From September 8 to 10, 2017, the first Guitar Summit took place in Mannheim's Rosengarten, organized by GITARRE & BASS. Let's sum it up right away: It has been three great days for everyone who loves guitars and guitar music! What the Summit looked like in detail you can read here!
We’d like to start with some impressive facts and figures that made musicians, manufacturers, dealers and music fans’ eyes light up all weekend long: 3 days, 6 stages, more than 300 brands at the booths of 130 exhibitors on four levels, 4500 visitors, 106 workshops and clinics as well as numerous thrilling performances with well-known artists on the big stage in the Mozartsaal.
The first Guitar Summit, organized by GITARRE & BASS with the support of the City of Mannheim in the city’s own Rosengarten Congress and Conference Center, was able to draw an all-around positive resume even before the doors closed late Sunday afternoon.
Happy people could be seen everywhere, chatting and networking for hours, listening to and playing music, asking and answering questions, and taking home many new inspirations. The first positive sign for the organizers came early on Friday morning: even before the doors opened exactly at 10 a.m. in the morning, a long queue of visitors formed in front of the building, not wanting to miss a single minute of this promising event.
There were good reasons for their early arrival, because from the very beginning, the hallowed halls were buzzing with activity. Marco Wriedt, head, guitarist and main songwriter of the German band 21Octayne, was one of the first to showcase his impressive dexterity and present the Fender American Professional series in an interesting workshop.
One of the most important spots for all Summit visitors was, of course, the booth of GITARRE & BASS, where the popular Guitar Summit T-shirt and the cool cloth bag were available for a small price, but also free copies of our magazine as well as two Hagstrom Fantomen guitars, which were up for raffle. Most of the time you also met one or the other staff member from our company – for a family photo once even the whole staff met at once – for a lively exchange. Of course, this also took place at all levels and at all stands.
FRIDAY: GENIUS FINGERPICKING
From a musical point of view, the opening Friday was mainly dominated by acoustic fingerstyle artists. A first early highlight already took place at 12 noon on the so-called Acoustic Stage, when Berlin-based modern fingerstyle virtuoso Tobias Rauscher demonstrated instructive tricks for strengthening the gripping hand and little tricks for fluent legato playing.
For the first time in Germany, the Russian YouTube star Alexandr Misko was on stage, presenting his interpretation of Nirvana’s ‘Smells Like Teen Spirit’ to the visitors under the cheeky motto “The Beauty Of Open Tunings” (original quote: “You can also play heavy metal with acoustic guitars like this!”). When his mic slipped out of its mount during his technical demonstration, he explained without further ado: “Sorry, in Russia we don’t have microphones, just a lot of vodka.”
A similarly scurrilous sense of humor also characterizes the British percussive fingerstyle star Jon Gomm. The virtuoso master of perfection had brought along his famous “Wilma” by Northern Irish guitar maker George Lowden, which clearly showed its 20 years of use. In a packed workshop room, Gomm’s mixture of blues, soul, rock and even metal influences was very well received, and his breathtaking acoustic guitar version of Chaka Khan’s ‘Ain’t Nobody’ was always a real treat.
Equally impressive was Maneli Jamal‘s performance on his Cole Clark signature guitar. His playing is characterized by incredible rhythmic accuracy and absolutely perfect tone, a listening experience of a special kind. Jamal shared the stage with 13-year-old Croatian Frano Zivkovic, whom many guitar fans know from his joint performances with Tommy Emmanuel.
At the end of a first Summit day that was a complete blast in every way, Tobias Rauscher, Alexandr Misko, Maneli Jamal and Jon Gomm took to the stage in the Mozart Hall from 6 p.m. onwards, playing to a packed audience. Gomm, quite the unconventional Brit, first came with a hoodie, under which his sometimes-mischievous grin about the absurdities of everyday life could only be seen to some extent. Even more obvious his thrilling songwriting and incredible performances on “Wilma”.
ROCK AND BLUES ON SATURDAY
Compared to the more acoustic-oriented Friday, the Summit Saturday was much more rocking. Thanks to a unique initiative by Musik Produktiv, visitors had the opportunity to combine a total of 64 different tube amps with 43 cabinets in the so-called ‘Tubeamp-Finity’ room and find the “perfect match” for themselves. Of course, this offer was used extensively, which is why the volume level in the Amp World area was significantly higher than in the amazingly quiet other floors.
For prominent Summit visitors like Alex Beyrodt (Primal Fear, Voodoo Circle) or Axel Ritt (Grave Digger) this was not an unusual situation. Both had to sign many autographs and make themselves available for selfies.
There was a mad rush at Guthrie Govan‘s workshop: Of course, countless Summit visitors wanted to get a close look at one of the most unusual rock guitarists of our time, so that the workshop room on level 2 threatened to burst at the seams for a short time. Guthrie’s brilliant performance provided pure goosebumps; he alone was worth the admission to the Summit!
