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Strung Out by Zach Fjestad

Strung Out by Zach Fjestad
  Zachary R. Fjestad is a former author of the Blue Book of Acoustic Guitars, Blue Book of Electric Guitars, and Blue Book of Guitar Amplifiers, as well as the author of the revised edition of the Gibson Flying V book. Fjestad has been covering the music industry at Blue Book since 2002 and regularly attends guitar trade shows along with several vintage guitar shows. He also reads and makes notes on music industry trade and vintage guitar magazines and is in contact with several musical industry representatives.
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Summer NAMM Show 2014 by S.P. Fjestad - Part 1

This is the second year the Summer NAMM show has been in the Nashville Music City Center, and judging by all the exhibitor and attendee comments, everyone is very glad to be back in the Music City. The only reason the show left was because the old convention center simply ran out of space for exhibitors, and the following shows in Indianapolis and Austin, TX, were forgettable.

Nashville’s new and innovative convention center is four blocks long and one block wide, and contains over 350,000 square feet of exhibitor display area! This NAMM show used only half of the hall space, but the rest will probably be needed for future summer shows.
Having been to hundreds of firearms trade shows that typically open up for attendees between 8:30am-9:00am, I had to sit around awhile before the doors finally opened at 10am. After all, we are dealing with nocturnal musicians here!
As fate would have it, the first guy I ran into was Joe Lamond (l), NAMM’s long-term and effervescent President. He assured me that the Summer NAMM show would be staying in Nashville for a long time.
Almost any type of guitar design imaginable is on exhibit, and this acoustic flattop has some very unique soundholes and decorative work around the upper bouts.
This dude can play his own duets!
Martin’s energetic and unflappable CEO, Chris Martin is shown holding a one-off jumbo flattop with “The Martin” on the headstock and featuring a Triple Sunburst finish. This is Martin’s tongue-in-cheek response to manufacturing an acoustic guitar to rival the looks of a Gibson SJ-200.
Note the unusual graphics on this D-28 The Louvin Brothers Commemorative Edition Martin flattop featuring graphics from an older Louvin Brothers’ Satan is Real album cover.
Maybe the two coolest dudes at this year’s Summer NAMM were Don (l) and Jeff Lace, who among, other things, specialize in gourmet-quality chicken wings, restoring older Air Stream travel trailers, and oh yeah, manufacturing some of the best guitar pickups on the planet, in addition to creating some of the more edgy guitar designs, like this newest one.
The show buzz was the U.S. Fish & Wildlife's current enforcement position on class I items on the CITES list, which includes potentially confiscating any ivory that's not at least 100 years old. This also includes Brazilian Rosewood - the ultimate tone wood for stringed musical instruments. A lot of luthiers and guitar manufacturers are now scared and confused, and unfortunately, it's almost impossible to get any straight answers from the Feds. Chris Martin from Martin Guitars told me that his company was no longer taking in any older Martins for repair with ivory bridges, saddles, tuning machine knobs, inlays, etc., as it's just too risky after what happened at Gibson several years ago when the Feds locked the place down and confiscated a lot of "banned wood." When I asked one of the Fish & Wildlife agents at the show (they had a booth out front) what they were trying to accomplish by confiscating ivory and criminalizing the people who legally own it, I was actually told to "Re-evaluate your areas of collectibility with future sustainability as your primary consideration now." I responded with "Wrong answer" and walked away. What a bunch of doofuses.
You’d think the U.S. Fish & Wildlife would come up with something a little “softer” to portray their pit bull image for enforcement. This graphic speaks volumes of how they see themselves “working” with the public in terms of environmental issues.
Old friend and champion of the modern luthier, Henry Lowenstein (r), is on the forefront of the ivory ban legislation. An attorney and customs broker who is also a vendor for Homeland Security, Henry’s knowledge on modern acoustic instruments from the best luthiers is perhaps unrivaled.
Jamie Gale (center) of MOTUS North America located in Toronto imports quite a few different high quality instruments from the best luthiers in Germany and Switzerland. I’m holding one of Uli Teuffel’s most recent models - the Antonio, with elongated body; Jamie is holding an electric guitar from Claudia Pagelli; and Henry Lowenstein (r), has his hands clutched to a Teuffel Rodium Birdfish, perhaps one of the more expensive guitars at the show at $25,000.
You’d better have your headstock pointing in the right direction while you play your riffs on this flame thrower guitar. Anybody who’s in the business automatically knows that only ESP can come up with stuff this weird!

Please click here to read Part 2!

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Strung Out - by Zachary R. Fjestad
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