Some folks go nuts over baseball or golf, but to me, nothing beats a stroll around the vendor areas at the guitar show, looking to capture my next six-string Wildebeest. This year features the usual vintage fare, as well as a much larger presence of up-and-coming companies like Fuchs Technology, Sommatone Amps, BITMO and more.
The workshop line-up at Brookdale is phenomenal with instruction on everything from open tunings to music publishing. The Grip Weeds show us DIY recording techniques while the Aquarian’s own Mike Black demonstrates his prowess with “Making Those Other Noises,” unconventional playing techniques involving non-standard tunings and others ways of using stringed instruments. Brad Hunt spills the business beans with his music publishing series and Charlie Pearlman, Chris Plunkett and Sonny Kenn show you how to do everything from finger picking to jostling for position in a two-guitar band. These educational clinics will run all day from 11:15 a.m. till 3:30 p.m.
The live side of the show continues to be an important aspect event for participants and audience members alike. The list of performers taking the stage this year is as varied as their styles. Groups like Divine Sign, the New Jersey purveyors of Americana rock and multiple winners of the AMA’s two years running. Also, the progressive jazz blazing of Chris Buono, Jo Wymer and her bluesy trademark kick up a little dirt, and the frenetically mysterious Sophie Ramos rips it up, and so many more. Check the website for the entire schedule and come out for the area’s best live music.
Another cool part about this show is that it also coincides with post-NAMM (National Association of Music Merhcants) time and all the innovators are back and ready to strut some pretty impressive stuff for you.
One such vendor is Unk Guitars. Conceived from the mind of Paul Unkert, Unk guitars have crossed that questionable bridge of survival and into the land of rising brand name recognition. Unkert contributions have been instrumental in the industry, building many of the top instruments of our times (including Eddie Van Halen’s famous Kramer). His 37-year run with companies such as Ampeg and Dan Armstrong, Guild, Sam Koontz, BC Rich and the famed Kramer Guitars out of Neptune, NJ, puts him squarely into the position of being able to predict the needs of musicians on a broad level.
Unkert has field tested his guitars like a scientist of sorts with many well-known artists like Bobby Bandiera, Mike Stone from Queensryche, CC Deville, Tal Morris and others firmly on board the Unk friends list and including Jim Messina, Warren Haynes, Eddie Van Halen and Chuck Leavell (Rolling Stones, Allman Brothers).
With new designs and a multi-faceted base including repair, design, sales and manufacturing, it all culminates with getting the instrument into the hands of the everyday player. Unk partner Jorn Gorlach had this to say: “Paul has come up with a true work of art that a musician can appreciate like no other. You can see the expression on their faces when they pick the guitar up and start playing it. That look is what we strive to create and what makes us different than the others out there. At the NAMM show people would be coming back to the booth three and four times to play it, they couldn’t put it down.”
One famous manufacturer from Corona, California, saw the guitars at the show and upon inspecting the finishes just shook his head and said, “We should have been doing this already.” Unkert continues with his mission statement: “The bottom line is that we want to be a complete American solution company right here in New Jersey with a reputation as the ‘go to’ guys”.
I recently read a mini-epic in one of the guitar magazines out there on five or six builders that all took the Fender Telecaster and made their own “custom” version of that original. All I could think was, “Are you kidding me? Why would I pay thousands for a copy when I could have the genuine thing for much less?” Using that same analogy, Unk Guitars will design, build and customize a beautiful American original that includes a hardshell case for less than any of the famous machine-produced instruments or their copycats. Original, cutting edge and solid, Unk Guitars’ future is definitely right now.
For further information on UNK, please see them at the Brookdale Guitar Show on Sunday, Feb. 15 or go to unkguitars.com.
General admission for the show is $15, discounted admission is $10, and discounted admission for any valid student ID card, a 90.5 The NIGHT Membership Card, an instrument to sell or trade, and anyone aged five to 12 years old and children up to the age of five are free. Brookdale’s MySpace profile is myspace.com/brookdaleguitarshow.