Victor Smolski’s workshop on the Amp World Stage was not affected by the volume level from the Amp World area. The former guitarist of Rage, who released the second album of his new band Almanac a few days ago, demonstrated real metal power. Between the songs, which he performed with full physical engagement, the Belarusian gave exciting tips on songwriting and arranging.
In the early evening, Ida Nielsen, who was unfortunately unable to attend her workshop, compensated with a real rhythm firework, especially since she was on stage with Holger Stonjek, the boss of Sandberg Guitars, as the second bass player. Nielsen kicked off a funk- and rock-charged evening with an awesome show.
Things continued to get even more intense by the minute after Thomas Blug’s Rock Anarchy took the stage, bringing in Gregor Hilden, Dennis Hormes, Victor Smolski, Jen Majura and Guthrie Govan one after the other. Rock classics were offered and they were a real treat: Blug and Smolski fired off a boiling hot ‘Highway Star’ (Deep Purple) from the hip, Jen Majura delivered a hard-hitting medley of ‘Whole Lotta Love’ (Led Zeppelin) and ‘Back In Black’ (AC/DC), and Govan had the audience in thrills with a catchy version of ‘Walking On The Moon’ (The Police).
Summit’s rocking Saturday night couldn’t have gotten off to a more frenetic start before German instrumental prog rockers Long Distance Calling delivered an impressive and atmospheric set. The band announced that work on their new album was completed a few weeks ago, so you can already look forward to another LDC masterpiece. Heads up: We’ll be running a big story on the release!
ENGLUND & SMOLSKI – METAL GIANTS ON SUNDAY
On stage the night before with his metal band The Haunted at ‘The Crypt’ south of Stockholm, Swedish guitarist, songwriter and producer Ola Englund arrived in time for his Sunday morning workshop. Although he had hardly slept a wink the previous night, he gave two exhausted performances, one on self-marketing – an area that is becoming increasingly important in times of declining CD/album sales – and on modeling amps. After his two spectacular performances on Saturday, Victor Smolski also made another appearance on Sunday. In the workshop room on level 2, he gave valuable tips on the topic of “Unclenched at full speed!”. At 4:30 p.m. Jen Majura was on stage once again. The topic of her workshop, “Gear Talk: The Right Cable.” A somewhat different aspect of guitar amps was presented by Thomas Dill on the Amp World Stage: “Kemper Profiler & Effects.” Highly interesting and certainly trendsetting.
But is this really the sole future of amp forging? David Jordan of Long Distance Calling commented afterwards pointedly, “If you think you can make it easy by buying a modeling amp, you’re seriously mistaken. You have to spend a lot of time with this gear if you really want them to sound good. If you take that time, however, the amps have many advantages, of course.”
The first Guitar Summit truly called for a follow-up! Everyone agreed on that point and want to come back the next time we open the doors. When will that be? Keep your eyes open, we will announce it soon! There will be a detailed overview of the Guitar Summit gear highlights in the next issue.
Story: Matthias Mineur (Guitar&Bass 10/2017)
The second Guitar Summit took place from September 7 to 9, 2018. More than 6000 visitors spent a weekend surrounded by guitars and bass, attended the more than 160 workshops, master classes and concerts, and shared experiences with like-minded people. Here are a few impressions.
To give a first summary right away: Everybody was enthusiastic, almost everybody felt great. Visitors and exhibitors alike got everything they were looking for, in many ways. For three days there was plenty to see, feel, hear and test – everything that makes a guitarist’s or bassist’s heart beat faster: Instruments and amps from inexpensive to high-end at boutique level prices, or effect pedals that can be used to create just about any tone imaginable. In addition, accessories that make the (musician’s) life easier, more exciting, more inspired and somehow also more beautiful. No surprise, that on this long Summit weekend you could only see satisfied faces, no matter where you looked.
WORKSHOPS & MASTERCLASSES
Again, one of the most important meeting points for the visitors were the seven stages on three levels with more than 160 workshops. There was so much to learn, to be amazed at, to discover new things or simply to be close to one’s idols.
On the Shure Silent Stage on Level 1, for example, things were going hard and heavy compared to other stages. Mattias IA Eklundh showed off his fabulous fret skills on his eight-string Caparison guitar, which visibly carried the marks of his busy touring life. At the beginning of his performance, the Swedish musician was still a bit unfamiliar with the in-ear sound on stage, which was new to him, but even that was forgotten after a few beats.
Markus Vieweg and Frank Schulze-Brüggemann gave a presentation on the cornerstones of being a professional musician. Their message: There are only a few rules to follow, but they are essential. “Be on time and reliable, always have your equipment in perfect shape, and: less is more.” After all, Schulze-Brüggemann says, “In this business, everything has to go super fast and work at the first go.” The most important lesson, however, is: “Everyone has their faults, but don’t be an asshole anyway!”
