Last Sunday I ventured out to the Melbourne Guitar Show for the afternoon. I mainly went to check out the Guitar Players Acoustic Session and The Finale Jam. Of course there were also all the exhibitor stands full of guitar and bass gear to check out too.
At these sort of events I personally find it hard to hear or play gear due to so much noise going on and am happy enough just to window shop as I walk by. Any way I probably have more than enough gear and guitars even though there were some good deals on offer! However there were a few products that grabbed my interest and I would recommend checking out.
Fican Guitars www.ficanguitars.com are a range of guitars created by Australian luthier Stuart Monk that looked really interesting. With an interesting “Australia” and banjo tuners the Australian Treble Clef is a unique design. Another interesting stand was the Northern College of The Arts and Technology course on guitar building where students can complete a Certificate IV in Musical Instrument Making. www.ncat.vic.edu.au
After grabbing the required Sunday afternoon coffee I headed to the Guitar Players Acoustic Session. Featuring 6 acoustic guitarists who all played in different styles including lap steel slide, classical, contemporary fingerpicking, Celtic (DADGAD tuning) and gypsy jazz. Players that impressed me here were Lucas Michailidis playing a beautiful original piece “Picking For Olive” with double drop D tuning (DADGBD). I also really enjoyed Jon Delany playing a gypsy jazz tune on a Selmer-Maccaferri style jazz guitar using an attached condenser microphone for amplification with a very clear, full and natural sound.
Following the individual pieces from each player they all played together in a group jam on the simple 3 chord (C Dm G = I ii V) Neil Young song “Four Strong Winds.” It was interested to hear how each player dealt with improving solos over this simple chord progression.
The other highlight for me was The Finale Jam featuring:
- Bob Spencer – The Angels/Skyhooks
- Brett Kingman – James Reyne/Daryl Braithwaite/Ross Wilson/Joe Camilleri
- Phil Cebrano
- James Ryan – Kate Cebrano/Men At Work
- Simon Hosford – Tommy Emmanuel /Men At Work
- Shannon Bourne – Chris Wilson
This rock jam was kicked off with a version of Joe Satriani’s “Surfing With The Alien” featuring James Ryan and Simon Hosford. Following this the other players joined the stage for lengthy version of songs including “Cold Shot” by Stevie Ray Vaughan, “Same Old Blues” by Eric Clapton and “Baby Please Don’t Go” by Them.
Phil Cebrano was having a great time hamming it up looking a bit like Slash with curly hair and sun glasses. Bob Spencer played some very musical economical and effective solos with a great choice of notes. Another player that stood out for me was Shannon Bourne with his inventive phrasing, pinch harmonics and use of unexpected outside notes.
In between these live events I checked out one of the Professor Guitar & Bass sessions. I watched some of Troy Male’s presentation on soloing and improvising using licks from the pentatonic scale, major scale and mixolydian modes. In particular he was demonstrating on how to use licks from 3 different pentatonic scales and mixolydian modes over each of the 3 different chords in a standard I IV V blues.
He also discussed using different scales in a piece of music when required. As an example he used the jazz standard “Blue Bossa”. This tune has 2 sections – one in C minor and another in Db major. For C minor you can use C minor pentatonic and Eb major scales (the relative major) and for the Bb major section you can use Db major.
While the content of his presentation was good it was hard to hear as the open air rock stage was just outside and the room was only separated from the blasting PA by windows and a glass door! Also it would’ve been good to view some diagrams and/or written musical examples presented on a screen or even some handouts would’ve been great as I suspect that parts of the presentation was going over some of the audience’s heads.
Another guitar playing friend who attended the Saturday enjoyed the Roland/Boss Guitar Product Showcase demonstrating the ME-80 and GT-100 effects processors. He was so impressed he bought an ME-80 at the show!
Overall I had an enjoyable time at the Melbourne Guitar Show 2016 though I was only there for a few hours. I would recommend it to any guitarist whether they want to check out the latest gear, learn something new or be entertained by some great players.