you should figure out a way to attend at least a few (if not all) of these events. Most of them are fun, eye-opening, educational and as guitar-centric as any event you’ll find. They're not in any particular order of import but feel free to add your suggestions in the comments section and if we get more strong suggestions, we'll make a round 2!! Enjoy!
#10 – GFA or The Guitar Federation of America Convention and Competition
This year’s event will be held in Austin, TX – June 22nd thru the 27th. This is one of the preeminent classical guitar events that celebrate artists from around the globe; there are master workshops, performances, clinics, recitals and competitions. Clearly this is for a very select audience but if you’ve ever attended, the level of talent at this event is jaw-dropping.
You can read more about this by visiting - Guitar Foundation.org/drupal/convention
#9 – Arlington Guitar Show – Arlington, TX
Every October thousands of Guitar-aficionados head for Arlington, TX, just across the road from the Rangers Stadium and down the street from the new Dallas Cowboys Stadium. Its room after room filled with more guitars than you can imagine. For those who haven’t attended this event – it’s Christmas, Birthdays and every other gift-giving holiday all rolled up into one. Thousands of guitars, amps, basses, EFX pedals and other gear oriented wondrousness for you to peruse. You have to experience it to appreciate it.
It’s one of the largest guitar shows in the states – for more info - http://www.texasguitarshows.com/
#9a – The Dallas Guitar Show – Dallas, TX
You can’t mention the Arlington Guitar Show without mentioning the Dallas Show, so this is a bonus event. It’s a killer as well. However, it’s already come and gone. The Dallas Show was April 15th thru the 17th. There’s equally more guitars than you can shake a Stratocaster at but there’s tons of live music as well. And each year brings new talent to see. This year was no exception – Kings X, Ted Nugent, Andy Timmons, Neal Schon, Ricky Scaggs, Rick Derringer, Derek St. Holmes, George Lynch plus a bunch more.
You can see what this year’s past show was about by visiting - http://guitarshow.com/
This year’s festival will be held in Chicago on June 26th (2010). The gathering of guitarists at this event is staggering and can be a bit overwhelming. Mostly because no matter how hard you try, you can’t see it all. There's just too much going on at one time. When you view the line-up and start picking the players you just HAVE TO see, inevitably, they end up taking the stage at the same time at opposite ends of the festival. So you’ll have to choose carefully. But there’s never a dull moment with so much to see and enjoy.
To learn more about the festival & Eric Clapton’s Crossroad Facility visit - Crossroads Guitar Festival
#7 – Healdsburg Guitar Festival
This is a festival for all you acoustic guitar freaks out there. It’s held every other year, the last year being 2009, so we’re in the “off” year at the moment. The next event will be held in 2011. The festival is just chock full of everything you’d want to see at a wooden-based festival: luthiers, clinics, vendors from all walks, and lots of live music. This past festival hosted, Mimi Fox, Tim Sparks, Don Alder, Harvey Reid, Tim Thompson (2008 Fingerstyle Champ), Richard Gilewitz and many others. It’s a real hands-on opportunity to see, hear and speak with many of the movers and shakers inside the world of Acoustic-Guitar music.
For more information on the upcoming festival – visit - http://www.lmii.com/guitarfestival/
#6 – A G3 Tour Date
Not unlike going to see the classically-based GFA conference, G3 is an event for a very select group of you "guitar-aholics". Joe Satriani and Steve Vai have brought shred and sonic-prowess to new heights with this somewhat annual road show. There’s not a ton of dates slated for 2010 but at some point in your life, you should experience this level of virtuosity just once in your guitar life.
For more information – you can visit Joe’s Site - http://www.satriani.com/
Or Steve’s Site - http://www.vai.com
Or the G3 site – which doesn’t look like it’s been updated in a bit – there are allegedly some Australian dates booked - http://www.satriani.com/G3/
#5 – Break a Guitar-based Guinness Book of World Records, record.
It would seem like Canada gives this a bigger run than most countries, although Germany currently holds the record for having 1,802 Guitar-enthusiasts play “Smoke on the Water” back in 2007. So if you’re highly motivated, call up a few thousand of your friends, have them come over and bang out – “Smoke on the Water” or “Louie, Louie” or “Proud Mary” or……..insert hit of choice that only has three chords…I happened to be in Boston when they tried to beat this record, playing "Dirty Water" (a Charles River classic) but they came up short. Start organizing.......