Thomas Blug, for his part, spoke about ” the fun of practicing” and formulated a strong theory: On the basis of German kids’ songs, the secret of composition can be decoded from Joe Satriani to Police (‘Walking On The Moon’), from the Eagles to David Gilmour. Says Blug, “Actually, Satriani plays ‘All My Ducklings’ the whole night, just with changing bass tones.” Another note to all musicians: keep the songs simple and make sure you have a good groove, because, “If it’s grooving on stage, the girls will stay!” In his opinion, the most important tool for every guitarist: “Pentatonic plus x, and you can play 98% of all songs in the world.”
Acoustic fingerstylist Timo Brauwers, meanwhile, had his own method of getting the audience to participate: “If I look stupid, please start to clap on two and four immediately,” he explained, before singing ‘Everybody’ by the Backstreet Boys and explaining to the audience at what point the significant “yeah, yeah” had to sound throughout the hall.
Last but not least: As probably the most spectacular innovation of the second Summit, there were a total of 13 exclusive master classes with world stars such as Stu Hamm, Phil X, Uli Jon Roth, John Browne, Mattias IA Eklundh or Marcus Deml, where a very limited number of participants could look directly at these experts and take away important tips for their own playing.
Who were the stars of this year’s Guitar Summit? Besides workshop heroes like Victor Smolski, John Browne, Mattias IA Eklundh, Thomas Blug, Marcus Deml or Martin Miller, the former Scorpions guitarist Uli Jon Roth and, no doubt, once again world-class bass player Stu Hamm (Joe Satriani, Steve Vai, MSG), who put his superb musical skills to good use with his usual friendly, engaging and competent approach. His Masterclass participants were able to experience for themselves that this man is truly an expert in his own (bass) league.
Also permanently surrounded was acoustic guitarist Jon Gomm with his vintage Lowden called “Wunderwaffe Wilma” (Gomm: “The name comes from Colonel Wilma Deering from the TV series Buck Rogers”), a guitar with which he creates wonderful sounds again and again. A constant goosebump experience: his version of the Chaka Khan megahit ‘Ain’t Nobody’.
Then there was Phil X! What a guy!!! The man is on stage – just a mic, guitar, amp and distortion – and the crowd goes completely nuts after just a few notes. The Bon Jovi guitarist is the prototype of the rock’n’roll superstar – smart, attractive, incredibly charming, eloquent and as a musician he”s a real blast! When Phil X fires razor-sharp Led Zeppelin riffs at the audience (‘Whole Lotta Love’), quotes AC/DC (‘Back In Black’), proves his love for Van Halen (‘Ain’t Talkin’ ’bout Love’) and infuses the funk hit ‘Superstition’ with his rock DNA intravenously, the venue is on fire. Plus, he was more than happy to answer questions about his equipment. “I love P-90,” he confessed about his preferred pickup choice, and to prove it, he immediately turned the volume pot on his orange Framus Custom Shop Masterbuilt Phil XG Signature to show how variable this pickup sounds when the volume is changed. By the way: At the end of his enthusiastically acclaimed workshop, there was a little Bon Jovi anecdote: “You think you need to be lucky to be called up by Jon Bon Jovi to join his band one day? You are wrong! It’s the hard-earned reward of a musician who for many years could only do one thing: keep presenting himself for jobs and – when he was taken – delivered accordingly.”
The additional program of the 2018 Guitar Summit was once again impressive. On Saturday morning, a music flea market took place again directly in front of the Rosengarten. The beautiful weather and the perspective of being able to visit the Summit afterwards had attracted quite a few private sellers and various treasure hunters. On level 1 of the Summit, the soldering irons were turned on in the Do-It-Yourself-Area, where a tube amplifier kit was built under the guidance of the Tube Amp Doctor. With success, as could be seen on Saturday evening shortly before midnight. Who can claim to have made their own amplifier?
Also a big audience magnet: the guitar lessons by Peter Bursch, the “guitar teacher of the nation”. Many of us learned our first chords and songs thanks to him. His credo is still the same today: everyone is a musical person, you just have to have the courage. The same was valid for the Ukulele Circles at the Ortega booth.
FINAL HIGHLIGHTS: THE GUITAR SUMMIT PARTIES
Like last year, the Guitar Summit Parties in the Mozartsaal were the grand finale on Friday and Saturday evening. On Friday, the focus was on acoustic guitars, with Ilona Boulou, Regina Bakhritdinova, Magdalena Kowalczyk, the acoustic bass fingerpicking artist Dmitry Lisenko, the amazingly entertaining Petteri Sariola and of course Jon Gomm, whose sometimes breathtakingly delicate playing technique was celebrated in the large and packed concert hall.
On Saturday evening it was time for the “Electric Party”, where the band Sommerplatte with Hanno Busch and Claus Fischer were invited to perform their interpretation of modern jazz music. Excellent!
