Thursday, June 26, 2008

FLOOR REPORT: Sweetwater.com’s GearFest 2008

Over 4000 gearheads flocked to Ft. Wayne Indiana for Sweetwater.com’s GearFest 2008. This guitar gear show was put on by the retailer as part of the grand opening of their new 35 million dollar complex – complete with showrooms, call center, warehouse and food court! This place is AMAZING!

I spent most of my time in the guitar tent, where all the fun was! Here are some of my highlights:

GIBSON FAMILY OF BRANDS
The Gibson showing was huge! I was able to demo the new Epiphone Ultra II. This guitar not only carries over the stunning looks of a quilt-top Les Paul but also has acoustic features built in as well! Expect a full review on this guitar in the coming days. Hank Ettel of Gibson Gear was also on hand demoing the entire line of Gibson Gear pickups with his special double neck SG’s and pop-out pickup Les Paul. He also demoed the after-market Robot Guitar kit expected for release before year’s end. There were also several Robot Guitars on display as well as the highly collectable Reverse Flying V! Also on display were several Tobias basses made with some gorgeous tonewoods and one of the coolest bent-top guitars around the Brent Mason Signature from Valley Arts Guitar. www.gibson.com

VISUAL SOUND
Founder/President Bob Weil and Steve Mikesell were on hand demoing the new line of V2 pedals. Not only do they have upgraded versions of classic Visual Sound pedals like the Visual Volume, Route 66, Jekyll & Hyde and H20 but they were also showing off their new V2 single pedal line! Do yourself a favor and check out the Angry Fuzz! www.visualsound.net

ZOOM
As I mentioned in a previous article Zoom was there to show off the new ZFX Control and Stack Packages. ZFX Packages give guitarists and bassists the ability to create the ultimate tone solutions with an intuitive software/hardware setup. Incredibly easy and fun to use, ZFX combines sophisticated amp modeling software with a USB audio interface. I asked them how it was different from the others that are in the marketplace. The rep responded that other packages are designed for engineers and studio techs. This package is designed for the guitarist. ZOOM

SEYMOUR DUNCAN
Seymour seemed to bring the entire group to check out Sweetwater’s new facility. They also brought an extraordinary array of gear. They showed off their new active Blackout and Livewire (Mustaine) Pickups, Seth Lovers and my personal favorite P-Rails. They also had their entire line of stompboxes for demo as well. Some of my favorites include the Shapeshifter as well as the destructive force called the Twin Tube Mayhem! That is one killer stompbox. Check out Seymour’s keynote captured by Premier Guitar: HERE www.seymourduncan.com

RANDALL
Amp gurus from Randall showed off the new MTS Kirk Hammett LTD AAAA flame maple half stack. This amp was striking in both looks and tone. They also showed off some new MTS Palomino style amps. They were very boutique looking with tan tolex and basket weave grill covers – very classy. www.randallamplifiers.com

BOSS/ROLAND
Clinician Paul Hanson was there demoing the new Micro Cube guitar and bass amps. He had one slung on his shoulder all weekend shredding to the content of on-lookers. He also brought with him the new GT-10 Multi Effects Processor from BOSS. Like others in the series it uses BOSS’s COSM Modeling. I’ve had plenty of experience with their COSM Multi Effects units and it took me seconds to program my own patches. This unit has been upgraded with a built-in looper, as well as the ability to have two separate set-ups – very versatile. www.bossus.com

FENDER/CHARVEL
Fender had an impressive setup displaying its new American Standard Strats and Teles. What really got my attention were the offerings from Charvel. Brand new Charvel customs were on display along with several of the new USA Production models. Their San Dimas Strat and Tele models came equipped with two Duncan Humbuckers and Floyd Rose Trems. The So-Cal Strat style had a pickguard as well as the Floyd and Duncans. Very cool stuff and much more affordable if you want to get that 80’s vibe than dropping $3500 on a Custom Charvel.

For photos and more highlights from Sweetwater’s Gearfest please check out this link: Sweetwater's GearFest '08

For more information, please visit: www.sweetwater.com

Aljon Go is considered to be a “pedal junkie” by his peers often asked for advice when building pedal boards. He toured the world with his award winning band Mink and was the artist relations/marketing pro for a musical accessory company. He currently spends his time bringing new and exciting tones to regional acts Jaux King and JonesWorld. He is also host of the long running “Local Buzz” radio show in Nashville and product specialist for a leading guitar company. Freq’n out? E-mail Aljon: tonefreq(at)gmail(dot)com.

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