#4 – Support a Blues Artist of your Choice
If you had the pleasure of seeing Muddy Waters, John Lee Hooker, Sonny Boy Williamson, Robert Lockwood Jr or any of the major bluesmen that brought forth honest American music with a talent and urgency that’s all too hard to find today, you’ll understand why it’s so important to go out and support any of the remaining progenitors from the world of the blues. Certainly our British brethen got this concept, a long time ago.
Buddy Guy, David Honeyboy Edwards, Pinetop Perkins (both he and Edwards are 96), B.B. King (how can you go wrong here), Hubert Sumlin and a short list of others are well worth checking out. They are the foundation of rock music (not to mention several other popular genres) and without them, music would not have evolved into what it is, this very day.
#3 – The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame
Okay, so this one might seem to be a little bit cliché but it’s really not. I’ve been twice and wasn’t disappointed either time. There is something for everyone regardless of your interest. Short story – I was at the Hall when they had one of the Woodstock exhibits open. They had jackets from performers, lots of tiny memorabilia, and fascinating tidbits on the simplest minutia you could imagine. So I’m walking thru the minutia section, I’m basically by myself as it was close to closing time. I find myself, talking to myself (like I sometimes do). And I say “it must have been wild to have been backstage while all this was going on” – obviously I was saying this to myself, as I was by myself, or so I thought. Then I hear someone from the shadows say “It was wild beyond belief” – and I turn around and it’s Richie Havens. It was one of those moments where there’s nothing you can say. The hair on the back up my neck stood up as he disappeared into the darkness of the exhibit. Rarely am I speechless, but that was one of them.
Get more info on the Hall of Fame and the current exhibits by visiting -
#3 – The Gibson Guitar Factory Tour
For all you Electric Guitar Fanatics, this tour was one of the most compelling and interesting tours I’ve ever had the pleasure of attending. As a big fan of Gibson Guitars, hearing the inner details of guitar manufacture, dating back to the 30’s, 40’s and 50’s sent my mind a wandering, whereas I then unfortunately, missed out on most of what was said. But seeing the original body forms, jigs and tooling that has produced hundreds of thousands of guitars was simply entrancing. If you’re ever in Nashville, I highly recommend it.
#2 – The Martin Guitar Factory Tour
Again, for you wooden players out there – The Martin Tour is equally compelling as their legacy covers more than 170 years of guitar building. The tour takes you along a fascinating trek down memory lane. From the inside skinny on production foibles to the master craftsmanship of their D-45, you’ll see and smell exotic woods that Martin uses to make some of the finest instruments made (and man, it really does smell wonderful). Nazareth, PA isn’t totally off the beaten track so if you’re ever in that neck of the woods, you have to take it all in – make sure you book plenty of time, as they is a great deal to see.
To learn more, visit - http://www.martinguitar.com/visit/tour.html
Number 2 is for the East Coasters so we have to throw in something for all you folks on the West Coast. If you ever find yourself in El Cajon, CA on a Friday, give the kind folks at Taylor Guitars a call, as that’s the only day the do Factory Tours. This is a magnificent walk thru a one of the cleanest and tidiest production facilities you’ll ever find. Hard to believe their working with wood, generating all that sawdust and you could still eat off the floor if you were so inclined but you may want to check with the tour staff before doing so.
For more information visit: http://www.taylorguitars.com/contact/
#1 – Take a Build Your Own Guitar Class – at the College Level – they ain’t fooling around
This ain’t no kit class that you buy online. These are high quality college level classes that will lead you to build a guitar that can really play (god-willing). There are numerous courses of this nature around the country, most notably, Charles Foxs', which he runs out of Portland, OR. But you’ll have to plan for this one as many of his courses fill up long before they ever start. Another course is run by Roberto Venn in Arizona - you can find several others by searching online. Make sure you do your research before signing up. Talk to the staff or get references to make sure that you’ll be somewhat happy with the results of your blood, sweat and calluses. I have a friend who has a guitar that he produced many years back after taking an early version of a course like this. He treasures it, not only because he made the guitar with his two hands but of the memories and energy it took to craft this instrument.
Make memories – make a guitar - make music - here are two noted schools you can check out but there are surely more around the globe to inspect.
We'll be adding more "10 Things" columns in the future; 10 Licks guitarists should know; 10 EFX pedals every guitarist should own (this would be a tough one for me, as this list should 100 EFX pedals for me) - feel free to send us your suggestions and we'll add them to our growing list.