The final all-star jam featured Thomas Blug’s Rockanarchy at full blast. Well-known classics of rock history were joined one by one including Phil X, Stu Hamm, Uli Roth, Mattias IA Eklundh, Larry Mitchell, Martin Miller, Tom Quayle and Pete Thorn representing a large part of the 2018 Summit elite to deliver a furious jam session finale with all participants at the end.
You wouldn’t think it could get any better than that. After only two editions, the Guitar Summit has already become a well-established event for guitarists and bassists of all different styles. However, the motto for us is still the same: After the Summit is before the Summit! We take the many satisfied exhibitors and visitors as a motivation to become even better, even more versatile, even more creative. The Guitar Summit will be held for the third time next year, so it’s already time to save the date! We will all see each other again on 27 to 29 September 2019.
Story: Matthias Mineur (Guitar&Bass 10/2018)
The third Guitar Summit from September 27 to 29, 2019 was a complete success and will be remembered positively for a long time by all those who attended. At least until next fall, when Europe's biggest guitar show will open its doors for the fourth time.
It was a celebration for all. The musicians involved visibly enjoyed themselves, the exhibitors (more than 470 different brands could be discovered and tried out) saw themselves presented in the best possible way in line with their individual product ranges and at the same time were in direct contact with their customers. And the many guests – with more than 8600 visitors 40% more than last year – enjoyed the three-day event with colleagues, experts, friends and idols. Briefly: The third Guitar Summit in the Mannheim Rosengarten was a friendly get-together of musicians, manufacturers, guitar builders, creative minds, journalists and fans.
Stu Hamm (Steve Vai, Joe Satriani), Billy Sheehan (David Lee Roth, The Winery Dogs), Paul Gilbert (Mr. Big) or Henrik Freischlader chatted just as enthusiastically with each other as with young amateur musicians, companies like Yamaha, Marshall, Warwick/Framus or Ibanez took just as much time for their prominent endorsers/representatives as for the many (still) unknown young talents who visited the Summit.
Again this year, the long weekend was framed by workshops, instructive discussion sessions and interactive lessons. And of course, both Friday and Saturday ended with a glittering live party in the Mozartsaal, perfectly located in the center of the event.
The six stages on the three levels of the Guitar Summit were sorted by topics: From 12 p.m. Friday to 5 p.m. Sunday, visitors could learn all sorts of interesting facts about new trends and traditional favorites, about innovative ideas and established strengths, about unique musical artistry and great musical similarities. The largest stage, the ‘I’m Sound Stage’, offered lessons from guitar genius Paul Gilbert to bass guru Billy Sheehan, from Thomas Blug to Blue Poets boss Marcus Deml to blues guitarist Henrik Freischlader, among others.
Paul Gilbert, for example, talked about the supposed simplicity of guitar playing, but at the same time he demonstrated that his “variations” of simple contexts are rather virtuosic. Asked about the equipment he uses on tour, Gilbert explained, “I’m not the Rolling Stones, who can have their own gear transported anywhere. For me, it has to be a handful of pedals that I drive through a good tube amp. Because you can borrow a Marshall anywhere in the world.” His basic pedal setup includes four distortion, one reverb, one delay and one mini-wahwah pedal (“actually too small for my big feet”), and as a special gag, a bottleneck attached by magnet to his purple Ibanez Fireman. With this equipment he likes to compose – of course! – simple songs, preferably about cakes. Because, according to him, “You can never get into an argument about a pie with streusels! It’s delicious!”
Later, on the same workshop stage, Billy Sheehan shared some of his tricks. He confessed, “I always steal from anybody, but I do give credits.” Specifically, Sheehan said, he copied both his hammer-ons and pinch harmonics from ZZ Top’s Billy Gibbons. “Billy was the first to play them; no one but him did this before 1974.”
The other stages were also busy: on the ‘Bass Stage’, right at the entrance to the Rosengarten, Cameroon-born bass player Étienne M’Bappé (John McLaughlin, Joe Zawinul) showed why his sound, produced with black silk gloves, is so popular all over the world.
On the other hand, the demonstration of the Dutch Epica bassist Rob van der Loo, who presented his brand new Dingwall metal bass, exactly three hours after company boss Sheldon Dingwall had presented him with the worth seeing piece called Hellboy, was of a completely different kind.
The ‘Electric Stage’ on level 1 of the Rosengarten was mainly reserved for rock and metal musicians such as Marcus Deml, Oliver Hartmann, Mattias IA Eklundh, Pete Thorn or Rabea Massaad on Saturday and Sunday, after a jazzy opening with book author and guitarist Ro Gebhardt. Impressive also the workshop of Opeth guitarist Fredrik Åkesson, who presented the innovative technology of the Synergy amps and at the same time presented two previously unreleased instrumental tracks from his private archive.
