For many players, choosing a new guitar is easy. They just walk into a music store and play different models until they find the one that works best for them. There are many different types of players with a myriad of different musical styles and preferences, which requires a wide range of guitar models. Powerful players prefer jumbos and dreadnoughts, while others tend to look to smaller instruments, such as Gibson’s L-00 or Martin’s 000s.
Despite the plethora of guitar models in the standard market, some players just can’t find what they’re looking for. It might not be that they are unhappy with their current guitars or the options available. It’s just that something in their preferences has changed. As their playing has progressed, they may have explored alternative chords and new styles that place different demands on their guitar, or they are looking for a new instrumental voice. This often encourages guitarists to explore the boutique market, which ultimately offers more options and customization. Whatever the reason, if you consider an instrument in the boutique guitar market, it requires rigorous analysis and research.
The most ideal way to get your hands on some of these high-end instruments is to visit in-store guitar shows. These shows are organized so that only a handful of leading builders are allowed in the hall. This helps to minimize the spectacle, providing the best possible experience for visitors. Promoters rotate builders year after year to keep shows fresh and relevant. In the heyday of custom guitar shows, there were as many as five or six shows per season, but over the years these shows have coalesced into a few major events: the Woodstock Invitational Luthiers Showcase, the La Conner Guitar Festival. , the Artisan Guitar Show, and the Boutique Guitar Showcase.
If one is considering an instrument for the boutique guitar market, this requires rigorous analysis and research.
Then we have the Artisan Guitar Show, which takes place in Harrisburg, PA, and is hosted at a self-contained resort. Here, spectators can book accommodation and meals, talk guitar for three solid days, and enjoy the entertainment without having to leave the facility. Each of these showcases features creators from their regions, so attending all of the shows for at least two seasons is a great way to get a solid understanding of what’s available.
The latest guitar show model is the Boutique Guitar Showcase, hosted by Roberta and Jamie Gale. This is a traveling event designed to showcase cutting edge luthiers and instruments and to advance the art and technology of fretted musical instruments. Jamie and Roberta do a great job of hosting this event, as it successfully exhibits top boutiques and styles of violin making from around the world in a one-day exhibition. In recent years, Boutique Guitar Showcase has partnered with NAMM to be part of its summer and winter shows. It turned out to be an exceptional collaboration.
The surround of the Guitar Showcase Boutique offers a unique and intimate experience for players who wish to try out instruments from a wide variety of luthiers.
Photo by Jamie Gale Music
Maneuvering in this market and succeeding in finding the instrument of your dreams is a difficult feat. For most customers, walking through the doors of these guitar shows can be overwhelming. Guitarists will sample instruments made by the best luthiers around the world, which are significantly more sophisticated than your standard guitar. These luthiers come with a lot of custom features that buyers should carefully consider. An increase in sophistication and personalization is forcing customers to study and analyze their potential purchases more carefully. Otherwise, you could buy an instrument that does not meet your playing needs.
Buyers may also consider looking for a guitar broker. Guitar brokers represent guitar builders and they have a unique talent: helping customers get a custom guitar that will best meet their musical needs. Brokers generally know the manufacturers personally and fully understand their building styles. If you’re new to the boutique market, working with a broker is a great place to start.
The point to remember is this: The custom guitar market is a place for players who want to level up with an instrument. My recommendation is to do your research, find brokers, and attend shows to meet the makers in person and play their instruments. As much as we would all love to make a custom guitar for you, what we want most is for you to find satisfaction and happiness with the instrument we have personally designed for you.
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