On the ‘Acoustic Stage’ the audience could meet Janek Pentz, Petteri Sariola (motto: “The One- Man Band”), and on Saturday the duo Ragnar Zolberg and Rob Marcello performed great acoustic versions of rock classics. On the ‘Recording Stage’, the main focus was on technical details of music making, such as studio equipment, in-ear monitoring or microphone placement. In addition, there was an exciting presentation by jazz guitarist Hanno Busch (Sasha, Max Mutzke) and guitar maker Nik Huber, who, among other things, highlighted the current supply situation of vintage guitars. Huber: “With the death of Steely Dan guitarist Walter Becker, 500 guitars and amplifiers have become available at a stroke. Of course, that automatically changes the entire vintage market.”
The ‘InEar Stage’ was particularly close to the audience, with Marcelo Rosa, Victor Smolski (Almanac), Mattias IA Eklundh (Freak Kitchen) or Alexandr Misko, among others, informing interested listeners via headphones about rhythm and timing tricks, unusual playing techniques and current trends in acoustic fingerstyle. And last but not least: Germany’s most important guitar teacher Peter Bursch did without a stage. He dedicated himself to the beginners among the Summit visitors and helped each of his workshops first with the essentials of making music: tuning the instruments. Meanwhile, at the booth of Grave-Digger axeman Axel Ritt, who presented his new ‘Ironfinger’ distortion pedal, there was a tasting of Grave-Digger whisky at 6 p.m. each day.
The atmospheric and, despite countless highlights, relaxed Friday ended as usual in the Mozartsaal with the ‘Acoustic Party’. At 6:30 p.m., Radek Preisler, 12-year-old contest winner of the Warsaw Fingerstyle Festival, opened a concert evening that left the attending audience’s mouth open. Those who still think of campfire atmosphere or collective “We Shall Overcome” happenings when they think of acoustic guitars in anno 2019 were proven wrong with virtuoso, breakneck and innovative techniques of today’s young guitarists. In the afternoon, Radek was already walking through the halls, looking at interesting guitars – and seemed much less excited than his parents, who accompanied him. While his father took every opportunity to draw the attention of visitors to his son’s performance, mother Preisler hardly left her son unobserved for a moment.
Starting at 7:15 p.m., Iceland’s Ragnar Zolberg, well-known to experts from Pain Of Salvation, and Rob Marcello from the US AOR band Danger Danger performed their “Unplugged Rock” program, ranging from Deep Purple’s ‘Mistreated’ to Dio’s ‘Rainbow In The Dark’. Afterwards, Polish prize-winner Janek Pentz gave an exciting fingerstyle mixture with influences from rock to classical music, alternately fast and dynamic, but again and again wonderfully calm and atmospheric intonation. Anyone who has seen Janek understands why he was invited by none other than Tommy Emmanuel to accompany him on tour.
Similar praises could be sung about the Finn Petteri Sariola, who started his literally communicative set shortly before 9 p.m. and had the entire Mozartsaal on his side within a few minutes. Everybody had to clap along, but also marvel at how fluently the Finn balanced harmony passages and rhythmic bass lines.
A real highlight was once again Alexander Misko, who had already caused a storm of enthusiasm at the very first Summit in 2017 and was also invited last year, but was not granted permission to leave his home country of Russia due to visa problems. As a representative of Klotz-Kabel, Misko could also be seen on the ‘InEar Stage’ during the day, and in the Mozartsaal he then showed that he can effortlessly inspire equally large halls with his breathtaking performance. Of course, the audience didn’t let him leave the stage until he had played his legendary version of Michael Jackson’s ‘Billie Jean’.
After the ‘Acoustic Party’ on Friday night, things got a lot harder and louder at the ‘Electric Party’ on Saturday. American bass player Jeff Berlin and his Canadian guitar accompanist Don Alder kicked off the show, an intuitive duo with great improvisational skills.
After that, Henrik Freischlader and his band came on stage. The guitarist and singer not only has a fabulous guitar sound and an unmistakable sense of traditional blues rock, but also has one of the best singing voices on the scene. Before he could prove his bluesy timbre once again in a big round at the end of the evening during the all-star jam, he and his four fellow musicians first convinced the audience with their own show, which took about an hour and was full of dynamics and vitality. To the delight of many Les Paul fans, his beautifully singing Gibson Honeyburst Paula, a visual treat and, thanks to Freischlader, seemingly equipped with a thousand different sound possibilities, was once again part of the show. Pure pleasure for eyes and ears!
(Almost) on time at 8:15 p.m. Paul Gilbert took over, who had already given his philosophy at a masterclass with almost two dozen people willing to learn as well as a packed workshop on the ‘I’m Sound Stage’ (“well, you see, it’s all quite simple” was the motto, which Gilbert then countered with a tornado of notes at Mach 3 speed), and now guided the audience through the history of classic rock music. Without doubt two of the absolute highlights: the instrumental versions of ‘Running With The Devil’ (Van Halen) and ‘Carry On Wayward Son” (Kansas).
Finally, the time had come: shortly after 9:00 p.m., Thomas Blug and the Guitar Summit All-Star Band entered the stage, giving the show the slogan “50 Years of Woodstock”. With Billy Sheehan as the first celebrity guest, the opener was ‘See Me, Feel Me’ by The Who – it took them a few bars to all find the required key – followed by ‘My Generation’, with American Pete Thorn (Chris Cornell, Melissa Etheridge) unpacking his bright red Suhr guitar. Then it got Metal, including Obscura bassist Linus Klausenitzer and Fredrik Åkesson of Swedish proggers Opeth and a galloping version of ‘Proud Mary’ (Creedence Clearwater Revival). After that Henrik Freischlader was back on stage, together with Stu Hamm the band played an extended version of Santana’s ‘Black Magic Woman’ followed by ‘Jingo-Lo-Ba’, where Billy Sheehan supported the Allstars once again. Of course, a tribute to Jimi Hendrix could not be missing from the set’s motto, and who better than Freischlader with his sonorous voice could have sung (and played) ‘Voodoo Chile’. Speaking of singing and playing: Outstanding among the all-star troupe was Oliver Hartmann (At Vance, Avantasia, Edguy, etc.), known to be one of the best rock musicians we have in Germany at the moment and who should not be left unmentioned despite big names like Gilbert, Sheehan, Hamm, Thorn or Åkesson.
For the Grand Finale of the night, (almost) all of the top names at this year’s Guitar Summit took to the stage, including the young Brit Chris Buck, who had replaced Carl Carlton, who was unable to attend due to illness, and was able to showcase his outstanding talent at his workshop the day before. There is no doubt that we will be hearing a lot more from this young artist in the future. With obvious passion, the ensemble of musicians played Joe Cocker’s ‘With A Little Help From My Friend’ then, switching in the meantime to ‘Summertime Blues’ and ending the evening with a furious and frenetically acclaimed final performance. As G&B boss Dieter Roesberg summed it up so well afterwards, “This is what happens when even such experienced musicians as Paul Gilbert or Billy Sheehan really enjoy a performance.”
The Guitar Summit 2019 in general was as equally exciting and inspiring as the all-star jam of the ‘Electric Party’ in the Mozartsaal, as it was connecting styles, generations and cultures. Those who were there are sure to come back next year.
Story: Matthias Mineur (Guitar&Bass 11/2019)
In 2020, the Guitar Summit could not be presented in its usual format because of the Corona virus spreading. Instead, the Guitar Summit Webcamp, a digital and interactive guitar community event, was held on the weekend of November 28-29, 2020.
In addition to a virtual exhibition and an on-demand workshop program on virtual stages, a hosted live stream of several hours with live interviews, workshops and product presentations was the heart of the event. In addition, renowned YouTube influencers such as That Pedal Show actively joined the live stream to help create the program. In addition, there were plenty of opportunities to interact online with manufacturers, guitar builders, artists, the editorial team and each other. Participating artists included Misha Mansoor, Maneli Jamal, Mattias IA Eklundh, Dave Ellefson, Billy Sheehan, Gus G, Paul Reed Smith, and many more….
The Guitar Summit opened its doors for the fourth time in Mannheim, Germany, September 9-11, 2022, for three eventful days of celebrating guitars, basses, amps, effects units and, most importantly, music.
To be honest, no one – neither the organizers nor the audience – could be quite sure whether Guitar Summit 2022 would match the success of the 2019 event. Two years of pandemic with temporary lockdown have taken their heavy toll on the music industry. Record companies complain about disastrous sales figures, concert promoters are confronted with strikingly poor advance sales figures for long-announced shows.
And musicians as well as producers, roadies or technicians have been through a tough two years. Therefore, there was even reason to be cautiously pessimistic about whether the 2022 Summit would be accepted by manufacturers and visitors in a similar way as it was three years earlier. HOWEVER: The first signs of hope were the many requests from manufacturers and distributors who wanted to book one of the coveted booths in the Rosengarten in Mannheim at an early stage. Then, when more than 500 different brands (with 2500 stringed instruments on display) were actually attractively staged on the eve of the opening, the team’s hopes of even surpassing the 2019 result were confirmed.
The 25% higher presale of tickets alone already pointed to a success on Thursday evening. This was then actually confirmed from Friday morning, when regular queues formed in front of the entrance to the Rosengarten in Mannheim as early as the opening. In the end – let’s take an advance conclusion – a good 9400 visitors made their way to the Summit. And if we are to believe all the positive feedback during the event, but also in the social media, the 9400 visitors traveled back home afterwards with huge smile on their faces. After all, almost all of them were enriched by great experiences through many fruitful conversations between musicians, manufacturers, tinkerers and fans.
Not to forget the many workshops and master classes, the highly celebrated concerts in the Mozart Hall, sometimes quiet and reflective, then again loud, furious and breathtaking. But more about that later.
Would you like an early summary? Here it is: The Guitar Summit 2022 was a huge success for everyone involved and even surpassed the positive results of its 2019 predecessor. This could not have been automatically expected in view of the difficult external signs. But this success had many good reasons! Here are some of them:
The excellent reputation of the Guitar Summit as the most important European meeting point for guitar and bass enthusiasts, or better: for musicians in general, has spread all over the world. That’s why the list of stars this year was longer than ever before. Where do we start? For example, Jon Gomm, the world-class acoustic fingerpicking style wizard who was eager to be back again this year. Or Jonas Hellborg, the Swedish jazz bassist highly decorated with names like John McLaughlin, Bernard Fowler or Ginger Baker. By the way: It was also a special pleasure to have Henrik Linder from the Swedish band Dirty Loops, probably one of the most innovative bass players in Europe at the moment. Or also the German jazz guitar crack Michael Sagmeister and blues rock expert Henrik Freischlader. On Sunday – after a festival gig of his band Firewind near Regensburg – former Ozzy Osbourne guitarist Gus G. arrived right on time at the Klotz booth, where he was expected eagerly for the shooting of an advertising trailer.
As in previous years, Victor Smolski (Almanac, Ex-Rage) was also available at Siggi Braun’s booth for questions and tips before devoting himself to his workshop. Informative and professional were also the Austrian Julia Hofer and her Polish bass colleague Kinga Glyk, who inspired with their workshops with a sympathetic aura and fabulous musicality across the board. Not surprisingly, fans lined up especially persistently for them.
Jazz rock/fusion maestro Martin Miller and Israeli YouTube star Kfir Ochaion were on hand, as were speedy-fingered Pete Thorn, Tom Quayle and the great Henrik Danhage. A real surge in popularity since his participation in the 2019 Summit has been experienced by the passionately playing Brit Chris Buck. More on how convincingly he performed with his band Cardinal Black later. Of course, true legends were also present in the Rosengarten, from bassist/producer Peter Sonntag to Germany’s most important guitar teacher Peter Bursch to Marcus Deml, the well-known Errorhead mastermind.
At the same time, the Summit was the meeting point for numerous newcomers who drew attention to themselves here for the first time and who were guaranteed not to be seen for the last time at the Summit, such as 21-year-old acoustic guitarist Billy Watman (already equipped with a wonderful Ortega signature acoustic, after all). And then there was – watch out! – Super-Metal-Shredder Jeff Loomis, with cult bands like Sanctuary, Nevermore and currently Arch Enemy on all stages of this world at home.
WORKSHOPS AND MASTERCLASSES
Almost all of these world-class musicians were not only available for a lively exchange of information, but also demonstrated their unique technique and their very special, individual philosophy in more than 100 workshops of all kinds as well as in 13 exclusive masterclasses (which were almost completely sold out weeks before the event).
Victor Smolski gave tips on “timing in the studio and on stage”, Alex Scholpp (Farmer Boys, Sinner) revealed “rock and metal sound secrets”. Jon Gomm explained how he transferred the tapping of an Eddie Van Halen to the acoustic guitar and expanded it with rhythmic patterns, while Marcus Deml presented his signature pickups and Peter Bursch never tired of teaching the basics of making music in his “guitar beginner workshops”.
Of course, the expectations of the audience were on a different level with Gus G. and Jeff Loomis, who demonstrated their fabulous finger technique in “Metal Guitar Workshops”. Pete Thorn devoted himself to the topic of “Developing a successful social media presence” and Chris Buck documented his great weakness for Yamaha guitars (which he later maltreated on the big stage in the Mozart Hall until the “well-deserved string break”).
Particularly exciting was the joint workshop by guitarist Thomas Blug (we’ll come back to him later as part of the Guitar Summit Allstar Show) and Thomas Weilbier from the No.1 Guitar Center in Hamburg on “The World of Vintage Guitars – Bursts at its best”. Weilbier had brought along some very special Gibson Les Pauls, including a 1959 Burst with an estimated value of well over 250,000 euros, as well as an equally aged Gold Top with P90 pickups, which is still estimated to cost a handsome 50,000 euros. Among other things, Blug compared these two cult instruments with a current Les Paul costing 8,000 euros, and demonstrated the subtle but clear differences between the guitar generations with a great deal of expertise and understandable enthusiasm. Ergo: At the workshops of the Guitar Summit 2022 there was something for everyone, whether for metal, acoustic, blues & rock fans or beginners with the urgent desire to learn something new.
ROCK- AND ACOUSTIC-GIGS IN THE MOZARTSAAL
Then, of course, there were the many spectacular performances in the Mozartsaal. On Friday, the acoustic fingerstyle artists Daniel Peszko, Janek Pentz, Casper Esmann and Mike Dawes opened the colorful concert afternoon one after the other, before the British soul rock band Cardinal Black with the already repeatedly mentioned Chris Buck presented fabulous songs from their upcoming new album. Unbelievable joy of playing, magnificent pieces and a guitar firework par excellence stood after a (much too short) hour. Friday evening ended with a performance of the Martin Miller Band, who started with two Deep Purple classics (‘Perfect Stranger’ & ‘Highway Star’) and then fully lived up to their reputation as fusion specialists.
On Saturday, first Michal Obrebski proved why he is rightly the winner of the Warsaw Fingerstyle Festival 2021, followed by Billy Watman, who played rock classics on his Ortega signature guitar in a fascinating way. After the great singer-songwriter show by Sophie Chassée, Jon Gomm entered the stage at 7:15 p.m. with typical British humor and his extraordinary playing style.
Afterwards, the Henrik Freischlader Band performed great blues rock with a lot of improvisation, including material from their new, as yet unreleased studio album.
At 9:45 p.m., the big party started: The Guitar Summit Allstars under the direction of Thomas Blug made a sweeping strike, both musically and in terms of personnel. They started with ‘Welcome To The Jungle’ (Guns N’ Roses) and guest guitarist Kfir Ochaion, who played ‘Princess Isabella’ on the spectacular looking Jens Ritter set with Swarovski crystals. Then there was ‘Man On The Silver Mountain’ and ‘Stargazer’ (both by Rainbow) with bass legend Peter Sonntag and Meshuggah live guitarist Per Nilsson, who had spontaneously stepped in for Sarah Longfield, who had fallen ill at short notice. On Billy Cobham’s ‘Stratus’ Henrik Linder proved his incredible sense of groove and timing, while Chris Buck showed true skill on ‘Come Together’ and ‘Strawberry Fields Forever’ (Beatles).
Next to thrill was Jen Majura (formerly of Evanescence), who put on such a terrific vocal performance on ‘Like The Way I Do’ that must have provided some goosebump moments. After further guest appearances by El Amir (Hans Zimmer Band) and Marcus Deml, among others, Jeff Loomis then showed where the (metal) hammer hangs with Ozzy Osbourne’s ‘Crazy Train’. When the sound-strong evening came to an end around midnight, the entire Mozartsaal went wild.
While many visitors strolled around the four almost completely filled levels in the Rose Garden and were fascinated by new guitar models, innovative effect pedals, amps and exciting accessories, the exhibition ‘The Fadead Rhoads Show’ by Berlin-based Shumon Chakrabarti also inspired. Chakrabarti collects, restores and builds Randy Rhoads V models exclusively and had brought his collection of nearly 80 guitars with him. No wonder that the Berlin collector had to answer many questions from visitors on all three days. Even the Greek Shredder King Gus G., known as a proven Randy Rhoads fan, could hardly separate himself from this impressive exhibition.
YOGA, KIDS/DINO RALLY, DIY-AREA, GEAR GIVEAWAY
Supporting program, there was more than plenty of that, too. Whereby the term “framework” actually only very inadequately reflects the respective actions. The big dino rally, where the five members of the rock band Heavysaurus were hidden as life-size (cardboard) dinos on the Summit and opened up the possibility of collecting worthwhile prizes by issuing stamps, was enthusiastically frequented.
Not to forget the big Guitar Summit pedal hunt, where visitors could search for and win an effect pedal every hour on the hour. And those who took part in the big Summit survey had the chance to win one of four guitars or basses (including high-quality models from Schecter, Takamine and Cort) or at least a set of Ernie Ball strings.
Also popular: the instrument carousel for youngsters to get a first impression of their future favorite instrument. Here, by the way, Peter Bursch was fully in his element. His enviable calmness, his sympathetic manner and his empathetic nature for the great difficulties of small people (read: children) in making music were once again admirable. And also the supervisors at the children’s percussion instruments, on which there was lively banging, showed angel patience. Of course, face painting was also a popular attraction.
Speaking of patience: Anyone who followed the busy soldering and screwing at the DIY stand understands why screwdrivers and solderers ascribe almost meditative qualities to their hobby. Of course, this also applied to the opportunity to take part in a yoga class especially for musicians, which was gladly and abundantly used.
THE FINALE: DINOS FOR THE YOUNGSTERS
On Sunday afternoon, when the success of the 2022 Summit had long been determined, there was another treat of a very special kind. As it should be, the finale was dedicated to the musical offspring, i.e. children and young people. To this end, Heavysaurus appeared on stage in the Mozart Hall in the afternoon, five dinosaur musicians whose colorful costumes and inviting show appealed especially to the youngest. Just how adorable their form of entertainment works could be seen as early as 1 p.m., when the five archaic primordial creatures made their way from the dressing room to the Meet & Greet and were followed doggedly by a crowd of enthusiastic children after only a few meters. At 4 p.m., just in time for the Summit’s crowning finale, Heavysaurus fired their wonderfully catchy rock/metal songs from green, scaled paws. The corresponding response followed promptly: The hall was boiling, countless children could be seen dancing, jumping, singing and even playing air guitar. In short, just as the Summit had begun three days earlier, it also ended – with beaming faces everywhere!